Keith De'Bell   2008 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Dr. Keith De’Bell is a scholar of international reputation who has approximately 80 published articles in refereed journals and has been continuously funded by NSERC as an individual researcher for over twenty years. He is currently the project lead of a Health Canada funded project on Interprofessional Education for Patient Centred Health Care, which was awarded funding of approximately $750,000 over a 27 month period.

As a teacher, he has contributed to the development of students at UNB Saint John through his presentations in the Student Success program and pre-science programs, as well as through classroom and graduate student supervision.

While Dr. De’Bell has continued his role as scholar and teacher, during his time at UNB Saint John he has dedicated much of his energy to serving the campus through various administrative roles. From July 1999 to June 2004 he served as Dean of Science, Applied Science, and Engineering, and in this role insisted that the Faculty’s research and education programs be recognized as a distinct contribution which enhanced UNB as a whole. To ensure this recognition was regional and national, as well as internal to UNB, Dr. De’Bell served as a regular member of the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences and on the National Council of Deans of Science. Within UNB, Dr. De’Bell’s duties as Dean included membership of many committees in an ex-officio capacity including the Campus Senate. However, he also served on many ad-hoc and pro-temp committees including search committees for individuals to fill administrative roles and the research ranking committee. Dr. De’Bell’s term as Dean was characterized by three interrelated themes: the recruitment of new and established scholars to the UNB Saint John Faculty, the development of educational programs and services for students, and inter-institutional collaboration in research and education.

Faculty recruitment included two Canada Research Chairs. These in turn led to the establishment of the Campus as one of the two founding nodes of the Canadian Rivers Institute and the continued strengthening of the Campus’ contributions to that Institute. Other recruitment of new and established scholars has led to the strengthening of education programs and the establishment of new programs such as the Financial Mathematics program.

During his term as Dean, Dr. De’Bell oversaw and supported the work of his faculty colleagues to establish new education opportunities for students, such as the Environmental Biology program. He also worked to establish services for students such as the advisory services provided through the Dean’s office. Dr. De’Bell carried his commitment to academic excellence and service into his development of opportunities for students. For example, he was one of the two founding Faculty advisors of the UNB Saint John Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society and served as principal Faculty Advisor for the Chapter until June 2004.

Dr. De’Bell’s service in developing inter-institutional partnerships during his term as Dean was exemplified by his work to enhance the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, particularly in establishing a collaborative environment that allows the distinctive partners (the University, the Community College, and Clinical settings within Health Authorities) to each contribute from their respective strengths while respecting each institutions individual governance. Part of Dr. De’Bell’s concern in this work was to remove barriers for students that resulted from the inter-institutional nature of the program, for example he was actively involved in developing a model that allows students to retain their UNB scholarships while studying in program components with the other institutions.

Inter-institutional collaboration continued as a theme of Dr. De’Bell’s work during his two year appointment (July 2004-June-2006) as a Special Advisor on Health Education and Research. Outcomes of this work include the receipt of funding (mentioned above) for a project on inter-professional education which involves collaboration between two Universities (UNB and Dalhousie), a community college (NBCC) and a regional health authority (AHSC). This funding has allowed UNB Saint John and its partners to establish the roots of an on-going commitment to inter-professional education which will benefit health care students in many disciplines and, ultimately, benefit the recipients of health care services. A further outcome of Dr. De’Bell’s work, in collaboration with others, on inter-institutional collaboration has been the establishment of a regional consortium of  universities and regional health authorities which aims to apply research to improve public health. During his term as Special Advisor, Dr. De’Bell continued to ensure that UNB Saint John’s contribution was recognized nationally through, for example, his service as a member of the Canadian Interdisciplinary Health Care Collaborative steering committee and the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health interim steering committee. Dr. De’Bell also emphasized the contribution that the University is able to make to its community through his service work during his time as Special Advisor; for example he has served as co-chair of the Vibrant Communities Saint John Research and Evaluation Committee. During his sabbatical leave year (July 2006-June 2007) and to the present Dr. De’Bell has continued to serve in the roles outlined here in these activities established during his term as special advisor.

Following his sabbatical year, Dr. De’Bell has continued his administrative service to the Campus by accepting a three year appointment as Chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department.

Merzik Kamel

Professor, Mathematical Sciences