Campus News

Ana Franco-Watkins Named Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Ana Franco-Watkins

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 19, 2022) — Ana M. Franco-Watkins has been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the oldest and largest college at the University of Kentucky.

Upon approval from the Board of Trustees, Franco-Watkins will join UK on July 1, 2022. Franco-Watkins currently serves as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.

“Ana Franco-Watkins has an impressive background as an educator, researcher and leader,” said Acting Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “Her vision for the College of Arts and Sciences aligns with the aspirational goals of our strategic plan and our mission to advance Kentucky. We are pleased to welcome her to the UK family.”

Franco-Watkins has served as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University since 2021. In this role, she has helped develop a shared, strategic vision for the college, oversaw a restructure and realignment of student services, expanded initiatives for inclusive excellence and successfully stewarded the college’s $68 million budget.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as dean for the foundational and pivotal College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky,” said Franco-Watkins. “This is a tremendous opportunity to partner with the UK family as we pursue a shared vision of excellence in supporting the college’s and institution’s mission.”

Before serving as interim dean, Ana Franco-Watkins was chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences for four years. She also served as graduate director of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and undergraduate director of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

She is the recipient of the Woman of Distinction Administrative Award, as well as the President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units Award. She was also a Lloyd and Sandra Nix Endowed Professor at Auburn from 2017 to 2019.

Her research focuses on behavioral economics and decision-making with applications to industry and organizations. She has received external funding support from the National Science Foundation, defense agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for transdisciplinary research team projects.

She was a first-generation student and holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree from The College of William and Mary and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“I would like to also thank Acting Dean Brady for his strong leadership, as well as search committee chairs Jay Miller and Carrie Oser, all members of the search committee, and the college faculty staff and students working together through this search process,” DiPaola said. “We look forward to a bright future for the College of Arts and Sciences, and its importance to our students and impact for our campus, community and Commonwealth.”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.