Equity Director sees diversity as catalyst for innovation
by Susan Fish.
“Equity work can’t be done simply by one person,” says Gina Hickman. At the same time, as Waterloo’s newly appointed Director of Equity, Hickman is eager to make a difference in new ways.
The role of Director of Equity is not a new one, but in the last year, in a recognition of the alignment between equity, conflict management, sexual violence, and human rights, the Equity Office was folded into the larger Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion unit, under the leadership of Associate Vice-President Diana Parry.
While acknowledging that even the term equity is “something that we as a campus have to define, figuring out what we mean and want to mean,” Hickman adds, “For me, equity is about ensuring that people can engage in this campus in respectful ways, making most of their educational or work experiences, and removing those barriers to allow people to meet their full potential. The University of Waterloo is founded on innovation, and diversity is a catalyst for it. I see equity as essential to what we are trying to achieve as an educational institution.”
How she approaches equity is also somewhat different. Hickman says, “we need to move away from approaching equity reactively – responding to legislative requirements or to problematic situations. We cannot think of diversity in silos.”
Hickman’s vision, instead, is for Waterloo to approach equity from a more intersectional approach, and as a lens through which all programs, strategies and relationships are viewed, rather than as a discrete add-on or afterthought.
Hickman is new to the University community—having moved from India to pursue an MA in Community Psychology, and most recently working with the Region of Waterloo—but she was motivated to come to Waterloo as she saw an opportunity here for meaningful systems change. She says, “If we want long term change, we need to change policies and systems. The University plays a key role in setting people up to meaningfully engage with diversity within their workplaces and communities even after they graduate.”
And in her first couple of months on the job, Hickman has been delighted with the widespread sense of willingness and readiness to take on this challenge. “In all my conversations, I don’t have to convince people that equity is important, but I can help facilitate processes to address these issues which are not small or simple. As we address deep-rooted systems, some of which are outside of the university’s control, there’s power in leveraging the brilliant minds here to find solutions. There is already some great work underway on campus including work being led by student groups, initiatives through the HeforShe campaign, the Making Spaces initiative, and training for equitable recruitment and hiring.”
Hickman is especially hopeful that students will bring their creativity—as well as their challenges—to her. To this end, she is setting up regular office hours including some in student centres across campus, allowing people to share ideas for programs and initiatives, as well as making it easy for students having issues navigating the university systems.
Outside of work, Hickman works hard to draw strong boundaries between her work and home life, considering recharging an important part of equity work. She also was married earlier this month, finding an equitable solution to location for families in India, Denmark, Canada and England by holding the wedding in Italy.
Taking the conversation beyond entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs solve problems.
They create companies that bring innovative and world-changing ideas to the global marketplace. They act as community builders, industry change agents, and global disruptors.
On Wednesday, July 11 President Feridun Hamdullahpur and Velocity Director Jay Shah will be joined by alumnus Sam Pasupalak for a candid conversation on why entrepreneurs are stepping up to build stronger communities, both locally and globally.
At Beyond Entrepreneurship, hear from a successful entrepreneur who upon selling Maluuba, the company he co-founded, is leading by example. Moderator Donna Litt, co-founder, vice-president and chief operating officer of Kiite, will lead a discussion about the concepts of philanthropy, equality, and socially responsibility in today’s dynamic entrepreneur-led companies.
Waterloo empowers entrepreneurs to go beyond.
Join us at 12:00 p.m. in DC 1302.
Centre for Teaching Excellence on the move
A message from Mario Coniglio and Susan Tighe.
As of August 1, 2018, the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) is being temporarily relocated to EC3, where it will share the second floor with the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL). The reason for the move is that the Faculty of Environment’s growth in recent years has put pressure on space in their buildings, and relieving this pressure has now become an urgent priority. Plans for CTE’s new permanent location are still under discussion and will be shared with the university community when they are finalized.
In the meantime, CTE will continue to offer all of its programs and services from its new temporary location. So while there will be some small operational changes, namely the location of the office and workshop locations, it will be business as usual. Phone numbers of CTE staff members will remain the same. The Provost Office is committed to providing a location for CTE that meets its functional needs, with the intention of relocating CTE into permanent facilities by the end of August 2019.
As the University of Waterloo continues to grow and demands for space increase, we will do our best to meet the needs and challenges of the University community with our given resources. Thank you for your continued support of CTE.
Faculty 101 Days begin and other notes
Incoming undergraduates students and their parents or other family members will begin visiting campus for the "Faculty 101" Days that begin this weekend.
On Saturday, July 7, incoming students in Engineering and Applied Health Sciences will arrive for a full day's worth of orientation and information, including introductions to the faculty community and key support networks, checking off tasks to prepare for their first year like getting a Watcard, and learning about the services available to students, getting an idea of what co-op terms will be like, and understanding what the first six weeks at the University of Waterloo has in store. That and much more!
The other Faculty 101 Days are:
- Science - Wednesday, July 11
- Arts - Monday, July 16
- Math - Thursday, July 19
- Environment - Thursday, July 26
Sunday's Canada Day celebrations have been captured in a wrap-up video that is making the rounds on social media. Check it out and relive the excitement!
Plant Operations has served notice that the Safety Office will be conducting Designated Substance Assessment Inspections in several University buildings between June and August. The latest building up for inspection is Chemistry II, and the inspection will take place on Monday, July 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. "Your cooperation and patience is appreciated," says the note from Peter Fulcher, Plant Operations Supervisor, Building Section, and Acting Co-Director of Maintenance.
Other upcoming inspection locations and dates include:
- Physics, Monday, July 9 to Wednesday, July 11
- Hagey Hall, Tuesday, July 24, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- The General Services Complex, Friday July 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Plant Operations is also giving the campus community advance notice that University Avenue will be closed to both lanes of traffic from the main University entrance, and from Seagram Drive to Westmount Road on Monday, July 16 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This will also affect the entrance to the Minota Hagey Residence.