Dr. Joy mighty

In this episode, Jessica and Pat chat with the incomparable Dr. Joy Mighty. Joy is the former Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) at Carleton University (Ottawa, ON, Canada), and former Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON, Canada). She is also a former President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).


thank you so much for joining us today in the first of our series on the

narratives of failure and vulnerability on the road to hope it is my distinct

pleasure and my co-hosts Dr Pat Maher nipissing to introduce to you today

somebody who needs no introduction in the field of teaching and learning in higher education in Canada and Beyond Dr

Joy Mighty uh Dr joy mighty retired from Carleton University at the distinguished

rank of Professor emerita she had served at Carleton as the associate vice

president teaching and learning and later as a senior scholar for innovation in the teaching and learning Office of

the Provost and vice president academic prior to her work Dr Mighty was the

director of the center for teaching learning at Queen’s University and before moving to Kingston she was

leading the conversations of teaching learning as the Director of the TLC Center and professor of business

administration at the University of New Brunswick Dr Mighty is is mighty in all

senses the word her interests are diverse and eclectic but also aligned in

some pretty fundamental values that are hopeful around the purpose of quality

higher education she works on organizational development and change within a real emphasis and focus on

Equity diversity and inclusion she has consulted for universities private

sector not for profits all around the world Canada and the Caribbean China England Germany Japan Saudi Arabia South

Africa and the United States to name a few that would when we could travel

now she does this online and shares her tremendous wealth of expertise and

insight with so many people who benefit from these conversations she recently

was the recipient of the Christopher Napper Lifetime Achievement Award through SD LHC the Society of teaching

learning in higher education and she joins us today to talk about failure and

vulnerability and hope in her own experiences on her trajectory as one of the most transformative leaders in

higher education in Canada but also as a colleague friend and mentor to so many

Joy thank you so much for joining us today you’re most welcome thank you for

inviting me to be with you well you were the first person on my list when Pat and

I first conceived this series and we were talking about the the ways in which the the people that we love and and most

look up to are ones who are transparent and open about their vulnerabilities and

failures and uh thinking about those transformative voices for me and my own journey I said I want I want joy and so

you are our first person first interview in this series and it’s it’s just it’s a

true joy and so I think we’re gonna we’re gonna start with a A open question

one that doesn’t um have a lot of structure to it and you can choose to interpret in any way you

feel um it resonates for you but can you tell us your story how did you how did you get here

well no how much time do you have yeah [Music] I my parents will tell you do not give

me an open Forum to talk because I’ve not stopped

um I actually reclaim in my family as I was born to

June I started teaching at the age of three when my my the furniture in the house

the cushions the chairs were my students I wasn’t even I didn’t I’m not even sure

where I got the concept of school from I do have an older brother and sister so they were going to school and and I

think that their their daily journey to school resonated with me in fact I used

to run down the road behind them wanted to go to school to school so I actually started they put me in school at three

because they couldn’t keep me Tamed right and from the get-go I loved the whole

idea of schooling and education and and that has had a

an enormous continuing impact on

so I think from the from the beginning I I

always wanted to be a teacher there was only one time in my life when I was about 10 or so

that I said oh maybe I’ll be a really good answer

but it didn’t last very long that that fat

didn’t last very long it was because I saw one of my prefects of school who who was a prefix who had become a radio

announcer a very successful one of that so I thought oh that’s that I could do I

could talk which is what really the youngsters do right but teaching I think we said you

could talk more [Laughter] although you shouldn’t you should allow your students to talk

so that’s how my love of of a teaching began

um I I went to one of the best I was born as

you know in George Shanghai Anna and I went to the best it was the best girl

school of based on the British system in Guyana and so you got the best education

and from there it was a question of just moving through the ranks you know as with Academia

going to do your o levels your a levels it was like a matter of you know

process you just did it and I went to the University of the West Indies

and my University of Western says the Mona campus in Jamaica and there I studied

English which was my My Love Actually French was my first love

but I I because and of course this is because my brother and sister used to come home and talk about the tablet and

you know they would label things in the house and I thought oh that sounds good but it didn’t hold me long enough

because the English has a story behind it it wasn’t just the labeling things it

was a story and people and so I did English I never regretted it for a moment

um I did this in Jamaica at University of the West Indies and I then went on to do my

official professional qualification for being a teacher in I guess the British system

so I did my Improvement education so I was now a teacher don’t mess with me I was I had the label

um and there was so I continued you know teaching I

thought that I was married to a Jamaican um who was from Montego Bay so I taught

at Cornwall College High School in Montego Bay for boys where he had attended

and um I

I got this invitation shall we see to join a group

of pioneers we call ourselves pioneers who were

beginning a new teacher’s college I think it was funding from the World

Bank and the government of Jamaica that started as new teachers College in the western end of Jamaica where there was

no previous Teachers College um used to say teachers training college

at one stage with Teachers College and

there were seven of us who began that college and it was one of the most

impactful um moments of my life

it was exactly what I wanted to do to to be innovative

to be creative to interact with other people who love

teaching so the seven of us started off with a

blank sleep we didn’t have a particular um tradition to follow we were told do

what you want can you imagine the excitement a blank friend do what you want to start

a new College and that’s when we sort of thoughts about

who do we want to see as teachers in our schools and and so we came up with a four-prong

approach that became the philosophy of the school

of the college so students sat and satisfy us on

academic development professional development personal development and Community Development before they could

graduate and we took that very seriously the students soon learned to take it very seriously

and that was I didn’t know it at the time

because I’ve never heard a boy or well that was before boy I even wrote this stuff but that’s the kind of thing that Ernest

boy talks about the integration and the scholarship of teaching and learning and application and Discovery it was so

profound that people are saying to these students you have to be a whole person

to be able to be in charge of our youth

and that was one of the most rewarding aspects of my life at Sam therapist was

College um I actually was so even the way we ran

the college we had a set what was called a central management committee so instead of we did our principle the

central management committee was shared by the principal but the central management Casey would be

um committee would be like your your faculty Council I guess or you know but it was very Central to

making decisions about how the school would develop and

the central management committee was made up of the shares of the Committees of each of those areas professional

development committee personal development committee academic development committee and Community

Development Committee and I was the chair of the Community Development Committee

and again I think that’s where my understanding of the importance of

community and engaging with the community began

so many years later

I moved on to do a master’s a master of arts in education against UWI in Mona

and after that I felt you know all my

colleagues all my friends who went to school with me are earning big fat dollars not teaching

I need to leave teaching for and earned big fat dollars so I I went into the

private sector I went to Jamaican National Building Society which is like you’re saving the role in financial

institution and I was the training officer so I was I

was responsible for establishing a training department and we did in those days we called it

the Manpower inventory you know you wouldn’t say manpoweredly but

you know an assessment of what people how people saw themselves in

the organization where they wanted to be the next few years and

how they were wanting to get there what what sort of training and development

they saw themselves undertaking in order to get there so that was again

like education but not quite education I I liked what I was doing but I missed

the classroom terribly I pined for the crowd soon

and so after what three years I said this is not for me the big bucks don’t

make a difference in my satisfaction my my comfort level

and so on so I quit and

but what I learned from being in the private sector

you know people see oh you’re in business you know I’m a financial institution

they think I know about money I don’t I’m awful

so I always tell people I’m not in the money side of business I’m in the people’s side of business

and that was one of the things I learned about being in the private sector the importance of the people

and because I was doing the Manpower inventory I had an opportunity to meet

with every single employee and to talk with them and find out who they were where they were what they’re

coming from where they’re going so that led me to

my choice of doing um MBA Masters and this is Administration

in business and and led me to focus on organizational behavior which

subsequently became the the subject that I did my PhD in organizational behavior

and because of my particular circumstances

and and I’ll talk about those from in a moment organizational behavior became

more than just how people treat each other or respond to each other or behave in the workplace

but also how Equitable the workplace was in terms of treating people

so that was my focus and I say because of my circumstance because when I lived where I was born in Guyana

I lived in Jamaica I mean I was a member of a majority group I didn’t know what it was to be a

minority honestly even in terms of of gender because in teaching I mean who are the

majority women right so I didn’t know but when I moved to North America when I moved first to

Howard University in in Washington DC and the whole

American environments and contexts and then to York University where I did my PhD

I learned what it was like to be

a disregarded Because of Who You Are and to be as just I learned what it was

like so people just assume that you you didn’t know anything you didn’t have anything to contribute because of your

social identity and that got me mad

but and I think it energized me to do work in Equity as you uh mentioned

Jessica Equity diversity and inclusion of course at the time we didn’t have those words for it

when I began my PhD um the

I think it was the Jackson report in in the U.S had just come out about diversity in the workplace

and diversity was the word was the term that was being used

but the other equity and inclusion and you could have diversity without having Equity inclusion

right those were not so well known at the time

but in the context of Canada

the employment Equity act has just been

officially legislative pass in the legislature

and so the equity business was beginning to creep in into the discourse

so I focus on my in my dissertation I focus on

employment equity in the school system so I looked and I was I focused of

course narrowly on in Ontario I looked at school boards what were they doing

and how were they understanding and interpreting the employment Equity Act the government

of Ontario at the time it was the Barbary government

um had provided a number of incentives

for people to you know employment Equity incentives if you

if you had an employment technique program you get someone thousands of dollars in your

school board and so my question my essential question

was who adopts the employment Equity Act

and why was it because they were being um because it was being

institutionalized institutionalized in a number of ways either through memetic forces you know they

were copying um what they thought were examples of goods

School boarding or whatever you might call it or was it because of coercive forces

because the law was forcing them to do it so that was one

theory that I looked at was it institutionalization that was prompting people

to adopt employment Equity or on the other hand

was it strategic Choice did people choose to do so because it resonated with their

philosophy of education or you know their strategy about how students learn and that sort of

thing of course we go inside one the institutionalization was definitely

the the the thing that was driving the adoption of employment technically as was evidenced by the fact that as soon

as the incentives were taken away people dropped their employment Equity had like hot potatoes

it was it was something that they did because they were

forced to do it or because they could get something out of it but those who stuck with it were the

ones who saw it as a deliberate choice

and so that was essentially my my thesis looking at why do people adopt the

employment equity and then from there I guess I went to I

did my PhD momentum as you mentioned Jessica um

the um University of New Brunswick where I I won the first ever teaching a

world award in The Faculty Administration and you know all administrators think that

if you will teach an award you must be could run the center so

so then thank you they take you away from teaching and say you’re on the center you’re gonna teach

him well I didn’t want to give up teaching so I ended up having these two jobs

two offices a lot of work killing myself

but loving it to death and and I think from that’s when I

joined the society for teaching and learning in higher education because as a as a a young Professor I hadn’t

previously heard about it but once I started doing that educational development role

I learned about this and I and I I became involved and then the rest is history from there

I went to Queens and from Queens to culture and so on so that’s I told you

be careful what you asked me that was a long story but it was a fantastic story

to us I just took two pages of notes oh my God

yeah Pat do you want to try to ask a question because I have like 15. okay

you have 50. I’m going to ask one really simple one and this is the follow-up of I mean that there was your fan the

Fantastic upbringing that led you to become a teacher right and then there was the the Masters and PhD that really

examined the school board system and and I’m just for me I’m always curious you know when somebody jumps into

Administration or educational leadership or things like that like what are some

of the lessons that you that you think you know came from the the early time as

a a three-year-old teacher or maybe a slightly older teacher that led you to you know the leadership positions or the

administration positions within education well that’s a really good question I

suppose I always um understood teaching to be leadership

I always understood that the person who is teaching was leading

but my concept of leadership always involves others

um it was never a a solitary endeavor

there were always there were always committees and teams and you know I always brought people into

that idea of leading right

so I think that

educational development for me

involves the whole idea of not just developing teachers

but of teaching I don’t know if that makes sense to you

totally thanks anyway it’s beautiful and it ties to the question that I have so many but one of

the questions I have is is tied to your experience creating with as seven

Founders a brand new institution with a blank slate with cart Blanche to be able

to understand everything from funding to governance to what you teach to how you

teach to how you assess you you created what what I’m sort of thinking about

right now which is how do we design hope University how do we design systems to be resilient so individuals

don’t have to be how do we reimagine the systems which aren’t working they’re broken they’re

they’re either broken or their 19th century systems in a 21st century

context and they’re radically obsolete but but how did you you know in your

thinking about the academic professional and personal and Community spheres like

living that whole self do you see hope for creating hope

University in our own 21st century context can we do that with our own

institutions now and if so where do we start whoa yeah you come with the big guns

yeah that’s a singer right there

well you know I am essentially a hopeful person my it’s not by accident that my name is

Joy I I have other names Joy is my like third name I’m enjoy my first name was

Enid so that was my mother’s name and my great aunt’s name the one I mentioned

earlier I was born on her birthday so I couldn’t escape but then you couldn’t have three years without in the family

so they didn’t call me that even though it was official my paternal grandmother

had some French background in her in her Heritage and she wanted a French name so

as he became it but my father and mother named me joy because the day before I

was born my father had been promoted to a senior position in the public service

and so it was a joyful moment a double joyful moment for them

and I think that my life has been oh I’m guessing

emotional sorry my life has been

a demonstration of that Joy of that

that hope that things will be good will be better now it’s not just

it’s not just um fantasy

there’s some real reasons why I think you know these that hope is in our

future you know when I see for example

the old swelling of protests against the horrific murder of George

Floyd in in the U.S in 2020

when I see it’s it wasn’t just in Minneapolis

it was all over the U.S the Canada all over the world

and that gave me a lot of Hope because I told him that

people understood what it was to be seen

and so hope is

you know I I don’t know how religious you are but I think somewhere in the Bible there’s some talk about

you know of Hope and Faith building things um

so people who are hearing this don’t don’t use me

but this is about open for the things that are unseen

so we we don’t know what it looks like but we know what it feels like

that’s what Maya Angelou talks about she says

people you may not always remember how people what people said or what people did but

you will always remember how they made you feel and I think that very lies our hope for

the future we have not not just young people

but even you know some professors will never give us another thought

were aroused by what they saw

and started the question how they could do things differently

so for me I I will always be hopeful that we can do things better

that we can make people feel better and that making them feel better will will

motivate them to do better

I know sometimes it doesn’t look very hopeful and

you know when you I don’t know what side of the argument

you’re done on but I can tell you that living in Ottawa I absolutely hated the

truckers protest and what it did to the city and to the people and how it made them feel and

and that sort of thing and I’m saying for myself

what are you getting out of this because

when you make others feel good you feel good

it’s a reciprocal process you know I’m going to come up with my

I’m going to refer to my favorite African philosophy Ubuntu I absolutely love it and it talks about I am because

we are because we are there for I am and what it says is that we are so

interconnected as human beings that we cannot be human

without the other is our relationship the other that makes

us human so in designing

new systems and processes and that sort of thing we have to have at the center

people we’ve got to have at the center how are we going to make

people feel good about themselves so that they want to they’re energized to do good for all of

us and they’ve got to see that they are

connected this it’s so powerful joy and I you know

you gave this talk um Ubuntu uh I guess in 2020 now to the

the maple League Consortium of universities and it was a hugely attended talk and we were very early on

in the days of this Global pandemic and the ways in which we were navigating covid and all of its complexity and I

just remember um and there there are so many reports in the last two years of people coming

back and saying when Dr Mighty talked about this and when she quoted um you know the the Archbishop Desmond

Tutu about the ways in which my humanity is bound up in your humanity and we can

only be humans together and that it it isn’t just and and talking about you

know um reverberating as fundamental values for you that it can’t just be the

intellectual and physical dimensions of our Humanity it has to be the emotional and spiritual well has to be our whole

selves and not just our whole ourselves as individuals seeking out our own happiness or our own pursuit of of you

know a contemplative life or whatever you understand is the purpose that it has to be inextricably

combined and integrated and aligned with our entire ecosystem of local

communities but also Global and right I feel like our universities don’t do a great job of inviting the emotional and

the spiritual in to the intellectual we don’t even do a great job of the physical we kind of focus just on a very

narrow part of our human existence or we have had a history of doing that how do we how do we get back to a more

integrated sense of of self and community and and harness the Ubuntu in

order to to understand our our absolutely inextricable bounding up with

one another that’s a good question I think that we’ve got to

make it an integral part of the process of Education as we did the soundtrack to just call it

an incidentally Sam sharp was the name of a um a slave who had led a rebellion in

Jamaica so the college was named after him because he was from that part of the world right so that was a very important piece

of history that we drew on this man sought his Liberty for us how are we going to share that Liberty

but one of as an example when I was the chair of the Community Development

Committee and what we did we when when the call started the the

physical premises were not completed

excuse me and we said to the students

this is your who you’re gonna help to finish it

so we brought them into the Residential College and the day when they came and I

remember very vividly the college was on a hill

and the road to the hill was not thieves and cars were rolling back down and

having to push each other up and so they saw

the necessity for working on something that was going

to be part of their life for the next X number of years so we began with that community and that

working together on something that benefited the whole of that community

began to help them to see that it’s not just this community up

here on this hill but actually down there where the poor people live

and so our community development committee did things like um

we had a library story hour every Saturday where we had children who never had

books you know come to the library and we went down to them by the way and had

the library like a community center it was in the library um

you know they read books they saw books and then eventually they were able to borrow books and take home and

we did things like reach out to the community and asked who are your seniors

you didn’t need to put it here coming what personal personal

needs that they have that we can help with

some of them were blind or or almost blind love that we were able to read the Bible

to them because that was a very very you know um Christian Community

but the students themselves began to see that they it was not just about them

and their comfort going up a hill but that at the bottom of that hill

where the people who helped them to get there because they were coming from

you know homes and zones were similar to those kinds of homes

we did once a year we did something called a little sacrifice because it was a residential College

the meals were served and so on and once a year

we sacrificed our own lands and we brought up people from the community in buses and so on

brought them up and we served them sat them down at these tables

and we served them this includes everybody the kitchen staff everybody

we served these people and I’ve seen people cry

because they were being seen but that could not have happened if it

had not been an integral part of the structure of the University this is them

so when we are designing Our Hope University we have to

think carefully about what structures and what systems are we

going to put in place that will generate true it doesn’t happen on its own

we’ve got to be conscious about it

and I love that metaphor Joy of literally they paved the road to the

college not just to get there but also to get back down into the community as

servant leaders as service and engaged community members and of fulfilling the

moral contract that we have in higher education which is to a broader Society

yeah and I think one of the pieces here too when when we were just talking about

like the physical and the spiritual and the emotional like it’s that higher education in general but higher

education leaders in particular right don’t necessarily want to talk about that because of the the level of

vulnerability right like I’m vulnerable if I step out of my clearly it’s the

academic sphere or clearly it’s the economic sphere all the all the sort of touchy feely Huggy whatever that level

of vulnerability doesn’t want to get touched by a an administrative uh body

right yeah but we’ve got to do it we’ve got to do it or else if we don’t if

administrators don’t demonstrate their belief in that

there will always be you know that talking about institutionalization and strategic Choice again there will always

be people who do it because you told me to do it but if you stop telling me to do it you’re not gonna do it so you’ve

got to get them seeing that is part of who they are

part of Who We Are so thinking about that joy and and

combining your research at York around people who make decisions and integrate

these policies because they’re values based versus they they get value out of it because it’s incentivized yeah and

and combining that with Community engagement where people feel

seen and valued and visible and invited into the conversation

do we have to have this is this is the question I I already have a feeling

about is a conversation about how we um evaluate review and promote the

professor it and how we assess the performance of our educational leaders absolutely

you know I’m glad that you asked this because it was not until the um

I think it was I can’t remember what year it was but I went to an SQL AG conference where there was this woman

who was from California professor who talked about

talking about what we’re doing community-wise she said why is it that our

packages for tenure and promotion have just the academic

and so on the professional perhaps why don’t we incorporate this other part

of our lives and it doesn’t mean that I have never

going through the ranks included any of that stuff and yet it was what made me mean

so and I in submitting my

um my documents for promotions are full I I called it I came out of the um

the metaphorical closet in in saying this is who I am you like

it or you don’t but that was an important part of

getting the evaluators to see

that those research papers don’t happen in a

void those great

teaching scores or whatever from students don’t happen in the void

is something else that’s going on for me it was

that human human connection

and I thought why do I keep my human aspect of the human aspect of my teaching

of my education separate when I’m going up for tenure or whatever

and so I said enough and and since then I think other people

have started you know including the personal and the you know yeah

the sort of the humanizing aspects of Our Lives that that that that that that that may be family it may be I work in a

big team and I can’t I I don’t do this alone right I’m not the publication says this but it’s a team effort or I love

the I think I can’t remember where he was from there was an academic in the U.S who started their failure CV right

which was the look I’ve gone up I’ve won these grants sure but there’s 27 others

that I didn’t get through the door on and and and I just thought that was a fantastic idea to say it’s it’s a

holistic ball not just the little things that we cherry pick off that that somebody thinks are important

somebody and who’s the somebody right yeah but it should be important

for us when it becomes important for us we make it important to others

we tell others this is an important part of who I am you take it or you leave it

Joy can you talk to us about the risk or vulnerability of doing that and and how we can create those spaces because you

know there’s there’s and I think it’s really important for Our Stars like you who who can go in and say take it or

leave it and and Love Me or Leave Me This is who I am but we know in in our

teaching score research we know in our evaluation promotion review we know even in the hiring process that we have

systems and structures that are structurally racist and inequitable and

that when we ask people who are already historic from historically excluded groups or have had a kind of

intersectionality that has not been conducive to being vulnerable because

there’s too much risk how do we how do we build systems so that they can be

brave and safe at the same time how do we create hospitable spaces where

um you know the the very you know privileged amongst us can can do that but also recognize to make how to make

spaces for our more sort of vulnerable um humans to to engage in that as well

if I knew the answer to that

but I think it comes back down to who is the leader who do we choose as our leaders and what qualities do we look for in our

leaders and do we make it clear to our leaders this is who we want as leaders

you know forgive me for going back to my family and you know family you probably

realized right now is like a really important part of me um my father was he began well he was

um a civil servant he was what you call a deputy Minister here but in the business system it’s

called permanent secretaries right so he was a permanent secretary and of course if the ministry was in his

education you haven’t helped us because supposed to just say does your

father know that you’re doing this or and if they knew my family you know he

would say if that’s what you want to do that’s what you feel if you feel strong about good

but when my when the Guyana government was

during the struggle for Independence they went on a trade unions went on a

we call it the dance they strike because it was 90 days there was a general strike

everything was shut down gas stations this everybody was on

strike except my father thank you

my father said I am a public servant I have my work to do to Serve the People

and I’m going to work so because everything was shut down I remember gas stations because

there was no gas for the car and you have to write about it supposed to work

and people would come to our house and pick it and protest you know like those suckers

with signs and singing We Shall Overcome and blah blah

and my father was very calmly I mean we were excited as kids okay we really like they’re coming

they come in and we’re up there was a veranda up upstairs you know in the

brand world to go downstairs and we will be jumping up and excitable

my father was Tommy come downstairs she doesn’t practice table have his

breakfast outside singing We Shall Overcome and we shall not be moved and whatever he just ignored them

when he was done he cleaned up and stuff he shook he couldn’t there was no specific to roll his

bicycle through the crowd so he raised the bicycle over his head and walked through the crowd very politely good

morning good morning excuse me excuse me and we went and departed

as he went through right and

he was one of the few people who subsequently I mean subsequently the

you know government change because Independence and blah blah and I remember the Prime Minister

calling him or the president was he at the time I wanted to know how we voted in the last election my father said as far as I

know election is still by secret ballot so that’s between me and my maker he was

scared of no one and he stood up for things that he believed in

I mean we we as children we pay the price for that my brother who saw himself as a a

sweet boy as we would call it back again you know me ladies man and

blah blah I was at the party and always having practice at our house and so on

my brother got arrested one night I can’t remember what it was for

and he called my father and my father said so

because as far as he was concerned his role was not to interfere with the

with the the process of of the law so my brother spent the night in jail

it was by and you know my father said he will learn and it was my father also had two

brothers Three Brothers actually who were police officers and it was they who

you know did the usual thing and went behind back and talked and got my brother out of views

but my brother never got in trouble with the law again

all this to say my father had a deep

commitments to integrity and

as a leader I mean he subsequently gave um retired took early retirement from the Civil Service and went back went

back to Scott to school to college and started to become a priest an Anglican priest and he came out Chica

and everything else and but everybody who talks about him talks

about that integrity how he stood up for what he believed in

and lots of people kept saying we need more people like him in leadership positions

who will establish that these are important principles to live by

but what happened in fact my father was the only permanent secretary who

retired without being fired you know everybody else was thrown out

and you know the political systems and use bases can be very traumatic and

my father was the only person who left on his own Steel

and his enemies and friends alike respected that Integrity so

my thing take it or leave it was something I learned from my father

that you stand up for what you believe in if you really believe in it

and you show how your belief

resonates with who you are and who you would like us to be as a community

so you’re the new president of Hope University pulling you out of retirement joy joy

University [Laughter] is that yeah that is that’s fundamental

right those those deep in the Integrity to be able to be values based to be

absolutely consistent to be absolutely transparent and to Anchor integrity and

practice in every single not even every single day but every single gesture with

your father saying good morning as he held his his bike over his head is just the most

beautiful image of that anchoring that that those values in practice in every

way he navigates the world just and it’s just so so critical to see right it’s so

important to see when we’re in a such an uncertain time right we’ve got a global

pandemic we’ve got the you know the mess that was in Ottawa right we’ve got

Ukraine we’ve got George Floyd we I mean we’ve almost forgotten that there were

indigenous groups blockading train tracks just before the pandemic happened right so we’re in these constantly

uncertain times but Integrity will lead us through right Integrity will will

situate the administrator or or the educator in the classroom or the student

you know yeah but but it begins with having that leadership that will say to

people this is who we are yeah and have people believe him or her yeah

can I ask Joy because you are joy impersonated and I always make the the joke that you live up to both of your

names joy and mighty in that in that joy in that hope

um as a beacon of Integrity for so many of us across Canada and around the world I just I wonder when when and if do do

you Despair and what do you do with that despair how do you how do you harness

that when you because as a change maker I’m sure you’ve come up against so many

brick walls and so many challenges and and so many people not not sharing the

same values based or integrity-based approach what happens when when you come across

that and then how do you how do you get back to Joy and get back to Hope

well that’s a good question I don’t despair much in spite of what’s happening around me yeah but when things

happen and I’ll tell you when I when I went to unb

because of my past experience at the college and my education background and blah blah I was given credit for my

teaching and and so I was um I I was allowed to go up

early for promotions associate now you know what proportions Associated usually tied to tenure rankings tenure but I was

allowed to go up early for promotions to associate even though they’re exactly the same criteria that are used

oh this is great you know like this is like after three years of being there and wonderful

so when I went two years later when my time September ends up

all of a sudden these same criteria which had been enhanced since

um Associates doing office associate we’re not good enough

and I was told I got a what you call an uh this is called a tentative negative

and that could have been that could that that may have been my

lowest point as an academic because it never occurred to me I’ve been successful all my life and all the

various steps along the way if somebody could say no

this is not good enough and

everybody was as shocked as I was I mean the the Union

The Faculty Association had a meeting with the um the HR

VPN and they were like this is good because again context remember I am the only

black female professor at unb from the time I went there when I left

there still the only black female so they were afraid that I was going to

call it racism and that we would get off on that and so

they were being met and they want how do we fix this what are we going to do and of course usually you compare the

assessment because these are supposed to compare like you know other people going up pretend you’re eating and other videos and

and I was way out in front in in terms of you know my accomplishments

so they had a problem on their hands but I thought

I am not going to allow this to happen they are obviously not looking at all

the evidence so I put pen to paper well configuration

and I wrote a

a response sort of sensitive negative

before submitting it I I submitted it to the union they say do you want to come work with us because

you know this was this captured all the stuff that you know we would have this is great

but I I’m I mean there was there was no specific

thing that you could respond to

it was just it was just a set of recent idiots that’s what it was

the VP hivp and the union share um Union president saw it as that this is racism

but I did not once mention racism in my response

so my response to

how do you conquer how do you get over the spirit first of all you pick yourself up and

dust yourself off you don’t allow it to overcome you

but you also what I did in that case I was like a lawyer

going through every single thing that I could and responding and given you know

and I wrote a really it was a really I don’t even know if I still have it it was a really really good letter

practicing for myself that they could not there’s no way you

could respond to that without showing your true colors

and it was very respectful again my father’s lessons the good

morning and hello and so on very respectful

but while inside I was you know burning up with anger

the anger never came across on the paper

and to me how you overcome

is fear is with providing the evidence

providing the proof the evidence so if you didn’t get to the first time

let me show you how it is and I I will later here’s the evidence

so sort of moving you know with with that notion of of anger right and and

and and and uh and rage it at some things that have that have happened if

we look at teaching and learning right now in in in Canada or or across the globe what what is it joy that that

keeps you up at night what is that thing that you’re like shake your fist at or or or or gives you that sense of anger

um or the flip side is you know what is the thing that gets you out of bed all joyful in the morning right teaching and

learning in higher ed is so wonderful

oh I don’t know um I guess it comes back down to that

that sense of hope we’re not a lost cause we’re not a lost people there are enough people

who they don’t have to believe exactly what I believe but enough people who believe that

um that there’s hope for a more

um hopeful more enjoyable more productive future

that I feel that I feel that we

we have to allow people we have to give people the opportunity

to demonstrate that because sometimes

and again it just comes back to the leadership you know at Sam Sharp

even though there were seven of us who started for that universe that college did you just call it

we involve the students every step of the way

and that was critical because as again

how you made them feel that that’s important they felt

valued I mean even

as I was thinking of Snapchat you just call it I I I even think of the

we allow them to conduct their own um Services their own

you know church services they feel like on Sunday and well and they would always choose this one

him that became the Sam chap national anthem

and you know we had a discussion about this and said you know they should be exposing themselves to others and we

said no this is what resonates with them

when you look at the words of that it’s almost like a cult the voice of God is calling my whatever

it’s almost like a vocation you know the old sense of occasion

and they believed that they were called and so we allowed them to

adopt that as their quote unquote national anthem

and it was sung every time we had any events yeah I used to learn words I don’t anymore

but I love that that there is a vocation

there is an invocation there is a call to a higher purpose or a calling to

something larger than ourselves that is communal that might be invisible but it

is still there and in fact even more powerful than the things that that we can see and and I think you’ve you’ve

just done such a a tremendous vocation in higher ed in Canada and I think the

the final question I have before we open it up to if you have any questions to us is in your vocation in your earliest

calling at the age of three when you were a teacher what did you teach

I just remembered as I said no a lot

wrong everything is is allowed in in schools

and everywhere else at least it was and Guyana back then so I beat the day like something wrong

wrong you right so that was I was a very autocratic teacher at that time we

produced the systems that we know so we all have to unlearn those systems that

we internalize and go through that process of unlearning and on unhooking

of ourself in order to to learn and to transform so you are a rehabilitated

educator all right and funnily enough the rehabilization

didn’t come from the field of Education I mean alone it did come from there but it also came from

you know my my personal life my family my you know there are other things that

contribute to your understanding of life that that

goes beyond textbook model of an educator yeah

yeah so Joy do you have any questions for us in this conversation oh boy


I didn’t think ahead of time of a question but what I guess my my question is do you

really want to have a hope University so this is my this is the project that

has sort of come into Focus for me over the last two years and it hasn’t it it has come through the sort of process of

Despair it’s come through the process of of Challenge and it’s come through the process of a kind of calling where I do

think that our systems are 19th century systems trapped in 21st century context

I think that our systems are systemically and structurally racist exclusive hierarchical and the old ways

of being are no longer going to help us create and transform our 21st century

context I think that we have to be hopeful and we have to challenge the actual and the name of the possible and

and we can’t just have I I do this all the time Joyce I’m I need to ask you

more about creating the Sam sharp College because I I hit these moments of Despair and I think okay you know what

let’s let’s dismantle these systems and start again let’s start afresh and I will often call one of my thought

partners and say okay let’s we’re starting a new University how are we going to fund it how are we going to

govern should we charge tuition should it be inquiry based should we have a big burning question and then build the

whole like I will do the whole fantasy escapism but I’ve realized in the last

two years that it is lazy and unnuanced unless I enact the change I want to see

and unless I start to challenge not the people but the systems and the structures and the policies that are

being reproduced with without us making them visible and then dismantling them so I think that that hope University is

not bricks and mortar it’s not a it’s not a location it is a mindset and it is

a way of being that is inspired by Ubuntu it is inspired by leaders like

you who are asking us to think differently and to see differently in our 21st century context not just as a

thought experiment but as a fundamental calling of how we live our integrity to

make this world better so that’s a resounding yes and you know

and as one of those thought Partners who gets dragged into these things all the time I think it’s a resounding yes but I

would add one more step further we can think about it and we can talk about it all we want but until we truly act it

until we action this stuff it’s still just sitting there in The Ether and I

think I think we’re seeing some of this action now as a result of all of the

like the conversation around Equity diversity and inclusion in Canada in my opinion has never been louder or

stronger the call for tearing down the university system in

order to build it up using indigenous ways of knowing has never been stronger we had a pandemic a global pandemic and

we learned that everything is interconnected and we can’t just do like our little nice Canadian box over here

that doesn’t interact with Brazil and doesn’t interact with the Ukraine and and whatnot so I think the time is now

for whatever hope University is we just need to get to the action phase

and and and really you know punch it in the guts give it a beating

and and do it in communion with the other right Paulo Freire says that that hope doesn’t happen in isolation it has

to happen in communion with the other and so in in this journey inviting you as as a guide in communion with you in

understanding the ways in which we’re totally integrated that we cannot be ourselves without each other

um is is so powerful and I just you are you are my number one in this in this

project in this set of conversations and I hope that when we share this with others that they find the the insight

and the wisdom and the guidance that you have provided today and and do some reflection on how to Anchor it in their

own practice in their own day-to-day lives not just in in the big actions but

in the every every day of holding their metaphorical bicycle over their heads and and politely please excuse me as we

carry on with this vocation that is that is inherently hopeful you know

thank you Joy thank you for joining us thank you Pat as my co-host thank you

um for participating in what is will be an ongoing conversation as we as we think about the ways we can we can build

in and make visible the narratives of failure of vulnerability and of critical

hope well thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this thank

you so much thank you amazing

and we’re out and we’re out stop recording and scene

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