In November 2016, just a few months after I began in this position, I announced the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, chaired by Caroline Andrew, a full professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences. My goal was to gather as much information as possible to guide our University’s efforts in eliminating barriers to inclusion and to ensure that diversity becomes a criterion of excellence on our campus.
I am pleased to share with you the Ad Hoc Committee’s report. As you read these documents, you will see that we have many challenges to overcome in order to become a model of inclusion and diversity. The topics addressed and the questions raised in the report affect all members of our community. Everyone must acknowledge this and become a change agent, so that our University community can better reflect our diversity, as is needed.
The University has also carried out a study on equity, diversity and inclusion among faculty, in collaboration with the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO). The report of the Joint APUO-Employer Committee provides various means to better illustrate the situation of our professors and researchers. It pays particular attention to pay equity and the hiring process, especially for Canada Research Chairs.
To mobilize our resources and maintain momentum in light of these two reports, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Steffany Bennett, holder of the University Research Chair in Neurolipidomics and professor in the Faculty of Medicine, as Special Advisor, Diversity and Inclusion, for a two-year period. Her mandate will include analyzing the main elements identified in these reports and developing an action plan. She will also provide expert advice to the University community on issues of diversity and inclusion. I offer her my deepest thanks for accepting this important role.
I know that Professor Bennett will be able to count on your support in carrying out her mandate. Several faculties have already made firm commitments with regard to promoting diversity and inclusion. Concrete action has also been taken. For example, the Human Rights Office, formerly under the Vice-President, Academic and Provost, will now be under the Secretary-General of the University, thus showing our firm resolve to be focused at all times on matters of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, members of selection committees for deans and vice-presidents will now be required to undergo training on unconscious bias.
Finally, I wish to offer my sincere thanks to Professor Andrew and the students, professors and staff who served as members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and the APUO-Employer Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the quality of their observations and for their important contribution to a cause that we so value.
President and Vice-Chancellor