When Dr. Todd Mondor attended The University of Winnipeg in the 1980s, he didn’t have far to travel from his North End neighbourhood. He remembers riding the bus up Mountain Avenue, down Main Street, along Portage to campus — where he would seek out the quietest study carrel in the library or, more often, at the back of a psychology lab.
Fast forward three-and-a-half decades: Mondor returns to his alma mater in April 2022 as the University’s tenth President and Vice-Chancellor.
What can the UW community expect from you in the first part of your term as president?
I want to learn about UW and get to know the community, so you’re going to see me. I plan to be really listening to people and giving them a space and a voice so that we can work toward a shared vision for UW. Creating a new strategic plan provides an exciting opportunity to develop that vision, and I’d like to start that early in my tenure.
I want people to share their thoughts and hopes because as far as I’m concerned, the only successful vision is one that’s shared. It is important that faculty, staff, students, and supporters are given a voice and that they know their contributions matter. I will be a President and Vice-Chancellor that welcomes a diversity of opinions, appreciates open and accessible dialogues, and respects the inclusivity of the UW campus and the communities it serves.
What do you see the role of post-secondary education being in the post-pandemic or ‘new-normal’ era?
One of the things we’ve learned during the pandemic is the importance of fostering academic excellence in a way that is flexible and accessible.
Students have all sorts of things going on in their lives and we need to do what we can to help them access courses to progress through their degree and develop the skills and abilities to move on from UW and find success in whatever way they define it. As we move forward and continue to adapt to our new reality, student success has to be at the forefront but faculty and staff need to be front and centre in supporting that success.
Faculty members, too, have been impacted by the disruption caused by the pandemic and they need to be supported in teaching and research so that we can continue to create an atmosphere where students excel. We must be mindful of the range of needs for our students, faculty, and staff so that our community is properly supported to the best of our ability.
I want people to share their thoughts and hopes because as far as I’m concerned, the only successful vision is one that’s shared.
Dr. Todd Mondor
How does it feel to return to UW, where you were a student in the 1980s?
It’s exciting to me. I think for the same reason UW was appealing to me coming out of Sisler High School, it will be appealing to many students from non-traditional backgrounds who want to study close to home. The smaller classes and opportunities for connection to professors is really important. It can’t be overstated!
I was the first in my family to go to university. While a lot of my high school friends went to university, I also knew a lot of kids who didn’t, not because they didn’t have the ability, but because it wasn’t a realistic possibility for them. That has stuck with me. It is one of the reasons I’m grateful to be on the board of Rossbrook House, which supports children and youth in the core area. It’s been important and meaningful for me to have that connection.
I recall the UW to be a place for everyone; a place that mirrored my high school experience and for that reason — a place where I felt welcomed. The UW’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation and inclusivity principles really connects with me in a profound and meaningful way. To be part of continuing this legacy is humbling for me.
Winnipeg is a humble and hardworking city, and The University of Winnipeg has a unique role and place in it. The University does an excellent job of connecting with the inner city, with Indigenous communities, and with non-traditional students, and it is a privilege to be in a role where I can contribute toward this success.
What are your memories of being a student here?
I didn’t arrive at UW thinking of a specific career path. In my first year, I took chemistry, biology, psychology, and English. I enjoyed psychology most and, in particular, the sections on attention, perception and memory. That led me to take courses in those areas and to do an honours thesis under the supervision of the late Dr. John Cote. John spent a lot of time with me talking about research, writing, and scientific thinking. He was instrumental in my own academic journey and I remember him fondly as one of the best professors I had as a student.
For a break from studying, I’d sometimes go down the street to Juniors for a double fat boy and fries. I went there recently just for fun and old times’ sake, and it looks exactly the same as it did in 1985!
Where do you go to unplug and recharge?
I have an off-grid cottage northeast of Winnipeg that is beautiful and peaceful. I love to connect with nature, and spend time kayaking and hiking (once the chores are done!). I also enjoy reading, gardening, and cooking for my family. My sons, parents, and younger brother and sister and their families all live in the city and I feel fortunate to be able to get together with them for family dinners and special occasions.
Will it be hard switching allegiances from the Bison to the Wesmen?
I’ll be cheering for the Wesmen, no worries at all about that! But I will always have a soft spot for the University of Manitoba. Just as UW provided me with an opportunity to go to university and develop academically, UM provided many opportunities to develop professionally over the past 22 years. I’ll always be grateful for that and for the kind and generous colleagues I was fortunate to be able to work with there.
Whether it’s recognizing the efforts of faculty and staff, giving students opportunities to excel, or cheering the Wesmen during a home game, there is nothing I love more than celebrating the accomplishments of students and colleagues for a job well done!