Faculty of Education welcomes new Associate Deans

Advancing equity and inclusion is a priority for Mary-Louise Vanderlee and Cathy Hands in their new roles as Associate Deans in Brock University’s Faculty of Education (FOE), which began July 1.

“The reality is that educational practices can be seen as an important mechanism to support meaningful social and cultural change,” says Vanderlee, Professor in the Faculty of Education and Associate Dean, Professional and Undergraduate Studies. “The efforts to decolonize and Indigenize educational programs, policies and practices are a priority and will better support a geographically, culturally and globally diverse population.”

Vanderlee decided to take on the role of Associate Dean to support student success in the face of challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the social and cultural concerns of decolonialization, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Enriching students’ experience at Brock is an essential part of advancing inclusion in the FOE and at the University, Vanderlee says.

“As we enhance our ability to attract diverse student populations, we, the Brock community, will need to investigate the best practices associated with retaining and supporting our students in meaningful and tangible ways,” she says.

As Associate Dean, Vanderlee hopes to continue to build a culture of respect and understanding at Brock. She already has extensive experience supporting student success and collaborating with partners across campus, previously serving as Chair of the Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies and Chair of the Department of Educational Studies following the FOE’s restructuring in 2018.

Hands, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, most recently served as Graduate Program Director for the Master of Education program. She believes her purpose in her new role as Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies is to serve graduate students and her colleagues, supporting their research agendas and liaising with University departments to promote their work.

The Faculty of Education’s academic programs and wide range of research projects impact individuals and communities not only in the Niagara region, but nationally and internationally, says Hands.

“Issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, for example, continue to be front and centre in Education,” says Hands. “I look forward to supporting programs and initiatives that encourage diverse students’ engagement in an inclusive, collaborative and supportive environment and that promotes faculty, staff and student intellectual curiosity.”

Hands aims to expand community partnerships to provide experiential learning opportunities and scholarships for FOE students as well as research opportunities for students and faculty.

“I’ve always been community-minded and interested in taking on service roles within the department, Faculty, University and broader research community,” she says. “The opportunity to continue supporting graduate students as well as my colleagues with their research was an attractive prospect for me.”

Hands is looking forward to working with Faculty of Education graduate students to encourage their academic development and growth as researchers and to ensure they have the resources needed to thrive socially and emotionally while at Brock.

“I am thrilled that two highly accomplished scholars and experienced leaders have chosen to take on these important Faculty leadership roles,” says Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “It is important that senior scholars assume roles in which they can make a difference in the lives of our students, staff and academic colleagues.”

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