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GOOD NEWS: From Idaho to A&M to Alpine - Odessa American: Good News

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GOOD NEWS: From Idaho to A&M to Alpine

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Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:00 am

ALPINE Growing up in the mountains of Central Idaho was just what Rob Kinucan needed to spark his love for teaching students about the great outdoors.

Kinucan, who began his new role as Executive Vice President and Provost on July 1, also served as Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research at Sul Ross after a teaching career that spanned more than 30 years.

Even before enrolling as a freshman at the University of Idaho, Kinucan said becoming a teacher was a career path he was destined to pursue.

“In many respects, teaching was my first career choice,” Kinucan said. “It was my love for botany and wildlife that led me to study Rangeland Ecology and Range Resources.”

As an undergraduate, Kinucan worked four years under the college work study program which availed him to graduate students pursuing studies in forestry, wildlife and range sciences.

It also provided a foot in the door for Kinucan to continue on to graduate school at the University of Wyoming before pursuing his doctorate at Texas A&M University.

“We conducted a lot of prescribed burning when I was at the University of Idaho,” Kinucan said. “So I had the opportunity to assist those graduate students with their projects by collecting data in implementing those prescribed burns.”

While an undergrad, Kinucan also served as a seasonal forestry technician and firefighter.

“That’s where my interest to continue on to grad school started,” he said.

While pursuing his Master’s Degree at the University of Wyoming, Kinucan was involved in several areas of classroom teaching including serving as a grad assistant in the laboratory.

“Teaching labs was a great experience because there were so many of them,” Kinucan said. “But I also had the opportunity to fill in as a lecturer for faculty members when they were gone.”

“Those experiences really stimulated my interest in teaching in higher education.”

From Wyoming, Kinucan moved on to College Station to complete his PhD.

In 1984 he received his first academic appointment as an instructor in the Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management at Texas A&M.

“A&M offered a very robust and dynamic program in Rangeland Ecology and is one of the top accredited programs in the country,” Kinucan said.

Originally, Kinucan’s plan was to earn his doctorate in Texas before heading back home to Idaho but a tight job market at the time led him to West Texas to join the Sul Ross faculty in the Division of Range Animal Science.

“There were a lot of qualified people on the market back then,” he said. “But very few open positions.

“Sul Ross came around at just the right time because I was working as a visiting assistant professor at A&M but that was a fulltime, term position that expired in August of 1988.”

Kinucan remained as a classroom instructor until the end of the Spring, 2019 semester.

He reflected on how student learning has changed throughout his years as an educator and touched on the advancement of knowledge application.

“I think public education has changed quite a bit in terms of how students process their learning,” Kinucan said. “Technology and the internet have a lot to do with that because of the instant access to information.”

He added that today’s students are very astute on fact checking and locating digital forms of information.

“But I don’t think they are as versed in learning methods that my generation was accustomed to,” Kinucan said, noting the use of hard copy through books and journals.

As an administrator, Kinucan says there is greater opportunity to work with faculty and other administration in implementing and refining academic policies.

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