Academic Leadership – Update & Appointments

OISE Dean, Erica N. Walker
OISE Community
Academic Leadership – Update & Appointments

Dear members of the OISE Community, 

As you know, it is my first autumn in Canada and I continue to be inspired by the remarkable energy and commitment of our OISE community. With many initiatives underway, I write to provide an update on some key decisions about changes in decanal academic leadership and related academic administrative appointment announcements. 

Academic Leadership Update 

Since commencing my term in January 2023, I have had very productive discussions with many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, as well as academic and administrative leaders across OISE and the University, regarding how we might expand the Institute’s excellent work and advance our academic mission. OISE is one of the University of Toronto’s largest graduate divisions and one of the largest and most research-intensive faculties of education in North America. As such, its size and complexity require optimal support for our academic priorities, including upcoming academic planning work, faculty and leadership development, enhancing our academic programs and research excellence, growing our local, national, and international partnerships, and increasing our community engagement.

I have consulted with Provost Regehr, academic leaders in other divisions, previous OISE Deans, members of the current senior leadership team, past and present department Chairs, and other stakeholders of our community. I have also reviewed decanal portfolios of other faculties within and beyond the University of Toronto while considering the history of OISE’s decanal portfolios in the context of the Institute’s evolution. It has become apparent that our current leadership profile, established close to a decade ago, needs updating in order to support substantial shifts in student enrolment, faculty complement, and graduate program and policy changes. I recommended to the Provost that a new senior academic leadership position be established at OISE to meet our expanding academic needs and advance the Institute’s priorities. I am very pleased to announce that the Provost has approved the establishment of the new position of Vice-Dean at OISE.

While the core responsibilities of this position will evolve to align with key priorities identified during the upcoming academic planning process, the Vice-Dean will be integral to OISE’s academic leadership team and will support me in planning, managing and implementing OISE’s key strategic and academic priorities, undergirded by our existing and expanding commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This will include strategic support for revenue generating initiatives to sustain our academic mission, cross-portfolio priorities to enhance the impact of our academic programs, advancing our academic goals through university policies and governance, supporting the professional development of faculty and academic leadership, and furthering advancement and funding objectives. 

Academic Administrative Appointments 

In accordance with the Policy on Appointment of Academic Administrators, a special committee including representation from all OISE departments was established to advise me on the appointment of OISE’s first Vice-Dean. Following this advisory committee process as well as advisory and consultation processes already underway for upcoming vacancies in our Associate Dean portfolios, we recently submitted three recommendations to the Agenda Committee of Academic Board to fill these important roles. I am deeply grateful to the advisory committee members and all those with whom I consulted in making these decisions.

I am delighted to announce that the following academic administrative appointments have now been approved by the University:

Appointment of Professor Creso Sá as Vice-Dean of OISE

Professor Creso Sá of the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education will begin a three-year term as Vice-Dean of OISE on January 1, 2024. 

Professor Sá has served as Chair of LHAE since July 1, 2022. His previous leadership roles in the department have included service as Associate Chair and as Program Coordinator of the Higher Education Program. Professor Sá was the inaugural Director of the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education (CIHE). At the divisional level, he has served as Chair of OISE Council and as Academic Director, Graduate Education. Professor Sá is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research agenda is situated at the intersection of science policy and higher education studies. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journals Studies in Higher Education and the Canadian Journal of Higher Education. Professor Sá has a strong record of graduate supervision and teaches courses in the areas of innovation in higher education, organizational change, policy analysis, and case study research methodology. In 2015, he was awarded the Research and Scholarship Award, conferred by the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education. In 2020, in recognition of his contributions to scholarship, teaching, and professional service, Professor Sá was awarded a 5-year term as Distinguished Professor of Science Policy, Higher Education and Innovation.

Since Professor Sá’s appointment as Vice-Dean will create a vacancy in the position of Chair of the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, I have begun a consultation process to identify an Acting Chair of the department. I will be updating the community in the near future on this position.

Appointment of Professor Joseph Flessa as Associate Dean, Programs

Professor Joseph Flessa of the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education will begin a two-and-a-half year term as Associate Dean, Programs on January 1, 2024. 

Professor Flessa has served as OISE's Interim Associate Dean, Programs since July 1, 2023. His past leadership roles have included serving as Chair of the Academic Programs Committee on OISE Council, as Program Coordinator of LHAE graduate programs in Educational Leadership and Policy, and as a developer of a range of urban education and educational leadership programs at OISE. He is also a member of the Academic Board of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto. Professor Flessa’s scholarship focuses on urban educational policy and politics, comparative educational administration, and school leadership and policy with an emphasis on leadership practices in Ontario and Latin American schools. He helped develop the First Nations Schools Principals’ Course and is widely regarded as an exemplary teacher and dedicated supervisor. In 2021, he was awarded OISE’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award.

Appointment of Professor Michal Perlman as Acting Associate Dean, Research International and Innovation

Professor Michele Peterson-Badali, who has served as OISE’s Associate Dean, Research, International and Innovation since July 1, 2015, will be taking a very well-deserved administrative leave from January 1 to June 30, 2024.

During Professor Peterson-Badali’s absence, Professor Michal Perlman of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development will serve as OISE’s Acting Associate Dean, Research, International and Innovation for a six-month term. Professor Peterson-Badali will resume her administrative appointment on July 1, 2024 until the end of her term on June 30, 2025. 

Professor Perlman has served as Director of the R.G.N. Laidlaw Research Centre since 2022. Her past leadership roles have included service as Program Chair of the Developmental Psychology and Education graduate program in APHD, and as a member of the University of Toronto's Research Ethics Board. Professor Perlman’s scholarship examines the quality of interactions that children have with their caregivers both at home and in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings. She has worked with different levels of government to explore how ECEC quality measurement can be used for monitoring and quality improvement purposes. She also studies key skills and competencies needed for the success of young learners as part of the FutureSkills Lab. Professor Perlman has taught a variety of courses in Developmental Psychology and Education and public policy for children. Her work has been supported by SSHRC, CIHR, foundations including the Lawsone and McCain Foundations as well as governments and other organizations.

I feel very fortunate to have such exceptional leaders, scholars and educators joining me on  OISE’s senior leadership team, and I look forward to working with them on the many urgent priorities facing our community. Please join me in congratulating these outstanding colleagues on their new appointments and in thanking them for taking on these important roles at this critical juncture.




Professor and Dean