20 Questions with Dean Ugena Whitlock

Where were you born?

Russellville, AlabamaWhat did you dream of being when you were a child?
A CIA Agent

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
I have four favorite teachers: my second-, fourth-, sixth-, and ninth-grade algebra teacher—Mrs. Fowler, Mrs. Wimberley, Miss Renwick, and Mrs. Mansell, respectively. Each of them believed in me and could see what I could achieve even when I didn’t know what to dream of. They had the gift of being able to show me the big, wide world from Littleville, Alabama. They are why I am here today.

What was your first job?
Burger King

What’s a talent you wish you had?
I wish I could play the piano and dance—but not at the same time.

What book is on your nightstand right now?
“Mobituaries” by Mo Rocca and “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business” by Patrick Lencioni. As you can see, I have eclectic tastes.

What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Retail therapy and television.

Do you have any pets?
I have 2 cats, Spike and Trevor, and 2 dogs, Duncan and Caroline. Spike has her own social media presence (@SpikeFeline).

What three albums would you want with you on a desert island?
Hotel California by the Eagles; Sam Cook: Portrait of a Legend; Elvis Presley, The 50’s Masters

What’s your favorite vacation place?
New York City

What or who inspires you?
My family inspires me. In spite of challenges, obstacles, and hardship, they keep striving.

Favorite TV or streaming show?
“House of the Dragon” and documentaries

What 3 people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Elvis Presley, and Flannery O’Connor

What five items (not counting pets) in your possession have special significance for you?
Robert F. Kennedy campaign materials from 1968, my 1958 Smith Corona Silent Super typewriter, gifts my children made me, my mother’s Thermos bottle, my family’s ceramic Christmas Tree

Tell us about something on your bucket list.
I don’t really have a bucket list. I want to travel and maybe spend tons of time in a beach house somewhere.

What’s your guilty pleasure (food, music, TV or movie)?
Andy’s Frozen Custard and “Married at First Sight”

Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?
The beach

What’s your favorite holiday and why?
I like Memorial Day because it is the official beginning of summer holiday.

What’s your favorite thing about USC Upstate?
I love the beautiful campus, and that it is small enough to get to know the people here. Upstate is a great place to work!

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I saw Elvis in concert in 1975, and I went to seminary to study for the ministry.