Dr. Andrea Easter-Pilcher, Weber State University’s Dean of the College of Science, draws on her experience at St. George’s University in Grenada and with wildlife and conservation biology to make plans for the college’s future.
Though Grenada and its surrounding Caribbean islands are considered paradise by some, Easter-Pilcher was born in Missoula, Montana and says the Rocky Mountains are just as much a paradise to her.
“We loved Grenada. It is a beautiful, volcanic, tropical island, but we were there for ten years,” said Easter-Pilcher. “We built a wonderful community of colleagues and friends, but it was time to come home.”
Easter-Pilcher said that same sense of community was a part of her decision to come to Weber State.
“The interview process here was pretty extensive, and I met a lot of people,” said Easter-Pilcher. “I really felt I could work with the people I met. I felt it was a great community. We had to transition back to the United States at some point and Weber State seemed like a great way to do that.”
Looking out at the mountain vistas outside her office window, she added, “And look at the view! What’s not to like?”
Easter-Pilcher said her plans for the college’s future will be focused heavily on that strong sense of community she felt during her interview process.
“My faculty at St. George’s University, where I was dean of the school of arts and sciences, would say I’m a collaborative and inclusive leader,” said Easter-Pilcher. “I want to communicate with all of the leadership team in the college of science and individual faculty to get their ideas. I prefer things happening from the bottom up as opposed to the top down.”
Easter-Pilcher hopes that sense of community will continue to grow and become even more inclusive.
“We really need to increase the numbers, percentages, of underrepresented minorities and women in the sciences. That is a big goal of mine,” said Easter-Pilcher.
She also said she wants students of the College of Science to have more awareness and better relationships with the faculty
“When people walk through this building, they need to get a sense of who our faculty are,” said Easter-Pilcher. “I’m going to get some nice displays where we can highlight their research, have their books out, and show the articles they’ve written so that when people walk through the halls, they can see how incredible and effective the faculty are.”
Easter-Pilcher also hopes to get involved with undergraduates herself.
“I’ve done a lot of work with undergraduates to get them to do research myself and a lot of faculty do that here. I’d like to highlight that,” said Easter-Pilcher.
Easter-Pilcher said she also wants to expand the programs offered by WSU’s College of Science.
“We are looking at some new possible associate degrees, and I would like to look at the idea of some masters programs coming out of this college,” said Easter-Pilcher.
She also said she wants to extend her focus on community and collaboration to the program expansion.
“I’d like to see some more interdepartmental collaboration in terms of degrees, and I know there are some departments working on a new associate degree together,” said Easter-Pilcher.
Easter-Pilcher hopes to rename the Geosciences Department the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.
“I am a wildlife and conservation biologist, so environmental science and wildlife and conservation biology programs are really appealing to me,” said Easter-Pilcher.
Easter-Pilcher’s outreach experience includes wildlife conservation research in Russia and time spent as a delegate for Grenada at the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species.
“That’s a pinnacle career experience for someone like myself,” said Easter-Pilcher. “There is some suggestion that may continue. We’ll see whether I have time for that because it’s a lengthy two-week commitment.”
Easter-Pilcher hopes to draw on her outreach experience to expand the College of Science’s relationships with other programs and universities.
“I think the college is pretty aware of my interest in building international affiliations with a couple of different universities in the Caribbean, and if we are able to, even some universities in Russia,” said Easter-Pilcher. “There’s a lot we can do in terms of connecting in those areas with the local community and the regional community here.”
Dr. Easter-Pilcher’s time as dean at St. George’s limited her ability to get out into the field herself, and expects that to continue here in Weber State.
“That was a big crossroads for me because I have been very active in research,” said Easter-Pilcher. “I’m sitting on a doctoral committee and a masters committee now, and that’s a way to keep my hand in the research side of things.”
Easter-Pilcher’s collaborative approach to research and progress appears to be reflected in the faculty she manages.
“There are a lot of motivated, thoughtful faculty here and I think we’ll forge a way forward together.”