Saying goodbye to “In Their Shoes” – at least for now

1 Posted by - July 26, 2017 - Special

As many of the readers of this blog know, I have decided to step down as the Vice Provosts, Students at Ryerson. There have been many rumours swirling since this was announced and maybe I can clear some up here. It was my decision to leave Ryerson. This is a decision that I have been thinking about for some time. This is the longest I have held one position at one institution since I started working. Over the last nine years I have had the opportunity to work with incredible people and to do all kinds of things that I hope served our students and will leave the institution better than when I started this role in 2008.  It is time for me to find my next adventure. I decided in early April that I was going to leave as soon as I had a new opportunity or before the end of the summer – whichever came first. I want my team to get used to the idea of a change in leadership before the start of the academic year when they are all working full out to welcome new and returning students to campus.  I have the luxury of being able to buy myself a bit of a break before I start something new as well. I have not had an extended break from work since I was 15 years old. I deserve a little break so it is time for me to take one.

Actually I feel a little like I am walking “in their shoes” again. This time in the shoes of a graduating student who has to step out into the world and find their way. Will they find a good job? How long will it take? What if they have more than one option? How will they make the right choice? There are many questions that we face at times of uncertainty and transition that require us to think about things that we may not have had to consider for a long time.

This has been a year of change for me. I have spent a lot of time thinking about who I want to be, where I want to be, and what I want in my life. This is my last week at Ryerson and as I said to someone on Monday, “It feels a little bit like jumping off a cliff…but I chose to think of it as exhilarating rather than frightening”.

I don’t know if “The In Their Shoes Project” will ever start again. It depends on where I land. I do want to use this post (which might be the last) to thank some people for allowing me to have this amazing life changing experience. When I thought of this idea about 5 years ago I had no idea whether people would let me do it. I had no idea whether anyone would understand or be interested or care. I have enjoyed doing the activities but I have been completely overwhelmed by the response, interest, support and feedback. I have been asked to speak many times about this experience and talking about it and sharing what I have learned is one of my favourite things to do.


I want to thank Robert Ott, Lucia Dell-Agnese, P.Y. Chau, Wayne Clark, and Ben Barry, among others from the School of Fashion for agreeing to my crazy idea in the first place and for serving as “hosts” for my first chapter. I also want to thank all of my classmates for allowing me to be among them for a year and to sew and present my collection alongside them. I learned a great deal about what our students in the creative professions experience and I got to realize the lifelong fantasy of seeing a collection that I made walk a runway in a big fashion show.

My collection – April 2015

I want to thank Imogen Coe, Dean of the Faculty of Science for supporting my activity this past year. I interviewed science student Nathan Battersby for a profile on this blog and was not able to find the time to get it completed and posted but he gets all the credit for chapter 3. I met him while I was spending the year with the basketball team and after telling him about my project he suggested that I spend a year learning about the experience of science students. He and another student recommended that I consider taking the Organic Chemistry course with Dr. Brian Koivisto as part of my project. I am so appreciative to Nathan for making me feel welcome and for laying the ground work for the amazing experience I had challenging myself to see if I could learn something that is so far from anything I have ever done. I also need to thank Brian Koivisto for agreeing to allow a senior administrator to attend his class as a student. His encouragement certainly helped get me through the rough parts of the course.

The one and only Nathan Battersby

I have intentionally left the thanks for chapter two to the end of this post. I have said to many people that the year I spent with the Ryerson Women’s basketball team was an absolute highlight of my professional career. Thanks to Carly Clarke and the coaching and support staff for allowing me to truly be part of this team and have this experience. Thanks to my teammate Keneca Pingue-Giles, the 2016 Canadian Women’s University Basketball player of the year for planting the seed for chapter two a year earlier. And my heartfelt thanks and eternal devotion to my teammates for completely embracing an over 50 non-athlete as a member of their team and for all the support, friendship, and kindness I still feel from them.

With Canadian university basketball superstar Keneca Pingue-Giles

So as I hang up my shoes…thanks to all the people across the country who read this blog, have commented on the project and have shared with me what they learned and how they were affected or inspired by it as they followed along.

Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart. New adventures await.