John Monahan. Jenny Xiao/THE VARSITY

John Monahan, who is one month into his term as the new warden of Hart House, stepped into the role during August of this year after his predecessor Bruce Kidd was appointed interim vice-president and principal of UTSC. In order to make Hart House more inclusive and welcoming, Monahan is looking to implement a number of new ideas and programs for the benefit of students as well as members of the university community.

As warden Monahan will act to further the house’s mission to facilitate academics and education.

“The position of Hart House Warden is one that continuously varies depending on the people who come to hold it,” remarked Monahan — who has previously worked in both the public and private sectors and has experience addressing issues that affect immigrants and refugees looking to settle in Canada.

“I feel that my experiences have given me tremendous exposure to [ethnic] communities and backgrounds, and allowed me a platform on which I could practice and develop skills that navigate difference, a skill that I believe is incredibly relevant and important to have at a house like this,” said Monahan.

The new warden also spoke to his desire to become more involved in mentorship and community programs in an effort to help broaden the university experience for students.

It is yet early days, but Monahan intends to draw inspiration from the mentorship program at the Quadrangle society at Massey College by designing a program that focusses on connecting students based on their interests rather than grouping them according to their academic disciplines. “I want to connect students with mentors to help compensate for the lack of some degree of social capital that some students might have, depending on the degree of privilege that they might come from.” 

Helping students connect to the world beyond their campus is a crucial aspect of Monahan’s vision for Hart House moving forward. He hopes to achieve this goal specifically by opening up opportunities for students to demonstrate their passion and willingness to engage with those in need.

“I would say that my first real challenge is going up the vertical learning curve,” said Monahan.“It feels like I’m climbing that wall of ice in Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to learn about the governance of the House, its physical structure, the governance of the university, and there are so many people to meet, both staff and students. There’s just a lot to get familiar with and I’m doing that at the same time that students are arriving back to school.” he remarked.

“I’d like to look back after five years and say that I left Hart House a more inclusive, caring, collaborative place and its graduates more well-rounded, more in tune with their own interests [and] priorities, and more committed to effectively contributing to their local and global communities. That’s the legacy I’d like to take with me.”

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