As Wisdom Tettey officially becomes Vice-President and Principal of U of T Scarborough this week, he’s got a busy summer ahead of him.
He will be winding down his work at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia and shifting his focus to Scarborough.
“It’s going to be exciting but hectic,” he says.
There’s a lot to work out. Finding a new home, working out school for the kids, getting up to speed with his new job, all while wrapping up his obligations with his colleagues in BC. “I still have some scholarly commitments that I have to come through on,” he says.
And he’s going to try to squeeze in a quick vacation with his family – he has a 15-year-old and 9-year-old twins – “just to get a little breather and come back rejuvenated and energized to take on the exciting possibilities that are waiting.”
So Tettey will be doing some travelling between BC and U of T Scarborough during the summer. He’ll be here full-time in September. In the meantime, Vice Principal and Dean Bill Gough will serve as Acting Principal for most of the summer.
When Tettey speaks of exciting possibilities at the campus, he means it.
“I’m energized by the passion on this campus about making a significant impact in the community,” Tettey says. “There is a commitment to cultivating global citizens whose devotion to advancing society extends beyond the local into the global.”
An atmosphere of diversity and inclusion reflects his own background. Tettey grew up in Accra, Ghana, in a neighbourhood that had people from a variety of backgrounds.
“It wasn’t the most privileged neighbourhood,” he says. His mother – who he lists as his most significant influence – encouraged her children to connect with those of different backgrounds.
“Home was the public square,” he says. “My friends would gather in our house. I learned to speak all the different languages, and because of that, people in Ghana have difficulty guessing where I’m from!”
In such a home environment, it’s little wonder that supporting diversity has been a central value. Tettey says he learned very early the values of hard work and serving others.
As an expert in the African diaspora, media and information technology, he is looking forward to continuing his research in Toronto, citing the Centre for Critical Development Studies, the Department of Arts, Media, and Culture, and the Department of Political Science as places where colleagues are doing work that dovetails with his own.
“The Toronto community connects me with my research and will allow me to connect with the communities with whom I do my work,” he says.
As Principal, he intends to build on the local and global nature of the campus. “These are not different spheres,” he says.
“One of the things that’s striking to me is how the campus values diversity of different sorts – diversity of intellectual perspectives and diversity of backgrounds. When you’re on the campus, it is great to set your sights up and see the diversity right there.”