Volunteer Spotlight – December 2013

Dec 1, 2013

Joe DeCristoforo
The University of Texas at San Antonio


Joe DeCristoforo

Chapter Position: Chapter President

Years of Service to the Chapter: 2 years

University Position: Associate Vice President and University Registrar

Degree(s)/Discipline: B.A., English; M.Ed./Ed.S., Counselor Education  - University of Florida; Ph.D., Research, Measurement, & Statistics - Georgia State University

How did you become involved as a chapter officer? 
When I first heard that discussions were underway between Phi Kappa Phi and our administration, I joined a working group of other faculty and staff to help start a local chapter for our campus. I had already served at two prior universities as a chapter president and chapter secretary, so I had some experience already.

What has your chapter done that has made you proud? 
Well, we have had complete support from our University President and also our Provost in bringing a chapter to UTSA. During our chartering ceremony, which was very special to me, I recall looking at our platform party and all of the Deans and Faculty in the audience waiting to be inducted. I felt a tremendous sense of achievement that what we were doing on that day would have a significant positive impact on our student population for decades to come.

What does Phi Kappa Phi mean to you? 
Phi Kappa Phi is all about academic excellence and the various ways that we can promote this concept across our campus, region, and country. I often hear the term "community of scholars" and when you work in higher education as I have for the past few decades, I have come to understand just what that really means. Interacting with students, faculty, and other staff in promoting academic excellence is a privilege I don't take lightly - it is an honor and a blessing to work toward this goal.

What do you enjoy most about being a chapter officer? 
Besides meeting new students and faculty at UTSA and getting to know them better, I've also been fortunate to serve on the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship Committee. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced before - reviewing nearly 200 applicants for these special scholarships. The talent and level of experience we saw from these applicants was inspiring and humbling. The personal statement was my favorite part of the application as you often got a glimpse of the motivation the applicants had early on in life that was their catalyst to work hard and perform so well academically.

What advice would you give to a new chapter officer? 
This is the easiest question - my advice is to understand you can't do it all by yourself. There are scholars on your campus who can help out and want to help out. You need to reach out and give them an opportunity to become involved. A few students who are energetic and motivated can make all of the difference in the world. Another lesson I learned is to keep regular monthly meetings (thanks Rebecca!); this helps everyone to stay on track as we are all pretty busy routinely but when we meet regularly, it helps to keep us all on track, working toward our common goals.

What are your hobbies? 
"Lions, Tigers, and Bears - oh my...." Well, maybe not that dramatic, but we do have horses, dogs, and cats - and lots of them. We live on a small horse ranch in Texas and we absolutely love it!  My wife, Alice (who is also Phi Kappa Phi) and I love to go fishing and boating. We first met on the campus of the University of Florida at an international folk dance event a long time ago, and we've been dancing ever since. Our favorite form of dancing right now are the Cajun/Zydeco dances you can see in cities like New Orleans and Houston. Alice and I also like to make stained glass and fused glass artwork.

Where are you from? 
I was born in New York but half of my life I've lived in Florida, and the other half in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and now Texas. Living in San Antonio is an experience unlike any other - there are so many traditions here related to The Alamo and the festive nature of the residents of this fun city.