December 6, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Latoya Townes has spent her entire 20-year career in the Department of Exercise Science – working behind the scenes as a key member of the administrative team that keeps the department thriving.
“The ink on her degree hadn’t even dried before she was offered a job with the department,” exercise science professor Mark Davis said when Townes joined the Arnold School’s largest department. It was 2001, and Townes had just completed a bachelor’s degree in information management from UofSC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.
Originally from Orangeburg, the move to Columbia was an easy transition for Townes. Even before her graduation, she had already found a home with the exercise science department as an undergraduate work-study student. Townes’ roommate had held the position during the previous year and connected her with the department’s business manager when she couldn’t return to the role.
“I said yes and have been here ever since,” Townes says. “From day one, I have grown in my loyalty to the Department of Exercise Science, which has always been an extended family to me – celebrating the highs and corralling through tragedy.”
Townes’ first position was as an administrative assistant – a position she held for 16 years. The next two years saw Townes serving as the business manager for the department.
From day one, I have grown in my loyalty to the Department of Exercise Science, which has always been an extended family to me – celebrating the highs and corralling through tragedy.
-Latoya Townes, human resources manager for exercise science
In her current role as human resources manager, Townes maintains personnel files for all exercise science employees. These responsibilities include activities related to hiring, separation, time/leave management, position actions and management, account changes, summer salary, payroll, etc. for 90 students, faculty and staff.
For the past 17 years, Townes has also served as the department’s graduate coordinator. During this time, the department and its programs have grown significantly in rankings and reputation – climbing to the No. 1 spot in the nation for its doctoral program.
“Latoya is one of the most positive people I have ever encountered and is incredibly competent at her job,” says Shawn Arent, chair of the department. “I have found myself relying on her opinion and skill set more and more. While the length of her experience here gives tremendous historical insight, I am very appreciative of the fact that she is so open to new ideas and helps find productive ways forward for whatever crazy idea I throw her way!”
With a career spanning two decades, Townes’ tenure at UofSC makes her one of the most experienced staff members in the Arnold School. She generously lends her veteran knowledge to her role as the co-chair for the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Staff Committee. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, listening to music and watching the Gamecocks play. Her greatest love is spending time with family, especially her son, Tre’.
“There are so many things I love about my job,” Townes says when reflecting on her career. “It’s rewarding to watch the maturity of the students over the years they matriculate through the graduate programs. Also, I’m very proud of faculty and students who excel in their careers. I’m grateful to be a part of a team of staff who work together and accomplish what seems impossible!.I have had the fortunate opportunity to maintain friendships with past students, faculty and staff who have graced the halls of exercise science. It’s been a pleasure to work with them while they were here and especially heartwarming when they return for a visit.”
The Staff Spotlight Series is sponsored by the Arnold School's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.