Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to San Diego I go!

I have really exciting news: In August, I’ll be leaving UBC and Vancouver to take up the position as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Development at UC San Diego! The new Director, Beth Simon, has gotten everyone fired up about learning how to be better instructors. There are faculty just aching for some support so I’m really excited about bringing the community together to share all our expertise. Social media is about to hit teaching and learning at UCSD in a BIG way!

This is a terrific opportunity for me and a natural progression on the career path I’m following. I think I’ll finally shake the imposter syndrome I’ve felt ever since I, with a Ph.D. in mathematics, became an “astronomer.”

There’s so much do right now, not the least of which is getting my house ready to sell. If you follow me on Twitter (I’m @polarisdotca), you may have seen my #homerenovation hashtag a lot lately. Yes, so much to do but so exciting!

Stay tuned. This is just the beginning of a really great adventure!




About Peter Newbury

Find me on Twitter @polarisdotca
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12 Responses to Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to San Diego I go!

  1. Congratulations Peter! I look forward to hearing about your continuing edventures! I hope you’re keeping the blog!

  2. I hope you enjoy your new job, but if you really believe that anyone “has gotten everyone fired up about learning how to be better instructors” then you are in for a massive disappointment. There are usually a fair number of faculty interested in improving their teaching (I suspect between a quarter and half the faculty), but very, very few with the time or the inclination to listen to people from a Center for Teaching Development.

    Over the last 2 decades, the UC system has gotten more and more focused on rewarding only the number of research $ brought in (not research quality, and not teaching quality), so the incentives for faculty to spend their scarce time in activities you design are nearly non-existent.

    If you go in with the notion that you’d put together exciting programs and if you market them really well some people will benefit from them, you will do well. If you go in expecting a captive audience, you’ll likely achieve nothing.

    • I’ve learned to classify faculty as Enthusiastic (they’re likely already transforming the way they teach and have advice to share), the Willing (they want change but don’t know how, so they welcome the guidance) and the Reluctant (“Why should I change – I don’t see a problem.”) My colleague, Beth, has certainly got the Enthusiastic at UCSD excited. A big part of what she and I do in the near future will be engaging the Willing and earning their trust that we have something to offer.

      As for the Reluctant, I’m not naive enough to believe they don’t exist. And perhaps, at first, we’ll focus our attention more on the other groups of faculty. I’m pretty good at playing naive, especially Canadian naive, and I’m not afraid to accidentally-on-purpose ask an alpha-dog Reluctant if s/he’s every considered transforming the classroom from instructor- to student-centered. We’ll make the Center for Teaching Development “low-barrier”: everyone is welcome, no one will be turned away.

      And maybe we can share war stories over beer at the next all-UC BBQ!

  3. Tyler says:

    Congrats on your new position :D

  4. Carrie says:

    Congratulations! :)

  5. Janice, Tyler and Carrie – thanks for the well-wishes!


  6. Congratulations, Peter! Welcome to California!

    • Thanks, Jessica. During my UCSD interview, they asked the usual, “Is there anything you’d like to tell us?” I told them about my interest, my passion, for talking to the public about science, astronomy in particular. I asked if UCSD would support my outreach activities, if through nothing more than letting me use my UCSD credentials. They were pleased and supportive, so I’m looking forward to sharing stories about astronomy with the folks in SoCal. Being that much closer to SF and headquarters for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is another bonus!

  7. Joanne Fox says:

    This is awesome, Peter. Congratulations. I think you’re really going to enjoy the environment at UCSD.

    • Thanks, Joanne! I’m sure I will enjoy the environment, both professionally — there’s a buzz about teaching and learning just beneath the surface that’s ready to bust out — and personally — it never freezes and they might get 5-10 inches of rain per year. Geez, we get 5-10 inches* of rain per week in Vancouver sometimes. At least it feels like it!

      * Look at me, going all imperial-measurements already. Later, dude!

  8. Dear Peter,

    As your friend and colleague, and fellow enthusiast in improving teaching for undergraduates, I have to say that I am incredibly happy and proud for you. Your achievements shine light in the fact that we need amazing teachers just as much as we need wonderful teachers. You are a beacon of hope in a sea of turbulent times for the higher education field. Enjoy San Diego (and I know I will come to visit soon enough!)

    Best wishes

    • Thank-you so much, Raul, for these very kind words. I’m excited to start this new adventure in San Diego yet saddened to be leaving behind my community in Vancouver and at UBC. I take heart in the fact that, despite rarely seeing each other in person, you and I are friends and colleagues. Twitter knows no boundaries or timezones so I know we’ll continue to be. When you hit San Diego, though, we’ll definitely go for drinks!

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