Story

Charmaine Williams
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​​​​​​​​​​Former Associate Dean, Academic, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

My first U of T student card was from the '80s when I took a summer course at the Mississauga campus. I later returned to do my master's degree in social work, then again to do my PhD. In 2002, I began a tenure-track position in the Faculty of Social Work.

There were at least two appeals to graduate administration. First, I saw the opportunity to work with a great team of people who were leading the Faculty. Second, I saw and still see graduate administration as an opportunity to have an influence on the direction of the Faculty. I think that graduate administrators have a huge role to play in shaping an environment that supports positive experiences of learning, teaching, scholarship, and contribution to the community.

As an academic administrator, I interact with a much larger group of students than I did as a faculty member; this is one of the great things about the job. Graduate administrators often work with students who are having various types of difficulties, although I encourage students to drop by and tell me things are going great as well. I hope that in either of those circumstances, students experience me as a representative of a university that is committed to them having a positive experience and going on to represent social work and the University of Toronto well.

The most meaningful development that I've observed is the increase in the diversity and inclusiveness of the university environment. As a student, I was often one of very few students who was a person of colour and/or the first person in their family to attain an education beyond high school. Later, when I was a social worker in the mental health care system, I saw a lot of young people have their dreams of university education pushed aside by institutions that did not want to make a place for someone with a history of mental illness or any other kind of disability.

Both of these things have changed a great deal. I'm very glad to be part of a university that strives to embrace diversity and increase equity for students, staff, and faculty.

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