2017 LEAD Award Goes to Rory Waterman, Chemistry, UVM
Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s 2017 LEAD Award supporting unique leadership advancement opportunities of potential high impact for Cottrell Scholars goes to Rory Waterman (CS 2009), chemistry, University of Vermont.
Waterman said he was motivated to apply for the competitive career award, one of four available to Cottrell Scholars, when, in 2016, UVM’s new Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences asked him to serve as an associate dean.
“I was keen to focus on issues of education that have had limited attention at UVM,” he said, adding that he is now well on schedule to assist UVM natural science chairs to focus on retention in their majors, “and we will at least double our biology first-year interest group, initiate a new neuroscience first-year interest group, and create integrated first-year programs for most if not all STEM majors.”
He said he is looking toward developing relationships off campus, starting with the Vermont State College system, and he is reflecting on what will be needed to make these initiatives successful.
Silvia Ronco, RCSA Senior Program Director said, "The LEAD program is designed to help Cottrell Scholars enhance skills that will serve them well as they become the future academic leaders. LEAD does not support research activities; rather, it assists the Scholars with leadership growth, tailored to individual, unique opportunities."
Waterman said he will use LEAD Award funds to attend two programs: the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Emerging Leaders Program and the Academic Leadership Academy at Penn.
While these conferences have different constituencies -- all institutions vs. state colleges/universities -- and offer different content foci, he noted, “The content of both programs are the core skills that I lack from training to support my work developing leadership work at UVM and beyond.”
In addition, Waterman intends to use LEAD funding to accomplish two major goals: 1} He is hoping to advance the national dialog about instructional practice at institutions, and; 2) He proposes to strengthen international ties in research.
On the first point, Waterman is convinced that, “Chairs must be the emissaries for institutions to change. The dialog needs a correction that puts faculty and administrators in the same mind set,” he said, adding that he is confident it will be possible develop tools to promote that correction. “Between the available literature and my experience with the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative’s New Faculty Workshop, I propose to produce a pamphlet, a manual perhaps, to guide department chairs in seeking that common ground for this dialog, and for advancing student success,” he said.
When it comes to strengthening international research ties, Waterman said he intends to use a small portion of LEAD support to initiate these efforts with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). “Within the RSC's divisions, there are interest groups, one of these is main group chemistry,” he noted. “I plan to reach out to this group and develop a multi-year plan for increased collaboration with the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry.”
Waterman said his plan for strengthening international ties would likely include creating “lasting components” like an annual on-line symposium and a digital network for students.
“The leadership challenge for new programming is not its initiation, but creating an infrastructure that does not rely on an individual to maintain—promoting community ownership,” Waterman said.