Winter 2019 Welcome Address
January 19, 2019
Director General Richard Filion’s address
Good morning everyone and welcome back to Dawson for the 2019 Winter semester.
To new faculty and staff who are joining Dawson, I am extending a special welcome. It is good to have you on board and I wish you all the best in your new endeavors.
My very best wishes also to each one of you for the New Year. May this year be one of accomplishments of all kind! Moreover, may 2019 be the year when you will see some of your hopes and dreams become reality.
Thank you for having accepted my invitation. A special thank goes also to all of those who have helped to prepare this reception. Much appreciated.
Last August, when we resumed the academic year, I drew your attention to a few challenges that are arising from the current state of affairs.
Social, economic, demographic, political and environmental issues are shattering our most familiar points of reference and it looks like we are left coping with the bitter taste of a world that is in a process of growing dereliction.
New and, by large, unforeseen forces are at play that are radically reshaping our societies, our relation to the world, questioning our most basic values and upsetting the way we are behaving, both as individuals and as collectivities.
Staying true to overall responsibility despite challenges
These challenges are daunting, needless to say, and they can feed, for some among us, a general sense of anxiety and, for others, create a sense of urgency that will lead to action. One thing is certain: as educators, we somehow have to stay true to our basic responsibility in doing our best to prepare the young generation to rise up to these challenges.
This is how we envision our educational mission here at Dawson and this is why we rally around this vision statement:
“To be a leader in the delivery of innovative academic offerings and transformational learning experiences through student-centered pedagogical practices that foster student success and seek to develop informed and engaged citizens.”
As mentioned in my opening statement last August, we have set an agenda for the 2018-2019 academic year that intends to build on our previous efforts to provide our student population with innovative academic offerings and transformational learning experiences.
This is consistent with what I have called Dawson’s DNA, i.e. a holistic and humanistic approach of education guided by our dedication to student success, which expresses itself through the Graduate Profile outcomes.
AI think tank to submit three-year action plan
I also pointed out then the growing importance of the Digital Revolution occurring in several sectors of human activity, its impact on the social fabric and work structure as well as the absolute necessity to take this phenomenon in consideration while we design and deliver our academic offerings.
To this effect, I said that a task force or a think tank would be set with the mission of addressing ways of integrating, where relevant, artificial intelligence and associated technologies in some targeted areas of our activities and programs of study. I am happy to report today that this think tank is now up and running and should deliver a three-year plan of action in the course of this semester.
In a similar perspective, I also mentioned that our Director of Information and Systems Technologies, François Paradis, was mandated to develop an action plan related to the deployment and use of digital technologies in various sectors of the College. On this front, I can say that François is actively working in close relationship with the Academic Administration.
However, to bring these initiatives to full fruition and to better support others – such as the creation of on-line educational devices – that might be pursuing the same purpose, we need to strengthen our development capacity.
Benefitting from the return of Ray Bourgeois from a one-year leave of absence, I am glad to announce that he is reintegrating the Academic Administration with a new set of responsibilities. As Dean of Academic Initiatives, and under the leadership of the Academic Dean, Ray has accepted to contribute to the best of his capacities to the development and implementation of innovative projects related to the enhancement of the academic offering at Dawson College. In this new function, Ray will work collaboratively with the other Deans and with various stakeholders.
Policy of inclusion; disruption to major artery
Before closing, three additional items:
This semester, our Director of Students Services, Monique Magnan, will be working to finalize a Policy on Inclusion, mainly to frame out our responsibilities and obligations with respect to services delivered to our students who are dealing with learning disabilities.
This means that there will be consultation of the community through the proper channels with the view of having the policy presented for approval to the Board of Governors before the end of the Winter 2019 Semester.
She will be also be working on putting in place processes and procedures in this area with the view of improving our services to students. These set of procedures will closely link with the Inclusion Policy stipulations.
Furthermore, we are planning to renovate in the coming summer the Testing Centre. The new Centre will include additional spaces for testing as well as soundproof booths that will be available for students that require a scribe or a quiet space to do their exams. By doing so, we will hopefully fix a certain number of issues related to conditions under which testing was taking place.
In addition, we are intending to provide training with regard to our legal obligations to accommodate students that have learning disabilities or that are struggling with handicaps.
Finally, workshops on specific topics such as mental health issues, learning disabilities, and the role of Student AccessAbility services in supporting students on their academic journey will also be offered throughout the semester.
In parallel, there will be a process initiated to revise and update the Dawson Code of Conduct.
Second item: according to a project that is spearheaded by the STM (Société de transport de Montréal), we will have to cope with a major “chantier” on Maisonneuve Street starting this Spring. This “chantier” is meant to fix some water infiltration problems occurring in the Atwater metro station and tunnel. Over the last months, our Coordinator of P&F, Véronique Paris, has been in constant communication with the STM authorities to ensure impact on our activities will be minimal. A protocol to this effect will be finalized in not too long. We will keep you abreast of any development worthy of concern.
Board supports declaration of carbon neutral forever
To end on a more joyous note, I want to draw your attention on a Board motion adopted last semester declaring Dawson College “carbon neutral forever”. This is more than a symbolic gesture. Drawing on the efforts the Dawson community has made over the last 10 years under the guidance of both the Sustainability Office and the Plant & Facilities Department, we made such progress in reducing our energy use and offsetting our carbon emissions that we can now support such a statement.
Mathew Chapman, national campaign coordinator for the Climate Reality Project Canada, recently sends us the following message:
“My sincere congratulations to the visionary staff and students of Dawson College on this historic achievement. Once again Dawson blazes the trail for other Canadian institutions to follow.”
We should be proud to be part of a college that positions itself as a leading institution in raising awareness and deploying exemplary actions toward what it appears as one of the most pressing challenges of all times: restoring an ecological relationship with Mother Earth.
Merci de votre attention et bon semestre.
January 17, 2019
Presentation of the Academic Dean
To view the presentation made by Academic Dean Diane Gauvin on highlights in the academic sector, click on link at the bottom of the page to access the PowerPoint presentation.