Julia Harrison, DPhil
It is hard to believe that it was four years ago that I took over as director of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies. Everything seemed so new to me then, and my task ahead very daunting as I followed in the footsteps of an impressive roster of Trent’s Canadian Studies scholars who had so successfully developed and administered the Frost Centre. It has been my privilege to have my name added to that list, and I trust I have contributed to the Frost Centre in positive ways. I am very pleased that Professor Joan Sangster is returning to the Frost Centre as acting director for the year 2013/2014. A former Frost Centre director, an outstanding Canadian feminist and labour historian, and a superb administrator, the Frost Centre could not be in any better hands. Thank you, Joan for coming back! I wish you a good year.
A major part of the life of the Frost Centre this year was shaped by the Institutional Quality Assurance Program (IQAP) review process for both the MA in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies and the Joint Trent-Carleton PhD in Canadian Studies. Every seven years all graduate programs are required to undergo such a review. The process requires a self assessment of the strengths, the weaknesses, the needs, and the future vision of programs. This process requires input from faculty, students, and alumni. All of these groups, faculty, and staff from Carleton, and the outstanding support and hard work by Cathy Schoel contributed to shaping the content of the three-volume reports that were required for each program. Cathy and I began work on both reports in the spring of 2012, and succeeded in completing both of them, including their final approval, by early November 2013. Part of the IQAP process requires on-site visits by a team of external reviewers. The honest, open, and thoughtful input given to the MA reviewers when they came in March demonstrates the richness that the Frost Centre has contributed to the lives of so many, and what its faculty, alumni, and students see as its potential to continue to do in the future. I want to sincerely thank all of those who participated in this process, particularly those alumni who travelled some distance to be at Trent for these meetings. The reviewers’ final report recommended some important new directions for the MA program. The Frost Centre Board submitted its strong supportive response to these recommendations to the Provost. As a result there will be some changes in the Frost Centre and in the MA program over the next couple of years which will move graduate study in the fields of Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies in important and exciting new directions at Trent. The external reviewers for the Canadian Studies PhD will come for their site visit in fall 2013. It was extremely rewarding to be part of the ongoing development of the Frost Centre through this process and I look forward to hearing of the outcome of the PhD reviewers’ visits to Trent and Carleton.
In September 2012 we welcomed twelve new MA students and three new PhD students into the Frost Centre. Our students came from across the country as well as Trent and came to us from a wide range of fields of study. Such diversity contributes greatly to the interdisciplinary strength of the Frost Centre. We had four PhD students defend their dissertations this year, a record number for the Frost Centre for one year. Seven thesis-based MA students, and one course-based Major Research Paper (MRP) student also successfully completed their degrees. Congratulations to all of you on your magnificent accomplishments, with particular note to Casey Ready for her receipt of a President’s Medal for her work as a doctoral student. Congratulations also to all of our alumni who have received numerous awards for their work this year and passed several benchmarks, many of which are reported in the pages that follow.
The academic year for the PhD students began with the third annual late August retreat at the Department of Canadian Studies Haliburton facility, Windy Pine. Joined by students and colleagues from Carleton, the experience offers an opportunity to strengthen the links in the joint program and build the strength of the peer cohort. As I write this report I am pleased to note that the Windy Pine retreat will continue for its fourth year under the direction of Joan Sangster.
At the start of the winter term, the Frost Centre hosted the 2013 The North at Trent lecture series. In April, Frost Centre Research Associate Ryan O’Connor, in conjunction with the Peterborough Community Foundation’s 7 Days of Green, gave a talk on the Toronto history of Pollution Probe. Also in the spring, the Frost Centre hosted the second very successful series of four Brown Bag talks drawing on Trent faculty and research associates. Such events attract a diverse and at times overflowing audience and allow Frost Centre scholars to share their recent research. The Frost Centre helped to support a number of lectures and talks across campus including those sponsored by History, Environmental Studies, and Public Texts. In conjunction with the PhD program in Indigenous Studies, the Frost Centre sponsored a teaching workshop on course design in early May for students and faculty. For more details on the talks and series, read on.
I want to make particular mention of the many Frost Centre faculty and students who serve on the Frost Centre Board, and Curriculum, Research and Awards, and Admissions Committees, as well as those who helped advise me as I prepared the IQAP reports, and those who served on the Director Search Committee. Your contributions are greatly valued and the Frost Centre would not function without your labours. Thank you to you all.
I agreed to a second term as Secretary-Treasurer for the professional association for scholars of Canadian Studies in Canada, the Canadian Studies Network-Réseau d’études canadiennes (CSN-REC). The CSN-REC informs us of the depth and breadth of work in Canadian Studies being done nationally and internationally, keeping us abreast of opportunities for both Frost Centre students and faculty. Additionally, the Trent Lands Plan Committee, the Presidential Review Committee, Senate, and Senate Executive also kept me busy.
As I write this on my last day as director, I want to thank everyone who had confidence in me that I could make a positive contribution to the Frost Centre. Directing the Frost Centre has been a very gratifying experience for me. I particularly want to acknowledge the work and support of Cathy Schoel, the Frost Centre Administrative Assistant and Graduate Programs & Research Centre Coordinator during my tenure. We all know we are in excellent hands with Cathy as central player in all that goes on in the Frost Centre. I will truly miss working with her. I intend to remain active as a Frost Centre faculty member. I have several MA and PhD students at very different stages of their degrees, and look forward to having two new MA students starting in the fall of 2013.
Everyone affiliated with the Frost Centre has contributed in many ways to all that I was able to accomplish in my time as director. Faculty, students, alumni, research associates, adjunct faculty, and donors have all played a role. All of this was brought home to me at the lovely event that Jim and Betsy Struthers hosted for me in late May. Thank you to all who came, and to those who sent good wishes as I embark on my sabbatical. Your warm and gracious wishes made my last four years even richer.