Associate Dean (Student Affairs)

Professor Jim Fyles

Professor, George and Frances Tomlinson Chair in Forest Ecology
Department of Natural Resource Sciences
T:514-398-7758  |  jim.fyles [at] (Email)Website  |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS2-079


The Associate Dean (Student Affairs) provides academic direction and general oversight of the Student Affairs Office, which includes (for undergraduate students): recruitment, admissions, student exchanges, summer studies, orientation, advising, scholarships, convocations, information systems and other related functions. He oversees the general well-being of undergraduate students on the Macdonald Campus.

The Associate Dean monitors and collaborates closely with Student Services (e.g., Career and Placement, Student Health, Counselling, Office of Students with Disabilities, Mental Health, Student Aid) and Athletics, and assumes responsibility for the physical-social welfare and conflict resolution for students on the Macdonald Campus.

The Associate Dean represents Macdonald on and/or chairs the following committees: University Admissions Committee, Committee on Student Services (CSS), Enrolment and Student Affairs Advisory Committee (ESAAC) Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Scholarships Committee, Student Services Macdonald Sub-Committee of the Senate Coordinating Committee, Committee on Academic Standing, Admissions Committee, Student Recruitment Committee, Teaching Excellence Committee, Faculty Promotions Committee, Farm Management and Technology Committee.

The Associate Dean is a member of the Executive Committee, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Prospective Students  |  Student Affairs Office  |  Undergraduate StudentsMedical Notes

About Jim Fyles

Jim Fyles is an ecosystem ecologist with broad interest and expertise in the ecology of forests, agro-ecosystems, and devastated lands.  Raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, he obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in ecology from the University of Victoria, and his Ph.D. jointly in Soil Science and Botany at the University of Alberta in 1986. After post-doctoral research in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, in 1988 Dr. Fyles joined the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, where he holds the Tomlinson Chair in Forest Ecology.  He was one of the primary developers of the McGill School of Environment and has served as the Director of the School. He is the Director of the Molson Nature Reserve and the Morgan Arboretum, peri-urban conservation and research areas near the Macdonald Campus. Between 2004 and 2010, he was the Scientific Director of the Sustainable Forest Management Network Centre of Excellence, a national research network involving partners from industry, governments, Aboriginal groups and non-governmental organizations. From 2011 to 2016 he chaired the Department of Natural Resource Sciences.

Dr. Fyles’ research interests focus on the interrelationships between human activity, organisms, soil, disturbance and climate that structure patterns of ecosystem function across multiple scales. Through his multi-disciplinary work on food security and with the SFM-NCE he has become increasingly interested in complex social-ecological systems and the relationships between scientific knowledge, policy and management of natural landscapes. Dr. Fyles has published over 80 articles in scientific journals and co-authored many knowledge exchange documents. Dr. Fyles teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the global environment and ecosystem ecology and has supervised 30 graduate students and many senior undergraduate research projects. In 1997, he received the Macdonald Campus Award for Teaching Excellence.

Prof Fyles has led and been involved in activities relating to student life and learning throughout his academic career, beginning as a student activist, conference organizer and departmental representative while a graduate student at the universities of Victoria and Alberta. His first weeks as an Assistant Professor on the Macdonald campus in 1988 included student recruitment visits to local CEGEPs. This led to a series of leadership positions in student recruitment, student advising, teaching innovation, student grievance appeals, and curriculum design during the development of the McGill School of Environment. Membership in tenure committees in three Faculties has provided considerable insight into the importance of student course evaluations in developing and evaluating teaching effectiveness. Through teaching- and student-related activities on both campuses, Prof. Fyles understands well that learning styles and environments differ between students and places, and that the best learning emerges when students find their right niche. 

As a field ecologist and soil scientist, Prof Fyles is a strong promoter of hands-on experiential learning in the field and lab, and in workshop, conference and internship situations. “It’s the difference between watching a cooking show and preparing a meal for yourself,” he says. “Much can be learned from the show but the real take-home messages are in the chopping, cooking and final savouring.”  Professor Fyles is known for his experimentation with innovative teaching approaches and has received the Macdonald Award for Teaching Excellence. He sees the appointment as Associate Dean and an opportunity to continue to enhance teaching and learning at the Macdonald Campus and McGill.