Professor Angela Hildyard, vice-president (human resources and equity)
Professor Angela Hildyard is U of T's vice-president (human resources and equity).
1. Can you tell me about your reasons for conducting Speaking Up, the first-ever staff and faculty experience survey, and why it was important?
Employee engagement surveys are relatively common in the private sector and over the years various members of Business Board had asked why the university did not undertake surveys. In addition, research in the area of employee retention flags that "good employers/employers of choice" routinely use survey data to improve their policies and programs and that seeking employee input is exemplary practice.
The final impetus came from a leader of our unions who commented that it was all fine and dandy for the university to be rated a Top 100 Employer based on policies, but if we really wanted to know if we were any good as an employer we should be asking the employees! We couldn't resist that challenge!
The data we have received has been invaluable.
2. What do you think the role of technology in the classroom will be? Have you ever taught online?
From my perspective, the technology should be supporting the pedagogy and not vice versa. I have always been intrigued with the concepts of knowledge building and knowledge creation (rather than simply "learning") and my own uses of technology in the classroom have been in support of that approach to pedagogy.
Yes, I have taught several graduate courses online, never meeting the students face to face. It changes the way you structure a course, the ways you engage students in discussions and the role that you play as "instructor" or "facilitator." I really enjoy teaching online -- it provides huge flexibility as to when I teach; I find that the quality of the "discourse" is enhanced because it provides greater opportunity for reflection. However, not all students like it.
3. Can you tell me a bit about your experiences at OISE/UT? In what capacity are you still involved?
I first went to OISE in 1970 as a research assistant. After a couple of years I decided I wanted a doctorate (so that I could be first author on research papers!) and after completing my PhD I assumed a variety of research and administrative roles. I will always be grateful to Bernard Shapiro who, while director of OISE, sat me down one day to ask if I wanted to be an academic or an administrator -- to which I said "both." So Bernard made it possible for me to continue to teach courses and engage in research but also to engage in a wide range of administrative tasks, including being OISE's HR manager.
I left OISE in 1998 (first to be the principal of Woodsworth College and then to my current position) but OISE/UT is still my academic home. I teach -- although not as much as I would like -- and I supervise doctoral students, which I truly love to do.
4. Describe one personal item you have in your office?
I love pottery, especially porcelain. I have a number of pieces in my office by Bill Reddick -- a very well-known artist whose work is in a number of museums including the Gardiner. My favourite piece is a huge yellow bowl, that is one of a kind.
5. How much time do you spend using your BlackBerry?
Seriously, I actually don't use it much during the week unless I am out of the office.
6. If you could be anywhere right now, wherewould it be?
Either in my garden -- weeding, transplanting, pruning, etc.-- or babysitting my grand babies!
7. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a "village" north of London called Pinner (Elton John was born there!). I go back frequently as my mother still lives in the house in which I grew up. I essentially left home at 18 to go to university (Exeter) and then immigrated to Canada two years later.
8. Do you have a personal mantra or favourite quote?
I will not permit myself to worry about things over which I have no control.
9. Favourite food?
Salads, raw veggies, fruit and cheese.
10. Wine or beer?
Compiled by Tammy Thorne