Google Search
Student affairs dean says farewell after 12 years at UTSC

Tom Nowers (left) is presented with the gift of a canoe paddle by student John Aruldason, recently elected president of the SCSU, at a farewell reception. (All photos by Ken Jones.)

by Robert Onley

UTSC’s dean of student affairs, Tom Nowers, is retiring this summer after 12 very successful and productive years of work for the university, and a 31-year career in student affairs and student services. Nowers’ many contributions to UTSC were recently acknowledged at a farewell reception held at Rex’s Den in the Student Centre. For more photos of the event, click here.

Family, friends and faculty all paid tribute to Nowers’ enormous efforts to improve both the campus and student life, as many highlighted his impact on the shape of the university as a whole. Prior to his time at UTSC, he worked at Marianopolis College in Montreal and then at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. Nowers’ focus on students was also noted, emphasizing his ability to make students and colleagues believe in the ‘bigger picture’ at UTSC.

“I feel overwhelmed by the expressions of trust and of confidence in what we do collectively together at UTSC,” Nowers says. “People here have felt uplifted by a sense of purpose, and are embracing the idea that we’re all in this together, especially in the Office of Student Affairs. If we can capture that purpose and if the students are in solidarity with it, big and great things can happen.”

Under Nowers’ leadership, big and great things did happen at UTSC, particularly for students. In March, students approved a referendum in support of the construction of a new athletics and recreation centre for the 2015 Pan American Games. Years before, Nowers infused student voices into the development and design of the Student Centre, which opened in 2004 to the praise of a student body that had long called for such a building.

The creation of the Student Centre marked a turning point for the student experience at UTSC. Principal Franco Vaccarino emphasized Nowers’ commitment to student life, saying “Tom has absolutely kept this institution’s eye on the students. With all of the changes and developments here in recent years, it would have been easy to get distracted by the many good things that we’re doing. But what Tom did, in as good of a way as you could possibly imagine, is make sure that through all it all we stayed focused on what it’s all about: the students.”

Along with his many accomplishments at UTSC, Nowers was also recently selected by the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) for an Award of Honour -- the highest level of distinction bestowed by CACUSS -- along with the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award. Nowers is the only person in the country to have received both awards this year.

These awards are representative of Nowers’ success in maintaining healthy relationships with the student leadership in the Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU). Recently elected SCSU president John Aruldason says, “Tom is always encouraging us to think big in everything we do here in the SCSU.”

Adding to this, Drew Dudley, coordinator of leadership development in the department of student life, says, “Buildings like the Student Centre are a great example of what Tom has contributed, but more so, they are indicative of a broader truth about Tom, which is that he makes people believe. And he makes people believe in things which I think almost makes them feel guilty.”

Dudley explains, “At first some might think, ‘Maybe I’m dreaming too large.’ But whether you talk to students or staff members, you’ll hear over and over again that Tom won’t allow you let go of things that you think will make the world or the campus a better place. He has always been there to say, ‘I think there is a way that we can get this done.’”

Nowers’ drive to put student interests at the fore of every project has led to the development of a university campus that is more dynamic, engaging and exciting than ever before, and he is leaving behind a legacy all future students will certainly enjoy.

The office of student affairs provides leadership and general oversight for the entire division of student affairs, including all student services, as well as providing unique campus services such as notary public services, budget leadership for the Council on Student Services, maintaining a Parent and Family website; managing the undergraduate Academic Travel Fund and IT coordination for all departments. The Office also functions as a clearing house for information and referral related to the student co-curricular and extra-curricular experience.

Robert Onley is a 2009 political science graduate from UTSC. He is currently studying law at the University of Windsor.

© University of Toronto Scarborough