Dr. Michael Hunt is a Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Director of the Motion Analysis and Biofeedback Lab in the Faculty of Medicine. He completed degrees at UBC and the University of Western Ontario as well as a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Melbourne. In his time at Medicine, Dr. Hunt has led a number of initiatives to improve graduate student wellbeing while also working to improve the graduate program review process. In his new role he will be supporting community-building and professional development within the graduate education community and working with programs across UBC.
WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ASSOCIATE DEAN IN G+PS?
Enhancing graduate education is a passion of mine, and something that I have strived for as my career has evolved. In my various graduate education leadership roles at UBC, I have worked with great people and have learned a great deal. We have worked hard to implement new initiatives to improve the overall student experience. However, there is still much for me to learn, especially as it relates to how graduate education and training operates in other disciplines and Faculties across UBC and beyond. I am looking forward to learning from my colleagues and sharing ideas.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE EXPERIENCE?
That there are more similarities than differences among the Faculties. While the context may be different, and there may be unique aspects to the solution at the unit level, we are all dealing with similar “big picture” issues. These include important topics such as reimagining graduate education, ensuring that we adhere to REDI principles, and attracting and retaining the best students, faculty, and staff. I have also learned that there is a large group of people at UBC who share similar interests and passion for enhancing the learning experience for our graduate students. We are truly fortunate to work and learn in such a supportive environment.
WHAT MAKES UBC AN EXCITING PLACE FOR GRADUATE STUDY AND FOR POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS?
The shear breadth of opportunities available – both from the number of different graduate programs, but also the number of professional development and skill building workshops and resources. Graduate education should not only be about taking classes, conducting research, and writing a thesis, but growing as an individual professionally and personally.
WHAT SHOULD STUDENTS KNOW ABOUT G+PS?
We’re not just policies and procedures, but so many more things that are in place to make the entire graduate journey easier and more enjoyable. In addition to the professional development opportunities described above, there are many people at G+PS who’s job it is to help students navigate the process and to support them when needed. Importantly, they have years of experience dealing with a multitude of issues and with different circumstances. This allows them to support students with a different and more diverse lens than may be possible at the program level.
WHAT SHOULD UBC FACULTY MEMBERS KNOW ABOUT G+PS?
We are here to support all aspects of the graduate education landscape at UBC. This includes services and supports for departments to improve how they administer and renew their graduate programs, as well as resources and training for supervisors and graduate advisors. In the end, G+PS should not be seen as a barrier to graduate student research and progression, but as facilitators and active partners in the process.
WHAT IS ONE CRUCIAL NEXT STEP IN ADVANCING GRADUATE EDUCATION AT UBC?
Being more collaborative. I think that the pandemic has shown us that there are many challenges that exist in society, and that creating new ways of thinking and alternate methods of doing things are the best approaches to addressing these challenges. The days of tackling a problem from one direction, or in isolation, are over. This is the same for graduate education – we need to be open to having multiple voices involved in a student’s research and supervision, as well as having multiple students working together on common research topics.