Dr. Joel J. Sokolsky, the incoming principal has big plans.
Dr. Joel J. Sokolsky, the incoming principal of Royal Military College of Canada, Canada`s only military university, has big plans. `I want to raise its profile within Canada by inviting personalities from the worlds of business, scientific research and the arts to spend time at
RMC as visiting scholars,` said Sokolsky, the school`s current dean of arts, in an interview last week.
Sokolsky, whose appointment takes effect Aug. 1, hopes to expand student and faculty exchanges as well.
His appointment was announced in May by Defence Minister Peter MacKay during convocation ceremonies at RMC, which was established by an act of
Canadian Parliament in 1874.
The college was opened two years later, and since then, its graduates have distinguished themselves in the Canadian Forces.
A political scientist, Sokolsky has had a long association with RMC, having started as a faculty member in 1986.
Born in Toronto in 1953, he holds a BA from the University of Toronto, an MA from the
School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Harvard University. He then did post-doctoral studies at Dalhousie University.
The recipient of several scholarships and awards, he is an expert in Canadian and U.S. foreign and defence policy, contemporary maritime strategy and international security relations.
The author and co-author of a number of books, monographs and articles, his
works include Sea Power in the Nuclear Age: The United States Navy and NATO, 1949-1980 and Canadian Defence Policy: Decisions and Determinants.
He has also taught at Dalhousie University, Duke University and Bridgewater State College, and has served as a consultant to the Canadian government in defence policy, U.S. foreign and defence policy and modern naval strategy.
His wife, Denise, is an artist.
The Sokolskys have three children, Jared, Mark and Rachel. Sokolsky was hired as RMC`s acting dean of arts eight years ago and was named dean in 2001.
The son of Leonard and Rose Sokolsky, he is RMC`s second Jewish principal after John Cowan, the current principal. Asked whether RMC would have selected a Jewish principal 50 years ago, he replied that Canada has matured into `a more tolerant and welcoming country.`
RMC has been part of this evolution, he noted.
`Our predominately civilian academic faculty, the military staffand our undergraduate officer cadets and graduate students increasingly reflect the diverse and rich character of Canadian society today,` he said.
`At RMC, I have only encountered an attitude of respect and civility toward individuals, regardless of background. This spirit, combined with a dedication to scholarship as an essential component of professional military development, has made RMC a most rewarding and enjoyable place to pursue an academic career.’
Although RMC is a military university, it offers degrees in social sciences and humanities, apart from those in science and engineering.
`All undergraduate officer cadets take a core curriculum that includes the sciences, social sciences and humanities` Sokolsky explained.
In recent years, RMC has established a writing centre and added a degree in psychology to its roster of degrees.
As principal, Sokolsky wants to build on Cowan`s achievements and enhance RMC`s role as an incubator of new Canadian officers.
He encourages high school students to consider studying at RMC.
`We provide an excellent undergraduate education, and upon graduation, a commission
as an officer in the Canadian Forces,` he said.
`Even if you do not pursue a career in the military after your initial commitment, this is a
great place to start. You will serve your country and the world while acquiring experience, knowledge and skills that will be invaluable in later years.’
`Our graduates have gone on to be leaders in a wide variety of professions in the private and public sectors.’