Five “Gucci” Things

Donkey - Shrek - Joel Cumber

Today is day eleven and – notwithstanding the winter weather – I couldn’t wait to get here this morning.  The last two weeks have been busy and awe-inspiring. Most noteworthy is the genuine warmth and generosity that permeates this learning community; I have been truly overwhelmed by the kindness and patience shown to me by students, faculty and staff. I want to assure you that – as promised — I’m listening and learning to ensure my leadership as your Provost is informed and authentic.

What I have heard?  What have I learned?

Let me preface the list below by sharing something my 11-year old son Bennett taught me last week.  On route to school, he described a breakfast sandwich his Dad had made him as, “Gucci”.  According to Urban Dictionary, this use of the iconic brand name means “awesome”.

Here, in no particular order, are five “Gucci” things I’ve experienced since I started at Sheridan:

  • On day 2, at the invitation of a faculty member, President Mary Preece and I spent the lunch hour listening to a choir sing on the Trafalgar Campus. It was brilliant.  My favourite part was a rendition of Toto’s 1982 hit “Africa”, a song I know by heart.  As much as I loved the music, it was the sense of community in the atrium that captured my attention.
  • I visited the Davis Campus and went on a tour of the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies or “CAMDT” with faculty and students from the school of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering & Technology. I read on-line beforehand that CAMDT is a “technology playground for students, manufacturers, and industry partners”.  It’s that and more!  I met smart, highly engaged students in all years of study who are designing and building – among other things — drones, robots, and medical devices.  After the tour, I met with equally engaged faculty members.  The Centre is such a great example of how Sheridan cultivates, nurtures, and sustains relationships that promote teaching, learning, and discovery.  It was a great day.
  • The Dean of Students and I met with executive members of the Sheridan Student Union. I had worked as the Executive Director of George Brown College Student Association when I first came back to Canada after graduate school. It was an immensely challenging role that taught me a lot.  Specifically, it affirmed for me that student leadership and political activism are fundamental to healthy learning communities.  The SSU President, Sylvia (who has a burger named after her at the Marquee!), stands as a great example of Sheridan’s capacity to attract great students and have impact.  She speaks with such passion and conviction about her experience as a student and leader here.  I’ll continue to seek her input about how we – together – can positively impact the student experience on all of Sheridan’s campuses.
  • I visited the Screen Industries Research and Training (SIRT) Centre at Pinewood Studios.  A brilliant team of faculty, staff and students took the time to help me and others learn about their unique approach to “training, collaboration and creation”.  Students from engineering, gaming, business, and marketing showed us their amazing projects.  I was particularly struck by how SIRT cultivates a learning environment that is truly inter-disciplinary.  At the end of the tour, I was treated to a sandwich at the studio’s eatery that was … divine.
  • Rounding out the top five … my daughter Olive and I went to see Shrek the Musical on Friday night in MacDonald-Heaslip Hall. With the caveat that it is very ill-advised to keep an 8-year old out until 11:30 pm, it was fabulous!  Hands down:  Donkey was our favourite character.  I forgot to bring home the program, but I’m very keen to meet the talented student behind that snout.

So, there you have it:  five “Gucci” things I’ve learned about Sheridan since November 28.   Over the coming weeks, I’m keen to learn more about Sheridan’s students.  Why do they choose this learning community?  What obstacles do they face once they’re here?  What supports on our campuses fuel resilience and/or persistence?  What do students love about Sheridan?  What would they change about their learning community if they could?

I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Warmest regards,