My introduction to advising and student service was as a Senior Faculty Advisor in the Dean of Science Office (1996 – 2002). Much of it was straightforward academic advising, but it was helping students find solutions to challenges that was the most rewarding. In 1998 I split my time between being an Academic Advisor (M&P) and a sessional lecturer. While I really liked both jobs, I decided to pursue the teaching path, and continued advising (volunteer) with the Faculty of Science Office until 2004. I have been an advisor in Biology since 2000 and advised for Integrated Sciences between 2003 and 2005.
I was aware of the struggles many General Science (GS) Students were having. It was often difficult to get their choice of courses and many students ended up with an unfocused degree. This was compounded by the restrictions in a number of programs that meant that General Science ballooned with students who had other aspirations, but not the requisite grades. When I was asked in 2008 to be the director for the program I enthusiastically accepted. In addition ot regular office hours, I developed advising online resources that were organized by topic and prerequisite as well as a program worksheet. I also organized a number of Information Sessions so students could make the most of their undergraduate education by informing them about academic opportunities and career preparation.
The Faculty of Science was awarded Strategic Project Funding (SPF). Among the recipients were General Science and Biology. Resources were available for restructuring both programs. As chair of the GS Curriculum committee I (with the help of Ian Cavers) assembled a team to address the problems with General Science. Curriculum reform included identifying courses in the Faculty of Science that would fulfill our newly developed program-level learning objectives and developing new courses with experiential learning and communication focus. The specialization was so different from GS that we decided to generate a new specialization and Combined Major in Science (CMS) was born. (Support Document for curriculum change.)
I wore two director hats (GS and CMS) and the trick was to begin implementation of the new program while supporting the old. Chemistry, Earth and Ocean Science, and Biology each received funds to hire instructors for new CMS courses. SCIE 300 (Communicating in Science) was a course unlike any other in the Faculty of Science (except for SCIE 113 which had just finished being developed) and I recognized that we needed a course coordinator. I applied for and received a TLEF grant. Most of the award went to hiring Eric Jandcui (science journalist) with additional funds coming from the Faculty of Science. We could also hire an undergraduate. Two fulltime instructor hires were allotted from the SPF for SCIE 300 and departments were asked to submit proposals. A course development team was established with members from the participating departments: Eric Jandcui, Andrew Trites (Biology), Bruce Dunham (Statistics), Jennifer Love (Chemistry), Robin Stoodley (Chemistry) and myself. Additional responsibilities included overseeing funding allocation and progress of the development of new lab courses, coordinating course and program-level curriculum changes for the calendar and advising GS students.
Concurrently, curriculum changes were underway in Biology. Initially I sat on the Biology Curriculum Workgroup Committee as the Director of General Science and Combined Majors. I took on a more active role role as I had more experience than most committee members with undergraduate programs. Trish Schulte was instrumental in getting the new Biology Specialization finalized. She went on sabbatical the summer of 2010 and I assumed the Chair of the Curriculum Working Group. Many issues still needed to be resolved with the new program including curriculum change approvals, course development, and student notification. We also needed to begin course curriculum development. A Proposal for Carl Wieman was developed and approved. To kick-start the initiative I organized a Botany Retreat in August that also included a number of presentations on other teaching and learning initiatives (see Reflections on Leadership).
I was appointed Associate Head of Biology on July 1st 2011 (Appendix B-I, pg A-2). So far, my duties have included: applying for CWSEI funding, coordinating CWSEI STLF (Science Teaching and Learning Fellow) hires, biology working group assembly for fundamentals course development, course planning and scheduling (a little challenging this year due the old and new program running concurrently), restructuring the Biology program website, grad checks, exchange decisions, meeting with instructors and sessional lecturers to discuss teaching related issues, and working with the Heads of Botany and Zoology to determine teaching assignments. We are currently working on teaching loads and a four-year teaching plan. I chair the newly formed SIB Committee (Sustainability in Biology. Gary Bradfield (former Sustainability Fellow) and I are planning a sustainability pathway in the Biology specialization.