What role must universities play as Canada and the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? How can post-secondary institutions contribute to a society where difficult issues can be discussed and debated without fostering political polarization? How can campuses foster diversity? How can they address the global climate crisis?
These were some of the questions addressed by University of Toronto President Meric Gertler in his recent inaugural address as chair of the board of Universities Canada. He took over the role from Sophie D’Amours, rector at Université Laval, and will serve for a two-year term.
In his remarks, President Gertler – who previously served as the board’s vice-chair – said the role of universities is especially important today as Canada and the world look to navigate “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.
“The scale of the economic and human suffering has been immense, and the challenges ahead are daunting,” he said during a luncheon keynote. “And yet, with many of our campuses coming back to life this fall, and with in-person activity continuing to ramp up, there appear to be grounds for cautious optimism.
“Indeed, we find ourselves at a watershed moment, as we transition to a changed society and a changed world.”
President Gertler noted that the successful reopening of many university campuses across the country carries a significance which extends well beyond the post-secondary community.
Read more (Rahul Kalvapalle)
Watch U of T's President Meric Gertler's speech here