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Nursing dean to become vice-provost of academic programs

In 2005, Professor Sioban Nelson moved from Australia to the University of Toronto to take over the role of dean at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. 

Beginning August 1, 2013, Professor Nelson begins a new role at U of T, directing academic standards, policy and planning for the University as vice-provost (academic programs). 

Over her two terms as dean of Bloomberg Nursing, Nelson has significantly increased the profile of the Faculty throughout the University and with numerous community and professional partners. Her leadership has been instrumental in building the global reputation of the Faculty and widening the network of international partners and collaborators. 

Writer Kendra Hunter spoke with Nelson about the move to Simcoe Hall.

Leaving Australian summers for Canadian winters would be a tough switch for most—what attracted you to the University of Toronto when you first took the role of dean?
What I found so compelling was the opportunity to take a truly excellent Faculty to the next level. Opportunities like that are pretty rare. We have such outstanding students and we do such wonderful research—I felt my job was to help the Faculty see how fantastic it was, to own it, and to set new benchmarks for the discipline and for ourselves—and to communicate that message in everything we do. A dream job really.

What are you most proud of during your time as dean of Bloomberg Nursing?
There are many things we've accomplished together as a faculty so it's hard to choose. I'm very proud of the community we've created around us, building strong connections with the teaching hospitals, with our alumni and with the broader professional community. I think the practice-university divide feels pretty seamless these days and that is critical for a professional faculty. It's been an effort but it’s been very rewarding for everyone.

How has your role as dean prepared you for the vice-provost role?
Ask me in a year.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing as vice-provost?
I'm not sure about what I can accomplish but I am very excited about how much I'm going to learn about the whole University. The health sciences world is big and complex and took a lot of getting to know. I expect every other sector of the University will be equally mystifying and I'm really looking forward that.

Have you adapted to the Canadian winters yet?
Well I complain like everyone else when it’s very cold or when winter has overstayed its welcome—so I guess I’m acclimatized. I’ve lived in many different climates—from equatorial to Toronto and everything in between. I do love the big seasonal shifts here and the very different rhythm of life we have across the year.

Kendra Hunter is a writer with the  Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto.