Articles tagged with: Faculty

  • Brock appoints biogeographer, Dr. Lesley Rigg, as next President and Vice-Chancellor

    Lesley Rigg, a highly accomplished academic leader, research scientist and professor, is Brock’s next President and Vice-Chancellor.

    Rigg assumes her new role Nov. 1 following an international search for the next University President. A highly skilled forest ecologist and biogeographer, she currently serves as Vice-President (Research) and Professor of Geography at Western University in London, Ont.

    “Dr. Rigg brings more than 25 years of academic and research leadership experience to Brock, having served in Canada and in the United States as a vice-president, dean, scientist and professor,” says Mark Arthur, Chair of the Brock University Board of Trustees. “Lesley’s many accomplishments in labs and in the field, in classrooms and across campuses, are matched by her inspiring and well-demonstrated commitment to inclusivity and diversity. It is an optimistic approach that puts students, faculty and staff first. We are truly fortunate to welcome her to our community.”

    Rigg says it is a “distinct privilege to be invited to join Brock at this pivotal time in its history.”

    “We are emerging from the challenges of the pandemic and the work of the University is essential as our community recovers and seizes new opportunities. I have long admired Brock’s impressive students, our outstanding faculty and researchers and our wonderful staff, who together make up a university striving to be welcoming, diverse and inclusive,” she says. “Over the years, I have been excited to watch as Brock evolved and advanced to become a leading student-centred comprehensive university. As I arrive in Niagara, I am fortunate to be joining such an accomplished and welcoming community. I have a deep-seated optimism for the future of Brock.”

    At Western, Rigg leads the research enterprise of one of Canada’s foremost research-intensive universities. She is responsible for both the strategic vision and daily operation of Western Research and is the lead internal and external advocate for research, creativity and innovation on campus. During her time in London, she led the creation of a new strategic plan for Western Research, with a vision to stimulate research, scholarship and creative activity.

    Prior to arriving at Western, she served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Professor, Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, where she led one of the largest Faculties on campus spanning six departments and five multidisciplinary programs.

    Her experience also includes significant leadership at Northern Illinois University. There, she served as Vice-President for Research and Innovation Partnerships and other roles including Associate Dean Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


    Rigg’s lived experience informs her understanding of the significant impacts a university can have on its community and on its students. She was the child of a single mother and is the first in her family to go to university.

    “I have experienced first-hand the transformative impacts education has on a student and on a family,” she says. “Brock’s emphasis and proven track record ensuring the health, well-being and success of students is foundational to our future. Together, we must ensure there is just, equitable and fair access to all areas of our campus, and we must openly demonstrate that this is an inclusive and welcoming university where everyone has the same opportunity to benefit and to contribute.”

    Rigg says she was encouraged by Brock’s recent undertakings to recruit more Indigenous and Black scholars.

    “I am particularly focused on partnering with our Indigenous communities to further the gains Brock has made in truth and reconciliation and in creating a more welcoming campus for equity-deserving students, staff and faculty,” she says.

    As an accomplished scientist and research administrator, Rigg prioritizes supporting researchers, scholars and students working across campus to innovate, create and spark breakthrough discoveries.

    “As a comprehensive university, Brock’s commitment to our researchers and research activities is of utmost importance,” she says. “Brock has enjoyed considerable successes in creating an environment where breakthrough discoveries and impactful scholarship thrive. I am looking forward to working with our entire community to continue this upward trajectory and to catalyze future growth.”

    Rigg earned her bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from York University in Toronto, her master’s degree in geography from the University of Colorado and her PhD in geography and environmental studies at Australia’s University of Melbourne. Her teaching career began as a lecturer at Melbourne in 1997.

    She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Canada, an executive committee member of the Ontario Council on University Research (OCUR) and the recipient of many honours, including the Alberta SHEInnovator Award and the Women of Inspiration, Vision Builder Award for Western Canada. Rigg’s partner is David Goldblum, an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Western University.

    Throughout her career, engaging with communities has been a hallmark of Rigg’s leadership. She says Brock’s multi-layered relationships and connections with the communities it serves are a key reason she’s eager to begin her term at the University.

    “Brock’s origin story begins with a group of dedicated women in the community advocating for a new university. That was nearly 60 years ago and the voices and actions of the Allanburg Women’s Institute ring clear today,” she says. “Brock is closely interwoven with Niagara and communities beyond. We serve our neighbours in so many impactful ways, while being the beneficiary of the rich and diverse communities that are part of our campuses. Deepening these ties and building new relationships will be key as we move forward.”

    Brock’s President and Vice-Chancellor provides leadership to the community to collaboratively develop and achieve the University’s goals. She ensures that the University pursues its vision and delivers on its mission, while demonstrating a commitment to Brock’s values. The role is responsible for inclusive leadership and effective bi-cameral governance. The President oversees the implementation of the educational policy and general administration of Brock and ensures a culture of academic freedom, research excellence and institutional autonomy. The President advocates for the University’s interests with government and other key stakeholders and works with the community to enhance Brock’s reputation. She is responsible for ensuring Brock’s fundraising and advancement activities are robust and that alumni are engaged in the life of the University.

    The Brock University Board of Trustees approved the appointment following a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on the Presidency and after consulting with the University Senate. The search began in June 2021 after former President Gervan Fearon left to become the President of George Brown College. Since that time, Provost Lynn Wells has served as Interim President.

    “On behalf of our entire community, I want to thank Interim President and Provost Lynn Wells for her superb leadership over the past year. It has been an incredibly complex and challenging time for all universities and for our students and staff,” Arthur says. “Dr. Wells has led with integrity, compassion and a keen focus ensuring Brock emerges from this pandemic stronger than ever. We are deeply grateful for her commitment to Brock and to our students, faculty and staff.”

    Incoming President Rigg will be spending time on campus this fall as she prepares to begin her role in November.

    “I am so looking forward to meeting with our community of students, faculty and staff and getting to better know our campus,” she says. “The coming academic year promises to be an exciting one with a near-record incoming class, a full return to campus and a complete resumption of our teaching, learning, research and student activities. I cannot wait to get started!”


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  • Symposium to highlight social justice research partnerships


    Researchers from Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI), who have teamed up with community partners on funded projects, will have their work showcased at an upcoming free, public event.

    The virtual symposium, Social Justice and Community Collaboration, takes place online Tuesday, Sept. 28 from noon to 2 p.m. as part of the ongoing Faculty of Social Sciences Symposium Series. Everyone is welcome to take part, but advance registration is required.

    “Our affiliates have been doing innovative and compelling social justice-oriented projects in collaboration with community groups, both locally and internationally,” says Rebecca Raby, Director of SJRI and a Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. “At this symposium, we want to share these projects, and to inspire other faculty and community members to think about the exciting range of collaborative projects that can be pursued.”

    The symposium will feature the following presentations:

    • “Reflections on the Key Principles of a Successful ‘Community-University’ Research Partnership,” presented by Andrea Doucet of the Department of Sociology, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work and Care, with Evan Jewell of X University and Master of Arts Sociology Research Assistant Jessica Falk.
    • “Body/Land/Sovereignty through Photography: Reflecting on a workshop with young Haudenosaunee women,” presented by Sherri Vansickle of the Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education, with Margot Francis of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies and Department of Sociology.
    • “Road Construction, Mobility and Social Change in a Wakhi Village: Shimshali Perspectives in Words and Pictures,” presented by David Butz of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, with Nancy Cook of the Department of Sociology.
    • “Collaborating with community to explore social exclusion and inclusion experiences of immigrant women in Niagara,” presented by Joanne Crawford of the Department of Nursing.
    • “Children Reading and Writing Photographs — Critical Literacies and Collaborations,” presented by Diane Collier of the Department of Educational Studies, with Melissa McKinney-Leep of the District School Board of Niagara and graduate students Simranjeet Kaur and Zachary Rondinelli.

    Raby says that as public health restrictions have eased, greater opportunities for collaboration have begun to open up, so she is eager to introduce new Brock faculty members and SJRI affiliates to the research that is already taking place.

    “Community partnerships provide an opportunity to meet community needs, to inform decision-making, to connect with local participants, to try something new and to build relationships,” says Raby. “They encourage us to tackle social issues in a collaborative way that can transcend a specific disciplinary focus and to work with faculty from outside of our own disciplines in order to have comprehensive engagements with community needs. They can invite us to see our scholarly work a little differently.”

    SJRI funding grants have been part of the Institute from its creation and are designed to “include social justice and transdisciplinary components, creating a shared focus on positive community-oriented social change,” according to Raby. The grants provide opportunities for both junior and established researchers to develop community-based research programs, facilitate relationship-building and lay the groundwork for larger funding applications.

    There are currently 80 researchers affiliated with SJRI, and new researchers are always welcome to get involved

    “SJRI offers opportunities for faculty members who are concerned about social justice and interested in transdisciplinary scholarship to connect with each other across the university,” says Raby. “We also post regular information about projects that community organizations are interested in pursuing in collaboration with Brock.”

    Anyone interested in learning more about SJRI or the process for becoming an SJRI affiliate should contact Project Facilitator Julie Gregory via email, and attend next week’s symposium to explore possibilities.

    To register for the event or for more information, visit the symposium web page.


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  • New book examines human rights issues in tourism

    After almost a year of travel restrictions and stay-at-home mandates, many Canadians are looking toward a future when they might visit distant locales once again.

    Atsuko Hashimoto, Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, hopes that before hopping on a plane, people might first consider how travel may impinge on the rights of others.

    To help readers understand the implications of tourism across a range of topics related to human rights, Hashimoto published Human Rights Issues in Tourismat the end of December, following a historical year for both the tourism industry and human rights worldwide.

    “When we started writing this book, no one could have foreseen all the changes that 2020 brought,” says Hashimoto. “We have seen many pro-democracy demonstrations and the rise of rights activism around the world, the number of asylum seekers increasing exponentially and a global pandemic that has, for the most part, stopped non-essential travel, or ‘taking a holiday,’ resulting in many people’s rights to work being severely compromised.”

    Human Rights Issues in Tourism is part of Routledge’s Tourism, Environment and Development Series.

    Co-authored with colleagues Elif Härkönen of Linkoping University in Sweden and Brock Political Science alumnus Edward Nkyi (MA ’11), the book covers a background of human rights issues related to tourism, from sustainable development goals to politics, before taking deeper dives into specific issues such as human security, displacement, discrimination, privacy, free movement, labour conditions, sex tourism, the environment and Indigenous rights.

    “I like the idea that tourism is a window to what is happening in society,” says Hashimoto. “Readers may be surprised to realize how our own behaviours are, without us noticing, hurting other people.”

    Hashimoto, whose research has long focused on the empowerment of women in rural communities and other disadvantaged groups, says it’s important to acknowledge the part tourists may play in the relationships that exist between globalization, tourism and human rights.

    “Can you imagine as an international tourist that the resort hotel you are staying in used to be a local fishing village?” she says. “The villagers were removed from the area so that the hotel could be built and local access to the beach is now denied. Almost everything in the resort hotel is imported from other countries, so local suppliers benefit very little — even the traditional Indigenous souvenirs sold in the hotel have been mass produced in another country and imported.”

    Hashimoto encourages potential tourists to think of any trip they plan as a visit to someone else’s home, determining if and how their visit will benefit local people and how their mode of transportation may contribute to climate change, another serious human rights issue examined in the book.

    “You are taking a vacation for relaxation and fun, but your enjoyment should not be a burden to others,” Hashimoto says.


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  • Brock mourns the passing of first female faculty member

    Brock University was an important part of Josephine Meeker’s life for far longer than the three decades that she worked here.

    Believed to be the first woman ever hired as a Brock faculty member, Meeker started as an Assistant Professor of Geography on July 1, 1965 and retired 30 years later on June 30, 1996. In between those two dates, Meeker played a significant role in the development of the Department of Geography and the University as a whole. She was the first Director of Continuing Education, the first president of the Brock University Faculty Association and had tenures as a member of both the Board of Trustees and Senate, for which she served a term as Chair. She was also influential in the creation of the Women’s Studies program, and in 1995 received the Rosalind Blauer Award for improving the position of women at Brock.

    Josephine Meeker, who began her time at Brock as an Assistant Professor of Geography in 1965, is shown leading a class in 1968.

    Meeker, born in Hamilton in 1930, passed away Monday, Jan. 11 in St. Catharines at the age of 90.

    “Josephine brought a commitment to Brock, never ceasing to put Brock first,” said John Menzies, Professor of Earth Sciences and Geography. “Her commitment to students was incredible, not only in helping them in their studies, but also in their whole life here and afterward.”

    After graduating from McMaster University in 1953, she began a teaching career in Hamilton, where she was responsible for the United Nations Club, which led her to oversee multiple trips to Washington and New York. That led her to graduate studies at Indiana University and Columbia University in New York City, where she met her future husband Donald, and started working with the United Nations.

    After completing her graduate studies, she returned to Canada to start her academic career at Brock.

    Meeker’s niece, Wendy Nelson, said Brock held a very import place in her aunt’s heart.

    “My Aunt Jo cherished her role as ‘Professor Meeker’ and the chance to teach and mentor students at Brock University,” Nelson said. “She was so proud of the University and its development over time. Throughout her lifetime, her highest praise of individuals was reserved for graduates of Brock. In her eyes, a degree at Brock was Josephine’s ‘seal of approval.’”

    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in memory of Meeker to either Brock University or McMaster University. A virtual celebration of life for students, colleagues, friends and family will take place Sunday, March 7 at 2 p.m. To participate, contact the family via Nelson at

    An online book of condolences can be found at

    Read the full obituary in The Globe and Mail here.


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  • Michael Ripmeester acknowledged for 25 years of service to Brock

    Slide showing names of individuals who have served 25 years at Brock

    The Department of Geography and tourism Studies would like to congratulate Dr. Michael Ripmeester on being recognized for his 25 years of service to Brock University today at the President’s Holiday Celebration. We are thankful for the countless contributions he has made to our Department, and to Brock as a whole.

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  • Brock community mourns the death of John McNeil

    The Brock University community is mourning the loss of John McNeil, who passed away Sunday, Aug. 2.

    Born in Motherwell, Scotland, McNeil played soccer professionally for many years before he attended the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees before completing his PhD in Geography.

    An offer to teach at Brock in 1967 brought McNeil and his family to Canada. Brock, at the time, was the newest university in Canada, only opening its doors three years earlier. McNeil began his career at the University as an Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, on July 1, 1967. Six years later, he was promoted to Associate Professor, Department of Geography, and also served three appointments as Department Chair throughout his career.

    During his career, McNeil devoted helped reinforce Brock’s academic strengths during the University’s critical early years. Prior to retiring in 1998, his contributions included serving on Senate and the Board of Trustees, and also as Interim Dean of the School of Social Sciences.

    He was also instrumental in starting Brock’s soccer program, and was a part-time coach in an era when there were no coaching contracts and little funding to support a fledgling athletic program.

    A private family service will take place at a later date. Condolences and memories may be shared at

    In lieu of flowers, a memorial tree can be planted in McNeil’s honour.


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