December 17, 2018
To all members of the University of Windsor community:
This term has just flown by, witnessing on its wing some major milestones.
We have a new Chancellor: Mary Jo Haddad. A new Chair of our Board of Governors: William Willis. A new President of our Alumni Association: Beth Ann Prince. A new Student Information System. Our first Student Mental Health Strategy. Our first policy on freedom of expression on campus. Building on near-record enrolments, our Fall Open House saw robust numbers of prospective students and their families. We welcomed the final tranche of 50 new faculty members through SPF50 and five more through PIPS. Our state-of-the-art Essex Centre of Research is up and running. We are engaging an architect to renovate our iconic Ron W. Ianni Faculty of Law Building on campus. We have had multiple successes on the teaching and research fronts, with national and international awards and honours and money in support of research, scholarship, and creative practice.
Is it any wonder our new philosophy is called Windsor Proud?
The success of our students and alumni, the support of our staff, the achievements of our faculty, the leadership of our administrative team, and the partnership of our retirees, donors, and community have made Fall 2018 an extraordinary moment in our trajectory. Thanks to each of you for the part you played! For more information on our most recent achievements, please see our new annual report here.
Looking ahead to 2019, we anticipate some significant developments across the provincial landscape. I had the opportunity recently to meet Dr Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and enjoyed a brief one-on-one discussion with her. Among other things, I renewed my invitation to the Minister to visit us and see first-hand what we are all about, and she and her staff expressed real interest in doing so. In her prepared remarks for the Council of Ontario Universities, Minister Fullerton outlined a number of the government’s high-level priorities for the PSE sector, with the understanding that details will follow very soon.
My predictions among the provincial tea leaves? I’m thinking that the Roman art of augury could have a comeback. But this much seems certain: once we have turned the corner into 2019, the government will announce wide-ranging measures to address the province’s $15B deficit. The funding formula, the tuition framework, and the future of the SMA are the top three items on every university’s radar, and I expect to get clarity on them early in the new year.
These are the issues that occupy us on a daily basis. But if I turn my thoughts from the merely temporal and focus on eternal things, the things that make us what we truly are, certain lines by the poet William Blake come to mind – lines that have been invoked by suffragists and labour and liberals and conservatives. They have been sung as a hymn, a protest, and a wedding song. Many of you have heard me quote them:
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
Blake’s metaphorical city, representing the highest strivings of the human spirit, is not foreign to us. If our life at the University of Windsor were a Netflix Original Series, we might call it “Building Jerusalem: Episode 161.” Why 161? Because since 1857, our historical founding as Assumption College, we have been a progressive and inclusive community that has come together to study, to learn, to teach, and to serve. Through our ceaseless “mental fight” in teaching, research, and service, our “Jerusalem” is Made In Windsor every day. Can you think of a better calling than that?
Signing off for 2018. All the best in the new year.