• Evangeline Tsibris Cummings

    Evangeline Tsibris Cummings

    Assistant Provost and Director of UF Online, University of Florida

    After graduating from the University of Florida with her bachelor’s degree, Evangeline Tsibris Cummings went on to receive her master’s of science degree from John Hopkins University. Following a 16-year career as senior official at the U.S. EPA, in Washington, D.C., she has since returned to Gainesville as an assistant provost and Director of the University of Florida Online program She has since returned to Gainesville as an assistant provost and director of the University of Florida’s online program. Cummings credits her confidence and self-esteem to the examples first set by her immigrant parents whom established their new family here with great courage and without any ties to the United States. She encourages other women to live boldly and purposely, finding their own joy

    “Three, bits of advice. 1) The timing of your life, career and family, does not need to meet others’ expectations. Plan for your careers to have many phases, chapters and pathways. 2) Nurture friendships while you nurture your goals. They will support you along the way and celebrate alongside you as you accomplish your goals. 3) Don’t seek a balance. Seek a blended life that includes all that drives you and brings you joy,” advised Cummings. “Women can truly have it all, but the best part is that each of us gets to define that uniquely for ourselves.”

    What does it mean to be Fierce?

    Chin up. Daring to be strong, resilient and determined.

     

    What does success, achievement and accomplishment mean to you?

    Accomplishment means nothing if it doesn’t have a true impact on real people in a positive way. Success and achievement come in seeing real results on the issues that truly matter. One of the greatest feelings of accomplishment comes from being able to see how all of your hard work made a real difference in the lives of people. I’ve spent a career advocating for those from within the bureaucracy with my skills as a manager and a leader. Always keep your eye on the ultimate purpose and goal and remain focused on real results.

     

    What motivates you in the morning?

    Lots of coffee! Plus, the responsibility I have to do great work and, in turn, support my family and the causes I care about.

    What or who is inspiring you right now? Why?

    My two sons: Their genuine thirst for understanding, their empathy, their hilarious humor and observations and their love. As a leader, I’m always inspired by those who work to help others outside themselves. Selfless leaders that remain true to themselves, keep their chin up, show resilience, can admit when they’re wrong and genuinely care about those they serve. Those leaders inspire me.

    What was the best decision you’ve made? What’s the worst?

    Best decision: getting three dogs. Worst decision: only getting three dogs.  

    What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

    Perception. People judge and believe their initial assumptions at an alarming rate. I’m often underestimated. I’ve turned it into an advantage. Next obstacle is ensuring I have the information I need to make the best decision, in life and at work. I’m always thirsty for more information and knowledge. I wish I had the time to read so many more books than I currently do.

    How do you address negativity in your life and in business?

    Negativity is still a form of communication. I use it to really understand how we can move forward. I always try to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and helping others by remaining focused on where to start, not where we’ll end up or how we’ll get there.

    Is there a particular instance or occurrence that you credit for building your confidence and self-esteem?

    I’m coming up on 20 years now leading and being led in large, public sector organizations. Confidence comes from knowing what you’re doing. Self-esteem comes from ego. I have plenty of both. I’m also proudly supported by two amazing parents that decided to immigrate to the U.S. and start a family, with no ties in the country. They boldly established our family here and taught my brother and I how to work hard and stand up for ourselves, while always remaining kind and thoughtful of the needs of others. My mother has always been my most ardent supporter and her tenacity, wit and sassy British humor has always built me up throughout my life.

    How do you empower other women?

    In my organization, women have the same opportunity to thrive as men and are held to the same high standard. As a result, everyone is encouraged to excel with confidence and those who thrive are rewarded for their performance. As a female leader, I look for helpful ways in which to hold up a mirror to women when I hear them doubting themselves, not taking credit for their own work or having their voices drowned out by others. I use moments like these to highlight the subtle ways in which women could build themselves up and be proud of themselves.

    What change do you want to see in your industry?

    College isn’t just meant for those who can afford the time and money to attend full-time school and live in the dorms. I want to see our impact grow, helping families and communities thrive and welcoming students back to the academy throughout their lives. Online learning pathways are one way to reach students and welcome them into our learning community and strong alumni family. By expanding the pathways available to students while also ensuring they remain rigorous and valuable, we meet our land grant mission. Online programs certainly aren’t the only way, but greater access and greater relevance to families is a fantastic future for higher education and, in particular, for large, public land grant institutions like the fantastic University of Florida.  

    Do you have any advice for young women as they try to achieve their goals?

    Three bits of advice. First, the timing of your life, career and family, does not need to meet others’ expectations. Plan for your career to have many phases, chapters and pathways. More importantly, know that you are free to decide what is right for you and when it is right for you. Second, nurture friendships while you nurture your goals. They will support you along the way and celebrate alongside you as you accomplish your goals. Third, don’t seek a balance. Seek a blended life that includes all that drives you and brings you joy. Women can truly have it all, but the best part is that each of us gets to define that uniquely for ourselves.

    What do you want to be remembered for?

    For hugging my loved ones too often, telling too many jokes, my fantastic spanakopita recipe and just being silly and dancing in the kitchen with my family. Professionally, for something that I haven’t done yet.

    How do you defy the current stereotypes, stigmas and double standards that women have today?

    I remain unpredictable.