The new associate vice president academic, learning environment (AVPA-LE) has plans to make the university a more inclusive space.
Kathy Wilson said she wants to expand the feeling of inclusiveness on campus, focusing on engaging LGBTQ+ and Indigenous students while continuing the work of her predecessors.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to start from scratch or that my ideas are new or visionary,” said Wilson.
She said her goal is to make UNB address the needs and concerns of all students, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender.
“I’d like to see UNB being considered an institution that really embraces diversity and create safe learning spaces, but also remain intellectually challenging.”
This isn’t her first time building inclusive environments; Wilson formerly played a key role in structuring the Indigenous nursing program at UNB.
“We went from about nine graduates over a span of twenty years … to 32 aboriginal students enrolled in our program.”
Wilson said in 2011, 20 per cent of the incoming nursing class was comprised of Indigenous students.
“It’s not only recruitment, it’s the retention and being able to engage [Indigenous] students and have them helping us understand better what they needed to learn and be successful.”
She said part of the process developing the Aboriginal Nursing Initiative was to integrate cultural competence and social justice into curriculum.
“I think that my involvement in ANI has [led to] what I have learned from working with the Aboriginal nursing students.”
Wilson wasn’t always set on being a nurse, opting to go into the field out of curiosity.
“[In my] family, it was an expectation in my family that you go to university; I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked working with people,” she said.
Wilson graduated from UNB’s nursing program in 1987 and earned a master’s degree from Dalhousie in 1988.
She returned two decades later in 2008 to complete a PhD program in adult education at UNB and following the completion her doctorate, she began instructing at UNB.
“I was an instructor at first, so my focus was on teaching and on clinical practice … then I started to focus on how students learn and started to develop strategies and technologies to support them,” said Wilson.
“I was really fortunate that I started not knowing the direction [my nursing career] would take me and it grew to be a wonderful career in a wonderful profession.”