*Because my personal and professional lives are so connected, I included my job title on the cover page. Most of the information on this website relates directly to my academic career, teaching, research and the current responsibilities of my job. But, there are personal opinions and information that has nothing to do with my role as a professor at UNCG. This information was generally shaped by my academic experiences, including those at UNCG, or related to my growth as an ecologist and teacher. All opinions expressed on this website and in my Blog are mine and do not reflect the opinions of my employer- and perhaps maybe not a single other organism in the universe.
Hello most gentle web browser,
I am Jim Coleman. After graduating with a degree in Forestry from the University of Maine in 1982, I started traveling a circuitous path that led me metaphorically to the top of some beautiful mountains, to alder thickets so dense I couldn't see my hands, to bogs that almost swallowed me whole, and to many roads I never imagined traveling- some good, some bad. That trek continues.
One learns/accepts things about themselves when they trek through their own wilderness. One thing I have come to accept is that there are no boundaries between me as a person or me as an academic. So, I designed this site with that in mind in the sense that the personal and professional are integrated. All opinions expressed are mine and not those of my employer.
I am a plant physiological ecologist with a passion for organismal and ecosystem science including how organisms and ecosystems will be altered by global change. See my "Research- Summary of 5 areas" tab for my current and past research interests, my "research publication" tab for my publication history, and the "research grant" tab for my external funding history.
I also love teaching and interacting with students, including: helping students through issues with mental wellness; helping students with their challenges in and outside of the classroom; getting students excited about ecology and evolution; and being the Director of Graduate Studies for UNCG's Department of Biology. This work evolved to making me try to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues with a simple strategy of caring. You can find more about what I teach, how I teach, and what students think of my teaching by clicking on the "Teaching and Student Comment" tab. And, you can hear some class songs that I have written on the "Music" tab.
l am also a reformed administrator who has now returned from the dark side as a former provost, former dean, and former chief research officer. You can read ad nauseum about those experiences and accomplishments by clicking the "Curriculum vitae" tab. In all of those roles I was dedicated to the transformational mission of higher education and making institutions better.
You'll see in my curriculum vitae that I'd like to think I made important contributions, but recognition is rare for me. Administrators mostly achieve success by empowering others or saying "yes" or "no" at the right times or hiring and/or empowering great people. Nonetheless, I was really humbled/honored to be elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of science recognizing my work as a plant physiological ecologist and my work in building research capacity in universities and states. Now, more of my focus is on the power of teaching and caring.
After 25 years as a senior administrator (VP Research, Dean and Provost), I have a lot to say about higher education and its leadership (who I worry is losing its way and has given up on the values of honestly/integrity and makes simple things ridiculously complicated), and I am learning how to say it. You can see my attempts by clicking on my "Blogs, Musing and Podcasts" tab. I would appreciate any feedback, including negative feedback (just don't make it personal).
I am in the process of re-building my spiritual core, and I am a new student of indigenous ways of knowing- this has changed me more than anything in my life (thank you Robin Wall Kimmerer). So, I included pictures of the lake that I live on that awoke my spirit, and musings about "spirit" that you can find on the "Lake Jeanette" tab.
I have tried to carry-on my father's passion for civil rights, though I have become disillusioned with how universities are approaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And, I feel that I am finally carrying on my mother's dedication to special education in underserved communities and in helping to start the field of transplant patient social work, by trying to engage and empathize with students who are struggling.
I am also a high-functioning Asperger's individual who has suffered from, and managed well, depression and anxiety. I think it is critical that mental illness/challenges are not stigmatized, so I am open about these issues with students and colleagues and always happy to discuss.
Neurodiverse traits are also not generally considered in how universities think about an inclusive environment, other than for those on more extreme ends of the spectrum. Most of the ways we interact on a university campus are based/designed for neurotypical people, even though a large proportion of people, particularly in academe, have neurodiverse traits.
I am trained and certified in mental health first aid, and I received the American Red Cross Life Saving Award for Extraordinary Personal action for helping to resuscitate a colleague who had a heart attack and stopped breathing during a meeting in February 2020. These are two things for which I am very proud.