Professor Allan Strong returns full-time to teaching and research in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. This summer, after eight productive years helping to lead the School, Allan steps down from his role as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development.
“As an administrator, I had the opportunity to think about the School holistically, much differently than as a faculty member focused on teaching and research — a much more independent endeavor,” said Allan, a 1983 alum of the School’s Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program, who re-joined the School in 1999 as a visiting assistant professor in the program. “It was rewarding to guide what our faculty, staff, and students are all doing and how the School as a whole is shaping society, the environment, and the world through student engagement.”
Allan became associate dean in 2011, and his tenure spanned three deans: Mary Watzin, Jon Erickson, and Nancy Mathews. He coordinated more than 50 faculty promotions, tenures, and reappointments. For the more than 45 faculty in the School, Allan administered sabbaticals, workloads, and close to 300 annual reviews. He assigned teaching responsibilities in conjunction with administering the schedule of courses for the School each semester. He established a junior faculty mentoring program to help guide young faculty in teaching and research. He also led the revision of annual review guidelines to include the expectation that all faculty and staff engage in efforts to support the goals of the inclusive excellence plan.
Some of Allan’s greatest achievements as associate dean involved assessments of the School’s undergraduate curricula and commitment to diversity and equity in the School. He led assessments of the undergraduate program curricula and especially the School’s core curriculum, a process required by the University of Vermont for accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
“We asked ourselves what we want our students to be able to do when they graduate,” said Allan. The work resulted in clear learning outcomes for each academic program in the School and ten core competencies and knowledge areas associated with the School’s core curriculum, which became a model on campus.
He also put much effort into a revision of the School’s diversity curriculum and implementation of a School-wide equity assessment. In 2018, he coordinated a major overhaul of NR 6 Race and Culture in Natural Resources, a required first-year course, to make it more intentional and to help faculty discover that they could deliver content themselves without relying on outside lecturers. During the 2017-2018 academic year, he led an equity assessment in the School with Shadiin Garcia of Shoreline Consulting.
“The assessment happened fortuitously the same year as the students’ ‘NoNames for Justice’ activism related to diversity, equity, and inclusivity on campus,” said Allan, who will continue to lead the School’s diversity and inclusive classroom efforts as a faculty member. “It was a great time for students, faculty, and staff to engage with Shadiin.” The review resulted in creation of an IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Action) committee in the School to consider how to reward faculty for efforts to promote equity and recognition of diversity in their teaching, research, and service.
“Allan’s leadership over the last eight years has helped to transform the School, which nearly doubled in size from the time he started until now,” said Dean Nancy Mathews. “The School has attained national preeminence, thanks in part to Allan’s leadership. Above and beyond his administrative duties, he continued to teach and conduct research and was successfully promoted to full professor during his leadership tenure in the School. We will miss Allan enormously in the Dean’s Suite but are grateful for his return to full teaching and research programs in the School. We can count on his creativity and innovation to continue to enrich our community.”
While associate dean, Allan, an avian ecologist and conservation biologist, continued to study nesting and survival of grassland and shrubland bird species, especially on agricultural landscapes in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. His research outcomes help to integrate bird conservation into economically viable agricultural management practices for farmers.
He also taught summer courses in Field Ornithology and Wildlife Habitat and Population Management, spring break travel courses in Florida and Texas, Wildlife Conservation for non-majors, an Honors College seminar, NR 6 and a senior level diversity course, and an introductory graduate level course. Upon his return to the faculty, Allan will pick up the semester-long Ornithology course and a new one-credit critical reflection and dialogue course to prepare students for NR 6.
“I have enjoyed getting to know each faculty member in the School, and I look forward to being back in the classroom and field full-time engaging with students and building up my bird research program again,” said Allan.
Professor Nathan Sanders has been appointed as the new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development of the Rubenstein School. Nate directed the UVM Environmental Program since January 2017. Associate Professor Brendan Fisher will serve as Acting Interim Director of the Environmental Program.