Margrit Eichler, Professor Emerita, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education passed away in Toronto on July 8, 2021. Born in Berlin, Germany on September 28, 1942, Margrit attended the University of Goettingen (1962-65), and the Free University of Berlin (1965-66). She received her MA from Duke University in 1968, and her PhD in 1972.
Many in the community will remember Margrit for her tremendous influence at OISE and beyond.
Interim Dean Normand Labrie remembers the frequent interactions they had in the hallways of OISE, in meetings or at OISE Council at a time when her activism, energy, and scholarship were as always, so present. She will be dearly missed.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Margrit was a professor emeritus in OISE's Department of Social Justice Education and over the years served in a number of important roles across the University of Toronto.
She began teaching at the University of Waterloo in 1971 before joining OISE in 1975. She has worked at OISE and in U of T's sociology department in a variety of roles. From 1999-2003, she served as the first Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute, one of many academic leadership positions she undertook. She was President of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women and President of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Her research themes and areas of interest include non-sexist research methods, new reproductive technologies, contemporary families, and related issues. She has written and published extensively on these subjects, as well as authored a children’s book, Martin’s Father. For many years, SSHRC advised applicants to refer to her publication "Nonsexist Research Methods" (Routledge 1989) when designing studies. Internationally, Margrit’s intellectual leadership contributions included a collaborative project with China entitled “Women and Minorities as Educational Change Agents”. The project provided critical opportunities for young women faculty to take social and educational leadership in the coming decades. Her Bias Free Framework (with Mary-Anne Burke), published by the Global Health Research Forum, has been used in many countries.
Margrit’s path-breaking career included extensive service on committees, editorial boards, and consultation services. Highlights include working on the committee to establish five new university research chairs in Women’s Studies; the coalition to call for a Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies; a consultant to the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, various levels of government, as well as an export witness at a number of tribunals. She held the Nancy Rowell Jackman Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University (1992-93); and was the recipient of many honours and awards, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the European Academy of Sciences.
After she retired, Margrit continued to be active on many fronts. She joined the Academy for Lifelong Learning, leading numerous workshops and was elected president 2014/15. In 2013 she founded ORK: Our Right to Know – an advocacy group of concerned citizens committed to public science that serves the public good. In recent years she was also president of her downtown neighbourhood Association – the list goes on.
Margrit also used these years to indulge her love of travel, balanced by time at her cottage with friends and family.
In her final year, Margrit wrote to friends and family: “For my entire life, spring has sprung. First it was not there, then it was. Not so this year. This year, I am living spring. I am acutely aware of what flowers are out, the different timetables with which trees put on their greenery. My neighbour’s maple has not only grown all its adult leaves, but has already lost its blossoms, while my tree puts out its first shy buds. It is lovely to experience spring in this way.”
In lieu of flowers, Margrit wished for others to fight for justice, do sound science, and travel and laugh when one can.