MRU’s new Dean of Science seeks to ‘give back’ with his role
Jonathan Withey brings with him a host of research history
By Riley Nerbas, Staff Writer
Mount Royal University’s new dean of science and technology Jonathan Withey, is bringing with him a sound educational background and experience from Edmonton’s MacEwan University.
Oxford-educated Withey took the position of the dean of science and technology on Jan. 3, from new interim provost Jeff Goldberg who left the position mid last year, and from Mary O’Connor, who filled in for Goldberg until the end of December 2016.
“It was appealing to me in terms of, not just a move to add diversity to my own career, but also a real opportunity to give back to faculty and students in the role as Dean,” Withey says.
Withey spent 12 and a half years at MacEwan University, where among other things, he researched biowaste conversion -successfully securing a grant from the government of Canada for his work. He also researched new medical applications for organic molecules, according to Mount Royal’s website.
Withey hoped that his application for the position at MRU would be the next step in a life devoted to growth and knowledge.
After various application stages and spending a full day on campus, Withey decided to accept the position of Dean. In his new role he hopes to give back to a career he believes has given him so much throughout his life.
“I worked on contract negotiations with the Faculty Association, I became a program chair and subsequently a department chair to help assist my colleagues within the department and I think this is, in some ways, the next logical step to serve a community of faculty and students more broadly,” said Withey.
Withey is quick to mention how fortunate he is to have experienced the opportunities offered him in his career. Looking back he says he never saw himself becoming a teacher of post-secondary education.
As an adolescent he dreamed and worked hard towards becoming a Royal Air Force fighter jet pilot, but in his late teens he began having issues with his eyesight and was unable to accomplish his dream. So, instead, he got a scholarship and applied himself to science and a post-secondary education career teaching new budding talent in the fields of science and technology.
In his spare time, Withey is an avid jogger who used to run a mini-marathon of 160 km a week- roughly 22 km a day. He says this helped clear his head and decipher the problems of an everyday career. He was also a competitive rower at Oxford.
According to Withey, he has plans for small changes in the science and technology institution with his new position. He hopes to deliver a more specialized focus for future students. Some programs are currently under review and revision, and the specialized programs are expected to be rolled out in the coming academic school year.
Programs that are considered a cornerstone of MRU such as the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree and geology and environmental science, will most likely remain unchanged.
Withey looks forward to combining leadership and management and facilitating close communication between students and faculty for the foreseeable future.