The new academic year gets underway
The new academic year started last week with cadets beginning their first week of classes. The academic year also kicked off for faculty and staff with the first Faculty Board meeting which was held in Currie Hall and chaired by the Principal, Dr. Harry Kowal. Here are a few highlights:
Dr. Kowal started the meeting by welcoming everyone to the start of the academic year and he offered a special welcome back to those who were on sabbatical last year as well as to all the new members of Faculty Board (faculty & staff). Dr. Kowal specifically welcomed back Dr. Derrick Bouchard, Dean of Engineering, and Dr. Pierre Roberge, Dean of Continuing Studies, from sabbatical and thanked Dr. Billy Allan and Dr. Jim Denford for acting as Interim Deans in their stead.
Inspired by Dr. Kevin Brushett and Dr. Erika Behrisch Elce, in Dr. Kowal’s opening remarks, he included comments to raise Indigenous awareness. He stated, “Now I am certainly not an expert in Indigenous Affairs but we have some simply amazing faculty members who are and who have provided me some very inspirational facts regarding the ground we stand on. I would add that it is sometimes in moments of reflection that we truly appreciate what it is we have.” He then thanked Kevin and Erika for their thoughtful suggestion and read aloud a quote he was provided by Erika as follows, “Before we talk about where we’re going, we also need to acknowledge where we are standing, and the significance of the space that we inhabit at this moment.
RMC is built on a beautiful peninsula, traditional Haudenosaunee (Hoe de no shoe knee) and Anishinaabe (Anish in abbe) territory. Before Europeans arrived in the 17th century, it was already a place of community, of trade, governed by the movement of knowledge, people, and goods. It has been, since well before RMC was founded in 1876, a vibrant place of learning and teaching, and there are still many lessons to learn about this larger part of the peninsula’s tradition, which includes the college. The teepee you pass on the hill overlooking the water is one of the many learning spaces I hope you will come to know during your years here; accept its lessons as much as you do the things you will learn in the classrooms of Massey and Sawyer. Knowledge and teaching in all traditions, in all forms, are essential to real education.”
Dr. Kowal also took advantage of his opening remarks to raise mental health awareness. He reminded everyone about the 22 push-up challenge that he and the Commandant, BGen Sean Friday, started during the College Orientation session, explaining that they were now on Day 15. With support from the Faculty Board members counting, Dr. Kowal jumped onto the stage in Currie Hall and completed his 22 push-ups. A bit winded, he called upon Major Helga Grodzinski, PMC of the Senior Staff Mess, to discuss the upcoming TGIF (which turned out to be a tremendous success!). After he caught his breath, Dr. Kowal then discussed other initiatives that will begin shortly in the Academic Wing to raise mental health awareness.
The next part of the Board meeting was focussed on the introduction of new members (and there were many, including new civilian and military professors and sessionals as well as new Squadron and Division Commanders). With the focus on people, Dr. Kowal stated how truly honoured he is to be Principal and that he believes whole-heartedly in the Royal Military College of Canada, as a provincial university and as a federal institution. He stated, “I know that it is this space that tends to cause some of our challenges, but it is this space that makes us unique. It is this space that we need to embrace.” He noted that last year there were many successes and he took the opportunity to personally thank all for their tremendous contributions and for their continuing support.
Dr. Kowal also took the opportunity to announce the results of this year’s promotion process and congratulated the following on their new academic ranks:
UT-02 to UT-03
Assistant to Associate Professor
Professeur adjoint à professeur agrégé
- Dr. Ali Dizboni
- Dr. (Major) John Grodzinski
- Dr. Nanette Norris (CMR St-Jean)
- Dr. Ron Vincent
- Dr. Kela Weber
UT-03 to UT-04
Associate Professor to Professor
Professeur agrégé à professeur titulaire
- Dr. Stéphanie Bélanger
- Dr. Diane Kelly
- Dr. Cecile Malardier-Jugroot
Dr. Kowal made specific mention of the outstanding work done by the following people and presented each of them a Principal’s Coin in recognition of that great work and to say thank you (needless-to-say they all received a big round of applause:
Kathleen Hope & Josh Sadler, Human Resources
For outstanding HR support, from helping with staffing to helping resolve pay issues, the work you do is important and truly appreciated.
Laurie Sinon and Louise Smith, Faculty Services
They have been referred to as “The key people who make this place work” “Highly deserving of recognition and well-appreciated by all”
Jennifer Carpenter, Principal’s Office
With her background in compensation, she has personally helped countless people with pay issues, from liaising with HR and helping with escalating emergency pay advances, to spending time with others to help them understand their pay or the course of action available to them to resolve an issue, her support has been truly outstanding.
Dr. Kowal also asked the members of Faculty Board to keep in mind that last year was a very difficult year for the College, families and friends and that this year it is more important than ever to maintain a positive environment. He said, “We can talk about maintaining a harassment free environment but it is more than that. I am not asking you to ‘happy and glad’ all our challenges away because there will always be challenges. It is how we address the challenges and how we interact with each other that will make a difference. Similar to the comments brought forward by Kevin and Erika, it is appropriate from time to time to reflect on what we have and where we came from. It is equally important to focus on what we have instead of lamenting what we have not and, if we do, perhaps we will appreciate all that much more how fortunate we really are to have such a great working environment at the Royal Military College of Canada. For the sake of sounding like a broken record, it is my firm belief that everyone deserves to have the ability to wake up every morning looking forward to coming to work. You should never underestimate the impact you can have on other people; sometimes it is the smallest things that make the difference, but the key is treating everyone with the dignity and respect.”
Dr. Kowal also talked about Operation Honour and the Province of Ontario Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016. He reiterated the goal, which is an environment free of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and institutions that fosters mutual trust, respect, honour, and dignity. He pointed out that any harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is a real and serious problem and a single incident of behaviour is one too many. It not only violates an individual and it can also it can have serious negative impacts on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness.