(a plethora of yawns ….)
Right! I would be the first to admit that, in the day-to-day lives of graduate students, PDFs, and faculty, the Dean of FGS is not the first person on anyone’s mind. In fact, not in the top 3. (OK, not in the top 10. And please don’t ask me to embarrass myself further.) But that doesn’t mean that the holder of this position and the actions he/she takes don’t have some real consequences to graduate life at Dalhousie. But before getting into that, who exactly am I?
I came to Dal about 23 years ago, as part of the wave of NSERC-funded University Research Fellows in the late 1980s. We were all waiting for real, tenure-track jobs to appear. (Sound familiar?) Before that I was a graduate student at Texas A&M and Yale Universities. In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time as a graduate student; I really did (do) like to learn. I was also a post-doctoral fellow at BIO, across the Harbor for a couple of years. My research has involved understanding what happens in marine sediments after they have been deposited on the seafloor. (Something happens, you ask?)
So, why is a dean relevant? In the first week of my job, I have signed all the forms that authorize the disbursement of the second round allocations to each department with graduate students. This amounts to some $3.14M to 58 Departments, and this money partially pays for the fees and living expenses of some 950 students. (Judie Pepper does a terrific job working this all out.) The fees for your next lab or you’re next slice of pizza may just be covered by me. Only the dean has the legal authority to sign these forms.
I have already been hit by a couple of student appeals, as well as grievances and complaints. The people involved in these actions need an (hopefully fair) arbiter, and they count on me as the dean. To these individuals, the Dean is, indeed, very real.
Most programs at Dal function wonderfully, but a few do not. It is in the Office of the Dean where the latter programs come for examination and diagnosis. Dr. Dieter Pelzer (the Associate Dean) and I have long discussions about these problems and what to do; we meet with the Directors/Heads/Chairs and try to figure what will save or sink a program. That has some very real implications to the students who are in those programs or who would like to enroll in them in the future.
And I’ve only touched the surface, because I have only begun. I hope that I can be the best dean you and Dalhousie deserve. I look forward to meeting as many graduate students and post-doctoral fellow as I can in the next 5 years.
Dean of FGS