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Dr. Mark Canada named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences


Dr. Mark Canada has been named dean of UNC Pembroke’s College of Arts and Sciences. He has served as acting dean since June 2011.

Dr. Canada joined the faculty of the Department of English and Theatre in 1997. He was named assistant chair of the department, UNCP’s largest, in 2008 and chair in 2009. He was appointed to the position of associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2010 and named acting dean in 2011.

Dr. Kenneth Kitts, provost and vice chancellor for the Office of Academic Affairs, made the announcement.

“Dr. Canada has the experience, vision and values to lead the College of Arts and Sciences,” Dr. Kitts said. “He makes good decisions and is a wonderful ambassador for UNCP. I am very pleased to have him as part of the leadership team in our division.”

Dr. Canada said he is thrilled about the opportunity to lead the university’s largest academic unit. “I am a big fan of UNCP,” he professed. “UNCP is an easy product to sell. It excels in so many areas including student-faculty research, civic engagement and faculty productivity.”

A popular professor, he was named the recipient of an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2000. In 2008, Dr. Canada won the UNC Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“As a professor and an administrator, I strive to create an atmosphere in which students and colleagues can realize their potentials as readers, writers, and thinkers - and tap those potentials to serve their fellow human beings as scientists, scholars, writers, teachers, parents and citizens,” he said. “I have managed the daily work of advising students and faculty, compiling and reporting data and ensuring quality and efficiency while participating in innovations that support my colleagues’ teaching, scholarship and service. 

“I am especially interested in initiatives that can promote student success and retention,” Dr. Canada continued. “I have long valued student success in the classroom, where I have taught classes ranging from first-year composition and Freshman Seminar to upper-division and graduate courses in American literature and the English language.”

Dr. Canada said he would continue to teach. This semester, he is teaching American Literature Before 1865, and next fall, he will teach an upper level course called American Literature in Transition, 1870-1914.

As dean, Dr. Canada will continue to foster the positive relationships between students and faculty. He recently created the 2+2 program to facilitate more informal student-faculty relations and a pilot “Go-To” advisory program to help students connect with strong faculty mentors who have volunteered to serve as additional resources for students. Faculty have responded positively by volunteering, and the new dean is hopeful the program will make a difference through encouraging interaction.

“The university has been promoting student success, and I would like to promote faculty-student interaction to facilitate engagement,” Dr. Canada said. “The point is to talk to students, who too often feel like they are out there alone.”
Dr. Canada was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society at Indiana University. He embarked on a career in journalism before earning a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Canada’s academic interests focus on 19th century American literature, particularly the crossroads of literature and journalism. In 2011, Palgrave Macmillan published his book “Literature and Journalism in Antebellum America.” He also has published essays on Edgar Allan Poe, Theodore Dreiser, Thomas Wolfe, and distance education.  His forthcoming publications include another essay on Poe, two essays on Rebecca Harding Davis, and an essay on syllabus design.

Some of Dr. Canada’s most recent initiatives involve improving communications with colleagues and students alike. He has upgraded the Web site for the College of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve tried to improve the website to promote the good things at UNCP,” he said. “We are highlighting faculty achievements, and there is a ‘Great Opportunities’ page for students.

“Obviously, administrative duties are my first priority and will occupy more of my time,” Dr. Canada said. “But I would like to remain an active scholar and continue in the classroom.”

Dr. Canada is committed to university service, having served on Chancellor Kyle Carter’s Scholars Council, the Student Success Steering Committee and the QEP Committee, which embarked on a five-year project to infuse writing across the curriculum.

His ongoing engagement with the university community is a continuing asset, he said. “I have worked with so many good people across campus over the years,” he said. “When it’s time to launch a new initiative, they are there. To know these people is a resource and a blessing. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since I arrived in 1997.”

Dr. Canada’s circle has expanded beyond the university as he works to facilitate community interactions. As a member of the Scholars Council, he traveled across the region on Chancellor Carter’s Listening Tour and helped write the final report.

Dr. Canada also has engaged with the local community, helping to coordinate workshops for students at a recent storytelling festival in Laurinburg and arranging for interviews with Arts and Sciences faculty members for WLNC, a radio station in Laurinburg.

Dr. Canada’s excitement for everything UNCP continues to burn brightly. He is looking into every corner of the college’s operations to hire and support high quality faculty, to support the teaching and learning experience and, ultimately, to facilitate student success. Emblematic of that effort, he collaborated with the UNCP Foundation to establish the Cherry Laurel Scholarship, which awarded its first scholarship this spring.

“The award was created to acknowledge the perseverance of students in the face of adversity,” he said. “The scholarship recognizes students’ determination in overcoming obstacles and succeeding in their first two years at UNCP.”

For more information about the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact the office at 910.521.6198 or email