Bruce Kidd has stepped down as Dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health after a 19 year stint of overseeing what is arguably the premier sports school in Canada.
An Ottawa native, Kidd was heavily inspired by his father, J Roby Kidd, who covered the 1952 Helsinki Olympics for the CBC, the first to be seen in Canada. “I vowed to go to the Olympics some day if I could,” said Kidd.
Kidd began running long distance in high school at Malvern Collegiate. It was there that his coach saw his potential and in 1958 connected him with the U of T track team and coach Fred Foot.
“From then on, I took the streetcar down from Malvern every afternoon to train with the U of T Track Team. It changed my life.”
While at U of T, Kidd won 18 national senior championships in Canada, the United States, and Britain, claiming four world junior records. He was the Canadian Press Athlete of the Year in 1961 and 1962 and also in 1962, he was a gold and bronze medalist at the British Empire and Commonwealth games.
“I was certainly pleased by the awards and grateful for the honours. But at the same time, they came so easily for something I so thoroughly enjoyed doing that I probably didn’t realize how significant they were at the time.”
Kidd’s athletic rise stalled after a poor performance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where he was widely expected to sweep the podium. A series of protracted injuries forced Kidd to retire from competitive sport, sparking the beginning of a new chapter in academia and athletic activism.
Building upon a Bachelors degree in political economy from U of T and a Masters in adult education from the University of Chicago, Kidd returned to academia and completed a Masters and PhD in History from York University. Kidd then found himself as a a professor at the University of Toronto.
Kidd’s teaching pedagogy involves instilling a sense of social responsibility into his pupils. “In whatever students do, they should not only engage with who’s in the room, but ask who’s outside the room, and try to find a way to help them enter the room as well.” An activist and humanitarian, in 1985 he received a citation from the United Nations Committee Against Apartheid for his contributions as a sports person towards ending apartheid in South Africa.
Kidd has continued to win athletic awards since entering academia. In 1968 he became a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. He was elected as an Athlete to the Canadian Olympic Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and a Builder in 1994, becoming the only person to be chosen twice in the hall’s history.
Kidd was promoted to Dean of the faculty in 1991. As a university administrator Kidd has been instrumental in making sports accessible and gender equitable to all students. He has also overseen the intramural program, which now boasts forty-six programs.
One of Kidd’s foremost legacies is the creation of the Varsity Stadium, a 6000-seater venue located on the south-east corner of Devonshire and Bloor. The stadium was built after the Governing Council opted to construct a smaller structure over plans for a 25,000 person venue that could have been used to house a CFL team.
When asked about what he would have done differently, Kidd eloquently quoted Paul Anka’s song “My Way”: “Regrets, I’ve had a few/but overall, too few to mention.”
Speaking on the legacy he hopes to leave, Kidd implores students to appreciate where they have come in life.
“Being a U of T student means working hard, and all of us should be proud of what we have achieved with hard work,” he said. “But being at U of T is a special privilege as well, and we should never forget that there are lots of people who will never have this privilege.”