Meeting Report

52nd Annual Meeting

2-4 November, 2023

Banff Park Lodge

Banff, AB

 

There were 25 registrants for the 52nd Annual Meeting of the CCUBC, hosted in the comfortable Banff Park Lodge, of which 21 were Biology Department Chairs and Heads and 4 were invited speakers and participants. The meeting comprised seven highly interactive, formal sessions as well as ample opportunities for socializing and getting a bit of fresh mountain air.

 

The meeting kicked off with a reception and mixer on Thursday night, and the regular sessions commenced on Friday morning following a hearty breakfast buffet. Session 1 was an “ice breaker” where we paired up and discussed our departmental strengths, internal weaknesses, external threats, and future opportunities, and shared these back with the group. There were remarkable similarities in the situation we face among many of our institutions, and it is always heartening to know that many challenges that we cope with in leadership are common.

 

Session 2 was an update from NSERC delivered by Dr. Marc Fortin, VP of Research Grants and Scholarships. Dr. Fortin shared with us the budgetary pressures and tough decisions NSERC is facing, and talked with us about the need for us to lobby the government to improve funding to the federal tri-council agencies if we are to “grow the pie” rather than quibble about how to “cut the pie up”.

 

Session 3 on “First Year Biology labs in Canadian Universities” and report links] capped Friday morning, delivered by our guest Aarthi Ashok (UTS) & Peter Constabel (Chair UVic). This session was partly a report back from a CCUBC survey of how first year biology courses deliver their laboratory components, and a deeper pedagogical discussion about what their learning objectives ought to be and how they might be achieved.

 

After lunch, guests MSc student Sidney Evans (Guelph) and John Dawson (Associate Dean Academic, Guelph) delivered Session 4 on “Biology program level learning objectives” which posed the question of whether there are common themes across institutions in program level learning objective in Biology, and furthermore whether there is merit in considering adopting some.

 

The final structured session of the day, Session 5, was given by PhD student and CCUBC Science Promotion Prize recipient Amalie Hutchison (Western) who introduced "GradCast: using podcasting to bring graduate student research to the world" and hosted an on-site set of interviews of several Chairs for an upcoming podcast.

 

We then broke free of the conference hall and took an excursion to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, followed by a brief visit to the Banff Avenue Brewing Company for refreshment, then capped the day with a delicious Asian-themed banquet back at the Banff Park Lodge.

The recipients of the Undergraduate Paper Awards (Hannah Adams, Waterloo; and Marybelle Cameron-Pack, UNB) and the Graduate Student Research Prize (Jillian Dunic, SFU) were announced, and their certificates also presented to their Department Head or Chair. Amalie HutchinsonScience Promotion Prize recipient was presented with the award.

The third day started with an interactive Session 6 on the topic of “Performance Evaluation” where we discussed the various ways in which institutions recognize merit in performance of faculty and staff, which was very illuminating. In some departments, performance evaluation determines the rate of progression through the ranks as well as merit-adjustment to base salary, while in some other institutions there is very little financial incentive tied to annual performance. Higher stakes in the reward for merit seemed to be weakly associated with the ability to incentive performance.

 There was a sense that we do a better job of evaluating research and service performance than we do for teaching, which provided a nice segue into our final Session 7 “Transforming the evaluation of teaching” led by Special Returning Guest Star Aarthi Ashok (UTS), which also builds on her previous presentation to CCUBC on “promoting teaching excellence” at last year’s meeting.

 

After lunch, the meeting wrapped up with the Business Meeting session where we looked at the financial numbers and future planning. Some of the highlights include our plan to engage Higher Education Strategy Associates in a national Biology Department strategic survey, and for CCUBC to develop a closer and more formal partnership with the Open Consortium of University Biology Educators to support their work in pedagogical research and leadership. We also discussed plans for improved communication and recruitment of biology department members, as well as encouraging more Chairs and Heads to attend the next CCUBC planned for Ottawa in 2024. The final item of business was to elect a new incoming Vice-President, Shawn Mansfield (UBC) and a new Member at Large, Gary Anderson (Manitoba). Matt Smith (WLU) and Gregory Schmaltz (UFV) agreed to continue their terms as Members at Large, and we noted that Moira Galway (StFX) has concluded their term. Tony Williams (SFU) will return next year as Treasurer. Dion Durnford (UNB) ended his term as Past President, and the end of the meeting marks Kirsten Muller’s (Waterloo) ascension to President of CCUBC for the next year. Dave Coltman (Western) transitions from President to Past President. (CCUBC52AnnBusMtg2023MtgMinutesFormatedFinal) (PDF).

 

Thanks to everyone for participating in a rewarding and engaging meeting. I look forward to seeing you all next year in Ottawa!

 

Dave Coltman (President 2022-2023 and newly anointed Past President)

 

Participants:

Name University Position
W Gary Anderson University of Manitoba
Aarthi Ashok University of Toronto, Scarborough Speaker
David Coltman Western University CCUBC President
Peter Constabel University of Victoria
John Dawson University of Guelph Speaker
Daya Selvadurai Dayanandan Concordia University
Dion Durnford University of New Brunswick, Fredericton CCUBC Past President
Sidney Evans University of Guelph Speaker
Marc Fortin NSERC Speaker
Jens Franck University of Winnipeg
Kim Gilbride Toronto Metropolitan University
Diana Hamilton Mount Allison University
David Hansen University of Calgary
Dorothy Hill Mount Royal University
Fiona Hunter Brock University
Amalie Hutchinson Western University Science Promotion Award Winner
Shawn Mansfield University of British Columbia
Kirsten Muller University of Waterloo CCUBC Vice President
Alison Murray University of Alberta
Ken Otter University of Northern BC
Jeffrey Richards University of British Columbia
Gregory Schmaltz University of the Fraser Valley CCUBC Board - Member at Large
Matt Smith Wilfrid Laurier University CCUBC Board - Member at Large
Christopher Todd University of Saskatchewan
Robert Tsushima York University
Tony Williams Simon Fraser University CCUBC Treasurer