Student support for Dr. Brock
If students had their way, Dr. Brock would be here to stay.
That’s what Patrick Pieprzak, a first-year Life Sciences student, is trying to accomplish with his “Keep Dr. Brock” campaign.
“It’s not only for Dr. Brock – it’s to maintain the great teaching status that McMaster has,” Pieprzak said.
If you’re in the Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and even Engineering faculty, you probably already know who Dr. Brock is.
David Brock is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, primarily teaching the Level I Chemistry courses. His accolades speak for themselves; he has received numerous teaching awards and nominations over the past several years, including winning the OUSA Teaching Award in 2013, the MSU Merit Award in 2011-12, and three nominations for the MSU Teaching Award since 2011.
“Coming into McMaster, all I heard from students and even teachers is that professors don’t care about you, they don’t even know your name,” said Pieprzak.
“[With Dr. Brock], he dedicates and puts a lot of time into his students and [their] learning [...] if you don’t get the content he’ll explain it again, and if you still don’t get the content, then he’ll offer for you to come by his office.”
However, Brock’s position at McMaster is in jeopardy due to a number of unfortunate circumstances.
Unlike most professors, Brock is on a contractually limited appointment; rather than a permanent teaching-track position, his appointment as an Assistant Professor at McMaster is currently still on a contract – a contract that only runs until the end of June 2015.
The Faculty of Science is experiencing significant deficits in its budgets, which has had a number of consequences for its faculty and programming. One of these consequences is a hiring freeze that has been in effect since April 2014, which prevents new faculty appointments, as well as any contract renewals like Brock’s.
Since Jan. 12, Pieprzak has been asking students to sign his petition to keep Brock here at McMaster University. In a little over two weeks, he’s passed his goal of 2,000 signatures, garnering 2,031 signatures from students, faculty, and staff alike.
“It’s pretty clear he’s a prominent individual, not only in the Faculty of Science, but for first-year life in general; on my petition, it’s not only science students that sign, it’s commerce students, it’s labour studies students – I even have some music students,” said Pieprzak.
“Hopefully it will be a big motivational factor in terms of [...] decisions being made within McMaster.”
Like many students, Pieprzak speaks very highly of Brock. However, he’s been careful to keep the campaign at arms length from Brock to ensure that it’s clear that students have been driving this message. Pieprzak is ultimately looking to submit a letter along with his 2000-plus signatures to the department, with the hope that it will make its way up to the Provost.
It’s not just students who are fond of Brock. As Willie Leigh, the Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, explained in an email, “the reason is budgetary. [...] Our department very much wants to keep Professor Brock as a teaching faculty member in our department.”
“He is an absolutely outstanding educator [...] who has made important and lasting contributions to undergraduate education in chemistry at McMaster.”
While the campaign isn’t guaranteed to have an effect, Leigh explained that exceptions can be made to the hiring freeze, “under extenuating circumstances.”
“I’m delighted that our students are being vocal about issues such as this, and I would hope that their efforts have an impact,” he said. “Dr. Brock’s loss will seriously undermine the quality and delivery of our department’s level one Chemistry program, as well as our Honours Chemistry and Chemical Biology programs. That sounds like an extenuating circumstance to me.”