It is with immense joy and gratitude that I assumed my new role of Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning earlier this month. I am grateful for the trust being placed in me and am especially humbled by the opportunity to work alongside and support the extraordinary humans who make up our Centre for Pedagogical Innovation and Co-op, Career, and Experiential Education teams.
Brock is a special place and my family and I are thrilled to join the university community. We have spent the last few weeks exploring the Niagara region—feasting on perch from Lake Erie, riding the carousel at Port Dalhousie (which I have since learned to pronounce correctly!), visiting wineries in NOTL, and of course cheering on our hometown teams from BC at the Canada Summer Games. I have also been getting to know our beautiful main campus as well as the magnificent spaces at the Marilyn J. Walker campus and First Ontario Performing Arts Centre.
You will hear more a lot from me in the weeks and months to come (and hopefully see me in person as well) as I visit with various Faculties and departments, assume Senate and other committee appointments, and continue to explore the campus corridors and catacombs.
I have a lot to learn about Brock—about the needs of this wonderfully diverse community, about our challenges and constraints, and about your hopes and aspirations for teaching and learning. I will be listening, observing, and learning. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you’d like to discuss an idea or talk through a proposal that you have been mulling over, or even to share your personal pain points and challenges.
In my new role I have the privilege of working closely with some of Brock’s finest in Cara Krezek (Director, Co-op, Career, and Experiential Education), Giulia Forsythe (now Interim Director, Teaching and Learning) and Matt Clare (now Interim Director, Technology Enabled Learning). And I am especially indebted to Dr. Madelyn Law for her critical and invaluable leadership as Associate Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning during what was an immensely challenging and transformative 3 years.
If you watched my presentation to the university community during the search process, you will know that I lead with my values—that I care deeply about equitable access, inclusive design, and ethical educational technologies, about community and care, and that I seek to build more supportive and humane systems within the academy. In doing so I draw on theory and practice in both open and critical pedagogy.
It is with the latter in mind that I close this introductory message with the words of the incomparable bell hooks, who wrote in Teaching to Transgress:
“To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin…”