COLA Connections Newsletter: Fall 2017

COLA Welcomes New Associate Dean

This year, the College of Liberal Arts welcomed a new associate dean, Dr. Andrew Herbert, who had previously chaired the Department of Psychology here at RIT. Dr. Herbert has been a Tiger for 15 years and even received the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2009. Dr. Herbert received a bachelor’s degree in biology specializing in neurobiology from McGill University in Montreal, and his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

With a background in Biology, how did you find yourself in the area of Psychology?

Long story. The short version: I studied Neurobiology after starting with an interest in animal behaviour. At McGill, most of the labs and research at the time used invertebrates (from aplysia to locusts to crayfish). I wanted to learn more about human neurobiology, so I took the Brain and Behaviour courses offered from Psychology. The faculty (Milner and Petrides) are superstars of neuropsychology, and they were great instructors. I became interested in how brain damage affects behaviour, and during my Masters this focused on visual perceptual deficits resulting from brain damage.

Switching gears in your career, what drew you to the Associate Dean position with COLA?

I’d been department chair for over 8 years. I wasn’t looking to change, but Deans Winebrake and McQuiller-Williams were persuasive!

What has been the most challenging part of the job so far?

I didn’t realize just how many more meetings there would be! I thought I had a lot as Chair. Looking at things from a broader perspective can be a challenge. And I have a lot to learn.

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?

It’s related to the big picture part above.

Do you have any goals that you have set for COLA?

We need to work harder to ensure our interdisciplinary programs get the recognition they deserve. RIT is growing in certain areas, and we have a lot to contribute. This is also true for our graduate programs. I think more students could benefit from these programs. COLA programs face the challenge of being recognized given the stereotype that RIT is “just” a place for engineering and computer-science. I think our existing interdisciplinary structures can be expanded to affect a larger population of faculty and students.

How do you feel your history with RIT has helped prepare you for this position?

I’ve been doing research, service and teaching with many folks in the different colleges of RIT. I’ve been serving on committees with faculty from across RIT for years. I’ve served on graduate committees for students in Color Science, Computer Science, Imaging Science, CIAS, and COLA. I’ve taught courses that reach students in every college and I’ve done research with faculty and students across campus. Finally, I helped establish a new undergraduate degree in Human Centered Computing that is delivered by Information Sciences and Technology, CIAS and Psychology. I’ve been straying far from Buildings 1 and 6 for most of my time at RIT.

What advice would you give to students in COLA (or RIT)?

Read more. Ha! That’s advice for all folks. Students taking degrees offered from COLA have unique opportunities. Take advantage of the confluence of art, humanities, the social sciences and all the STEM disciplines here at RIT. Learn a second language (or 3rd) and get involved in research with faculty. But when in doubt, read more.

What do you like to do in your free time?

This may surprise you - I read a lot. Fiction, history, science and more. I play soccer a couple of times a week and I’d like to play more squash. I also enjoy long walks on the beach when on vacation with my wife and the pugs!