New schools replace centers, new staff will provide support to help students achieve goals
Fresh off its 50th anniversary, two consecutive years of record enrollment, and the unveiling of its first-ever graduate degree online, Unity College announced in June that the School of Environmental Citizenship and the School of Biodiversity Conservation would replace five “centers” as the academic organizational paradigm on campus.
President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said re-imagining the academic structure will provide easier pathways for students to succeed.
“This is a change not just in names or titles, but in philosophy,” he said. “The schools are named for areas of academic inquiry where we see the greatest need and growth as our students become environmental professionals and Unity alumni.”
He said the reorganization simplifies the academic structure at a time when America’s Environmental College is growing its enrollment and re-focusing all its academic offerings, and that no majors or courses of study were eliminated. “We have even added new faculty members in key positions,” Khoury said.
Khoury said the advent of a “school” model is one of several major overhauls being implemented to bolster student success at Unity College.
In academic year 2016-2017 alone, the school invested $6 million to build two new student support buildings (Unity 3 and the Collaborative Learning Center), which opened in August; repurposed two signature campus buildings (Unity House and TerraHaus) to serve as student support facilities; hired four new full-time faculty; and rolled out its first-ever online graduate degree.
In addition, Khoury said he has plans to hire up to four new student success coaches focusing on wellness, information literacy, and resilience, as part of his effort to invest in new resources that help students achieve auspicious outcomes.
“This is a level of student support that’s unprecedented in the history of Unity College, representing tens of millions of dollars in new investment, to answer the demand for our unique brand of hands-on sustainability science curriculum, on campus, online, and in the field, as our enrollment continues to increase,” Khoury said.
“The student success coaches are a unique classification of employee, with roles in athletics, student life, instruction, co-curricular support, health and wellness resources, academic advising, internship advising … literally anything a student needs in terms of plotting her course to success and increasing the value of a Unity College degree,” Khoury said.
“This is great news for Unity College and for higher education generally,” said Dr. Sarah Cunningham, whom Khoury appointed as Unity College’s first-ever Chief Student Success Officer this past January. “At a time of cost-cutting at larger public schools and fear of shrinking enrollments at smaller colleges, we are going in the opposite direction: keeping tuition costs low to help our graduates manage debt, adding new buildings and staff, and choosing to invest heavily in the student experience.
”Effective July 1, Dr. Erika Latty is serving as Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship while Dr. Pamela MacRae has assumed the role of Dean of the School of Biodiversity Conservation.
“Latty and MacRae are both highly respected faculty who personify excellent leadership, understand the mission of a truly transdisciplinary environmental education, and have earned the trust and respect of colleagues and students alike,” Khoury said. “We are fortunate to be able to raise this kind of leadership from within our ranks, and are confident they will excel in helping Unity College continue to lead in the environmental century.”
Latty, a Professor of Botany, is a forest ecologist who specializes in the effects of introduced tree disease on forest structure. She holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a BA in Biology from Harvard University. She also has been a center director and led several faculty committees.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the college mission to prepare 21st-century environmental leaders in my new capacity as an academic dean,” Latty said.
MacRae, an Associate Professor of Sustainable Fisheries Management, has led faculty academic committees and is an ecologist whose research explores links between fish and their environments. MacRae holds a PhD in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University, an MS in Zoology from the University of Toronto, and a BS with Honors Certificate in Biology from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I am excited for this opportunity to lead faculty in the School of Biodiversity Conservation in their pursuit of teaching, service, scholarship, and mentoring the exceptional students of Unity College,” MacRae said.
“When new Unity College students step on campus for the first time, they will be part of a living-and-learning community that is accountable to their needs, supportive of their dreams, and proven in its approach of producing sharp transdisciplinary thinkers who can successfully maneuver the complexities involved in problem-solving in the environmental century,” Khoury said.
School of Environmental Citizenship
Environmental Policy, Law, and Society
Environmental Writing and Media Studies
Art and Environment
Adventure-Based Environmental Education
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Sustainable Energy Management
Parks and Forest Resources
Fishbowl speakers series
Hawk & Handsaw Journal
Leonard R. Craig Art Gallery
Curricular aspects of the first two-year experience
Other across-the-curriculum academic components including general education curriculum
School of Biodiversity Conservation
Conservation Law Enforcement
Captive Wildlife Care and Education
Undergraduate Research Program
Student Academic Engagement
Koons Hall and Thomashow greenhouse coordination