Massey College’s Head of College will now officially be referred to as ‘Principal’ rather than ‘Master,’ after its Governing Board voted unanimously to adopt the new title at its quarterly meeting on February 1. 

The title change was approved after it received the recommendation of a special task force that looked into different options for the new Head of College title. The task force surveyed members of Massey College on the proposed change to Principal, with 74 per cent of respondents approving the change, while just under 19 per cent were opposed. Seven per cent were uncertain.

A press release from Massey College states that the task force’s work followed a proposal from a group of Junior fellows to change the title to ‘Provost’ in the fall of 2016, a March 2017 Junior Common Room debate on the subject, and an “initial reference to a possible title change in a general governance review commenced in 2015 by a special sub-committee of the board.”

Also referenced in the task force report to the board were the decisions of Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, and York University to stop using the ‘Master’ title. 

The current Head of Massey College, Hugh Segal, offered support for the new title. “In an inclusive and diverse college, on the campus of an inclusive, cosmopolitan university, in a city where diversity is a social and economic strength of immense proportions, setting aside the former title of ‘Master’, is a constructive and important step,” he added.

The change comes five months after former Senior Fellow Michael Marrus prompted public outcry over a slur he used in reference to the Master title. Reportedly, Marrus approached a Black Junior Fellow and asked, “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?” Massey College Principal Hugh Segal released a statement on September 29, condemning the “hurtful and completely inappropriate remarks,” after he received a letter on September 27 signed by nearly 200 people calling for a public apology, an immediate title replacement, and Marrus’ termination. Marrus resigned his Senior Fellowship on October 1.

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