Ian Marley (BES ’80) is Vice-President, Student Services and Information Technology, at Sheridan College. We checked in with him to find out more about his role and also his memories of St. Paul's.
Can you tell us about the path that led to your current role at Sheridan?
I graduated with a degree in geography, but with my strong interest in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) I also took a number of computer science courses.
Upon graduation, due to the limited number of GIS-related jobs in the market, I took a traditional computer programmer position at an insurance company in Toronto. In 1985, I took a position at York University, where I progressed to the position of Director, Management Information Systems. It was while I was at York that I obtained my MBA.
In 1997 (after 13 years), I left York for Northern Arizona University as the project lead for their Y2K initiative. It was at NAU where I began transition from the systems side of student services to the administrative side. In 1999, I moved on to Sheridan College, where I became the Associate Vice-President, Academic Services. In 2003, I became Vice-President Student Services.
Over the years, my portfolio has changed as I’ve had various departments within Sheridan reporting to me on a number of occasions, but I’ve always had the student services portfolio. Currently, I’m responsible for Student Services, International Operations, IT, Marketing and Communications, and Ancillary Services. I’m pursuing my doctorate in Higher Education Management at the University of Bath, UK. Although I’m nearing the end of my career, I’m a strong believer in staying current and continuing to upgrade my knowledge and skills.
How do you define your role?
My role can be classified as all of the activity outside the classroom. My responsibilities span everything from recruitment through to graduation. Such things as admissions, financial aid, residence, food services, advising, career services, accessibility services, counselling, etc. The key to student success is a student’s engagement with the institution, not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. The chance of success improves greatly when a student takes advantage of the various services provided.
What are the biggest differences in student services now versus when you were a student at Waterloo in the 1970s? What are the biggest changes that are yet to come?
By far the biggest differences in student services between now and the 1970s is the number of services available to students today and the communication with students about those services.
When I was a student, services might have existed, but I don’t remember ever hearing about them or being informed about their availability. If they existed, I didn’t know about them. Today, students are provided information about services in a number of ways, through orientation sessions, class visits, special mailings, social media, and more. Also, services to encourage student engagement are now much more prevalent. Such things as the co-curricular record didn’t exist in the 1970s.
I believe that student service offerings need to become more tailored to the specific demographics and cultures of the student population. Services haven’t kept up with the growing diversification of our society and the large influx of international students. For instance, at Sheridan over 6,000 of our students are international, making up 30 percent of the student population. Each of these students come from their home country with its own unique culture that needs to be understood and supported by the various student services.
Looking back on your own time as a student, are there specific experiences or things you learned that have shaped how you approach your job today? Are student expectations different today?
I believe that one of the benefits of living at St. Paul’s was its size. With just 100+ students, I was able to get to know everyone on some level. This knowledge (even if just a little), helped shape relationships and foster friendships. This same approach applies to my work environment and to those that report to me. By knowing a little about their lives and understanding their interests, I can manage my people and their departments on a personal level. We become partners in the success of their operations.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Probably the most rewarding aspect is seeing a student that struggled with their education, or had issues outside of the classroom become successful and graduate. This is very evident during convocation, where I can sit on stage and watch a number of students who I knew received assistance and support from the various student services departments graduate.
What is your favourite memory of your time at St. Paul’s?
I have so many fond memories of St. Paul’s. I guess my favourite would be: In my second year, we entered a hockey team in a local industrial hockey league. We went on to win the league championship and celebrated as if we’d won the Stanley Cup. I’ve often said, living at St. Paul’s was one of the best times of my life.
I made a number of great friends that I stay in contact with to this day. For a number of years after graduation, we had a St. Paul’s alumni softball team that entered various tournaments throughout Ontario during the summer. This lasted a number of years and to this day, we still reminisce when we meet at the annual golf tournament. As for golf, I still go on an annual golf trip (approximately 35 years now) with friends that I met at St. Paul’s. Looking back, my fondest memories are the people I met and the friendships I made.
Advancing the cause of women in STEM
The feature story in the Spring issue of Community Notes (Building A Living-Learning Community For Women in Engineering), generated some great feedback from readers, so we were pleased to hear about two young alumni who are also working to advance the cause of women in STEM.
Bronwyn Lazowski (BES ’14) is currently completing her PhD in Geography and Environmental Management and is an Energy Council of Canada Energy Policy Research Fellow with the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy. After attending an energy research conference in Spain in April, Bronwyn co-founded a network for Women in Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) with a few women scholars, including another UW alumni Dr. Christina Hoicka of York University.
According to Bronwyn, women academics working in clean and low-carbon energy research face certain biases and there are certain discipline-specific skills that can help. The founders knew of professional networks for women working on the industry side of energy research but felt a similar network was needed for women who work on the academic side.
So far, the grassroots network consists of 15 (and counting) women scholars from York University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, the University of Waterloo, as well as international institutions. The group is actively recruiting additional members in Canada and internationally.
WISER seeks to empower their membership through professional development, collaboration, and networking. Their aim is to motivate women academics to contribute towards a generous mode of knowledge production and sharing in clean, low-carbon and sustainable energy research.
Currently their website is under development but if you are a woman scholar working in energy research and would like to join the network, you can express interest through this google form https://goo.gl/forms/wDfpdZbeBhNRuCtL2
Katie Hill (BSC ’12) works in Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and is a member of the board of directors for the Laurentian chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Last year, the Laurentian SETAC chapter started a Women in Science Committee (WISC).
WISC has held a few events and activities around the International Day for Women and Girls in Science and International Women’s Day. The goals of the committee are to highlight the achievements of women in science, to raise awareness around the issues of gender disparity in science, and to create mentorship opportunities for up-and-coming scientists. A key principle for the committee is explaining the difference between equality and equity. As Katie points out, equality is about treating everyone the same, and equity is about providing the specific tools different people need to be successful.
Katie shares that the committee has been in discussion to broaden the mandate to advocate for greater overall diversity in science and that eventually it may be known as the Diversity in Science Committee.
Captain Canada finishes second in Superhero Run
Congratulations to Sandy Clipsham (BSC ’99), aka Captain Canada, for running a personal best time and finishing second in the 5K Superhero Run for KidsAbility in Guelph.
This was Sandy’s third time racing in the annual Father’s Day event. Captain Canada finished first in 2014, third in 2015 and second in 2017. More importantly, with the support of his family and friends, Sandy raised $1,000 (double his goal) for the 2017 event, which raised a total of $70,000.