Aimee Wyrick-Brownworth has been working at Pacific Union College for 19 years. She is an associate professor of biology and was made the Dean of the School of Sciences in April. The dean’s job description has many facets, and though academics is the primary responsibility, she will take on enrollment, student life, and advancement initiatives.
PUC will be a three-school model this coming school: Nursing & Health Sciences; Arts, Humanities, & Professions; and Sciences. Aimee will be one of three deans to help lead the college and will protect the School of Sciences faculty and guarantee they are at their best for the students. Her vision is to increase awareness of and accessibility to PUC academically excellent and Christ-centered education.
Tell us about being a dean.
These are the early days, so I am meeting with faculty and leaders of each department and others across campus. I am lucky to have colleagues committed to working as a team, and we are working together to identify priorities and action steps. The dean’s job description is multifaceted, and though academics is the primary responsibility, I will take on enrollment, student life, and advancement initiatives. I look forward to ongoing collaboration with the School of Sciences team to complete necessary and aspirational tasks that are currently difficult to implement or complete.
I support, encourage, and protect the School of Sciences faculty and ensure they are happy, healthy, and at their best for our students. I work with the other deans and the VPAA to minimize distractions – ensure systems are consistent, inefficiencies are minimized, and processes are streamlined. As a result, faculty can focus on their students and classes. I advocate for departments in the School of Sciences and will (loudly) share firsthand knowledge of the great things going on here. I will help to recruit top-notch students that are a good fit for PUC and the School of Sciences. I plan to connect more (and more often) with the community and constituency that lies beyond our immediate campus.
What’s your vision for your school?
My vision is to increase awareness of and accessibility to our academically excellent and Christ-centered education. Our graduates think critically, are well-prepared for their profession, and show kindness. We want to expand the number of students that we train so that they, in turn, can increasingly serve others and the planet. I want to ensure that the School of Sciences faculty and staff find satisfaction in their work, feel supported, and are given the space and time to access their creativity and pursue passion projects. I want us to illustrate to our students, constituency, and others that the personal and financial investment at PUC is worth it and, even, that the education gained is priceless.
How can PUC help you accomplish your department goals?
PUC, as an institution, should support initiatives that enhance campus morale. The administration must clearly communicate with the campus about challenges and opportunities. At every opportunity, faculty and staff should collaborate to create and pursue campus initiatives and to problem-solve. PUC should ensure that student voices are heard and that all students feel safe and respected.
The greater PUC (constituency and alumni) can support us by sharing the good news and great things that are going on at PUC. Our constituency can build us up by refusing to engage in negative speculation or spreading misinformation about our campus and future. The School of Sciences also needs your tangible support – send students our way and donate to student scholarships or other worthy causes on our campus.
What is your favorite part about working in academics?
I can interact with others (colleagues, students, church community) to encourage open discussion and inclusion. Though different views will persist, I hope that we can avoid emphasizing who is right or wrong and instead reflect God’s love and be Christ-like. I enjoy serving the diverse students who are in my classes. Doing this well requires me to juggle a multitude of duties, but doing this relies effectively on my personal enthusiasm and currency in these course areas. I gain strength from my students and my colleagues. The encounters and relationships with these people keep me coming back for more.
What is one thing you want people to know about PUC?
The faces and names may be different, but PUC is and offers what we always have- an excellent Christ-centered education within a supportive environment. Unfortunately, many don’t understand why this is an advantage and/or how this translates in a world so focused on the immediate and tangible. I know that Adventist education is different and is, in most cases, superior to other public or private schools. I am excited to be at PUC, where I see from day-to-day the difference my colleagues and I make in the lives of these students. We are invested in their academic success, but that’s not all – we are interested in them as people and want them to have personal success as well.
What do you love most about living in the Napa Valley?
California, the Bay Area, and particularly the Napa Valley location can’t be beaten. We live amid an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot. As a biologist, you can’t ask for a more diverse and interesting part of the world to study and study in. I enjoy PUC’s extensive acres of wildlands and can even watch bald eagles soar overhead and see pileated woodpeckers in my backyard! PUC is truly “Where Nature and Revelation Unite in Education”.