It is my great honour to be appointed the 12th Warden of Hart House. I assumed my new role in August of this year.
Even as I begin my 5-year term in this exciting and historic role, I am very conscious that soon the 100th anniversary of Hart House will be upon us. We have already begun thinking about how best to celebrate that momentous milestone and honour the vision and generosity of Vincent Massey and the Massey Foundation. And as we do, I am struck by how prescient and innovative the Masseys were in establishing this very unique centre for students to come together, across their differences and outside their classrooms, to be “(armed) with strength and suppleness of limb, with clarity of mind and depth of understanding, and with a spirit of true religion and high endeavour.”
In a highly competitive world where well-roundedness, curiosity and adaptability are in increasing demand, those University of Toronto students who complement their academic pursuits with a deep involvement in the many and diverse offerings of Hart House are well-equipped for success. Many also become generous and engaged local and global citizens.
Hart House’s original Founders’ Prayer also expresses the hope that, “under the guidance of its Warden, (Hart House) may serve in the generations to come the highest interests of this University.” On that score, Hart House is perfectly positioned to support the University in realizing the three priorities articulated by President Meric Gertler in his Installation Address:
1. Leverage our urban location(s) more fully, for the mutual benefit of University and City.
Hart House has always served as an essential bridge between the university and the world beyond its walls. Through programming collaborations and partnerships with a wide variety of local organizations, and by expanding opportunities for students to engage in meaningful and sustained forms of direct community service, I look forward to reinforcing and expanding that bridge.
2. Strengthen and deepen key international partnerships by means of a well-defined strategic focus.
Global education already happens at Hart House. We bring together Canadian-born, newcomer and international students in a variety of settings and activities that allow for the exchange of narratives and perspectives, and that can result in new connections and deeper understanding to emerge between and among students of vastly different backgrounds and experiences. Now with international students representing some 17% of the total student population of the University, I am looking forward to doing even more to build on Hart House’s legacy of connecting students to the world beyond our campus.
3. Re-imagine and reinvent undergraduate education.
For the last 96 years, Hart House has been recognized as the centre for the re-imagination and reinvention of the undergraduate student experience at U of T. Hart House has always taken and will continue to take a devotedly student-focused approach in its work. Student leaders comprise the majority of the House’s Board of Stewards, and they develop lifelong leadership and collaboration skills on our Standing Committees and Clubs executives. All students who are active at Hart House are participants in their own educational experience, fuelled by their personal interests, a commitment to learn, and a desire to serve.
Thank you for your commitment to ensuring that Hart House is able to provide students with the well-rounded educational experience that is so essential to maximizing their potential as graduates and their impact as citizens. None of what Hart House has achieved in the past near-century would have been possible without the support of people like you, its alumni and friends. I hope that Hart House will continue to be worthy of your support well into its second century, as well.