5Q with incoming Dean of Arts Dr. Elizabeth Wells
Award-winning teacher and scholar Dr. Elizabeth Wells is a Music professor, past Department Head, and 3M National Teaching Fellow. Dr. Wells has been appointed as Mount Allison’s next Dean of Arts, beginning July 1, 2016.
1. What are you most excited about for this portfolio?
I’m excited to bring together faculty, students, and staff to craft an achievable vision and mission for the Faculty of Arts. The Arts and Humanities are under pressure throughout North America right now, and we need to speak up and show people how important the work we do is and the education we offer our students. Our research and teaching get at the most important aspects of what it is to be human. At this time in the world we need to explore and celebrate that in myriad ways.
2. You have served as both professor and department head in Music, as well as a 3M Teaching Fellow. How do you plan to bring these experiences to the Deanship?
I’m lucky that this institution values teaching and learning, so certainly I’m going to be behind innovative pedagogy, interdisciplinary courses, and promoting teaching excellence. Being department Head in Music was a challenging role – it is complicated to run a performing institution, a concert space and program, the diverse kinds of courses we teach, and the equipment and space demands of our department. I think what I’m going to bring to the Deanship is an understanding of the complexity of our departments and programs, the ability to broker agreements with a wide variety of constituents, and successful fundraising campaigns for the Arts, such as the Brunton seat project we mounted a few years ago.
3. What do you hope to accomplish in your term as Dean?
I am asking all my departments and programs for a “wish list” – if I have one year as Dean, what would they like me to accomplish for them? I’d like to let the departments guide me in what is important and valuable to them. But, I’d also like to develop a language and a vision around the Arts and Humanities, which leads to a comprehensive communications plan, fundraising goals and activities, and recruitment strategies that will lead us into the future. Things can always be improved, even in the short term.
4. What are you most proud of (so far) during your time at Mount Allison?
There are two things I’m most proud of. The first is the work and planning that went in to the three tenure-track hires we made a few years ago (James Kalyn, Linda Pearse, and Kevin Morse), all of whom are outstanding colleagues in teaching, research and service. The second is being named a 3M National Teaching Fellow. This would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues, students, and administrators as well as the excellent opportunities I’ve had here to develop my teaching practice.
5. You are very involved in both the Mount Allison and Sackville communities. Tell us a bit about your community endeavours.
I’m part of the Red Cross Personal Disaster Assistance Team, which is on call to help people with house fires and personal emergencies of that kind. I’ve also sat on the Boards of the Sackville Music Festival, the Sackville Early Music Festival, and Live Bait Theatre. I’m a regular speaker at the Rotary club on a variety of topics. Probably my most public and central activity is as President of the Sackville Community Association, who runs the Christmas Cheer program and helps send underprivileged children to summer camps. This is my major duty as a Deacon in the Anglican Parish of Sackville and Dorchester.
Bonus question: Outside musical studies and administrative duties, what else should people know about Dr. Elizabeth Wells?
I’m a fledgling bodybuilder, lifting about five days a week with a personal trainer who trains me online from Montreal. I’m very serious about it, and I would love to compete one day. It takes a lot of discipline, but the results are worth it. This keeps my head clear and everything in perspective.