The University of Guelph has named an inaugural associate dean of academic equity and anti-racism. Dr. Jade Ferguson, an award-winning English professor and advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion, begins a two-year term May 16.
The announcement was made today by Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president (academic).
“This new position is critical to our efforts to develop academic policies, processes and programs that will help the University achieve its commitments to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and to combatting racism,” Chapman said.
“Dr. Ferguson is a well-respected scholar known for her work and commitment to EDI, to community engagement and to promoting awareness. She will provide leadership and focus for the University’s EDI and anti-racism efforts in teaching, learning, and academic support. She has the vision for what must be done to elevate our strategy and the skills and experience to establish and reach common goals. I hope the U of G community will join me in welcoming her to the leadership team.”
Ferguson serves on the President’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism, which was a key component of U of G’s Anti-Racism Action Plan released by U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates in fall 2020. Previously, she was co-chair of the Academic Inclusion Committee.
In her new role, Ferguson will further a culture of respectful engagement and support at U of G, working closely with Chapman as well as Indira Naidoo-Harris, associate vice-president (diversity and human rights), and other U of G leaders.
To advise on best practices for combatting racism
She will advise on best practices for combatting racism, and promoting equity and inclusivity in teaching, learning, and student and faculty recruitment and support. This includes examining practices that promote equity and inclusivity for racialized faculty and students; leading and supporting anti-racism and racial equity initiatives; providing advice on pedagogical approaches and curriculum development; creating and implementing strategies and actions to advance EDI; identifying barriers that have contributed to inequities; and building and enhancing respectful relationships among community partners and communities.
“I have been a professor at the U of G for 15 years, and during that time, we have made significant efforts to address inequity, promote diversity, and foster a culture of inclusion,” Ferguson said.
“I see this position as an acknowledgment of the systemic character of racism, past and present, that must be addressed through equity policies, programs, and practices. I look forward to working with the University’s leadership team and various stakeholders to create a more inclusive community and liveable environment for students, faculty, and staff.”
An award-winning scholar known for commitment to EDI
Ferguson has been awarded several grants and awards, including from the Learning Enhancement Fund and the EDI Enhancement Fund, to establish programs and initiatives that address the academic needs of underrepresented students.
Most recently, she led the development of U of G’s new Black Canadian Studies minor program that will be launched this fall, working in collaboration with the Guelph Black Students Association.
A core faculty member in the sexualities, genders, and social change program in the College of Arts and the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, she is known for creating inclusive learning environments with community-engaged components. She received the College of Arts Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2017 and 2021.
Ferguson’s research focuses on Black Canadian literature and art, segregation narratives and the Civil Rights movement, and protest literature and art. She earned a PhD and a MA in English at Cornell University and a BA in English at the University of British Columbia.