A large crowd gathered at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at UTSC to witness the installation of professor Bruce Kidd as the tenth vice-president and principal. Kidd was formally appointed to the position on November 20.
“You know, I’m the chief executive and chief academic officer of the University of Toronto Scarborough [Campus],” said Kidd regarding his new role at UTSC. “And in that role, I’m the overall — I’m the ultimate decider in decision making.”
Prior to his installation, Kidd was serving as the interim vice-president and principal, a role that he held since 2014. He was also previously the warden of Hart House and the founding dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Kidd attended U of T as an undergraduate and later completed a Master of Arts and PhD in History at York University.
“I’m very much a product of U of T and so the sense that I am an effective leader, it’s because I was schooled in the service of
U of T in leadership,” Kidd said.
Athletics at UTSC
Prior to entering academia, Kidd was an accomplished athlete. As an undergraduate student, Kidd competed in track and field both nationally and internationally. In the 1962 Commonwealth Games, he won gold for the six-mile race and bronze for the three-mile race. He also competed in the 1964 Olympic Games. Four years later, he was inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He is also an honorary member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
“[Being] at the university where I studied as an undergraduate during which time I
represented Canada, raced all over the world with Toronto and that experience taught me a lot about representation,” said Kidd.
After retiring from competitive track and field, sports continued to play a profound role in Kidd’s life. Before becoming dean of the faculty, Kidd was a professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education and has written extensively about sports policy.
His office shelves are lined with books on sports policy and the politics of sports. The Olympic Torch that he carried in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics is mounted on his desk.
“All of that goes into the leadership that I [bring],” explained Kidd. “It wasn’t just one thing. It was these experiences”
As interim vice-president and principal, Kidd oversaw the construction of the Toronto Pan Am Centre, with the aim of expanding the role of sport and physical activity in the university experience.
“I see sport and physical activity as complimenting an outstanding, demanding higher education,” Kidd emphasized. “There are all kinds of co-learnings. I see physical activity providing a lifetime of habits and knowledge about productive living.”
Kidd even expressed support for mandatory physical education at the post-secondary level. “You know, if I had the control, I would make compulsory physical education [or] physical activity part of every undergraduate’s education — maybe every graduate student’s education,” he said.
“I think daily physical activity should be something that every student member,
faculty, and staff ought to be engaged in, whether its on campus, with family, or somewhere else. I’ve come to that conclusion from my own experience, but also being involved in the policy field of sporting a physical activity all my adult life.”
A growing campus
UTSC has grown considerably over the past several years. Kidd told The Varsity that he was concerned over what he saw as a “space deficit” on campus.
“I guess our biggest challenge is the lack of adequate space for faculty, for teaching, for research, for students, from study space to club and activity space, for some of our departments to be located in the same space so they can enjoy the synergies of being together,” Kidd explained.
Walking along the campus, one can spot several portable classrooms only a few metres away from the building that houses Kidd’s office. To combat the lack of space, the
Scarborough Campus has seen several major developments in recent years.
In 2011, the Instructional Centre was the first building that opened north of Ellesmere Ave. in an area now called “north campus.” There have been more developments on the north campus: the Toronto Pan Am Centre — where Kidd’s installation ceremony occurred — opened last year, in time for the Pan Am and Parapan Am games. This year saw the opening of the Environmental Science & Chemistry Building.
These developments are all a part of the UTSC’s Master Plan, which also includes further expansion plans northwards onto the City of Toronto-owned lands, improving access to public transportation, and building a central campus core. Kidd reiterated his support for the continued development of the campus but said that he would like to see it done faster.
“[We’re] working away,” he said, “but it’s slower than we’d like.”
Kidd also emphasized his support for public transportation improvements on campus. According to a 2013 survey, an estimated 68 per cent of students at UTSC rely on public transit to get to school.
“The lack of public transit… is huge. It’s terrible,” said Kidd.
Kidd explained that he spends “a good deal” of his time lobbying decision makers with other groups and advocating for better transit in Scarborough and the eastern GTA.
“We’re just lobbying for a solution, because our students, Centennial students, patients at local hospitals, companies that want to invest, companies that employ lots of people here, and the citizens all suffer from a lack of good public transit.”
Overall, Kidd asserted that he wants UTSC to “continue to be a vibrant, community engaged, research-intensive, energetic university. Simultaneously, with outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, with a big focus on experiential learning, being at the head of the curve as it always has in the way it draws upon new technology to enhance education.”
Kidd sees the Scarborough campus becoming a hub in the east end of the city and said he wants to “enhance the well-being and vitality of this part of the city region.”
“So it’s in terms of education, in terms of research, in terms of environmental awareness and teaching, in terms of athletics, in terms of culture, this is an anchor institution,” said Kidd.
“I’m very proud of what we do and I think that there are such outstanding features of UTSC that every student considering university ought to consider this university.”