Associate Professor Dr. Robert Dunbar granted tenure

June 8, 2017

For Dr. Robert Dunbar, teaching has always centered around providing his students with the right tools for the task at hand. Throughout his career at University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR), Dunbar has encouraged students to think both creatively and with intellectual discipline. This orientation to learning was a component in the decision by The University of Minnesota Board of Regents to grant tenure to Dunbar. This important honor is in addition to Dunbar being named the recipient of the 2017 Horace T. Morse University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

Dunbar earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. He joined UMR in 2009 and plays a primary role in the design and delivery of courses across the health science core. Dunbar has had a dramatic impact on a number of UMR offerings including: Introduction to Health Sciences I, integrative biology, anatomy/physiology, and neuroscience.

A UMR alumnus noted “... he (Dunbar) did not simply give us the answer, but taught us how to reason our way to the answer or gave us the tools to find the answer on our own.” His approach to teaching also aligns with his research interest on the intersections among neuroscience, physiology and psychology and the process of learning and memory formation. As a self-proclaimed lifelong learner with a strong interest in working with other scholars, Dunbar has participated in numerous teaching, student learning and disciplinary research collaborations.

Dunbar’s research on student learning was fueled by the belief that close relationships exist among curriculum design, course design and development, assessment of student understanding and faculty research. Dunbar’s research regarding the effect of student attitudes, demographics and pedagogy on academic performance led to additional work with colleagues to develop a sustainable digital tool and an institutional process to collect and explore in-house course and demographic data.

“The strategic vision of UMR is to ‘inspire transformation in higher education through innovations that empower our graduates to solve the grand health challenges of the 21st century.’ Dr. Dunbar’s contributions to undergraduate education have been singular and ultimately, outstanding. His leadership has been an essential element of the establishment and stabilization of this campus.” said Dr. Lori Carrell, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Development.

Dunbar stated, "Being given the opportunity to be a part of an institution that combines an integrated curriculum, continuous assessment of student progress and the ability to do data-driven research on learning environment has been the professional equivalent of winning the lottery."

When Dunbar is not in the classroom, you can find him attending his daughter’s extracurricular activities, visiting his son at the United States Air Force Academy and enjoying dates with his wife which include grocery shopping, dinner and walking their dog.