Q and A with John Bear
Q: What factors were involved in your decision to step down as dean of NSM and work with the provost?
A: “I think you decide to step down when you think about it for a number of years. I was chairman of chemistry for 17 years and became dean for 18 years. It is time to step down and basically let the college change direction.
In essence, the college is very strong right now, it has a lot of things going for it and it is a good time to step down and let somebody take over and move it to the next level of excellence that the University wants.”
Q: What were some of your major accomplishments as dean?
A: “If you look at the numbers that have taken place in total enrollment, research funding, and number of graduates, diversity, faculty; there are so many of these things. Grants have been important throughout all these years.
The growth in terms of quality of the faculty, the faculty really determines the quality of the college than anything else. Give me a good faculty and I will give you a good college. We have right now four members of the National Academy in the college, which a lot of the universities don’t have.
The overall quality of the program in terms of growth in quality, I am very happy of what we have done in 18 years.”
Q: How close is UH to reaching flagship status?
A: “I think the University basically already is a tier-one campus. It has satisfied most of the requirements that you need to have to reach that status. In this college we contribute a chunk of money of the college for research.”
Q: Do you know what your new position will be?
A: “I don’t know what the title is. After all the experience I’ve had through the years of building research, hiring quality faculty over the last few years, it is probably a little bit of consulting and advising, faculty hiring and decisions made of anything that has to do with science.”
Q: Do you have any expectations for the new dean of NSM?
A: “I hope that they bring in a dean that is really going to take the situation that exists now and move it forward very rapidly and takes it to the next level. I am sure the same motivation that the president and the provost have in mind to.
If you look at the total funding, we bring a very high percentage of the funding of the University and that is very important for the administration that we have a very healthy College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.”
Q: How important are the alumni for NSM?
A: “Alumni are always important. Your graduates are people that you can rely on to help you, the alumni is part of your history in the sense that they graduate and have good jobs and should be able to help you.”
Q: Where will NSM be a few years from now?
A: “When the president came she wanted to double the research funding in five years, I think we have more than doubled the research funding in five years since she came here. We have a strategic plan, a five year plan, an example is the hiring we have done in terms of the three initiative that the president has set up to have which are, the health initiative, the energy initiative and the student success initiative.”
Q: What will you miss the most?
A: “The biggest thing you miss is your relationship with faculty. In 18 years if you look at the faculty in this college I hired most of them. 35 years of hiring people, 17 in chemistry, 18 as dean. Every faculty member is a good friend of mine.”
Q: What message would you send to faculty, students and future students?
A: “That is another thing you miss because the faculty knows I will always be there to help them in the future. The students I will miss because I have always tried to have a very good relationship with the students. Every month, every six weeks I have meetings with all the student leaders, I try to get their input.
The year I came to the University of Houston it was going through a big transition. It was the first year as a state university. I am very optimistic of the future. We are on the verge to becoming a truly great university.
The president has the right ideas. She is enthusiastic, that is very contagious, the faculty likes her optimism for the future and she has plans and objectives that are very high. She is shooting high and everybody likes that, the University in general wants to become a great university.”