16 faculty members promoted to full professors
Teaching excellence a must for the new rank
Mount Royal passed another huge milestone in the transition from college to university on May 7 when 16 faculty members were promoted to full professor status, the highest academic rank in a university.
The newly-minted professors were chosen for promotion based on their scholarship, service to the community and teaching abilities.
MRU’s strong focus on teaching and learning meant excellent teaching skills were a primary consideration, according to provost and vice-president academic Robin Fisher, who chairs the committee responsible for tenure and promotion.
“No matter what else you’re doing at Mount Royal, you have to be a great teacher to become a full professor,” Fisher said.
He said student evaluations are a critical part of how the committee assesses teaching ability, calling them “the key piece of evidence.” Fisher also noted that while MRU’s approach is different from many universities because of the emphasis on teaching and learning rather than scholarship, there is no doubt that the faculty members who were chosen are creditable by any standard.
“These 16 would be full professors in any university, they’re just fabulous,” he said.
The process of developing an academic ranking system specifically for Mount Royal started about six years ago, when the school was beginning the last phase of transitioning to a university. Fisher said the appointment of full professors is a critical part of being a university in Canada, so this is “a huge moment for the institution.”
Steven Engler has taught at Mount Royal for 12 years in the humanities department, and is one of the new professors. He said the introduction of full professors is important for MRU, and the promotion is also personally significant because it represents the respect of his colleagues.
“It’s important to the individuals primarily because of the perspective of my colleagues in the department,” Engler said. “Other people might not see it that way, but that’s the most important thing for me.”
Engler, along with any other faculty members interested in professor status, was required to submit what Fisher called “a substantial binder of evidence” to prove he was worthy of the rank. The information was reviewed at the department level, then by the Dean and finally by the tenure and promotion committee.
“It’s a robust process,” Fisher said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work for the candidates and it’s a lot of work for the committee, but it’s an important decision so you want to be convinced, when someone’s promoted to full professor, that it’s deserved.”
The committee’s work is far from over now that the first professors have been recognized. Fisher said there will be annual opportunities for faculty members to apply for the rank.
“I’m sure there will be applications every year,” he said. “That process will continue, and as people reach the bar they will apply and be promoted.”
Mount Royal University’s full professors are:
Duane Bratt, PhD, Department of Policy Studies
Dawne Clark, PhD, Department of Child and Youth Studies
John Cox, PhD, Department of Earth Sciences
Steven Engler, PhD, Department of Humanities
Richard Gale, PhD, Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Katja Hoehn, MD, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
Mark Lafave, PhD, Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies
David Legg, PhD, Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies
Irene Naested, EdD, Department of Education and Schooling
Todd Nickle, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
Robin Owen, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
Izak Paul, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
Bruce Ravelli, PhD, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
David Taras, PhD, Faculty of Communication Studies
Norman Vaughan, PhD, Department of Education and Schooling
John Winterdyk, PhD, Centre of Criminology and Justice Research