Barry McNamara  |   Published November 30, 2016

ACM appointment

Biology professor Tibbetts to lead new science-centered program in Amsterdam
  • Biology professor Tim Tibbetts
Monmouth College biology professor Tim Tibbetts has been appointed by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) to lead the first installment of its new study-abroad program in Amsterdam.   “Tim will bring a wonderful combination of the skills and experiences teaching science, along with the ability to develop and maximize the value of relationships with students,” said Monmouth Dean of the Faculty David Timmerman. “I know he will also be valuable helping to get this new program started on the right foot. These are competitive selections – particularly this program in Amsterdam – and I am proud of Tim and proud of Monmouth for his selection.”   Timmerman said the new ACM program was designed specifically for science majors, a group “that often struggle to do off-campus study.”   The new partnership with host institution Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which will begin in fall 2017, raises the ACM’s total of European off-campus destinations to three.   “This program opens up exciting new opportunities for students in the sciences, and particularly global health, because the courses are taught in English and the students will be studying at a well-respected university,” said ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Joan Gillespie.   Tibbetts said the English component was among the draws of the program for him, although he will do his best to learn some Dutch during the appointment, which will last from early August until Christmas. He is also excited to return to Europe, where he studied in both high school (Sweden) and college (London).   “When I saw the ACM was going to start a program in Europe geared to the sciences, I was very interested,” he said. “Being able to be the first director is definitely a fun aspect of it. I get to be on the ground floor and help get it set it up for the future.”

Known internationally for its research, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam places a special focus on interactive, small-group work. The university is best-known for its strong science programs, particularly global health, biomedicine and neuroscience.
Sustainability is a core value woven into the fabric of the university’s research, academics and campus culture, which also attracted Tibbetts. He’ll explore that topic, among others, in “American Environmental Thought,” a course he is developing for the ACM program. It grew out of a Citizenship course at Monmouth first taught by Tibbetts’ colleague Ken Cramer.   “The course has a big sustainability push, and that really resonated with the selection committee,” said Tibbetts, who will also teach the independent study project course that goes hand-in-hand with the ACM program.   The program’s location in a captivating city famous for its picturesque canals and centuries-old buildings is another plus, Gillespie said.   “Amsterdam is a great student city and a dynamic place to be,” she said. “It’s charming and historic, and people there certainly want to preserve that history, but at the same time the city is very modern and you can feel the excitement and creativity.”

Tibbetts said he is looking forward to visiting the city’s historic museums, where he can see original Rembrandt paintings and look further into the life of Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who is considered the father of microbiology. He also appreciates that Amsterdam is a bicycle-friendly city; the university loans bicycles to all of its students to help them navigate the campus and city.   ACM students will take classes and live in university residence halls with both Dutch students and international students. Program participants, who are expected to number between 12 and 20 in the initial semester, will be able to choose electives from among more than 300 undergraduate courses that are taught in English.   Tibbetts joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2001, one year after receiving his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He also holds a master’s degree from Colorado State University and completed his undergraduate work at Lawrence University, another ACM school. His research interests include plant ecology, dendrochronology, vines, invasive plant species and geographic information systems.
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