Bloom at the Place Jobs Take You

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Photo courtesy of Lakeland University

Emi Tsuji, Staff Reporter

Lakeland’s role of Dean of the J. Garland Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology will be passed on from Brian Frink, who is going to be Vice President of the Japan campus, to Paul Pickhardt, a biology professor with 14 and a half years of teaching experience at Lakeland. 

In April 2020, Frink was going to leave the United States to start his job at the Japan campus, however, due to the COVID-19 related travel ban, he had to postpone his departure. After the travel ban was taken down in October, he finally could restart the preparation process of moving to Japan. In January 2021, his current role as Dean at the J. Garland Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology will be replaced by Pickhardt. 

Frink joined Lakeland in 1999 as a Chemistry and Physics professor. He experienced several leadership positions such as Chair of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies in 2014, Dean of the School of Science, Technology & Education in 2016, and Dean of the J. Garland Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology in early 2020. In April 2020, he added the vice president role at the Japan campus to his duties. 

This vice president role of the Japan campus is a brand-new position and it is meant for the management of the campus and the academic programs which are offered to students at the Japan campus. His future work on the Japan campus can be beneficial for students who are going to transfer to the Japan campus from Wisconsin. 

“Some of the things that we are working on already is the expansion of the university to a four-year program. We are also trying to find a new location for the institution that is not as dispersed in its classroom buildings relative to its main administrative location. In that regard, we are also looking at co-locating with a Japanese university,” Frink explains. 

Frink decided to take this choice of moving to Japan with the support of his family and prior international experience. Before making this decision, he was working with Lakeland’s initiative in Malawi, Africa. He visited Malawi several times over the past five to six years and realized the passion to help students not only he can see, but also students who are located wherever they are. 

“I think without the support of my family, and without having some historical contacts with international type work, I probably would have said ‘no,’ but I enjoy solving problems and I enjoy challenges and the opportunity of leading the Tokyo campus into a new location and new academic curriculum that they haven’t had before. The challenge of putting together a business model that works in absence of a business partner is exciting. All of those things piqued my interest and it was easy for me to say ‘yes,’” Frink stated. 

From Jan. 2021, Pickhardt will take on the role of Dean of the J. Garland Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology. Pickhardt joined Lakeland in 2006 as a full-time biology professor. From 2012 to 2016, he was a chair of the Natural Sciences Division of Lakeland and was guiding and overseeing the faculty related to Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Exercise Science, and other diverse groups of programs that fall under the division. He used to teach three to four courses per semester, but after becoming a dean, he will reduce it to one lab course per semester and focus on more administration work. 

“I am excited, anxious, nervous, all of those things because the position will be a significant change from full-time teaching. But, I’m hoping to affect positive change at a larger level for Lakeland. I really do love this institution and I love to see what it can do for students and for opportunities that students get when they pursue their degrees here,” Pickhardt described. 

Pickhardt also mentioned that he will devote time to expanding the existing program and create interaction outside of Lakeland. “We’ll try to grow those programs at a higher level, not just in the classroom but also throughout the community. I will try to get other people involved, other industries and businesses and try to find more funnels to get students here so that we can continue to grow the programs in the Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology,” Pickhardt stated. 

Taylor Johnston, a senior student, described his enthusiasm toward designing courses to make students actively learn. “He makes you want to care about science by connecting them to current events and providing hands-on experiences. I’ve had him for two courses, Environmental Science and Earth Systems, and I absolutely loved all the field trips he took us on. We even got to go spelunking for one of the field trips! Dr. Pickhardt is skilled at designing and implementing developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences for his students, which is why I believe he is unique from other professors,” Johnston mentioned. 

Gabrielle Barefield, a junior student, described Pickhardt as a “nature man” because he always provides the knowledge and experience beyond the classroom teaching. “It engages everyone in the room, and he wants us to not only have the knowledge but also be able to apply it. The best parts are when we are learning hands-on and going out to places to understand further what he is teaching us,” Barefield stated.