Professor Wisdom Tettey
Professor Wisdom Tettey was officially installed as the 11th principal in the history of U of T Scarborough on Feb. 25. (Photos by Alexa Battler, Alex Wong and Tina Adamopoulos)
Monday, February 25 - 2019
Don Campbell

Professor Wisdom Tettey outlined an ambitious plan for U of T Scarborough based on a foundation of inclusive excellence, as the renowned academic was installed as the 11th principal in campus history.  

“Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to serve, for your confidence in UTSC’s potential, and for your support for inspiring inclusive excellence that benefits us all,” said Tettey in his installation speech, which outlined his vision for the upcoming term.

Before administering the oath of office to a packed crowd at the new Highland Hall event centre, U of T President Meric Gertler spoke about Tettey’s combination of leadership skills.

“Professor Tettey demonstrates a marvellous combination of confidence and openness, clarity and subtlety, energy, commitment, and a great sense of humour,” said Gertler.

“He wasted no time embarking on a strategic planning process for UTSC, and consulting with all members of the community in an extensive and thorough process. He is profoundly committed to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and be heard, as part of his commitment to inclusive excellence.”

Tettey, who is a leading scholar on African media, politics and diaspora, outlined how his vision of inclusive excellence will be supported through four priorities:

  • Advancing a culture of empathetic and inclusive leadership
  • Promoting an inclusive, healthy learning and working environment
  • Growing local and global networks
  • Boosting UTSC’s global standing through scholarly prominence and exceptional learning

He began his installation speech by reflecting on his childhood and formative years in Ghana.

“I grew up in a low-income, pluricultural neighbourhood of the national capital [Accra], where diversity, marginalization and community converged,” he said.

“I saw excellence in the midst of deprivation. I saw good emerge when communities are motivated by common purpose, mutual commitment to that purpose, and belief in one another to accomplish it.”  

He said he witnessed first-hand the transformative value of education, particularly the role of public school teachers and mentors, in creating access to opportunities. He also credited the influence of his mother as “the anchor of my values” in providing the inspiration for his approach to inclusive excellence and servant leadership.

Tweets about installation

Before coming to Canada to complete his master’s degree (University of British Columbia) and PhD (Queen’s University), Tettey spent his third year as an undergrad at the University of Ghana in Moscow during the height of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost programs. 

Prior to joining U of T Scarborough, he was the dean of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus where he led the development of a five-year strategic plan. He also served four years as dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan.

Tettey was joined at the ceremony by his spouse Natasha and his three children Norvisi and Selasi.

Dignitaries in attendance also included Vice-President and Provost Professor Cheryl Regehr; Professor Andrea Sass-Kortsak, Chair of the Academic Board, Governing Council; The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough-Guildwood; The Honourable David Onley, 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; alum Mary Anne Chambers, former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities with the Government of Ontario; Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, Ward 25, Scarborough-Rouge Park; Councillor Michael Thompson, Ward 21 Scarborough-Centre; and former UTSC Principals Bruce Kidd and Joan Foley, as well as many faculty, staff and students from across the university.

U of T Chancellor Rose Patten spoke about Tettey’s energy, warmth and optimism as qualities perfectly fitting the campus’s culture of academic leadership and community engagement. 

“You are already making a tremendous contribution to this positive culture. I’m sure it will be vital and impactful factor in U of T’s continuing strength as a tri-campus institution.”

Tettey concluded his speech with the Kiswahili word Imani, meaning “faith” or “belief,” and the Zulu proverb Umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu, which translates roughly to “it takes a village.”  

“Let us believe in what we can accomplish together, and make it happen. Let us be there for one another as a community that knows no bounds, and we shall succeed through our collective strength,” he said.

“Let us pool together our diverse talents, abilities, ideas, experiences, and perspectives for common purpose, in the spirit of inclusion, and our success and prominence will know no bounds.”