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Leadership Team

Rob Bruce

Robert Bruce

Director, William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education

Telephone: 919-962-2646
Contact: Valerie Madill
Telephone: 919-962-1107

The Friday Center director provides administrative oversight for all of the Center’s programs and services. The director oversees development of education programs that accommodate a wide range of learners and broaden access to the University’s resources; and promotes the center’s mission, vision, values, and strategy. The director also fosters collaborative partnerships within the University community and across other institutions.

Dr. Rob Bruce joined the Friday Center in 2011, after nineteen years of experience working as a higher education leader in a variety of academic roles. Before joining the Friday Center he served as the associate dean for research and continuing innovative education at the University of Texas at Austin. Rob earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s and doctorate in English from Texas A&M University. His scholarship has focused on 19th and 20th century American literature.


Rob Bruce

Annette Madden

Director, Professional Development and Enrichment Programs

Telephone: 919-962-1123

The director for Professional Development and Enrichment Programs leads the development and execution of noncredit continuing education programs including evening courses, seminars, lecture series, and professional certificate programs—with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaborations and extension of the University’s research and resources to a broader community.

Annette Madden earned her BA in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and her MEd in higher education administration from North Carolina State University. Her diverse career in continuing education has included work in health affairs, women’s studies, business, and the performing arts.  For the past seventeen years she has served as program director of the BRIDGES Academic Leadership for Women program.  She is the 2007 recipient of UNC-Chapel Hill’s University Award for the Advancement of Women. 


Annette MaddenValerie Madill

Executive Assistant/Human Resources Facilitator

Telephone: 919-962-1107

The executive assistant and human resources facilitator serves on the leadership team through scheduling and attendance of intradepartmental meetings, recording meeting minutes, and coordinating all meetings with the director's office. The executive assistant also organizes the scheduling, location, attendance, and materials for the Center's administrative board meetings.

Valerie Madill holds a BS degree in mathematics with a minor in statistics from California State University, Chico. She has served in her role in the director's office since 2009 and also serves as the Friday Center's human resources facilitator.  


Cecily Nisbet

Development Officer

Telephone: 919-962-1124

The development officer creates and executes long-term strategies to secure funds in support of the mission and programs of the Friday Center—identifying, cultivating, and stewarding individual, foundation, and corporate donors. The development officer also works with marketing staff and program development personnel to optimize Center programming opportunities for building financial support.

Cecily Nisbet received a BS in hotel management from Cornell University after growing up in the hotel business in Hawaii. For the past fifteen years she has worked in alumni relations and fundraising for various organizations, including Harvard and Cornell universities. She is the chair of the board of Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill. She relocated to Chapel Hill from Cambridge, Massachusetts three years ago so her husband could begin working for the Ackland Art Museum. They have two young children.


Tyler Ritter

Tyler Ritter

Director, Communication and Instructional Design

Telephone: 919-843-5836

The director for Communication and Instructional Design directs strategic marketing initiatives to support the full range of the Center's programs and services—credit, noncredit, and conference center—and oversees development of all promotional and instructional materials, with particular emphasis on online course design and implementation.

Tyler Ritter has twenty-five years of experience in marketing and strategic communication design. She has worked with the Friday Center's department for communication and instructional design since 2004. Prior to joining the Center, she held senior leadership positions in several regional advertising agencies. Tyler obtained her BA in speech communication from UNC-Greensboro. In 2010 she earned a graduate certificate in technology and communication from UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Journalism.  


Rob Bruce

Timothy Sanford

Director, Credit Programs for Part-time Students

Telephone: 919-962-2644

The director for Credit Programs for Part-time Students oversees all aspects of the Center's credit-granting programs and services, including oversight of key academic programs such as Carolina Courses Online, Part-time Classroom Studies, and Self-paced Courses.

Tim Sanford has over thirty years of experience working in the fields of institutional research and continuing education. He has worked at the Friday Center since 2002 and has been affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill since 1976. Tim also serves as an adjunct associate professor at UNC's School of Information and Library Science. He earned his PhD in higher and adult education from UNC-Chapel Hill and his AB in chemistry from Gettysburg College. He serves on the board of directors for the Association for Continuing Higher Education.


Virginia Taylor

Community and University Relations Coordinator

Telephone: 919-962-1618

The community and university relations coordinator develops and implements the Friday Center's community relations programs to ensure the Center's presence in local, regional, state, and national communities. The community and university relations coordinator is responsible for establishing, nurturing, and maintaining positive external relationships with individuals, businesses, and organizations that support the Center and its mission.

Virginia Taylor joined the Friday Center team after working for eight years as assistant to Bill Friday. She has work and volunteer experience with many non-profits and faith communities in Chapel Hill and Durham. Virginia earned a BBA in business and an MA in community counseling from the University of Mississippi, and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.


Rob Bruce

Debra Watkins

Director, Conference Center

Telephone: 919-962-2591

The director for conference and event services directs and executes logistics for conferences and events hosted at the Friday Center and oversees the daily operations of the Friday Center's conference facility including oversight of conference planning, business development, and technology services.

Debra Watkins has thirty-five years of experience in events management. She was previously senior associate director for events management at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Union, where she collaborated with all segments of the University community on the development of University policies, programs, and services for student organizations. For ten years, Debra served on the Carolina Union Performing Arts committee, and in 2011 she received the University's Diversity award. Debra holds a BS in business administration from North Carolina Central University.