Faculty of Environmental Studies gains a new dean

Alice Hovorka
Alice Hovorka

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton has issued the following message to the York University community:

I am delighted to let you know that the search for dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) has reached a successful conclusion.

As you may recall, last fall I established a search committee comprising members of FES, including faculty, staff and students, with two faculty members from the Geography Department, as well as a member appointed by me, which was chaired by the interim vice-president academic and provost and charged with undertaking a search for the next dean. This is an important time in the Faculty’s development, as discussions are underway between colleagues in FES and the Geography Department with regard to a potential merger of the two units.

Alice J. Hovorka

Following an extensive national and international search, which attracted a number of outstanding candidates, I am very pleased to announce that the search committee recommended the appointment of Professor Alice J. Hovorka to the position of dean, for a five-year term. On my recommendation, on June 12, the Board of Governors Executive Committee, on behalf of the Board of Governors, concurred with the recommendation for the appointment.

Professor Hovorka will join York University on Oct. 1 from Queen’s University, where she is a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning and the School of Environmental Studies. Since 2015, she has served as acting head and now head of department of the School of Environmental Studies. She is responsible for leadership in relation to strategic planning, quality assurance, curriculum design and review, pedagogical innovation, branding, and financial and complement planning in an interdisciplinary context. Prior to her appointment at Queen’s in 2015, she was a member of the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph. She held several administrative roles at Guelph, including acting chair, undergraduate coordinator and graduate coordinator in the Department of Geography, and acting associate dean (research) of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. In all of these capacities, she has been a champion for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Professor Hovorka holds degrees in geography from Queen’s University (BA), Carleton University (MA) and Clark University (PhD). Her research is community-based, interdisciplinary and explores human-environment relations, focusing on three areas: urbanization, gender and everyday life in Botswana; the lives of animals in Botswana and Canada; and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her scholarship has been recognized through a Humboldt Fellowship and the Jan Monk Distinguished Professorship. She is a dedicated teacher and mentor, fostering innovative curriculum design, experiential learning and interdisciplinary links across Faculties; she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in a range of areas in both geography and environmental studies.

I wish to express my appreciation to Professor Ravi da Costa for his leadership and service as interim dean for the past year, and for generously agreeing to extend his term as interim dean to Sept. 30 to bridge to Professor Hovorka’s arrival on Oct. 1. I would also like to thank the members of the Search Committee for the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies for their valued contributions to this important process.

We look forward to welcoming Professor Hovorka to York University and to working with her in the coming years as she undertakes this key leadership role. I know that all members of the Faculty and the University will join me in congratulating and welcoming her.