Frank Collins, a senior instructor in chemical engineering at the University of New Brunswick, was recently given an Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award by the National Resource Centre for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition; making him the first Canadian to ever receive the award in its 26-year-history.
Collins, who is also the assistant dean for first year students in UNB’s faculty of engineering, tells his students that hope is not a strategy and that students can’t expect things to just ‘work out’ in first year.
“Students have to expect change and embrace failures,” said Collins. “If they chase knowledge, grades will follow. But most of all, I remind my students to stay happy and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity in their lives to experience education.”
Collins has always been a strong advocate for first-year engineering students at UNB and believes that the success of any post secondary institution directly depends on how happy its students are.
“A happy student means instructors are happy; it means more is being learned; it means more productivity in research; it means more collaboration and more idea-generation. Programs, grant money, grades are all derivatives of a happy student.”
Aside from the day-to-day interaction and support Collins gives first-year student inside and outside the classroom, he has championed many programs at the university to make student’s experience at UNB better, including an annual Rube Goldberg challenge, modifications to first-year course curriculum, and the introduction of UNBetween, a transition to university camp for entering engineering students.
Tony Secco, UNB’s vice-president (Fredericton), says that Collins has made significant improvements to first-year engineering students’ programing and is well deserving of this recognition.
“Frank always puts students first and goes above and beyond to ensure their experience here is top notch,” said Secco. “He is a true collaborator and accomplished teacher who has a strong passion to see his students succeed.”
Collins has been recognized many times as a top teacher, winning the Neil Scott Educational Leadership Award in 2013, and he is a six-time recipient of the UNB faculty of engineering “Golden Apple” student choice award. Just this past week, he was also awarded Educator of the Year by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick. Despite this success, he says he was humbled to even be considered for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award and credits his win to all the people at UNB who support first-year students.
“It was a tremendous honour to be selected – especially as the first Canadian recipient,” said Collins. “In so many ways I am simply the person whose name was on the nomination form. This is an institutional award if there ever was one. It’s an honour for UNB because anything I’ve ever done here has been with the help of so many giving, and student-focused individuals.”
The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina and Cengage Learning announced this year’s recipients of the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award on Feb. 8 in Dallas, Texas.
The award, now in its 26th year, honors college faculty, administrators, staff, and students for their outstanding work on behalf of first-year students and the impact their efforts have on the students and culture of their institutions. Ten award recipients have been chosen this year from 116 nominations.
Collins is the first Canadian to ever receive this award.
Media contact: Natasha Ashfield.