University Aviation Association elects officers

Dr. José R. Ruiz of Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently assumed the University Aviation Association’s (UAA) top elected position as president for 2012-13.

As one of his first official duties, he announced the election of Dr. Julie Speakes to a one-year term as president elect and Jorge E. Calaf to a two-year term as treasurer. Members elected to three-year terms on the Board of Trustees include: Dr. Timm J. Bliss and  Eric J. Shappee as educator trustees, and Jesse Schoonover as a corporate trustee

Ruiz is a professor in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). He has also served as the department’s Airline Flight Operations internship coordinator since 1997. In 2009, Ruiz authored the book Airline Internships: Career Implications. During the course of a 20-year U.S. Air Force career, he served as an air traffic controller, a commissioned air traffic control officer and a communications officer. Ruiz possesses a Ph.D. in Education – Workforce Education and Development from SIUC. He earned a Master of Aeronautical Science Degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Park University. Ruiz holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

Speakes is the chair of the Department of Commercial Aviation at Delta State University (Mississippi) where she oversees the undergraduate and graduate courses and teaches in the graduate program. Prior to returning to Delta State in 2012, Speakes served as chair of Aviation Management and Business Division at Middle Georgia College. At MGC, Speakes helped build a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Degree with four tracks: flight management, air traffic control management, airport management, and logistics management. She also served on the Georgia Aviation Implementation Team for the Georgia Aviation Authority (GAA) and the Transportation Education Foundation of Georgia (TEFGA). Speakes earned a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi, and Master of Commercial Aviation, Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commercial Aviation degrees from Delta State She is a gold seal flight instructor.

Calaf is dean of the School of Aeronautics, Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR), located in San Juan. Previously, Calaf was a captain for part 135 operator Kingfisher Air Services. Calaf earned a Master of Arts degree in Computer Science from Duke University, and obtained a bachelor of business administration in Quantitative Methods and Accounting from the University of Puerto Rico. He is actively certified as a CPA in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and has held the following professional certifications: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certificate in Production and Inventory Control Management (CPIM), Certificate in Integrated Resources Management (CIRM), Certified Systems Professional (CCP), Certified Quality Manager (CQM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Green Belt Six Sigma (CGBSS).

Bliss is an associate professor in the Aerospace Administration and Operations program at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and was appointed the Roger Hardesty Endowed Chair in Aviation Science in 2008. His teaching and research interests include the economic and fiscal aspects of the U.S. airline industry, airline leadership and management, and airline labor relations. Bliss is the co-author of a new textbook, Labor Relations in the Aviation and Aerospace Industries, and has seven published articles in the Collegiate Aviation Review. Bliss holds doctorate and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State and a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University. Bliss received the OSU-Tulsa President’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2011, the OSU Regent’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007 and the OSU President’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding Student Advisement in 2004.

Shappee is as an associate professor of aviation at Kansas State University at Salina in the professional pilot program. Shappee teaches numerous aviation courses, including Introduction to Aviation, System Safety, Safety Management, and Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems. Shappee earned a Master in Aeronautical Science and Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Bachelor in Aeronautical Science and two Associate Degrees from Antelope Valley College. He was recently named a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators. Shappee has been active in the field of aviation since 1986 and teaching since 1995. He holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, multi-engine, and glider ratings. He is also a certified flight instructor with gold seal.

Schoonover is founder and co-owner of Paradigm Shift Solutions, Inc. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, CFI, CFII, MEI flight instructor certificates and a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology degree. His aviation experience includes flying for a 121 air carrier and owner and operator of a FAA Part 141 flight school. For the past decade, Schoonover’s professional focus has been on improving the efficiency and affordability of flight training for career oriented pilots. This effort has resulted in the development of integrated flight standards manuals, jet equivalency training programs, airline partnerships and a full line of flight simulation training devices.

These newly elected officers and trustees join a 14-member governing board in charting the strategic direction of the association.

“The UAA is privileged to add these esteemed individuals to the UAA Board of Trustees.” said Ruiz. ”Their commitment to aviation education and the strong leadership they represent positions the organization to address critical issues such as the rising costs of education and training, and the impact of legislation and changes to governmental rules.”

The University Aviation Association (UAA), a nonprofit organization, represents more than 525 members consisting of educators, students, high schools, two- and four-year collegiate institutions offering aviation degree programs, and organizations and industry representatives that support collegiate aviation. The UAA also serves as the voice of collegiate aviation education to government, industry organizations and the general public.

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