UCF psychology professor Paula Reynoso died over the winter break, according to an announcement psychology department chair Florian Jentsch sent Friday.
There is no information for Reynoso’s cause of death nor for any arrangements.
“Dr. Reynoso was a very experienced faculty member who cared deeply about the teaching of psychology to all students, and especially those at UCF Connect, who often had their first connection with the major and the College of Sciences through her,” Jentsch said.
Reynoso started working at UCF in 2003, and she most recently taught at UCF Valencia West. She worked with many students on directed research and honors projects and was involved in service activities, Jentsch said.
Reynoso had a doctorate in psychology from the University of California Irvine, and her research background was in the cognitive processing of functional knowledge structures, according to her UCF biography.
"While I had limited interactions with Paula over the years, I do know that her impact was particularly felt at the regional (later UCF Connect) campuses, through her online teaching, and by her representing these campuses at the department and university levels,” Jentsch said.
Jentsch said that the department became aware of her death over the past 48 hours and that it is making arrangements for students who were enrolled in Reynoso’s class.
Junior psychology major Bryce Muñiz was going to take Reynoso’s history and systems of psychology online course.
Muñiz said that she emailed an academic support services director after a few days of not having any content for the class on Webcourses. She was told that Reynoso died.
The class then received a mass email on Thursday to inform them. The professors have changed a few times for Muñiz’s schedule, and students received an email saying the activity for financial aid would be extended, which Muñiz was worried about.
Muñiz said that she was looking forward to Reynoso’s class because of her rating and positive comments on Rate My Professors. Muñiz thought that Reynoso would be nice, caring and dedicated to her class and students.
“It was just sad and surprising to hear that someone had passed away,” Muñiz said. “It was just crazy. It was like the last thing that I expected to happen, honestly.”
Psychology professor Chrysalis Wright said she that was working from home on Friday when she received Jentsch’s announcement.
“I just kind of sat there for a minute. I mean, I still don’t understand,” Wright said.
Wright said that Reynoso was the first faculty member to introduce herself after Wright’s first faculty meeting in 2011. She said that she clearly remembers that day as Reynoso gave her advice about being a new professor and spoke about UCF.
“It just seemed like she had a skill for making you feel like you already belong,” Wright said. “I know she was very patient with her students, very compassionate and understanding.”
Wright said that Reynoso’s position can be replaced but not her as a person nor what she brought to UCF.
“I know the students that she had really thought very highly of her,” Wright said. “She definitely left her mark at UCF, and she’ll be remembered for all of the things that she did.”
This is a developing story and has been updated as of Wednesday. Please check back with NSM Today for updates as more information becomes available.