September at the Mount is one of my favourite months, as we greet new students, welcome returning students and begin a new academic year with our faculty and staff colleagues.
This year the Mount celebrates its 140th anniversary, marking a distinguished history of fostering academic excellence, community building and social justice. Our new Strategic Plan, Mount 2017: Making a Difference, will guide us in shaping an equally distinguished future for our University, and I invite you to play a role in this important work.
The construction of the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre of Teaching, Learning and Research, as you’ll have noticed, is making big changes on our campus. While some of these changes – new routes to travel across campus or different parking spots to be found – may try our patience from time to time, we’ll see the rewards when the building is complete. The first academic building constructed at the Mount in over 40 years, the McCain Centre will not only provide long-awaited space for key programs and departments, but, in keeping with our mission, it will also honour and tell the stories of women throughout.
I had the opportunity to tour the construction site this summer and was delighted with the progress I saw; we’re on target toward our goal of opening in December of next year. I invite you to keep updated on the building by visiting the construction website.
This past weekend I attended orientation events for new students and was struck once again by the diversity of those who come to study at the Mount – some joining us from high school, others coming to our community as mature adults, and many arriving from around the world. I’m excited about the year ahead as we welcome these students and strive to meet and exceed their expectations.
At our annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning held last week, we focused on the topic of diversity. In addition to excellent sessions led by members of our faculty, we heard a panel of students speak about their academic experience. They were honest in telling us not only what has worked for them in their Mount education, but where we can make changes that will improve their learning. A number of faculty and staff in attendance spoke to me of their desire to keep hearing these student voices, and we’ll seek opportunities to continue the conversation throughout the year.
My colleague Elizabeth Church, VP Academic, delivered closing remarks at the workshop, drawing a parallel between foreign travel and university. She challenged us, faculty and staff, to be guides to our students, who are travellers in strange and unfamiliar territory—to help them remain open to others and able to learn from their experiences. We can all benefit by thinking of ourselves as travellers in our own university, with much to learn and gain from our time together.
Enjoy your fall term and I look forward to travelling the road with you.