Meet Jill Scott, the new Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs

Posted on Monday, September 9, 2019

Jill Scott

By Johanne Adam
Photos: Bonnie Findley

The University of Ottawa welcomes Jill Scott as the new Provost and Vice-President Academic Affairs. Her five-year mandate begins on September 1, 2019.

But who is Jill Scott exactly? To give you a better sense of our new Provost’s background, values, personal life, career goals, and hobbies, The Gazette has compiled some of her quotes.

So in her own words, here is the new Provost.


"I was born in Winnipeg, on Treaty One Territories, and grew up at the Forks, where the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet. Extending well beyond the traditional lines of territory and physical geography, I understand the importance of being on the territory of indigenous peoples: First Nations, Metis and Inuit."


Jill Scott debout, dehors, sur le campus de l'Université.


"I am a Canadian settler of Scottish descent. English was the only language spoken in my childhood home."

"After high school, I found an exchange program that sent me to Germany, where I was fortunate enough to learn how to speak German. I would say that I’m a near-native speaker of German."

"French is my third language. I learned some French in school and I’m excited to be using it for the first time in 30 years."

"I studied comparative literature and completed a master’s and PhD pursuing questions about language, culture, cultural difference, cultural awareness and intercultural connections, which have been a theme throughout my career."

"My interdisciplinary work led me to start exploring language cultural identity within other nations. I eventually ended up working in the area of Indigenous studies."


Jill Scott debout, dehors, sur le campus de l'Université lors d'un interview.


"I am a researcher. I work with the Mohawk community of Tyendinaga on issues of language revitalization. My primary interest is how language can shape us and can bring out the best of who we are. I am also a passionate teacher."

"I believe very strongly in the mission of higher education. It’s an incredible privilege to work at an institution such as uOttawa and to support young people who are taking that next step in their journey."

"Universities are at the centre of research, creation, and scientific discovery for the future benefit of our planet. There is so much work to do to fix the biggest problems of our times, and I think the answers are in higher education."

"Most students don’t need to know about my role. They are here to complete their studies and I believe that administration should be seamless. I see it like a dinner party where we make everything happen. People just show up and get to enjoy the party without seeing the dishes and the mess in the kitchen."

"The job of the Provost is to be the chief academic officer of the University, but also the chief budget officer, ensuring that the place functions optimally. Of course, I’m not doing that all by myself. There is a whole range of other vice-presidents and deans who each have their own portfolios and we work very closely together as a team so that students can have a fantastic experience. And faculty members, being less burdened by those issues, can get on with the business of teaching and research."


Jill Scott assise dehors sur un banc de ciment, sur le campus de l'Universirté.


"We have this new plan called Transformation 2030, and I’m very excited about it. It’s fresh, it reflects the values of uOttawa and it’s very ambitious. That strategic plan is also the President’s vision and the Provost is there to execute it."

"The University of Ottawa is on an upward swing, and there is a lot to celebrate. I’m very excited to be here at this time because there is already a momentum."

"I have dedicated a great part of my life not just to teaching, but also to supporting the quality of the student learning experience."

"I have two children. My daughter is 17 and my son is 19. They are just coming out of those teenage years and turning into really just fantastic, lovely people."

"I am completely unflappable. I always try to take a minute and evaluate: Is this a crisis? Is this not a crisis? In this job, there is a volume coming at you from people who are passionate about their work. That’s what makes this place great, but it also makes for tumultuous times. Being a calm person, I think that’s going to serve me well."

Jill Scott smiles, as she stands outside on uOttawa campus grounds.


"We live in a time when, for better or for worse, there is a certain faction that actually doesn’t believe in scientific knowledge or evidence-based knowledge creation, and even questions the value of critical reasoning. That means that universities have a very important role to play in asserting that. We are the caretakers of knowledge and we have to take that responsibility very seriously."

"When I think about universities of the future, I see them as being more global, more diverse and more digital."

"Diversity is a fact, but it’s also a challenge. As we know, diverse does not mean inclusive. The diversity will happen more quickly. The inclusion has to be very deliberate."

"When I think about Ottawa, I reflect on its bilingual character, and the coming together of two cultures for one nation, among many other cultures. I also think of the many jewels that are here: the National Arts Centre, the National Gallery and the Ottawa Art Gallery. I’m also 15 minutes away from the Parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal is close by. It’s all so very beautiful."

"I am an avid cyclist, so I’m very excited to be in close proximity to Gatineau Park and to spend time there, and also on the fabulous bike system here in the city."

"My work always starts with gratitude, and I strongly believe in striving to make a difference in this world when we have the opportunity to do so."

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