President’s Message 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Warm greetings for a joyous and peaceful new year! It is such an honour to serve as the 40th President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education. 2020 was a memorable year for the Society for many reasons. First, it marked the 50th anniversary of the Society, and while we hoped to celebrate in community at Western University, the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Journal of Higher Education, the official journal of the CSSHE. We look forward to celebrating both birthdays over the course of this year! Despite the challenges of 2020, CSSHE has been actively engaging community and continuing to highlight the expertise of our members; some highlights include:

Launch of our 5 year Strategic Plan: Developed 2020-2025 Strategic Plan based on a membership survey, an environmental scan, and community consultations. You can find the Strategic Plan document on our website, here: Strategic Plan 2020-2025

Two webinars: In lieu of the CSSHE Annual Conference and Congress, which were cancelled, CSSHE hosted two webinars, 

This debate addressed the perennial issue of higher education funding in context of factors such as shifting government policy, neoliberalism, internationalization and globalization, regional geographies, the use of parental and student profile and data for assessment and imbalances created by different funding models in light of equity and inclusion imperatives. It is intended to spark a debate on the funding of higher education from the perspectives of different stakeholder groups.


Pier-André Bouchard St-Amant, Professeur, École nationale d’administration publique – ENAP/ Associate Professor, National School of Public Administration, Montreal
Jerome Cranston, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Regina
Diedre A. Desmarais, Area Director of the Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs, University of Manitoba 
Catherine Dunne, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
Panel Chair & Moderator: Christine Arnold, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Universities Canada states “Universities recognize the vital importance of a diversity of identity and thought, with room for a variety of ideas, geographies, cultures and views. While progress has been made over the past few decades, we recognize that there is more we can – and must – do to truly achieve inclusive excellence.” Our colonial history and continuing imperial legacies make the principles and goals of equity, diversity and inclusion a major challenge for our institutions, particularly where it matters most at the heart of our institutions, i.e. in our classrooms. This session will focus on policies and best practices to move forward our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and principles of indigenous education and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and more broadly to decolonizing the academy. 


Ena Dua, Professor, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, York University. Author of the book “Equity Myth”. 
rosalind hampton, Assistant Professor, Social Justice Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. New Book: Black Racialization and Resistance at an Elite University (2020)
Theresa Rajack-Talley, Vice Provost, Equity & Inclusion & Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, Dalhousie University 
Vijay Ramjattan, Recent PhD Graduate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Doctoral Dissertation: Working with an Accent: The Aesthetic Labour of International Teaching Assistants in Ontario Universities
Panel Chair & Moderator: Michelle Jean-Paul, PhD student at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

Website updates: The 2020 Conference Committee identified several ways in which the website could be updated and would help members and non-members find resources that are on our website. Over the first month of 2021, you may notice several updates that have been taking place. If you have recommendations or suggestions to make that will improve way-finding or the information that we have available, please do let us know.   

Looking forward, CSSHE has begun to make changes that will help us accomplish the goals set out in the Strategic Plan, and in response to the pandemic and financial crisis. We invite you to participate in the following ways:

  • Ad-hoc committees: This fall and spring 2021, we have been working on the implementation phase of the Strategic Plan. We have developed the Communications, Partnerships and Collaborations, and the Membership and Funding ad-hoc committees to support the work of the standing committees, towards realizing the vision outlined in the strategic plan and supported by our membership. We invite your participation on these committees and the Awards Committee. To volunteer, please indicate your interest here:
  • 2021 Conference: This year’s conference will be hosted virtually at the University of Alberta. The Board voted to set the conference registration rate at $50 for all members, with a subsidized rate of $0 for those who are financially unable to pay.  There will also be three (3) Federation sponsored merit awards of $500 for graduate student participation in this year’s conference. Keep an eye on the conference website for further information. 
  • Webinar: In celebration of the 50th Anniversaries of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education and the Canadian Journal of Higher Education, we will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, May 6th,  â€œLooking Back – Looking Forward: Where did we begin and where are we now? 50 years of research and scholarship on Canadian higher education. What are the critical challenges we must address in moving forward?”  Information about this event will be forthcoming. 

Finally, the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education is a Registered Canadian Charitable Non-profit organization that is largely run by volunteers. We are proud of all that has been accomplished over the past 50 years as a Society and especially over this difficult past year. That said, we do have expenses related to an outdated infrastructure that is challenging for long term remote delivery of services, a secretariat that supports our membership services, and software that needs updating. We are partnering with the associations that are sharing out secretariat’s operating expenses to find grants and donations and hope to meet some of the needs in that way. Further, we are deeply committed to supporting the participation of graduate students, new professionals, precarious workers, and people from underrepresented backgrounds, and that commitment requires funding for bursaries, stipends, internships, and when safe again, travel. 

We appreciate  those who have donated in the past and again we invite you to make a charitable donation to the CSSHE and will gladly provide a tax receipt for any amount over $20. Your support will make a huge difference in the functioning of our society and the next generation of professionals in our field! If this year is not a good year for making a financial contribution, we invite you to continue your support through your membership, to consider us in your future plans, and to contribute your time and expertise, as you can. 

Michelle Nilson
CSSHE President, 2020-2021