Osgoode introduces new Academic Success and Wellness Programs

Law school can be tough going and no one knows this better than Ronda Bessner, Osgoode’s new assistant dean of the Juris Doctor (JD) Program.

Bessner, who taught for many years at Canadian law schools before joining Osgoode this past spring, has seen first-hand the toll that too much stress and an unhealthy lifestyle can have on students’ academic performance and overall outlook.

She’s now on a mission to demonstrate to Osgoode’s JD and graduate students, including international students and exchange students, how they can take better control of their lives.


Right: Assistant Dean Ronda Bessner (centre) with students at a Newcomers Lunch on Sept. 3


“It’s a two-pronged approach that we’re taking,” Bessner said. “We’ve introduced an Academic Success Program consisting of a series of Lunch & Learn sessions that are designed to help students improve their academic performance and increase their marketability. We’ve also introduced a Wellness Program that’s focused on exercise, healthy eating and minimizing stress.”

This is the first time that a formal program of this nature has been offered to upper-year students. First-year students, on the other hand, have had the benefit of the Office of the Assistant Dean, First Year, which provides a variety of academic support services for first-year students.

The Lunch & Learn sessions will be held throughout the academic year and will provide valuable information for future lawyers on subjects such as developing legal research and writing skills, including international and interdisciplinary research; publishing academic papers; and the differences between civil and common law.

The Wellness Program, which is open to all members of the Osgoode community, will feature fitness testing and tips, yoga classes and a healthy cooking session with celebrity chef  and York grad Rose Reisman (BA ’75, BA ’77, MFA ’82, MBA ’85). And that’s just the month of September. There will be more activities to follow in the months ahead, including upper-body massages that will be offered before exams.

“Both the Academic Success Program and the Wellness Program are designed to make law school a more satisfying experience,” Bessner said. “We hope many people will take advantage of them. Not only will they be learning academic and lifestyle skills that will serve them well now and in the future, they’ll be meeting students and faculty in the Osgoode community.”