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Dr. Glenn Moulaison completes an AWESOME ten years as Dean of Arts

Tue. May. 16, 2023

Moving from a term appointment to Dean of Arts in two years is an unlikely career trajectory, but so it was for Dr. Glenn Moulaison, Associate Professor of French Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Moulaison served a term as Acting Dean prior to being appointed Dean of Arts as of July 1, 2012. Fast forward 11 years and Dr. Moulaison has now completed the second of two five-year terms as Dean of Arts, as of April 28, 2023 – a singular achievement.

As an administrator, Dr. Moulaison is known for being decisive and efficient, while being concerned with issues of fairness and equity. Many will remember his quirky sense of humour, something he often uses to make others feel comfortable. Dr. Tracy Whalen, now Acting Dean of Arts, has seen Moulaison’s work firsthand, having served as Associate Dean of Arts for the past two years. Dr. Whalen states, “I've witnessed time and time again Glenn's care for faculty, staff, and students and his deep, quiet commitment to fairness, inclusion, and diversity.” On a more personal note, Whalen adds, “Glenn has been an invaluable mentor and resource, and I respect him tremendously. It was a pleasure to work with him.”

Moulaison is modest, but he has been a major booster for the Faculty of Arts. Taking his cue from Neil Pasricha’s bestseller The Book of Awesome (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010), Moulaison took a similarly lighthearted look at the Faculty of Arts for a recruitment event. The result was his List of 25 Things That Make the Faculty of Arts AWESOME. All these years later, Moulaison is still enthusiastic about the people – faculty, staff, and students – and programs in the Faculty of Arts.

Recently, Dr. Moulaison sat down the with Dr. Whalen and me to answer a few questions about his time as Dean of Arts and his plans going forward.

Is there one piece of advice you would give someone else going into this position?

“Be kind” is the one piece of advice Moulaison would offer someone undertaking a similar role. He thinks of it this way: “Treat others as you’d like to be treated. You might be having a bad day, but you have to curb that, because you are paid to be able to get beyond yourself and do the job.”

Is there something you’ve learned as Dean that’s made a difference in your life?

Glenn acknowledges he is more aware of how “many people struggle/have struggled/are struggling in their lives. Sometimes something has happened in their lives that has made them struggle at a particular time temporarily, and sometimes it’s ongoing.” This is important in leadership roles, he says, and something that one should consider when talking to people and making decisions. He adds, “I would include myself in that. Not everyone is okay all the time – life isn’t always as rosy as we would like it to be – and you have to make allowances for that.”

Is there is funny story or quirky memory that stands out in your time as Dean?

Glenn smiles, recalling his last meeting of the Arts Council from earlier in the week. The Department Chairs had all dressed in Glenn’s signature denim jacket, black turtleneck, and glasses with black frames in homage to him. He was both surprised and moved by the gesture.

The Chairs had thoughtfully invited Naniece Ibrahim, photographer in Marketing and Communications, to take photos, so he will have these to remember the special day. Glenn sent photos to the Chairs the following day thanking them, saying “You made my last Arts Council very memorable. I urge you all to continue rocking the look!”

Dr. Glenn Moulaison with the Department Chairs in Arts at his last meeting of Arts Council as Dean of Arts on April 19, 2023.

Dr. Glenn Moulaison (front) gathers with the Department Chairs in Arts on April 19, 2023. Dr. Tracy Whalen, now Acting Dean, said a few words in tribute to Moulaison, noting his integrity and adding that “under the denim jacket, he has a heart of gold.”

Photo credit: Naniece Ibrahim

What has been your biggest challenge as Dean?

Glenn explains that he doesn’t like conflict and is private by nature, so he found it hard to reconcile these aspects of himself with the demands of the role. “The biggest challenge was to get over that and realizing [being Dean] is a role you play.” Getting past that, he says, was a matter of “learning the rules associated with the role and eventually you get used to any personal feelings you might have about yourself.”

What did you find to be the most satisfying part of your role as Dean?

Glenn speaks of having Luc and Sophie [his son and daughter] go through the University of Winnipeg during his second term as Dean of Arts and having them taught by people in the Faculty of Arts. [Luc graduated in 2021 with a BA (Honours) in Political Science and Sophie will graduate in June with a BA (Honours) in English.] In particular, Glenn remembers “having other people saying [to their mother, Dr. Jane Barter, and to him] how incredible Luc and Sophie are as human beings. It was something that Jane and I knew,” he says, “but to hear this from other people was one of the most satisfying things.”

As for the Faculty of Arts, Glenn points out that many of things that the University of Winnipeg is known for, such as Indigenization, community engagement, and EDI hiring are things happening in Arts. Glenn notes that the Faculty of Arts prioritized EDI hiring by posting faculty positions as designated hires. “We managed to do this within the normal procedures and everyone was on board. That is something I feel good about,” he says.

Glenn states that going to the faculty-based TPCAC process has made a difference during his time as Dean. In the past, more men than women were being promoted to Professor, he says. But promotion has been more equitable since the faculty-based TPCAC process was introduced. Glenn is quick to acknowledge that it wasn’t a change he implemented personally, but he thinks “it is one that has made a big difference in the careers of many, in particular women.”

Do you have any plans, now that you're leaving the Dean's position?

Glenn says, “I plan to travel and to get back into my research, so I may combine both by travelling to conferences.” There is one he is considering attending in Paris. And the Acadian World Conference takes place every five years and in summer 2024; the conference will be held where he is from in southwest Nova Scotia.