UTSC has a new Dean of Student Affairs. Desmond Pouyat has filled the position following the summer retirement of former dean, Tom Nowers.
Pouyat joins UTSC at a time when he feels the campus is experiencing significant growth with the new instructional centre set to open next year, the coming Pan Am facility, and what he says is the university’s plan to grow the student body and internationalize the campus.
“UTSC is a diverse and rich community and [I have] an opportunity to be a part of that. As a person who grew up in Jamaica and a person of colour, to be here at this time is a fantastic opportunity,” said Pouyat.
Pouyat left Jamaica when he was 19, coming to Canada as a landed immigrant. He attended McMaster University for an undergraduate degree in political science and sociology and decided to stay.
Initially wanting to go into law, he chose a Masters of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University because law focused more on a winner and a loser than helping people accomplish things together. “It’s been great because [social work] allowed me to do many different things,” said Pouyat.
He proceeded to work in social work services at a psychiatric hospital at McMaster, became an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and then moved to St. Joseph’s hospital in Chatham, to work in children’s mental health services.
Pouyat first moved into student-related services at McMaster two and a half years after Chatham. He became the Director of the Centre for Student Development and stayed on for seven years before moving to UTSC.
His interest in student services comes from the opportunity he sees in working with what he terms as some of the most fortunate people on the planet, those able to attend university. “It is a privilege to be here…with people who are going to be the next generation’s leaders impacting life decades to come. The chance to work with each incoming class is a huge opportunity.”
He is glad to work at UTSC because it allows him to expand the work he did at McMaster, and allows him to work closer to home — he commuted every day from East York. He is also happy to have come out successful after such a competitive hiring process.
“I want to build a relationship with student government…and work in partnership with the campus community. I want to [make] sure goals are set to…create a fantastic campus and student life experience.”
Pouyat hopes to create a transformative experience for students through his work as Dean. He wants them to enjoy their university life and feel supported, safe, comfortable, respected, and above all, successful. “I hope [students] won’t be the same person when [they] finish as when [they] started.”
Outside of work, Pouyat is very interested in sports. He looks forward to attending games and possibly participating in a few, such as cricket on the new pitch he said is being set up.
Nowers retired in June 2010 citing his desire to develop his interests, travel, and spend time with his family.