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Profiles in Leadership: Nancy Marcus Reflects on 30 Years of Research, Students and Service

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When Nancy Marcus arrived at Florida State University in 1987, she didn’t have plans to stay very long.

Thirty years later, the oceanographer-turned-administrator has left an indelible mark at FSU — as a pioneer in her field, as a role model for women in STEM and as the dean of the Graduate School for the past 12 years.

“I love Florida State. I think I’ve contributed to it, but certainly Florida State has provided me with some wonderful opportunities,” Marcus said.

A native of the Northeast, Marcus pursued her undergraduate degree at Goucher College in Baltimore, Md. She studied biology and spent time in the marine field with stints at the Duke Marine Lab and the Bermuda Biological Station for Research.

“At the time, back in the late 1960s, the most likely path for women was to teach in the public schools,” Marcus said. “But when I went to visit one of my college friends who was doing that, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

Marcus returned to school, heading to Yale University where she would earn both her master’s and doctoral degrees. She then completed post-doctoral work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., eventually joining the facility’s scientific staff for the next 11 years until the opportunity arose to come to FSU.

“Florida seemed like a ways away from what I’d been familiar with,” Marcus said. “But I said, ‘Hey, I’ll give it five years and go somewhere else,’ and here I am, 30 years later.”

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