Two New Positions Enhance SPS Division's Productivity


Faculty Rave: Leigh Mercer and Donald Gilbert-Santamaria

Faculty members, Leigh Mercer and Donald Gilbert-Santamaría, have taken on new departmental positions aimed at enhancing efficiency and providing increased student support. 

Leigh Mercer | Associate Chair

 In addition to being an Associate Professor with Spanish & Portuguese, Leigh Mercer is the Associate Chair of the department. 

Since taking on the position one year ago under then-chair, Anthony Geist, Mercer has tackled a number of time-consuming projects. She revised the departmental by-laws, which, according to Mercer “were outdated and hadn't been looked at since the 90’s.”  Mercer also streamlined committee structures within the department. 

“This year I'll add course scheduling to my list of duties,” said Mercer. “Thankfully I can count on the incredible help of staff member, Lani Phillips, Director of Program Development and Administrator of UW León Center, in this area,” she added. “I will also be working with Suzanna Martinez, Senior Academic Counselor, on a report reflecting enrollment strengths and weaknesses within the department, in the hope of improving our enrollments.” 

 “I've very much enjoyed the role so far,” said Mercer who also stepped in as Acting Chair during last winter quarter. “I learned a great deal about the working of the department during that time, and really appreciated the support of staff and faculty during those three months.” 

Donald Gilbert-Santamaria | Graduate Program Coordinator

 Associate Professor, Donald Gilbert-Santamaría, is the new Graduate Programs Coordinator. This is not the first time Gilbert-Santamaría has served in this capacity, having done so from 2002 to 2007 during the first five years of the masters program. “My own interests tend toward academic matters, so this is a good fit for me,” noted Gilbert-Santamaría. “While a lot of the work is administrative, there is an opportunity to model the kinds of intellectual values that I believe are central to graduate work at a first tier research institution like the UW.” 

With the newly established PhD program, Gilbert-Santamaría knows what he is getting into. “When planning for a new program—undergraduate or graduate—it is impossible to anticipate all the different contingencies that will arise upon implementation. Hence, back in 2002,” he explained, “much of my time was spent fine tuning the program in consultation with the graduate faculty. I imagine the same will be true this time around.” Gilbert- Santamaría added that he is grateful for the help and support of Graduate Adviser, Suzanna Martínez, as he moves forward in this new role.

Article by Irene Hopkins.