Installation Speech

Principal Des Rosiers

Ethics, Community and Leadership

The following speech was delivered at Massey College on October 8 2019 by Nathalie Des Rosiers during the ceremony of her installment as Principal of Massey College

Chief Laforme, President Gertler, Visitor McLachlin, dear Friends of Massey,  distingués invités, chers amis.

C’est un grand honneur pour moi d’être ici devant vous, en tant que la nouvelle directrice principale de Massey.  As I stand here, very happy and honoured, I first want to recognize the duties that we have toward our hosts, the Anishinaabes, and the Mississaugas of the Credit who have occupied this land for multiple generations. I want to thank them for their hospitality and express my desire to pursue our on-going friendship and partnership relationship. Migwetch.

Je sais que je suis la première francophone à occuper le poste de Directrice principale de Massey College et j’en suis très fière.  Over the years , I know that many francophones have attended Massey and many do so now.  I am very proud to bring to Massey, a reflection of its Canadian national dimension. Massey is home to students from across the world and across Canada, and its community of Senior Fellows, Visiting Fellows, Members of the Quadrangle Society and Alumni also extends throughout the world.    

Massey is unique in the Canadian intellectual landscape and offers so much to its community, and to people who look to it to advance its mission of interdisciplinarity, creativity and innovation.

I have organized this ceremony under the Theme  of “Ethics, Community and Leadership” to help me articulate how I see Massey contributing to its wonderful mission (which is, as you know, “ to nourish learning and serve the public good”) in the years to come. 

Let me begin by articulating the special place that Massey is and its great strengths, thanks to previous heads of College, such Principal Hugh Segal who is with us today.  I also want to thank President Gertler  and University of Toronto, for his support to the mission of Massey.

  1. Massey’s strenghts

Recently, at a Senior’s Fellows’ lunch recently, I suggested that “if Massey did not exist, we would want to invent it”, because as a Community, it responds well to current academic challenges.   While all universities often struggle with interdisciplinarity, with disciplines colliding and competing between each others, Massey embraces interdisciciplinarity since its inception.  While many  universities struggle with their relationships to the applied world, and to facilitating access to employment for their students, Massey does it through its intergenerational community exchanges, its Quadrangle society, and its formal and informal networks.  Finally, all  universities struggle to break the sense of isolation that students often experience, particularly at the graduate level, the Massey community responds to this imperative as well.

Therefore Massey makes a significant contribution to the well-being of graduate students.  It also benefits from an excellent reputation linked to the famous Massey Lectures, and it is situated in a beautiful architecturally renowned building. 

I have chosen the theme of ethics , Community and Leadership because we know that Massey recruits the best and the brightest graduate and professional students who, no doubt, will be leaders in their field.

Massey must provide them with an environment of knowledge, confidence about their ability for action and  ambitions.

I have always been attracted to build communities of learners, and am passionate about supporting academic projects of colleagues and students.  The thrust of Universities, to seek knowledge through study and creation, through critical peer engagement, seems to me to be what makes humanity needs at this time.

There is no future for a world without ideas and without the rigorous pursuit of the truth.

This is why Universities matter and why Massey matters because it does play a unique role in the intellectual landscape of Canada and it must continue to be ambitious about what it can deliver. 

Massey has great strengths that are quite relevant to challenges of universities.  They must be continue to be strengthened. And Massey has responsibilities.

 Massey was conceived of as an “elite” institution.  It is incumbent on its community to continue to respond to the responsibilities that come from such a label.  More than others, it must reflect on its ethical duties.  Hence the theme of this series, of which the Installation seminar was the first installment. Massey, it must be remembered, was to nourish learning and serve the public good. 

I believe that serving the public good requires from us to be present in the world and engage with the issues that are troubling it.  We must continue to push ourselves to address some of the pressing questions, leverage the interdisciplinarity and the intergenerational potential of this community and be present and heard. 

We should ensure that the work product of Massey reaches the outside world in all ways possible. 

Earlier today, The Series “Ethics, Community and Leadership” speak to current ethical challenges facing our society.  The Installation will be the occasion to have conversations on the ethics of reconciliation, the ethics of inclusion, of building community, the ethics of research, in philosophy and science. 

Thanks to the generous support of some of you, the series will continue throughout the year.  For me, it is a way to recognize our responsibility to empower our Junior Fellows who will all be leaders in their fields, whether in the private, non profit, academic , public sectors to become the best leaders that they can be -with an ethical framework for their action upon the world.  I view this ethical framework as being larger than simply avoiding conflict of interests, and having personal integrity and honesty, but being curious, engaged, other-centered, courageous, thoughtful, able to inform one self and critically assess one’s role. I view this series as allowing us to carry our responsibility as a meaningful  institution of the XXIst Century. 


If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an engaged community to sustain Massey.  For the last month and a half, I have been very impressed by the level of interest and engagement that the community has displayed in the work of Massey, and in its future. 

I want to thank you in advance for your generosity toward the college, and your contribution toward ideas for its continued success.  Massey has great strengths and because of that, great responsibilities. 

Le Collège Massey est une communauté unique qui doit se faire connaître et agir comme une communauté ambitieuse, prête à servir son pays et le monde.     J’ai bien hâte de continuer de travailler avec vous.  

Today, in front of you, I promise to do my best to carry the mission of the college to nourish learning and serve the public good, honestly and with all my energy and good will, in a spirit of transparency and community engagement. I hope that I can count on your support.

 I promise to continue to have a competitive and inclusive recruitment, financially accessible, to ensure that the benefits of Massey are shared by all deserving students;

–       to continue to invest in the mentoring ethos of Massey, informal, magical, serendipitous, but also deliberate and organized around joint projects;

–       to continue to invest in this magnificent building so that it can continue to inspire future generations.

I hope that I can count on your support.

Merci, Migwetch, Thank you.   

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