VIEW FROM ACADIA
1998 was a rather tumultuous year in the Geology Department at Acadia. We spent the first half of the winter term on the verge of strike action as the AUFA (Acadia University Faculty Association) negotiated (in the end, successfully) a Ninth Collective Agreement with the Board of Governors. Final stages of negotiations coincided with the Atlantic Geoscience Society colloquium at the Old Orchard Inn and at times it was difficult to concentrate on the science as we watched the faces of the negotiators when they went in and out of their meeting room, wondering if we should rush to the department and start clearing essentials out of our offices.
On the very positive side we welcomed back David McMullin as demonstrator in July, and greeted Cliff Stanley, a new professor, in November. We are confident that the association with David and Cliff will be enduring and productive - more details on these staff changes can be read elsewhere in the newsletter. We also "welcomed back" two faculty positions that had drifted over to Environmental Science. One of these is Ian Spooner's position, the other was Jack Colwell's, now filled by Cliff Stanley. Now that the Environmental Science program is up to full speed and staffing matters are resolved, we are hoping for a time of stability. However, we continue to struggle to cope with the large number of students in many second and third year courses, yet maintain our full geology program for the benefit of geology students, and at the same time provide input to the Environmental Science program. As an example, the classes in Stratigraphy and Geomorphology average about 40 students - maybe a bit less than we had in the mid 1980's, but certainly a lot more than we ever had before or since that time. We are also working at rebuilding our M.Sc. program, which was decimated a few years ago when the university withdrew funding for graduate studies in all departments except those with large graduate programs.
Renovations associated with the implementation of the Acadia Advantage program had a positive impact on the Geology department this year. Over the summer, the old "mineralogy lab" underwent complete renovations and wiring to become an Acadia Advantage multi-purpose lab for 24 students. Room 18 (the "intro lab") also was wired as a 30-seat room, and is used for lectures and labs in first year courses, as well as a lecture room for paleontology. The "economic lab" also came in for renovations, with the microscope benches moved to the periphery and tables added to the center to make a combined lecture and lab room for senior courses.
At the present time, we are in the midst of preparing for a departmental review, last done in 1983. This time it is a new concept known as a "cluster review", in which Geology is to be reviewed in combination with Biology and Environmental Science. We are confident that we will "shine", but it is still an immense amount of work to compile all of the necessary documentation requested for the review process.