Forestry dean finalist from West Indies has academic roots in Montana
Dr. Andrea Easter-Pilcher has built her career in academic leadership on the idea that students learn by doing and that energized students are among the best recruiting tools a university has.
“I am committed to empowering students by encouraging them to be critical thinkers, skeptical readers and engaged problem solvers,” she wrote in her letter of application to be the next dean of the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. “Involving undergraduate students in research is an effective way to achieve this and, in my mind, research becomes a critical piece of their undergraduate educational experience.”
She is one of three finalists for the dean position. The public is invited to an open forum with Easter-Pilcher from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, March 25, in the Gallagher Business Building, Room 122, on the campus of the University of Montana in Missoula. The first open forum for Forestry dean candidate Professor Owen Nevin was held March, 22.
Easter-Pilcher is currently senior associate dean of Arts and Sciences at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies. She joined the faculty there in 2008 as a professor of conservation and wildlife biology before serving as chair and then associate dean of academic and faculty affairs.
As chair, she created a new program in conservation and wildlife biology and revitalized the marine biology/tropical ecology and the general biology programs. Those changes were followed by an increase in enrollment and graduation from the programs, with pronounced growth in the number of international students, she said.
Easter-Pilcher’s recent research focuses on the effects of sea level rise on migratory birds and her studies continue to take her across the globe. She has studied climate change and the polar oceans, and she has conducted fieldwork in the Russian Far East.
But if her head is in the Caribbean, her academic roots are in Montana. Easter-Pilcher earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences (conservation biology) from Montana State and her master’s degree in wildlife biology from UM. She taught biology at the University of Montana-Western from 1996 to 2008.
Easter-Pilcher has a long track record of creating experiential learning programs. She spear-headed a shift to intensive “block” scheduling at UM-Western and is currently working on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife-funded program to train conservation leaders in the Caribbean.
Easter-Pilcher has published prolifically in the academic press but has limited social media presence and sparse exposure in the popular press.
She has written or co-authored more than 20 articles in scientific journals such as Canadian Journal of Zoology and The International Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, and she has been the keynote speaker at a dozen professional conferences and colloquiums including the International Institute of Natural Resources Faculty Meetings at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.