Faculty of Health and Community Studies welcomes new dean

August 25, 2016

Fred McGinn has come to listen and lead

August is quiet around MacEwan University, but there’s an animated energy percolating under the surface, in the offices and administrative areas. Just because there are fewer students on campus, doesn’t mean they aren’t the focus of all the work that happens over the summer.

Health and Community Studies Dean Fred McGinn chose the perfect time to begin his new role. “I’ve had great conversations with the people who are around,” he remarks. “I suspect I won’t have time to have as many lengthy conversations once the term starts.”

Fred joins MacEwan from Dalhousie University, where he spent the past 17 years. For seven of those years, he served as the director of the School of Health and Human Performance, but has always remained dedicated to teaching and learning. A chance at a new job at a different university—in a new province and city—appealed to him.

“I was specifically looking for a change that emphasizes newness, and MacEwan has that with the transition from college to university,” he says.

Know your dean

In the frenetic first days of university, many students have bigger concerns than finding out who their dean is. However, it’s a dean’s responsibility to understand student issues and Fred wants his students to know he has an open-door policy.

That policy extends to faculty and staff members as well. A key part of being the “new guy” is being able to listen to and learn from colleagues, and one of the tasks of overseeing 12 diverse programs is bringing people together.

“The challenge is to get everybody to a point where they see the connection between the diversity across the schools and departments,” he says. “And I'm not sure how big a challenge that is because I haven't done it yet. Governance is critical and it's the right and responsibility of faculty to control their destiny. It's the significant difference, I think, between college and university.”

Making connections

Fred has been spending his initial weeks at MacEwan connecting with and listening to his colleagues. “You honestly have to listen and not jump in with your own thoughts.” Observation is key to understanding the needs of the faculty.

“The goals of Health and Community Studies reflect the direction of the university, which is to move forward the establishment of new degrees while keeping the richness of the certificate and diploma programs,” he says. “For me, the first year is about transitioning slowly and spending a lot of time listening to people.”

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