Although technically new to the position, Sandy Welsh, the University of Toronto’s incoming vice provost, students, is no stranger to the University of Toronto. With 21 years of experience in positions that ranges from professor to vice-dean. Welsh has the experience, knowledge, background, and big ideas needed to take on the immense task of improving student life for the largest student body in Canada.
Welsh officially began her five-year term on July 1, 2015 and worked closely with student groups in an effort to encourage students to vote in the federal election.
Now that the election is over, Welsh will be prioritizing student engagement across all three campuses to get to the root of the most important issues facing students. On reaching out to students, Welsh emphasizes that she is eager to speak with students. “I’m really willing to have the difficult conversations that people want to have and to hear the things that people tell me.” Welsh hopes that her background in a tri-campus department will help her achieve her goals of building a sense of community for students at U of T.
Accommodating differences in the student body is another important part of being vice provost, students. Representing all students across three campuses, including graduate students, Welsh notes the different experiences between that of a graduate and undergraduate student and has begun to pinpoint areas of interest for those different groups including mental health services. One of the graduate-focused initiatives is providing locations for counselling services that are different from those of undergraduates. Welsh says that an awareness of cycles is important and that student services are “not a one size fits all model.”
Another priority for her is continuing work to provide services for victims of sexual violence and to establish training for dons, staff, and faculty on sexual violence and consent. Welsh is also prioritizing improvement of the student experience for international students, and is working to have embedded counselors at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Looking to the future, Welsh says, “I hope that one of my legacies will be what comes out of our recommendations for sexual violence, and to leave students feeling that they know where to go.”
“I take administrative jobs because they call out to me. It’s because there is a job that touches me in some way, and I really think is important. I want to know what I can do to help students, and if there is a legacy I hope I have done some things that make life better for all of our students here.”