Dean's Advisory Council launched to help accelerate rapidly advancing A&S strategic priorities

July 21, 2022 by Sarah MacFarlane - A&S News

At the halfway point of “Leveraging our Strengths,” the Faculty of Arts & Science Academic Plan 2020-2025, Dean Melanie Woodin is continuing to ramp up the Faculty’s activities.

“We have an incredibly ambitious academic plan that will transform the Faculty,” says Woodin. “Despite the pandemic, we’ve made significant progress, including launching the Arts & Science Internship Program and the Data Sciences Institute. Now that we’re emerging from the pandemic, we’re going into overdrive, and to do that we need expert guidance.”

The Faculty of Arts & Science — the largest academic division at U of T and comparable in size to most major Canadian universities — is a vibrant community of more than 27,000 undergraduate students, 4,500 graduate students, 900 faculty members and 600 staff. With more than 340 undergraduate and 130 graduate programs, and more than 4,800 undergraduate courses, Arts & Science offers learning opportunities across a broad range of disciplines. The academic plan focuses on capitalizing on the Faculty’s strengths to provide exceptional student experiences, foster innovation in teaching and research, and promote the achievements of world-renowned faculty.

To reach the full potential of leveraging this extraordinary depth and breadth at A&S, Woodin has assembled a council of 11 thought leaders and change-makers:

  • Eileen Antone – Alumna and Elders’ Circle Member, University of Toronto Council of Aboriginal Initiatives  
  • Paul M. Cadario – Alumnus and Distinguished Fellow in Global Innovation, University of Toronto  
  • Rajeev Chib – Alumnus and Asia Chief Operating Officer, Financial Institutions Sales & Solutions, Citi  
  • Julie Di Lorenzo – Alumna and President, Diamante Urban Corporation 
  • Jonathan Hausman – Senior Managing Director, Global Investment Strategy, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy 
  • Ikran Jama – Alumna and Rhodes Scholar, University of Oxford  
  • Jessica Johnson – Editor-in-Chief, The Walrus 
  • Alex Lu – Alumnus and Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research 
  • Deepak Ramachandran – Alumnus and Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, FundThrough 
  • Michael Serbinis – Alumnus and Founder & Chief Executive Officer, League Inc. 
  • Casper Wong – Alumnus and Co-Founder & President, Financeit 

These exceptional alumni and friends of Arts & Science are committed to sharing their knowledge, expertise and experience to galvanize the Faculty’s strategic priorities.  

Casper Wong.
Casper Wong. Photo: Sean Pollock. 

“While at U of T, I attended Innis College for my undergrad degree and met some lifelong friends, my wife and formed an extremely strong foundation that has stayed with me for my entire career,” says Casper Wong, who graduated with an honours bachelor of arts in 2006. “It is an honour to be able to give back by being a member of the Dean's Advisory Council. I hope to help improve the student experience and continue to help make U of T a global academic leader.” 

Council members are advocates and ambassadors, working to raise the visibility, reputation and influence of Arts & Science. Members contribute in various ways — by leveraging their professional networks to help build the Faculty’s local and international partnerships, for example, and by strengthening the local and global community of alumni. Acting as trusted advisors to the dean, members will also provide insight on the lifelong learning needs of industry, as well as financial matters and capital plans as the Faculty embarks on its ambitious multi-site development plan to build new spaces and transform existing ones.

Ikran Jama.
Ikran Jama. Photo: Kenza Wilks.

“I joined the Dean’s Advisory Council to bring the student perspective and voice into the planning and implementation of the academic plan,” says Ikran Jama, who earned her honours bachelor of arts from U of T as a member of Victoria College in 2021. “As an undergraduate student, I had to overcome several barriers to complete my degree. Through my friendships and student union experiences, I learned that many students shared similar hardships, and importantly, many shared experiences and issues I had never considered. Through the Dean’s Advisory Council, I’m excited to help foster a welcoming campus community, such as through building more spaces for commuter students, to help ensure that all students thoroughly enjoy and get the most out of their U of T experience with limited barriers in reaching their personal and academic goals.”

Adds Jama: “I’m eager to help find creative ways we can offer academic programming for our students, especially with respect to supporting knowledge and skills exploration beyond the classroom. I hope to help ensure our academic programming is delivered with the mental health and wellbeing of our students kept as a priority. I also look forward to supporting greater efforts to enhance the equity, diversion and inclusion of our student body.”

Woodin says she is looking forward to hearing the diverse perspectives of the council members and working together to accelerate work in the Faculty’s priority areas.

“I am grateful to the council members for offering their time and expertise,” says Woodin. “I am confident this collaboration will result in innovative ideas and strategies that will support the Faculty in meaningful ways.”

Learn More

Visit the Dean's Advisory Council webpage.