December 17th, 2020

A term and a year to remember

The Humber Arboretum building on a sunny day, surrounded by snow and footprints

In a normal non-pandemic year, December often brings about top ten lists that provide a snapshot of the year. While these can focus on top songs, top media moments and so on, I wanted to take some time to share the top ten things to be proud of at Humber this year.

1)   Each other. This year has been filled with the unexpected, the challenging and sometimes the heartbreaking. As a result, we have been called upon to be understanding, compassionate and look for the commonalities and differences in our experiences. We have risen to that challenge.

2)   Being nimble and quick. In March, the academic division was able to move programming online in remarkable time. Learning Kits for faculty and staff helped to ease the unexpected transition and have been valuable resources ever since. Our students showed resilience and adaptability as they completed the term in spite of the challenges.

3)   New programs, new opportunities. In the midst of everything that is going on, we launched three new Bachelor of Engineering degrees, including one in Mechatronics co-offered with Sault College. We have also launched several new graduate certificate programs. We will soon be accepting applications for our own Bachelor of Science in Nursing, for which we are hoping to receive all approvals and launch this coming September, under the new provincial nursing education policy

This year has also included a renewed focus on micro-credential development and rapid skills options, provided by the Corporate Training Solutions department. In addition, Humber launched a Digital Fluency Micro-Credential series, funded by Future Skills Canada. The project brings together industry employers and the community to help upskill the workforce in the Greater Toronto Area.  Our focus remains on providing robust educational experiences and increasing access to education.

4)   Virtual events to knock your socks off. This year we have had to move most of our interactions online and that includes everything from the President’s Breakfast to convocation. Teams from across the institution have worked together to make sure Humber can provide meaningful and memorable virtual experiences that are second, only to the real in-person version. In some cases, these virtual events have reached  even more people than we would have been able to reach traditionally.

5)   Connection and Collaboration. While I think we could all do without being told we are on mute one more time, working remotely has necessitated collaboration in new ways. Teams across the college worked to ensure we were equipped with what we needed to work from home and that students had access to software that was available on campus. Our ITS and Human Resources teams in particular were instrumental in this transition. Following the closure in March, we also came together to transform the campus to make all the necessary adjustments and implement the health and safety measures for a safe return to limited in-person learning. The Facilities and Public Safety teams continue to support the community, as we adapt to changing public health and government directives. 

6)   Supporting Students. Student need has never been more apparent than it is now. The community came together to financially support students when it was needed most and continue to do so through the Support Our Students campaign. Student Services also moved online to help students continue to connect with whatever they might need to succeed.

7)   Innovation. This past year has forced us to innovate and change rapidly the way we do things, including making some major leaps forward in our Digital Campus plan. It has led to new ways of teaching and learning, and it has given us time to reflect on the ways we work and plan for a new way forward.

8)   Partnerships and possibilities. We have had a great deal to celebrate this year. Humber and Magna will tackle the skills gap together following a $3 million donation from the long-standing partner. Humber also received donations from Logit Group and Zensurance to fund BIPOC scholarships and from RBC toward the empowerment and success of Indigenous students at Humber College. In addition, Humber was announced as the designated Canadian educational provider by Innovation 360, to help organizations become innovation ready.

9)   Tough conversations. Acts of solidarity and a thundering call for collective action to dismantle and eradicate systemic and individual racism were seen and heard throughout 2020. You may have read my previous statements following specific incidents of racism this year. At Humber, we are committed to creating a community that is built on equity, diversity and inclusion. We will continue to have the tough conversations and put in the work to make this happen.

10) Learning from our mistakes and moving forward - together. In our Student Commitment and our Humber at Home Pledge for employees, we said that in adapting quickly and trying out new approaches, we were likely to make some mistakes. When that has happened, we have acknowledged them, learned from them and have been working together to fix them. We have continued to move forward together as a post-secondary institution, as an employer and as a community. 

This is only a snapshot of the accomplishments and important moments at Humber from 2020. I am sure that you can think of many more in your program, your department or for you personally. I am incredibly proud of the staff and students of Humber. It was an incredible, unique year. Happy Holidays.