New dean likes Brock’s “small-town university feel”

Neil McCartney

"I like that it treats students as more than just numbers in seats," says Neil McCartney, new Dean of Applied Health Sciences, of Brock.

Neil McCartney has a lot of aspirations as the new Dean of Applied Health Sciences. But on a personal level, he hopes he’s a nice guy to work with.

McCartney – renowned for his research into human aging, cardiac rehabilitation and spinal cord injury – steps into a vibrant Faculty home to internationally known research. He hopes his new colleagues find him friendly and approachable.

“At the end of the day, when my time is up, I hope they say that I was a kind dean who was good to work with,” said McCartney. “I hope the Faculty galvanizes around the theme of enjoying coming to work.”

He was drawn to Brock, he said, for “the small-town university feel.

“I’ve always heard nice things about it in terms of the atmosphere and collegiality. Everyone is friendly and accommodating.”

Before starting at Brock on Aug. 1, McCartney spent his academic career at McMaster University, where he developed a reputation as an accomplished researcher. A native of England, he earned a PhD from McMaster in 1983 and started as a faculty member there the same year.

McCartney was the director of McMaster’s Centre for Health Promotion and Rehabilitation, and is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation. Other accomplishments have included a provincial appointment to the Transitional Council of the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario, where he served as vice-president. He has also co-authored and contributed chapters to 10 books, and has been a lead or contributing researcher for more than 80 journals.

His research has been funded by the Arthritis Society, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, among others. Some of his most well known work has dealt with physical activity in cardiac patients. Historically, cardiac patients were told to avoid lifting weights. McCartney’s research was pivotal in the discovery that weight training could actually help.

“They used to tell patients not to lift more than 20 pounds for the rest of their lives,” McCartney said. “Imagine hearing that as a 38-year-old. We were instrumental in changing that.”

McCartney plans to do a curriculum review and encourage interdisciplinary collaborative research. He would also like to see more partnerships with McMaster to develop centres of excellence.

When not at work, McCartney is a “passionate fisherman” with “a fishing boat and too much tackle and not much time to use it.” His wife, Jenny, is a champion whippet breeder who has shown the dogs around the world. He also has two sons.

His first two weeks at Brock have been busy, he said, but he’s enjoyed them.

“My opinion about Brock has been reinforced since I’ve been here,” he said.

Related story:
Mac researcher to become Brock’s new Dean of Applied Health Sciences

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