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UTSC community remembers Professor John Bassili

Professor John Bassili

The university community is mourning the loss of a true leader and innovator who worked tirelessly to enhance the reputation of the psychology department at UTSC.

Professor John Bassili, a long-time faculty member and the first chair of the psychology department at UTSC, passed away surrounded by his family on March 3 following a long illness.

“John was a generous colleague, a passionate scholar and a dear friend to scores of faculty and staff in the UTSC community,” said UTSC Principal Franco Vaccarino. “He was enormously proud of his department and UTSC, and his impact is evident in so many corners of our campus and beyond. We plan to honour John’s contributions to UTSC and to the broader U of T community in the weeks to come.”

Professor Bassili became the first chair of psychology when it became a separate department in 2007. Under his vision and guidance he oversaw the growth of the department including a collaboration with OISE to provide graduate training in clinical psychology at UTSC and the addition of the undergraduate program in Mental Health Studies. 

It was while teaching Introduction to Psychology that he conceived the original idea for the popular WebOption program as a way to enhance flexibility for students to view his lectures online. In the ten years since it was developed at UTSC it is now used in approximately 100 courses annually on campus. In keeping with his commitment to utilizing technology as an educational tool, he more recently oversaw the development of a state-of-the-art demonstration lab for the psychology department.

Colleagues remember Professor Bassili as a strong leader with a keen intellect who was intensely devoted to his family.

“He was incredibly intelligent. It didn’t matter what topic was being discussed he could just listen, completely understand it and ask questions that were so cutting and to the point,” said psychology professor Michael Inzlicht.

“John lived life to the fullest. Any mention of his family would immediately make him smile,” said long-time colleague Professor Steve Joordens. “He was full of passion, strength and determination and leaves many legacies that our students will benefit from for decades.”

Visitation will take place at Pine Hills Cemetery and Visitation Centre on Thursday, March 7 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held in the chapel of the Pine Hills Cemetery & Visitation Centre on Friday, March 8, from 4 p.m. to - 5:15 p.m.

Donations in Professor Bassili’s memory can be made to the Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Foundation, Kensington Hospice, and the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada.

© University of Toronto Scarborough