Louise Cowin served as warden of Hart House until 2011 when she became Vice President, Students at the University of British Columbia. Her portfolio includes student development and services, student residence and food services, athletics and recreation, and campus security. Louise was a tenure stream professor Queen’s and Dalhousie Universities, and has held a variety of university administrative roles, including Director of Student Services and the School-University Partnerships Office at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
Hart House 2007–2011
- Best known for developing the Vision Statement of Hart House that re-imagined the original Founders’ Prayer
“I think my proudest accomplishment, as Warden of Hart House was the development of the new vision statement. When I was hired at Hart House, I inherited 12 recommendations from a committee that reviewed Hart House. One of these recommendations was to retain the sentiments contained in the Founders Prayer, but replace its “uni-dimensional perspective” to ensure that all members of the university community were reflected in it. This recommendation was timely given the exponential shift in the diversity of the student population that had taken place at the University of Toronto in the past couple of decades.
“For me, it was really important, given that University of Toronto students pay a mandatory ancillary fee, that we were very mindful that our offering reflected today’s student needs and interests. So this notion of “all voices, rhythms and traditions converging” was a very important attempt to demonstrate by way of the vision how Hart House also was shifting as an organization.”
“Any change within a culture causes some degree of discombobulation and resistance.
“Change was challenging for some students and alumni at Hart House because those deeply involved in the current club and committee structure were served well by it … and yet there was also a very much larger group of students who were paying a mandatory fee, who felt Hart House had nothing to offer them. One of my favourite sayings about change, that I think captures the change I was trying to bring about quite well, is from a 1994 book, The Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead:, ‘Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they might gain by giving that up.’”