Coming to the University of Toronto, students often consider the friends they’ll make and the people they’ll come to know. However, all students should also be aware of a few key people on their respective campus who will shape the trajectory of their U of T experience. Here’s a list of names every student should know, broken down by campus.
If you are joining the UTSC community, an important name to know is UTSC Principal and Political Science and Development Studies Professor Wisdom Tettey. Tettey, who also serves as one of U of T’s vice presidents, oversees administrative matters on the Scarborough campus including appointments, promotions, and the budget. Under his leadership, UTSC has seen an increase in external grants, an extensive curriculum review, a new student residence, the launch of a new student hub, and the development of the Environmental and Related Technologies Hub (EaRTH) District, an environmental research partnership with four other postsecondary institutions. Reappointed in 2022, Tettey will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the institution’s direction.
Another important person on campus is Professor William A. Gough. Since 2016, Gough has served as Vice-Principal Academic & Dean of the UTSC. In his role, Gough oversees a wide range of academic and administrative decisions such as faculty appointments, promotions, and the development and review of academic departments and centres. Gough consults on academic direction and policy and coordinates and aligns UTSC’s academics within U of T as a whole. His leadership extends to areas such as academic programming, ensuring the provision of high-quality educational services, managing the academic budget, and resolving issues of academic integrity.
When it comes to the student body, acquaint yourself with Amrith David, president of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), which provides services and advocates for UTSC undergraduate students. Prior to this position, David served as Vice-President Academics and University Affairs on the SCSU, where he successfully lobbied for a course retake policy, Ramadan accommodations during exam periods, and other policies. During his campaign for President, David prioritized accessible and affordable transportation options, establishing a student-operated wellness center, and spearheading the expansion of the student center to cater to the diverse needs of the student community and focus on mental health, physical health, harm reduction, and combating sexual violence.
A prominent UTM figure is Nicholas Rule, the newly-appointed vice-principal, academic, and dean. Rule first joined U of T as a Canada research chair, and has since won many awards for his research in social perception, cognition, and behavior. Rule started his four-year term on July 1, and aims to build on UTM’s new strategic framework and academic plan. As vice-principal, academic, and dean, he will oversee faculty hiring, training, and promotion, ensuring the university attracts and retains top-notch educators. Additionally, Rule will provide leadership in monitoring and evaluating the academic experience, promoting academic integrity, and offering comprehensive teaching and learning support.
Alexandra Gillespie, an important figure in academia, has made history as the first woman to hold the positions of vice-president at the University of Toronto and principal at the University of Toronto Mississauga. With a strong belief in the transformative power of collaboration, Gillespie has devoted her career to promoting inclusivity.
As an accomplished academic leader, Gillespie has held several instrumental roles within the University of Toronto community. She served as chair of UTM’s Department of English & Drama and as an early member of Toronto’s Initiative for Diversity & Excellence. Gillespie’s contributions also extend to her role as the first Director of U of T’s Digital Humanities Network, where she pioneered the integration of digital technologies into humanities research at the university.
Gulfy Bekbolatova, President of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), is another important name on the UTM campus. Prior to this role, Bekbolatova served as an associate to the vice-president external, a junior analyst at UTM Capital Management, and participated in the Undergraduate Economics Council as well as the Innovative Business Association.
As president, Bekbolatova plans to uphold the UTMSU’s Education for All campaign, which addresses barriers to post-secondary education and calls on UTM administration to prioritize accessible education. She seeks to increase financial aid for students by lobbying for more nonacademic scholarships as well as broadening the availability of bursaries. She hopes to expand co-op opportunities and paid experiences for students, enabling them to acquire practical skills in addition to their studies.
In 2013, Geography and Planning Professor Meric Gertler took on the role of university president, committing to a focus on leveraging the university’s urban locations, strengthening international partnerships, and implementing new strategies and modes of learning. As the Chief Executive Officer of the university, Gertler works with a leadership team that includes various vice presidents and the UTM and UTSC principals to guide the university’s direction. Gertler also represents U of T at events in Toronto and around the world; in a press release, Gertler stated that in the 2022–2023 school year, he has “visited India and Africa” as part of U of T’s international strategy. As the dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, Professor Melanie Woodin presides over 27,000 undergraduate students. She ensures that the faculty’s teaching staff has access to resources to successfully implement their courses. Woodin also regularly interacts with students engaged in activities on campus; in spring 2023, she switched roles with a student as part of a “Dean for a Day” fundraiser.
In spring 2023, students elected Elizabeth Shechtman as the 2023–2024 University of Toronto Students Union’s (UTSU) president. As the leader of an organization representing UTSG’s full-time undergraduate students, the president works with the executive team to plan events such as orientation and the Unity Ball, run programs such as the UTSU food bank, and advocate for policy changes within the university and the city. During her campaign for president, Shechtman focused on expanding the student aid and mental health resources provided by the UTSU. She also aims to increase use of Student Commons by implementing projects such as a mutual aid textbook library and a café.