On Jan. 25, longtime chemistry professor Gary Long was named Associate Dean for the College of Science, a position involving overseeing curricular development, organizing scholarships and developing new programs for a variety of the college's programs.
In an interview with Collegiate Times, Gary Long explained his history with the school, and changes he hopes to make in the near future.
Collegiate Times: So you first came to Tech as an assistant professor in 1983?
Gary Long: Right; I was 27. I got tenured and did stuff with an associate around '87, and I've stayed with chemistry throughout all of my time here. I spent a time at the (National Science Foundation) as the program director on a rotation for a year.
I was a Fulbright in the Middle East for a year, and I worked for the Mobile Chemistry Lab, which was a team of who came together and got it on the road for about four years.
And most recently, I was invited to be part of the Dean's Office. So that's why I've got that title of Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Science.
CT: So you're still getting used to saying the full title? You paused a bit before it came out.
Gary Long: (laughs) Yeah. So, my job is to look at the academic programs within the College of Science and help departments who are trying to create new curriculum. And we have to; science changes, and so should the curriculum.
But you can't just go out and say, "I'm going to teach a brand new course." It has to be approved by a variety of levels within the college and the university to make sure it meets the standards.
Ultimately, we want to make a course where say, if someone wanted to transfer to UVa., and I don't know why anyone would want to do that, they'd know if they took this particular new course, they would get credit for it.
CT: With your work outside, it's clear that you have broad experience, in addition to working with us for 30 years. Using that knowledge, are there any particular changes that you've had in mind that you'll be able to implement easier now that you've been promoted?
GL: There are some high-priority issues: one is the Integrated Science Curriculum. It is a different idea that tries to teach science to first-year students by taking all that material that's taught in individual disciplines, sometimes over and over again.
For instance, you take thermo in Biology, you take thermo in Chemistry, you take thermo in Physics, and rather than just keeping them in these little silos where everybody controls their own information flows, let's blend it together. So if you learn how to do a new derivation, what can you use it for? It helps to have an immediate application of the new theory that you learned.
When you're dealing with environmental issues, it's not just chemistry; environment goes through everything. There are so many different approaches to a problem. They, (other fields), have to work together.
This program isn't for everyone, though. We're still very, very strong in our traditional approaches to all the sciences. At this juncture, the Integrated Science Curriculum is an evolving process, a student in this program can be a major in any of the sciences. It's a little bit of everything. The person has to be trained in all these disciplines to really understand the problem and go forward.
Follow this writer on Twitter @AlexGomes_CT