CALS Connection Fall 2011 : Page 3

Meet the new Dean for CALS By laura KuBitz O n July 1, Teresa Balser began her duties as the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Balser received bachelors’ degrees in biology and earth sciences from Dartmouth College in 1992 and a Ph.D. in soil microbiology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000. She came to UF after serving as the director of the In-stitute for Cross-College Biology Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To find out more about the college’s new leader, I sat down with Dean Balser for a Q&A session. Q: How do you plan to enhance the CALS student experience? A: One of my philosophies is that students have their finger on where they want to see things go. I want to give them opportuni-ties to provide input, like with the CALS Ambassadors. I also want to provide them with opportunities to practice the things they are learning in the classroom, build community and make sure the students know they are more than just a number, which is something we already do a good job of within CALS. Q: You believe every student should have three skills -agency, resiliency, and literacy. What are they and what do they mean for the college? A: Agency, literacy and resiliency are three things that every human being needs to function. Agency is the ability to get things done or knowing how to get from point A to point B and make a product or an outcome happen. Resiliency is the ability to perse-vere and bounce back from setbacks. The last piece is literacy and that is simply, can they learn? Do they know things? In the classrooms, that is what we tend to focus on. A critical part of this is giving students opportunities to complete authentic assignments, or more “real world” assign-ments, that challenge students to develop a product that works. One day I hope to see employers begging for CALS students because they are the best and have these three skills. Q: What attracted you to serve as the UF CALS dean? A: This position is an ideal opportunity to focus primarily on the educational experi-ence and that was very attractive. Then I came here, the people were all great and everything came together. It really is a fantastic place to be, and there is a lot of good stuff happening here. Q: What would you say to a student who is considering CALS but wasn’t sure? A: This is a place where we focus on making a difference in the world. The degrees, re-search, all of what goes on in CALS and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is about improving life on the planet. As a student, you can get personalized attention here because the CALS faculty truly care about the students they work with. Q: What is your favorite part about CALS? A: I love the diversity of perspectives within the college. We have research going on all over the world. It is such a diverse and vibrant place. This is a cool environment to be in, and we know who we are. We really are trying to improve things for people and the planet. CALS is good people doing work that matters. Q: What goals do you have as dean of CALS? A: I want people to feel valued, respected, empowered and challenged, but challenged in a good way. If we do not have that then we cannot accomplish the more tangible goals, such as continuing to offer a qual-ity educational experience in the face of declining budgets and economic instability. There is a need to get more creative about delivering educational experiences. My feeling is that somebody has to try some-thing new, so why not us? We are an ideal place for innovation in curriculum. A Q: What are some of your hobbies? : I like running, cycling, hiking trails, being outdoors and reading. I also play music like crazy. I perform on woodwinds and saxophone at weddings, churches, big bands, you name it. It has been part of my life for the last 30 years. I am also a sci-fi and video game geek; science fiction and fantasy video games are my favorite, I will admit it. Teresa Balser, the new Dean of CALS, holds “Chunk,” an emperor scorpion, at TailGator. Fall 2011 CALS ConnECtion 3

Meet The New Dean For CALS

laura KuBitz

On July 1, Teresa Balser began her duties as the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Balser received bachelors’ degrees in biology and earth sciences from Dartmouth College in 1992 and a Ph.D. in soil microbiology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000. She came to UF after serving as the director of the Institute for Cross-College Biology Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To find out more about the college’s new leader, I sat down with Dean Balser for a Q&A session.

Q: How do you plan to enhance the CALS student experience?

A: One of my philosophies is that students have their finger on where they want to see things go. I want to give them opportunities to provide input, like with the CALS Ambassadors. I also want to provide them with opportunities to practice the things they are learning in the classroom, build community and make sure the students know they are more than just a number, which is something we already do a good job of within CALS.

Q: You believe every student should have three skills - agency, resiliency, and literacy. What are they and what do they mean for the college?

A: Agency, literacy and resiliency are three things that every human being needs to function. Agency is the ability to get things done or knowing how to get from point A to point B and make a product or an outcome happen. Resiliency is the ability to persevere and bounce back from setbacks. The last piece is literacy and that is simply, can they learn? Do they know things? In the classrooms, that is what we tend to focus on. A critical part of this is giving students opportunities to complete authentic assignments, or more “real world” assignments, that challenge students to develop a product that works. One day I hope to see employers begging for CALS students because they are the best and have these three skills.

Q: What attracted you to serve as the UF CALS dean?

A: This position is an ideal opportunity to focus primarily on the educational experience and that was very attractive. Then I came here, the people were all great and everything came together. It really is a fantastic place to be, and there is a lot of good stuff happening here.

Q: What would you say to a student who is considering CALS but wasn’t sure?

A: This is a place where we focus on making a difference in the world. The degrees, research, all of what goes on in CALS and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is about improving life on the planet. As a student, you can get personalized attention here because the CALS faculty truly care about the students they work with.

Q: What is your favorite part about CALS?

A: I love the diversity of perspectives within the college. We have research going on all over the world. It is such a diverse and vibrant place. This is a cool environment to be in, and we know who we are. We really are trying to improve things for people and the planet. CALS is good people doing work that matters.

Q: What goals do you have as dean of CALS?

A: I want people to feel valued, respected, empowered and challenged, but challenged in a good way. If we do not have that then we cannot accomplish the more tangible goals, such as continuing to offer a quality educational experience in the face of declining budgets and economic instability.There is a need to get more creative about delivering educational experiences. My feeling is that somebody has to try something new, so why not us? We are an ideal place for innovation in curriculum.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: I like running, cycling, hiking trails, being outdoors and reading. I also play music like crazy. I perform on woodwinds and saxophone at weddings, churches, big bands, you name it. It has been part of my life for the last 30 years.I am also a sci-fi and video game geek; science fiction and fantasy video games are my favorite, I will admit it.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Meet+The+New+Dean+For+CALS/992687/102809/article.html.

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