Nowell Donovan is back in the classroom for the first time since his promotion to provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.”Last year, I had to learn the rhythm of the provost job, and that’s why I chose not to teach,” Donovan said.
He also said Chancellor Victor Boschini strongly advised him not to teach the first year.
This semester, Donovan is teaching the introductory geology course, Understanding the Earth, and a graduate seminar.
Donovan was a professor in the geology department from 1986 until fall 2004, when he began his new position.
“I think that, where possible, administration should be in the classroom too because it sets a tone and expectation,” Donovan said.
Donovan said he should “participate in the principal business of the university, which is teaching.”
Even though Donovan stopped teaching in the classroom, he continued to lead the Study Abroad program in Scotland and gave guest lectures.
Geology professor John Breyer said having Donovan teaching in the department is an advantage to both the geology majors and faculty.
“We get a great freshman teacher, and somebody else is free to teach a class for upper-level students,” Breyer said.
Students say they like the energy he brings to the classroom.
“I love his class because you can just tell how much Donovan loves geology,” said McKenna Madget, a junior radio-TV-film major. “He doesn’t just show slides, but also real pictures from his own experiences.”
Although Donovan chose a convenient time to teach an evening seminar and a one-hour lecture twice a week, he said he still needs to organize his time wisely to perform both duties.
As provost and vice chancellor, Donovan said, his meetings are mostly in the early morning or during lunch. He said “there’s a bit of dead time” during which he has decided to teach.
However, Donovan said he doubts he will teach through the spring semester.
“It’s an incredibly hectic time because we are doing so many things celebrating the end of the academic year,” he said.
Donovan declined to choose which position he found more rewarding, saying he enjoys the combination.
“It is a full-blooded engagement in academics,” he said.
Breyer said Donovan’s return to the geology department is great for the department and the students.
“The only person who is going to suffer is Nowell because he will be so busy,” Breyer said, “and it was his choice.