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The science of leadership

The impact of Dr. Amanda Cockshutt’s leadership at Mount Allison and continuing work in the Maple League
By: Shannon Robinson (’19)

At the end of the 2021–22 academic year, it was announced that Mount Allison’s dean of science and graduate studies, Dr. Amanda Cockshutt, would be leaving Mount Allison to start her new position as academic vice-president and provost at St. Francis Xavier University.

Both located in rural Maritime communities, MtA and StFX are known for their focus on undergraduate education and make up half of the Maple League of Universities, along with Acadia University and Bishop’s University.

After 15 years of teaching and leading in the sciences at Mount Allison, the impact that Cockshutt had on the lives of her students is best summarized in alumni stories.

Isabelle Spinney ('19)

“Dr. Cockshutt is one of those professors who really makes a lasting impact. I took Introductory Biochemistry with her in my first term at Mount Allison, and quickly decided to pursue the subject as my major after looking forward to each and every class.

“Dr. Cockshutt’s passion for teaching, quick wit, humour, and commitment to students as a professor, department head, and as a dean, have been incredible assets to the University. I am so appreciative to have learned from her and to have been supported by her over the years, and I wish her all the best at St. FX — they are incredibly fortunate!”

Jacob McGavin ('17)

“I remember, one of the first things my parents asked me after I started at Mount Allison was, “Do you have any classes with that cool prof with the spiky hair?” Fortunately, I did.

“Somewhere between trying to figure out her quirky midterm bonus questions in Introductory Biochemistry to being invited for exclusive TA dinners at her house, I started to recognize just how integral Dr. Cockshutt was to my Mount Allison experience. She was an incredible teacher and her passion for biochemistry somehow motivated me to pore over amino acid cue cards for much longer than I would care to admit.

“However, I would have to say that my most vivid memory is feeling like I was going to pass out from exhaustion at an athletic cardio class, then looking up to see Dr. Cockshutt hardly even breaking a sweat! I think it speaks to her sense of humility that she only bragged about that on a handful of occasions. Thank you so much for everything you did to enrich my Mount Allison experience, Dr. Cockshutt. I wish you all the best at St. FX!”

One alumna, who did not provide her name, noted: “Dr. Cockshutt was one of the best professors I’ve ever had. She is an incredible educator and always pushes her students to be the best they can be. She was amazing at keeping us engaged and entertained, especially in such a difficult class like biochemistry.

“She is also the most hilarious professor I’ve had. I remember in 2016–17 when (social media app) Yik Yak was really popular, she would post hilarious things anonymously and sign them ‘definitely not Dr. Cockshutt’ when it was clearly her. She is a big part of what I remember and loved from my time at Mount Allison. Best wishes on your next adventures!”

In early June, Mount Allison announced that Dr. Jennifer Tomes would be the new dean of science and graduate studies. Tomes says Cockshutt is an exemplary advocate and mentor.

“Amanda Cockshutt has always been a strong advocate for the sciences at Mount Allison, first in her role as a faculty member, then as a department head, and finally as the dean of science and graduate studies,” she says. “She has always advocated for our students and played a key role in the development of programs such as START to set students up for success as they began their Mount A education.

“I also would highlight Amanda’s effective leadership during the pandemic. Amanda’s careful approach early in the COVID-19 pandemic helped ensure that our research, field work, and academic activities could continue in as safe a way as possible.

“We all faced disruptions, but Amanda worked hard to make sure we could move forward as soon as possible. I am extremely appreciative for her efforts and I know many others at this institution are as well.

“I am also personally thankful for her support when I stepped into the role of interim dean. She has been amazingly generous to me with her time and advice. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours, but she will be missed at Mount A.”

Mount Allison wishes Dr. Cockshutt the best of luck at our fellow Maple League University, and we are confident that she will continue to do great things in her new position.