We made it! And seven other positive things…

Congratulations! We made it to the end of May, still smiling! Grades are in and we finished the academic year well. Summer classes are now underway. And I’m still carrying on as Dean in my living-room. Here at the College of Arts Dean’s office at the University of Guelph we’re working in a very uncertain environment as the world unfolds and as things are changing quickly, it seems. But we are making plans (and that’s the main thing we do in academic leadership and administration) even though making plans is difficult. I feel like the context changes so much from the beginning of each week to the end of the week. I keep putting off writing on the blog until there is something definite to say.

That might be a long time from now. Uncertainty is our exciting normal.

Today’s normal includes a beautiful day with the sun is shining and, even better, with some good news worth sharing.

  1. Enrolments are up for summer distance courses, across the university. Obviously the problematic summer job market in pandemic times is playing a role but it’s good that students are choosing to make progress on their degrees. I’m hoping this holds true for the fall and winter too.
  2. The Board of Undergraduate Studies (BUGS) accepts and recommends that Senate approve the proposed new major (BAH.CTS) and minor in Culture and Technology Studies in the Bachelor of Arts program. The external reviewers agreed that the new program will position the Guelph as the leader of undergraduate digital humanities programming in Canada and probably globally.
  3. Our faculty continue wining awards. Congratulations to @UoGSOFAM Marta McCarthy. Leonard Enn’s This Thirsty Land, commissioned by #UofG‘s own Marta McCarthy, just took the 2020 National Choral Award for Outstanding Choral Composition! See here for details.
  4. Congratulations are also in order to our #UofG #COA faculty who have been awarded funding for their COVID-19 research! 🎉
    • Prof. Tara Abraham (History)
    • Prof. Catherine Carstairs (History)
    • Prof. Kevin James (History)
    • Prof. Andrew Bailey (Philosophy)
    • Prof. Gus Skorburg (Philosophy)
    • Prof. Gordana Yovanovich (School of Languages and Literatures)
    • Prof. Ajay Heble (School of English and Theatre Studies)
  5. It might be small potatoes to you but it matters to me. Teams can now display up to 9 faces. I know! I spend a lot of time in Teams meetings and so this warms my heart. You need to be using the app and not the web version though.

  6. I had a great chat the other day with the incoming President of the College of Arts Student Union Areej Amer. I was struck by her adaptability and enthusiasm for leading students through a time of physical distancing. She had lots of ideas for building student community in time when pizza socials in crowded rooms won’t be happening. So many of our students are using the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink our world and what we want to the future to be like. I ended our videoconference with a smile on my face. You can follow CASU on instagram. I recommend it.

  7. Congrats to the winners of the inaugural College of Arts Gryphies Awards for Staff Excellence!

  • Steve Mezey, Mackinnon Building Super Intendent

“Steve is always ready and willing to help anyone in the College with anything they need”

“He just wants to help.”

“always available to assist with the heavy lifting – literally”

“Unfailingly cheerful and helpful, he is patient in the fall guiding lost first-years (and often faculty as well!) to the correct path for their mysteriously numbered classrooms in the MacKinnon maze.”

  • Nicola Ferguson, Administrative Assistant to the Director (School of Fine Art and Music)

“Constant communication and picking up extra duties to help support the Grad Students in the Department. “

“Her speed at mastering the learning curve of her complex job and her absolute willingness to help with any difficulty has made any interaction with the university’s bureaucracy a joy.”

“She listened intently, seemed to understand everything immediately, asked intelligent questions, and offered suggestions on ways she could assist with the process.  Most importantly, Nicola was friendly, kind, sincere and helpful.”

“She is efficient, reliable, competent, positive, and responds to questions with accuracy and professionalism.”

“She adds a ray of sunshine to the office and is a joy to talk to.”

  • Matt Edwards, BA Program Counsellor (Supervisor)

“He is a dedicated academic counsellor and often goes over and above in assisting students. “

 “His work ethic is exceptional – often staying extra hours to ensure that the office runs smoothly and seamlessly.  He is an extraordinary manager.  His collegial attitude allows the office work well together through busy and difficult times…”

“constantly providing support and guidance and training (including meeting virtually now during the pandemic).  He does not wait to be asked; he reaches out proactively to explain and advise”

“Matt has since been an equally effective leader virtually,  since we’ve been working from home, keeping us connected and on track, always willing to do things differently as information changes; always open to re-jigging if we find we have concerns, and doesn’t work from the “top down”.  He works, always, in collaboration and is making this possible and working, as always, to provide students, foremost, with top notch support as well as all of us.”

Thanks also to Chris Lee for this great Zoom background!

The Dean and the Gryphon on Zoom

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