Reflections on Leadership and Service

What makes a good leader? Lucky for me there are many qualities that contribute to great leadership, so if you miss a few you can still be a good leader.   What I offer is organization, positive outlook, hard work, creativity, respectful atmosphere, focus, fair mindedness, and follow-through. I have chaired a number of committees.  They have been for diverse purposes with members from different units.  Developing a committee of committed members is the best way to start, followed up with regular meetings that are within a reasonable timeframe and focused.  Well-organized agendas followed by detailed minutes maintain the momentum of a project. I am very proud of the work accomplished by the GS/CMS and Biology Curriculum Committees.

With the development of the new Biology specialization we face the task of program and course curriculum development.  This was an opportune time to apply for funds through Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI).  Some of the previous projects had not gone well so my first task was to identify the issues by meeting with the individuals involved to avoid similar situations and to generate enthusiasm for the proposed project.   Working groups were set up for the targeted fundamentals courses. I developed the proposal with consultation of the working groups and funds were approved to hire 5 Science Teaching and Learning Fellows (STLFs) for three years.  I organized and coordinated a day-long Biology Retreat on August 4th (2011) to get the five working groups together in preparation for the upcoming CWSEI project (each STLF hire was designated to a discipline stream with a focus on the fundamentals course in that stream).

In addition to CWSEI we showcased pilots for fundamentals courses, other science education initiatives, sustainability initiatives in Science and at UBC, discussed the latest research on active learning, and had a panel of UBC STLFs to present on transformations they have worked on and to answer questions.  The afternoon was spent on brainstorming in working groups.  The retreat was well attended (46 attendees) and very productive.  See the Prezi of the Introduction to the Retreat.

Our new Biology Specialization no longer has options.  Students have one program and can, through course selection, focus their studies or diversify.  I coordinated the Biology Website ( redevelopment to reflect changes in the specialization and to modernize the site.  We are currently developing a more robust advising component whereby students can identify different pathways of study if they choose to focus. The most challenging has been the sustainability pathway.  We are committed to offering this option to students and are currently working on the framework. It will be a collaborative project involving many units on campus including the Sustainability Initiative.  The directives for applying such a path have not yet been established so many eyes will be on us. I currently chair the newly formed Sustainability in Biology Committee.

Contributing to the community is what service is about whether it is in the broad community as in an elementary school, or here at UBC in the Faculty of Science.  On one hand it is an obligation and on the other it is something I really enjoy.  I get to meet a diversity of people, be involved in interesting projects, and make a difference.