Gatepost Interview: Lori Lavigne: Assistant Director of the Honors Program and Chair of the Accounting, Economics, and Finance Department

What is your role at FSU and what does your job entail? 

I’m a professor in the department of accounting, economics and finance. I’m also the chair of the department, and the assistant director of the honors program. As a professor, I teach courses, but as department chair, I am responsible for more of the administrative roles for the department. I schedule courses, help with registration or advising, and I also do a lot of advising and hiring of faculty. Those are my main roles and I’m kind of like the face of the department. I’m at most of the orientations and accepted student days. As assistant director of the honors program, I assist Dr. Bruno [Paul Bruno, director of the honors program] running courses in the honors program. Usually setting up some of the extracurricular activities, which are limited now, but right now, we’re doing trivia. We’re actually going to hire someone to do a fancy trivia this semester. Typically, it’s like planning a volunteer activity for the honors program, or helping set up the first-year retreat – things like that.

What is your educational and professional background?

I went to college at Lafayette College, and I majored in economics and math.  After that, I went to grad school at SUNY Binghamton, and I got my Ph.D. and master’s. My Ph.D. is in economics, and then I came to Framingham State.

What do you like most about working with students?

Our students come from really diverse and interesting backgrounds and I love learning about where they came from, what passions they have and what they want to do, what makes them tick, and how they want to succeed. I like figuring out the best way to help them do that, which is a lot of advising.  Asking questions like, “What do you want to do?” “What’s your passion and how can we help you achieve that?” I know Framingham State is considered a small school, but my college was only a little over 2,000 students. So, I find Framingham State has a more diverse student body. I like that it is diverse. 

What would students be surprised to learn about you?

I have a terrible love for reality TV. I love “Southern Charm” and “Summerhouse.” The more mindless, the better because I usually just watch it before bed, and I need something to clear my mind. I am also a runner. I’ve done a few marathons. So, that’s the other thing I kind of like to do on my own time – just go out for a run.

What are some of your hobbies?

I would say running. I also really like to hike. I have two pretty young kids, and especially now, we sometimes just need to get out of the house, so we like to put them in the backpacks and go for a hike. I also really like good doughnuts. I don’t know if that counts as a hobby, but not Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s a place in Westborough called Broncos Doughnuts, a good gourmet doughnut I really like.

How has COVID-19 impacted your job?

I think for everyone it’s been a change. The biggest change at first was being home with everybody all the time. I have a 1- and a 3-year-old, so trying to teach a course with two children in the house, even if someone else is watching them, is difficult. My biggest change is teaching online. I’ve never taught a day course online before – I’ve always taught in person. I’m definitely the kind of professor who likes to have conversations, and not that you can’t do that on Zoom, but it changes the way you teach a little bit – like writing on the board, talking, and having students ask questions. So, it has changed the way I teach mostly, and also as Chair, usually I’m in my office and students pop in and out, and obviously, that doesn’t happen, either. So, more is done on Zoom.

What advice do you have for FSU students?

I would say, take advantage of all of the different opportunities in college – whether those are clubs, internships, independent studies with professors, or research with professors. All of those things help you define and figure out what you love and what you want to do. And then, this is a little bit of a weird piece of advice given COVID, but the only thing I regret not doing in college was studying abroad for a semester. So, I always tell students to find a way. I went abroad for a summer, but in hindsight, I wish I’d done a whole semester. I always try to tell students to take advantage of the ability to travel as a student. It’s such a great time to travel. Maybe a semester doesn’t work for you, but make sure to take a course where you do travel or travel over the summer, or whatever you’re comfortable with. There’s no other time in your life you can up and move to a different country and learn the culture and the language.