Although our circumstances have shifted once again this fall, I am excited that with a return to many on-campus elements, your university education, and your experience at UTSC, will continue to be a transformative time in your lives – one that is richly steeped in the inclusive community that makes us UTSC, and one that you will look back on with pride, and feel a deep sense of belonging.
Having come through the past 2.5 years of mainly remote and mixed delivery learning, and life events, each of you has likely experienced many uncertainties and challenges. For some, these challenges, came with some setbacks, but also significant victories. I suspect these victories are not yet clearly apparent, as you struggled with adapting your behaviour to the ever-changing circumstances. I have been deeply impressed how faculty, staff, and students, have risen to the occasion and performed well beyond reasonable expectation.
Walking just outside the Meeting Place the other day, near the Fred Urquhart Memorial Garden, I noticed a Monarch butterfly stopping to enjoy flowers in one of the planters on the S-Wing patio. I am reminded of the struggles the Monarch too has faced over the years with the near eradication of milkweed plants along its migration route, as millions of hectares of conservation wetlands are converted to other uses. Yet here is this Monarch enjoying the sunshine and flowers of the patio having successfully made the migration from its winter home in Mexico. It is a harbinger of hope.
This year will be different for all of us, students, faculty, and staff. Much like the Monarch butterfly surviving the trek back home, we have the great opportunity to emerge restored to engage with new opportunities, to meet in-person and immerse ourselves in all that our community has to offer.
Some of you, like our new Transitional Year Program cohort, will be experiencing the in-person UTSC community for the first time; but not just students, many faculty, librarians, and staff members are included in this group. For those of you, I highly recommend you take the time to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of the Highland Creek area; to work intentionally with your classmates on academic projects, and to develop a fuller and ultimately lasting sense of the unique identity we share as part of the UTSC community.
There will be moments that are challenging and I encourage you to take advantage of the on-campus services to assist you in meeting those challenges. The Monarch migration can be an inspiration to us to set lofty goals and to pursue them. I fully expect that you will continue to rise to the occasion and perform beyond expectation, looking back on this time with pride in the future. Have a great year.
Professor William A. Gough
Vice-Principal Academic & Dean