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Judy Goldring on the "amazing people" of U of T's Governing Council

"Whether they are faculty, staff, students, alumni or community members, everybody wants to do the best for the University"

“I love the place,” says Judy Goldring as she reflects on her three years as chair of the University of Toronto Governing Council. “Being on the Governing Council evoked wonderful sentiments and feelings around giving back to the University. And now there’s this gap in my emails and I’m feeling a bittersweet withdrawal.

Goldring is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AGF Management Ltd. In 2015, she was named one of Canada’s most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network. She is also involved with a number of charities, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. And she was appointed to U of T Governing Council by the provincial government in 2007, became vice-chair in 2011 and chair in 2013. 

U of T President Meric Gertler praised Goldring for her service. “Judy Goldring’s generosity, modesty, tremendous personal warmth, and wonderful sense of humour shine brightly in everything she does,” he said. 

“Her leadership on Governing Council was distinguished by her characteristic grace, calm efficiency, and astute intelligence. And her commitment to the University of Toronto has been felt in every corner of our extended community – she has made it a better place for all of us, and for the thousands of people U of T will welcome in the years ahead.”

In an interview with U of T News, Goldring spoke about her tenure on Governing Council and her advice for emerging leaders. 

Are there changes that happened while you served as chair that particularly stand out for you? 

There are many. Getting the Student Commons through was amazing – it’s going to be a fantastic part of the institution once it gets up and running.

And most recently, the new Policy on Open, Accessible and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations passed after more than two years of consultations – that’s another great step forward to ensure that students are properly represented.

I’m proud of an amendment to the University of Toronto Act, now allowing non-Canadian students to be members on the Governing Council.

And the Goldring Centre of High Performance: I was able to see that project from the donation of my father in 2007 to the ground-turning and then to be at the opening and see it in use. That was an example of something that was so exciting to see in action and to see it come alive.

This was all possible due to the work of the administration and students on Governing Council. It was wonderful to work with the team that the President put together. I just commend them. I think they’re amazing people.

What will you miss most about being chair of Governing Council?

At the end of the day for me it was all about the people: having the opportunity to meet such a wide diversity of individuals who came from all walks of life.

I was impressed by how committed volunteers of the Governing Council are to the institution. Whether they are faculty, staff, students, alumni or community members, everybody wants to do the best for the University and they are committed to it in a way that is inspirational. I made great friendships in my time on Governing Council.

You’ve worked with many student leaders – what advice would you give students or graduates?

Just seize opportunities as they happen. For example, for me the opportunity to be on Governing Council was something that was really challenging in some ways, but I was excited about the opportunity. I always encourage people to seize the opportunities as they present themselves.

And I would also say to remember life is a marathon, not a sprint. You might have small detours and might have to stop and get water on the way, but that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about it, keep true to what it is that you want to achieve.

What advice would you give young women who are looking to grow as leaders?

I also tell them that it’s a marathon but they have to know exactly what they want. Position yourself at every juncture to make sure that you’re in the best position for the next step.

I’m so impressed with young women – I’m mentoring three to four of them right now through the Women’s Exchange Network. There’s so put together. They’re so balanced. They know how they want to make a difference in the world. 

I look to my two daughters, who are ages 8 and 11 years old, and for me, frankly, it’s about making sure that they grow up like these women who I mentor – these are such confident, competent, young ladies who are so capable and assured and disciplined. It’s an amazing set of attributes.

Do you have words of wisdom to share with Shirley Hoy, your successor on Governing Council?

Shirley doesn’t need a lot of help; she is such a capable successor. I know that she has a very clear vision around what she will be doing and I just wanted to make sure that there was a knowledge transfer.

Shirley was my vice-chair for three years, and throughout that time she was steady, even-keeled, and she was there when I needed her. It was very important for me to have that support and made it possible for me to carry on as chair. The Governing Council and U of T are in great hands with Shirley. 

The Governing Council at the University of Toronto oversees the academic, business and student affairs of the University. It is comprised of 25 members of the internal University community (staff, faculty, students) and 25 external members (including alumni and Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council appointees). Find out more about Governing Council here.