USNA Selects Dr. Samara Firebaugh as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
POSTED ON: Wednesday, July 1, 2020 1:00 PM by MC2 Josiah D. Pearce
Samara Firebaugh has been named Associate Provost for Academic Affairs of the United States Naval Academy, effective July 1.
Firebaugh, who holds a doctorate in Electrical Engineering, was chosen from a pool of six finalists from across the nation and will be the fourth person to hold this critical position, which dates back to the 1980s. The position’s title was recently changed from Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to more accurately reflect the position’s responsibilities; similar changes for academic leadership titles are forthcoming.
Since 2001, Firebaugh has served at USNA in a number of faculty and leadership positions. According to Firebaugh, serving as the Vice President of the Faculty Senate and working as the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department Chair gave her tools and experience to prepare for the challenges of her new position.
“Dr. Firebaugh was strongly favored by the faculty and by the other Academy leaders,” said Academic Dean and Provost Andrew Philips. “In addition, she has a deep understanding of the demands of the position, and of the principles we use to guide our academic program.”
As Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Firebaugh is the principal assistant for all matters concerning the curriculum and classroom instruction, including scheduling, registration, validation, academic advising, academic calendar, and academic accountability. She will also be the chief advisor to the Academic Dean and Provost on curricular matters for USNA.
“I would like to take a closer look at our policies to make sure that they are fair to all midshipmen regardless of their different socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Firebaugh. “I'd also like to take a moment to review the procedures we use for managing curricular change, to make sure that they provide the flexibility we need to address emerging areas of strategic importance, while providing a mechanism to ensure quality and appropriate utilization of resources.”
“Dr. Firebaugh really understands the needs of students better than anyone,” said Associate Professor Dane Brown, Curriculum Committee Chair and former student of Firebaugh. “She is an outstanding teacher and has been successful running the student research program; she’s also done a great job running the assessment of the electrical computer engineering program, which is how we maintain our accreditation. I have every reason to believe she’ll bring that student-centered focus to her role as the Associate Provost.”
After leading her class’s adjustments toward graduating the Class of 2020 and continuing the education of the rest of the brigade throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Firebaugh stressed the importance of working together to maintain the high level of discipline expected from the academy’s curriculum as USNA safely returns to normal operations.
“Dr. Firebaugh consistently pushed me to make my technical designs the best they could be while also understanding the limitations of the virtual environment and the overwhelming stress of the demanding classes,” said Midshipman 1st Class Lillian Usadi, a student of Firebaugh’s class last semester. “She remained consistent with her expectations and support and made the transition to virtual learning so much easier.”
Firebaugh received the Raouf Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching, and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2012. In 2014, she received the Class of 1951 Civilian Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in Honor of Professor Theodore J. Benac.
“I always appreciated that Dr. Firebaugh was a down-to-earth, yet rigorous teacher that really valued understanding the lives of midshipmen,” said Lt. Steven Yee, ECE Department instructor and former student of Firebaugh. “I think her deep knowledge of the way this student body works will definitely serve her well in her new position.”
As the undergraduate college of our country's naval service for 175 years, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.