Listen to Pat Carter, recipient of the 2020 WSU Outstanding Chair/Director award, talk about the School of Biological Sciences for a few minutes and you’ll be ready to jump online and register for every course the school offers.
“I see the role as creating an environment where students, faculty and staff can be successful” said Carter. He tries to keep all three aspects of WSU’s land-grant mission — to advance knowledge, to extend knowledge, to apply knowledge — front of mind as he balances his duties as director.
“People in SBS are conducting exciting cutting-edge research from cell physiology to dynamic changes in ecosystems, with most questions focused on biological responses to environmental change” he says. “I help out where I can, attempting to improve research infrastructure and supporting faculty who apply for, and frequently receive, large federal grants.”
“We’ve encouraged changes to bring more active science into our teaching labs,” Carter said. “We want students to get experience in inquiry-based labs and give them more of that real science experience.”
He has long been been a part of helping the undergraduate courses evolve into a more engaging, hands-on program. Carter, an evolutionary genetics and physiology researcher who joined WSU as an assistant professor in 1996, taught large classes at the 100 and 200 level for 21 years. He guided the program’s curriculum committee as chair and then served as associate director for undergraduate programs for seven years before his quick transition to director.
“When I first became director, it was pretty scary: I had about a two-week window to learn the job,” said Carter. “Our former director Larry Hufford was fantastic at giving me all that I needed to know.”
Matt Jockers, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says Carter’s dedication to the University and his role as director set him apart.
“Pat is everything a dean hopes for in a school director,” Jockers wrote in his nomination letter. “He is competent, reliable and committed to working together for the greater good of the College and the University. Pat sees the big picture and he is a big thinker. He understands we are all part of one university and that we achieve our objectives when we work together and across silos for the greater good.”
He is also a champion for the entire WSU system.
“Pat works tirelessly to ensure that the School of Biological Sciences in Pullman is one and the same with SBS in Vancouver and one and the same with SBS in Tri-Cities,” Jockers said. “Pat is driven by a desire for the greater good, and he is an honest and thoughtful person. When combined, these elements result in a type of character and integrity that radiates outward, instilling trust and serving as a model for others.”
Top image: Pat Carter in the SBS main office.
By Todd Mordhorst, Office of the Provost