UTM received a visit from the recently installed president of U of T, Prof. Meric Gertler, last Thursday. He spoke with the Medium about the growing autonomy of UTM in light of the dissolution of the Erindale College Council, which was replaced by the Campus Council in July.
Gertler arrived at UTM from the Scarborough campus. After a brief interview with the Medium, he visited the UTMSU office in the Student Centre, and then went to enjoy a reception at the Faculty Club in the Davis Building.
“We have a very nice balance, a kind of creative tension on the one hand, with the growing autonomy and distinctive identities emerging on each of the campuses, and, at the same time a kind of unifying brand and a common association with this thing called the University of Toronto,” said Gertler on the subject of tri-campus unity. “I think it’s a healthy tension, and one that’s developed in very positive ways.”
When asked whether improving U of T’s low ranking in student satisfaction rating was a priority for him, Gertler said it was.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure our student experience is as good as our research performance and all the other things that distinguish us globally,” he said.
Gertler said the desire of students to get involved in research projects with faculty encourages him to create more opportunities for student involvement.
U of T’s global connections, he added, are a great benefit to students, and he would like to tailor the experience to students, the majority of whom are commuter students “with multiple lives, various responsibilities” and who can’t always participate with the same ease.
He discussed a pilot project in which students would have the opportunity to study abroad for one to two weeks with a faculty member and study a topic of interest related to the course.
“Once students have a taste of international experience like that, they will find ways to get more,” he said, adding that students also crave work opportunities, a desire he said has been accommodated with an increase in experiential learning and placements.
Gertler said that he also wants to scale up residences, of which there is a shortage on U of T campuses.
He finished by saying that the niche that UTM has carved out has much to do with its location.
“I think the UTM campus has been very successful in forging strong connections with the Region of Peel and the City of Mississauga and has really led the way and created an example for us to emulate on the St. George campus,” he said. “Given my interest as an urban geographer and planner, I really like what I see at UTM and would love to bottle it somehow and spread it to the rest of U of T.”