Time to give back: Renaud
New dept. head says making a difference what matters
As Rob Renaud settles into his new role as department head of Educational Administration, Foundations & Psychology, first and foremost, he wants to give back to the faculty that has supported him since arriving in Manitoba 15 years ago.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had supportive department heads (Jon Young and Charlotte Enns) … Many people have been supportive and good to me. Now, it’s time to give back,” he said.
Arriving from London, Ont., Renaud says he will never forget the first class he taught at the University of Manitoba on Sept. 11, 2001, or 9/11.
“When we got together in that class, we didn’t talk very much about educational psychology,” he said, adding that it was the opportunity to teach that drew him to the University of Manitoba. In fact, making a difference in the lives of students is what motivates Renaud most.
“When a student tells me how much he/she enjoyed the class and what it meant to them, it’s one of the most gratifying things about being a teacher. You come away knowing that you’ve made a difference. …To me, that’s what education is about and that’s what teaching is about—it’s about making a difference. That’s what keeps me going as an educator for the rest of my life,” Renaud said.
Steeped in psychology and quantitative research, Renaud focuses his studies on evaluating educational programs, teaching effectiveness and the processes that lead to positive student outcomes.
“Whether it’s critical thinking, better engaged citizens, or any other desired outcome: What are we doing in our classrooms and in our schools to help foster those outcomes, and how well are those things working? To me, these are central questions in education.”
“Sometimes we try new things and they work really well. Sometimes we try something new, and it goes over like a lead zeppelin, but that’s a part of teaching.”
Measuring and evaluating these outcomes is another facet of education that fascinates Renaud, adding that his strength in quantitative research methods has been one of his major contributions to the faculty.
“When a graduate student is writing a thesis paper that involves collecting some quantitative data, I often serve on the committee to give some advice and feedback.”
Outside of the office, Renaud volunteers as a track-and-field official, in addition to pursuing his passion for running.
“I am one of the people on the track, making sure that the athletes follow the rules. My job is helping set up the start and making sure that everybody starts the race as fairly as possible,” he said, noting the parallels in his new role at work.
“Running has been very good to me over the years. And now I’m at the point where it’s time to give back,” Renaud said. “As department head, I want to do the same thing my predecessors have done for me, and support people as best I can, and guide the direction of the department for the benefit of our faculty and students.”