Consistent with its name, the series ProFile features faculty and staff at York University. Included in this short Q-and-A are details about working life at York, followed by a few fun and quirky questions.
ProFile: Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier
Position at York U and department/faculty: Interim director, Teaching Commons
How long have you been with York University, and what is your role? I have been at York for just over five years, first as an educational developer in the Teaching Commons, and for the last 15 months as the interim director. My role includes providing strategic leadership for faculty programming in experiential education, eLearning, the first-year experience and the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as overseeing the operational needs of the Teaching Commons.
Describe a typical work day at York for you? On a typical day, I check in with my team, either formally or informally, about their programming and liaison work with different faculties. I meet with stakeholders to advance the various teaching and learning initiatives we share. I spend time planning upcoming events such as the Teaching in Focus Conference or new faculty orientation. When there is time left in the day, I may work on an academic article about educational development, advance my portfolio as the Chair of Bilingual Advocacy for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) or review an article as part of my role on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. In a nutshell, my job is about connecting with people and providing the support and resources they need to advance teaching and learning at York and beyond.
What do you enjoy most about working at York University? One of the most satisfying aspects of my work is seeing a vision transformed into concrete initiatives. In the last year, for example, I worked with the associate vice-president research, associate deans and unit directors, staff, faculty and students in developing a teaching and learning framework that speaks to the many facets of teaching at York. Our collective effort led to an informed, York-flavoured document, A Framework for Engaged Teaching at York, that can orient conversations around what ‘good’ or ‘effective’ teaching means across contexts.
Where is your favourite place on campus and why? My favourite spot is not one single place but a path. I love walking across campus, making my way to Library Lane from the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building (DB), where I work, to the Bergeron Centre. I continue west towards the Aviva Centre and return to DB strolling along The Pond Road. I love the mix of old and new buildings, the straight lines made of concrete against the green landscape and the sharp contrast between students hurrying to class and the flock of Canada geese slowing traffic down near the pond.
Describe York University using one word: Compassionate.
And now for a little fun…
What’s your favourite family tradition? Every summer, I take my son to Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, the place where I grew up. Spending an entire week at the lake, of course, makes the trip something to look forward to. But above all, seeing him having as blast with our French-speaking family melts my heart. Then he spends the better part of the fall imitating rather approximately the local accent, and that is hilarious!
What is one thing you couldn’t live without? (Excluding people) Online grocery shopping. What a time saver! For someone who used to hop by at least three grocery stores every Saturday morning, this is a complete game changer!
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a novelist, for no particular reason. Secretly, I still think it would be pretty awesome to publish a novel, but I really don’t know why (aside from the potential fame, possibly). I don’t even keep a personal diary!
What is something you always have in your fridge? Frozen cherries and plain yogurt. This is the best snack ever!
What’s the farthest place (from York) you’ve travelled to? Southeast Asia, with Cambodia as my absolute favourite. I was fascinated by all of it: its breathtaking, untouched landscapes, the seemingly chaotic but functional city traffic, the fabulous markets, beyond-delicious street food, “tuk-tuks” and motorcycles carrying loads of stuff and the remoteness of it all. When it comes to the spiritual grandeur of Angkor Wat, I was speechless then, and I am speechless now trying to describe it in a way that gives it justice.