Melissa Harwood-Rom has been with the University of Arkansas for 19 years and was named to her current post as associate athletic director for academic support on June 11. Prior to her appointment she served the former Women’s Athletics Department as associate athletic director for student affairs.
Q: In what ways do you help student athletes?
A: Currently, much of my assistance to student-athletes is indirect in that my job is to create an environment that fosters academic success and achievement. That task encompasses supporting and leading a staff that, day to day, tutors, advises and generally gives our student-athletes the tools they need to succeed. I do have an open door policy, and after 19 years on the job, if I can’t help a student-athlete with a particular situation, I do know who can.
Q: What do you hope they learn from your help?
A: Our goal is for our student-athletes to learn how to be a vital part of our campus community, competing and winning in every facet of campus life. They should learn responsibility and accountability. I also believe that they should be having fun, after taking care of business, of course.
Q: What made you want the job of helping people succeed?
A: My experience as a student here at Arkansas was life-changing. I learned the value of immersing one’s self in intellectual and cultural surroundings, and of meeting challenging and inquisitive people. Student-athletes have the advantage of experiencing success in both competition and classroom settings, and I enjoy the satisfaction and the reward of having a foot in both those unique worlds.
Q: Can you fill in the blanks of the following sentence and then explain? Some people may think I’m a pessimist, but I’m really an optimist.
A: I believe that by working hard and involving the right people, I can have a positive impact on any situation.
Q: What is the strangest talent you have?
A: I have a vast store of trivia knowledge. I am the ultimate lifeline.
Q: What professional game would you like to attend?
A: If you don’t consider the Tour de France to be a game, then that would be the 2010 World Cup Final. May I please do both?
Q: Do you have any strange phobias?
A: I am pretty uncomfortable with heights. So much so that I could not walk across the Rockefeller Center display that simulated an I-beam. I almost shut the place down, and I mortified my entire family.
Q: When you are not at work, you are doing what?
A: When I am not at work, I am reading.
Q: What was your most embarrassing moment?
A: My second grade tap dancing recital. No question.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: Being around the student-athletes. I love their energy and the optimism inherent in their attitudes. Thank goodness it is contagious.
Q: Name one food item you will absolutely not eat.
A: I will not eat licorice.
Q: Is it coke, pop, or soda?
A: It is Diet Coke, and I am trying to cut back.
Q: What has been your best memory?
A: My best memories are of my parents and of my children. Happily, my family continues to make great memories every day.
Q: Name one song on your ipod.
A: Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same.
Q: What song do you like working out to the most?
A: Foo Fighters: Learn to Fly.
Q: Is there any television show that you are addicted to?
A: The Office.
Q: What is the best way to start off your day?
A: COFFEE!!!!!! and KUAF, National Public Radio.
Q: What SEC game do you look forward to the most?
A: You can’t beat the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships. It has hot and cold running Olympians.
Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I have five beautiful deer that eat my roses and sweet corn but never even nibble the crabgrass.
Q: What is the best trip you have ever taken?
A: London, 1985.
Q: How many times did you change your major?
A: Twice, and I still graduated in 4 years.
Q: What was your first major?
Q: What was your first job ever?
A: I mowed the grass in a cemetery.
Q: What is one boyish trait of yours?
A: I asked my husband about this one. He says that my most "boyish" trait is that I really love to do yard work: sawing down limbs, driving the tractor and spreading mulch.