Glendon welcomes its first public servant-in-residence

Diane Morissette is settling in as Glendon’s first public servant-in-residence, a position she began last week and will continue to hold for two years, giving the University an opportunity to enhance its public management and public policy education, and students the chance to learn more about the public service.

The York position is one of 10 across the country – part of the Public Servant-in-Residence Program coordinated by the Canada School of Public Service to ensure all public service employees have the knowledge and skills they need to deliver results for Canadians. It is a program that is designed to help public servants and universities, providing Glendon with access to a wealth of practical experience and knowledge.

Right: Diane Morissette             

“Much like the rest of Canada, the federal public service is comprised of an aging population,” says Morissette. “This is why there is such a need to attract a new generation of public servants – ones that are the best in their field, equipped with all the skills necessary for guiding the country towards its future.” The concept of the Public Servant-in-Residence Program is to place experienced, high-level functionaries into Canadian universities for terms of varying length.

Morissette’s wide-ranging tasks include building relationships, sharing talent and ideas, promoting research relevant to public service priorities, providing first-hand information about careers in the public service and facilitating recruitment to support the public service agenda of renewal – a key priority for the clerk of the Privy Council and the public service as a whole.

Having just completed 25 years of increasingly high-level positions within the Public Service Commission of Canada, Morissette says she is ready to take up this new challenge. When she was approached by her department to consider the position proposed by Glendon, she was eager to seize the opportunity. “My liberal arts background, my long-term interest in transferring knowledge and my wish to give back to a new generation all seemed tailor-made for this position,” says Morissette. After a meeting with Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts in Ottawa and an on-site visit to the campus by Morissette last July, both were convinced this was the right fit.  

Morissette understands Glendon’s historic and unique mandate, its fundamental values and key focuses and identifies closely with them. “Transferable skills developed through studying the liberal arts equip graduates with the capacity to think independently, analyze large amounts of information with clarity and speed, organize their work and prioritize. Their ability to make informed decisions and lead others are key assets,” says Morissette.

She sees herself as a bridging agent bringing her experience and expertise to Glendon’s students and faculty and, at the same time, providing feedback to the public service about what she observes and the types of skills they should be looking for in new recruits. While her position is designed to focus on Glendon’s new Graduate School of Public & International Affairs, she is open to being a resource for undergraduates as well. “I can foresee contributing through presentations, seminars and symposia on campus. When appropriate, I could also be a Glendon representative at other institutions, promoting its mandate and mission,” says Morissette. Installed in her new office in Glendon Hall, she is eager to provide mentoring to individual students, act as a resource to faculty and the administration, and generally function within an open-door policy.

Morissette’s long-term plans include research, most likely in her second year, which will build on her experience as public servant-in-residence, support the projects and activities of the public service and provide views of what works and what doesn’t. She will be a two-way ambassador of sorts.

“I am delighted to discover Toronto and explore all that this great metropolis offers,” says Morissette. “And here is my best chance to do so, while spreading my wings professionally and taking advantage of new opportunities.” She sees building a local network of public servants as one of her tasks, enabling a free exchange of ideas and experiences that will enrich what she brings to Glendon as well as to the federal public service.

Morissette’s message to students and faculty at Glendon is that the public service is a place where well-trained, enthusiastic young professionals can find a future, a chance to be challenged, to grow and to contribute to life. “The wide range of opportunities offered can respond to graduates in almost every profession. The preparation that Glendon’s bilingual Graduate School of Public & International Affairs offers to its students is a particularly good fit for many important government positions, and my term as public servant-in-residence enables me to bring that message to these students and to support them in their search for their future careers.” 

More about Diane Morissette

Diane Morissette’s professional experience centres on strategic policies, including intergovernmental relations, labour market and service policies, and strategic planning at the departmental level. She has held senior advisory roles and executive positions, notably in Human Resources & Skills Development Canada, the Privy Council Office, the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women and in the Ministry of Transportation (Quebec). She holds a BSc and an MSc in anthropology from the University of Montreal. She has also done fieldwork in anthropology in Canadian Aboriginal and Swiss alpine communities. In addition, she is a graduate of numerous courses and educational programs within the federal public service, including the Canada School of Public Service.

Submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny