Our Principal, Hugh Segal, was the last speaker of our Senior Fellows Luncheon series of the year. The title of his talk was: Massey College: Change,Tradition and Civility in a More Complex World.
The luncheon was sold-out with a long wait list, and many members of the College asked us to publish the full text of the Principal’s speech, which we are happy to publish here.
I want to thank Jennifer Jenkins and Mohamad Tavakoli for inviting me to address the Senior Fellowship at our monthly luncheon. While this is the last Senior Fellows luncheon I will address as Principal it is certainly not the last Senior Fellows Luncheon I hope to attend. I will have ongoing obligations in Toronto, and whenever possible I shall try to darken the College’s door for these luncheons!
I want to start by saying something deeply personal.
As many among you will recall, my first Senior Fellows Luncheon in 2014 followed emergency surgery for a subdural hematoma that had impaired me physically and had begun to have cognitive effects. I will never forget the generosity of the College, and many people in this very room, as I faced what was a frightening but brief health challenge. A special word of thanks to Dr James Paupst, a Senior Fellow, whose engagement and care simply saved my life.
And more recently, the generosity of spirit, the many messages of encouragement, confessions about personal bouts with cancer that have been successfully managed, have been deeply encouraging and a source of great cheer. All have been strong puffs of wind in my sails for the seas ahead, whatever they might bring.
I take none of this for granted, and my family and I are deeply grateful for this expression of the Massey spirit that defines the true meaning of fellowship and community. We are there for each other in the good times and for celebrations and events of intellectual and artistic joy, and we are there for each other when the vicissitudes of life throw the odd curve ball in our direction.
I am not here today to do a state of the Union/state of the College address. Nor am I here to point out the good and the bad during my five years; it is up to you to come to your own conclusions about all of that. I will say only that when we are doing our job and discharging our mission for the Junior Fellowship, change and the dynamics associated with change are a constant condition. Anything else would be profoundly disloyal to that College mission. How we promote and engage Change is what matters.
Let me start by paying tribute to the remarkable team of colleagues, who were the heart and soul of the College’s collective move forward on many issues. And let me also take exclusive responsibility for where we failed legitimate expectations and could have done better.
The entire College team deserves great credit for our achieved goals: revamped and more accountable governance, the increase in the diversity or our Junior and Senior Fellowship and Quadrangle community, the strong financial reserves we now have, and the progress made on issues like accessibility, programming and intellectual partnerships beyond the College and, the increasingly diverse disciplines represented by Junior Fellowship admissions over the last five years.
Our Dean of fellowships, Amela Marin, has worked tirelessly to ensure that applications for the Junior Fellowship represented an ever broadening mix of graduate students, with increased representation from U of T professional school, second entry or graduate students from marginalized communities not heavily represented in the Junior Fellowship in the past.
Our Bursar, Joyee Chau has worked tirelessly to modernize our financial operations, increase adequate reserves, a project started by the former Bursar and Senior Fellow Jill Anderson, and to increase where possible the financial efficiency of the College. Always adaunting task!
Our Chief Librarian, PJ MacDougall has kept the Robertson Davies Library an active place, centre of the Book History programme, which encompasses many faculties and departments at the U of T, and a Bibliography Room that is, with the rare book collection and unique printing presses, as enticing and inspiring as it is old and revered. It is a treasure of this small College which merits immense support.
Elena Ferranti, the College Assistant, has, working with Emily Mockler and other members of the team, created a website that has transformed communications between members of the community and communications between the community and the College. Hundreds of thousands of page views, thousands of RSVPs received online and some two hundred and fifty+ new users daily since introduction in September of 2018, all reflect important progress for a small independent college here at the U of T. And she has done all this while managing me, being there consistently for the Junior Fellowship, Senior Fellowship and Quadrangle and Alumni as guide, advisor and full blown team member.
In my first two years, the leadership of Rosemary Brisson on Quadrangle Society and Alumni initiatives, and in so many other areas, was beyond vital!
Sarah Moritz, the first College assistant I had the privilege of working with, brought a spirit and accessibility to College life that was unique and compelling.
Jill Anderson, my first bursar, and Anna Luengo, my first journalism coordinator and administrator connected me to the best of the College traditions.
Elizabeth Hope, our indomitable Porter, taught me how caring deeply about the Junior Fellowship and firmness in defense of the College gate and interest are not contradictory. Kelly Gale as building supervisor, was there when pipes froze, windows seized, and the pond needed care – and he was there always for the College first.
Emily Mockler, now on maternity leave, is an inspired manager of the Southam Journalism Fellowship, overall College events and communications. In a small college, most everyone is double or triple hatted!
The outstanding catering team led by Darlene Naranjo, Senior Steward Greg Cerson, Chef Joe Fray, serve the community with a level of quality, engagement and commitment to food service excellence that is rare among institutional feeding enterprises. Through its superb reputation and high quality, they have also attracted non-college clients for our in-house catering. The whole team has my everlasting appreciation and profound gratitude. If hospitality is essential to fellowship, and it is, then great food is a vital part of that partnership.
The volunteers in the Senior Fellowship and the Quadrangle Society, who have spent thousands of hours on governance reform, building a governance structure that reflects the entire community, with now formal accountabilities built in to our system deserve our immense praise and gratitude.
That work began back in 2015, with Alan Broadbent at the helm of a special sub-committee on governance reform has continued to this day involving Governing Board members, Senior Fellows, Quadrangle Society members, Junior Fellows and Alumni, including our pro bono College Solicitor Craig Thorburn, Colleen Flood, Ian Webb, Carolyn Tuohy, and later Jane Freeman, Jonathan Rose and many others. They all deserve immense credit for the hard work and careful calibration they built into our new governance processes.
Other volunteers who headed up important parts of College Life, such as Senior Fellows and Quadrangle Society members who are pro bono Chairs of Public Policy, Performing arts, Music, book Club and Science, as well as Massey Grand Rounds, and Massey QC, along with the present and past co-chairs of this luncheon series, all have my endless gratitude for the work and time they have committed to improving the intellectual, artistic, and scientific activities Massey offers the entire community. Tom Axworthy, Peter Herrndorf, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Mary McGeer, Aubie Angel, Anita Anand, as pro bono programme chairs and academic advisors to the Junior Fellowship, and many others have through their mentorship of our Junior Fellows and inspiration contributed immensely to the reach and breadth of College Life. Ivan McFarlane has played a seminal role in the community Liaison Group working with the Don of Hall and others. I cannot imagine how the last five years could have benefitted more from the leadership of Tom Kierans, Mary Janigan, Angela Ferrante, Ramsay Derry, Elizabeth Smyth, David Smith, Bob Johnson, Lisa Balfour Bowen, Sandra Martin, Dot Pringle, Christine Karcza, to name but a few among the Senior Fellowship and Quadranglers who put their shoulders and minds to the overall College mission.
Our collaboration with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, on the Canada UK Colloquium, that saw our Senior and Junior Fellows and Quadranglers participate in international policy deliberations on AI, on The future of liberal democracy, on climate change, was made possible not only through collaboration with our UK counterparts – but also through the leadership of Senior Fellows such as Mel Cappe and Randal Hansen, and alumna Tina Park.
Our respectful partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, their daily presence at the College, all speak to the breadth and reach of what so many at Massey have worked tirelessly to achieve. The Chapel Royal initiative, the Chapel Royale symposium, which goes on in its third cycle as we speak, for which I gladly give credit to my predecessor, commemorated last week by the presentation to our Chapel Royal of a St. James Bible donated and signed by Her Majesty, and presented by Canon Wright, the Chaplain of the UK Chapels Royal. It is a further symbol of our engagement with our partners, the Mississaugas, on a path to reconciliation tied to respectful joint engagement. The Ojibwe language lessons that took place every Monday in the Chapel, the initiative of our outgoing Don of Hall, David Sutton and which were well attended, is evidence of how mutual respect needs to be earned.
When I started my term in 2014, I indicated, as I did to the search committee that interviewed me and others the previous fall, that the central purpose of the College, in my view, was the provision of a broad and challenging intellectual, artistic multifaceted and diverse interdisciplinary environment for the Junior Fellowship from which they could benefit individually and collectively, at a crucial point in their academic lives, and, in a way that would provide networks, points of reference, mentorships, and intellectual appreciation outside their own chosen field of study. This would serve them well and through them society as a whole in the years and decades ahead. If I have made errors, and I am sure that I have, it has been because of my singular focus on the Junior Fellows as primus inter pares in terms of the core purposes of our College. My reasoning was straightforward. The Senior Fellowship, the Quadrangle Society are co-equal constituencies already made up of individuals of high professional, artistic, academic and scholarly achievement, with life paths already chosen and engaged. The Junior Fellows are graduate, professional programme and second entry students of immense academic achievement and engagement and community service outside of academic realm that commended them to the admissions committee. While here, they are still making choices and building linkages that will be vital to their future. The core mission of our College has always been to insure a measure of great diversity in those linkages, beyond their individual areas of academic and advanced study that broadens their reach as individuals, as citizens, as contributors to a wider and better world. That is the mission I came to support. And I am deeply grateful not only to the team of colleagues I have mentioned, but also to the pro bono College chairs and mentors I have mentioned for the immense help and support their effort allowed the College to achieve.
The engaged Liaison Committee of Senior Fellows, Junior Fellows and Quadrangle members, focusing on events that engage the entire community, itself a recommendation of a former Don of Hall, the role Alumni have played on Governing Board and in other College activities, all reflect the degree to which progress, civility and change at Massey is, when at its best, a collective effort involving all aspects of the community.
And, on issues that relate to inclusion, diversity, due process, accessibility, sexual orientation and open discussion of important issues like harassment, comportment, ensuring the protection of all Junior Fellows by the provisions of the School of Graduate Studies code of conduct, and the student safety mechanisms of the UofT writ large, areas that, by definition are never static, the College has made progress in cooperation with the school of Graduate studies and the office of the Provost. In this, I want to express my deep appreciation to the Junior Fellowship who on these and related files have been dynamic in their pursuit of a greater measure of engagement, inclusion, diversity and reflection within the sinews of civility and mutual respect that must define how a college of this unique kind should seek to progress.
President Gertler and successive Deans of Graduate studies have been allies. Dons of Hall Levin-Bonder, Kolz, Schaefer, Gillard, Sutton and our new Don of Hall, Julian Posada have in unique ways made this a more vibrant and better place for all.
How change is achieved within the context of mutual respect and civility, and over half century of traditions that define Massey, is of course the million-dollar question. Is change an imperative? I would prefer to submit that it is a condition and atmospheric reality when new Junior Fellows from different disciplines, backgrounds, national and cultural origins of the highest academic achievement arrive every year. At one level, they benefit from what they find already in place at Massey. At another, equally important level, the College benefits and grows from what the new Junior Fellows bring.
Greater diversity is not an “wouldn’t it be nice” option. It is a critical necessity for the experience at Massey to further equip the Junior Fellowship for the opportunities and exigencies of the real world beyond our doors. Being open to that change is simply the table stakes for an undertaking like Massey. Embracing a fundamental openness to change in an active as opposed to passive way, within the bounds of a core civility that embraces the rights and opinions of all as being of value, is where excellence can supersede simple survival.
For our future and for the next Principal, I offer no advice. I believe the role of a former Principal is to get out of the way. Be available when called upon, as I would be as a Senior Fellow, but completely out of the front window or rear viewfinder as the new Principal sets his or her priorities. The end of one term for an outgoing Principal, and the beginning of another term for a new Principal should be a process where the new Principal is given unencumbered leeway to work with the Governing Board and community writ large to achieve new goals and achievements of their own design and priority.
My appreciation for the leadership, advice, counsel and even-handed stability of Alan Broadbent, our Board chair, is deep and compelling. His clarity, frank advice and enhanced expertise in not-for-profit governance has been simply invaluable, as has been his friendship.
In a special category of supporters of the College Mission are Vice Regal College Senior Fellows, such as the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, John Ralston Saul, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, our Lieutenant governor. All made special contributions in invaluable ways. My first Visitor, The Hon. Hal Jackman provided support for Massey with counsel and resources that has simply been stellar. And, how fortunate we are that Her Excellency, our Governor General, alumna and Senior Fellow Julie Payette has visited her College four times since assuming her Vice Regal duties. Outside of Rideau Hall, and the Senate- for Royal Ascent, I can think no place she has visited more often.
I leave you today with this one final expression of gratitude. The experience of serving as Principal is the most unique experience of my professional life. The chance to be part of Massey is something I will forever treasure. Serving as a legislator, Chief of staff to first Ministers in Ontario or Canada, working on foreign policy and income security in the Senate, these were all, when compared to Massey, uni-dimensional experiences. None of those experiences had the mix of granularity, conciliation, inspiration from the multi-generations at work on College goals and purposes, that Massey affords anyone fortunate enough to be Principal. The role is essentially a unique one of encouragement, promotion, conciliation, management, support and engagement with a multi-talented and intellectually compelling mix of women and men who are among the great achievers and minds of our time.
I thank you, for the opportunity to have served.
Thank you very much.