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Minister Kirby

OISE Alumnus Dale Kirby appointed to Newfoundland Cabinet

OISE is proud of the many accomplishments of its over 100,000 alumni. We are especially proud to report that Dale Kirby, an OISE Ph.D graduate, was recently sworn in as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development in Newfoundland and Labrador’s new provincial cabinet.



Excerpts from conversation between Professor Charles Pascal and Minister Dale Kirby:

Congratulations Minister, what a wonderful appointment. Are you getting used to be called  “minister” ?

Minister Kirby: It took me a lot of time to become used to being called “Doctor Kirby” when I took up a tenure-track position at Memorial University of Newfoundland back in 2006. As then, this is a period of serious transition for me.

It’s good to see that your portfolio includes both education and early childhood development.  Why is this important?

Minister Kirby: It simply makes sense since the lifelong continuum of learning does not begin when children enter Kindergarten. Moreover, as research has demonstrated, early years education is critical to human development. It’s a key determinant of healthy child development and long-term success.

Absolutely, and so many jurisdictions, including Ontario are doing the same thing.  What is key is that the people in the pre-school part of the ministry are seamlessly working with the elementary and secondary people.  Are you finding that?

Minister Kirby: A bit soon to know, but yes, there must be a seamless approach that connects the best curriculum and pedagogical approaches from pre-school on up!

Ok, let’s talk about your OISE/University of Toronto connection.  What’s been the impact of your time at  OISE and your career to date?   Who and what has made a difference? How?

Minister Kirby:  I would not be where I am today if I did not have the opportunity to complete doctoral-level studies at OISE. My Supervisor Dr. Dan Lang, committee members Dr. Michael Skolnik and Dr. Glen Jones, and other faculty like Dr. Linda Muzzin and Dr. Lorna Earl helped me to become a better researcher and a more skillful consumer of research information. They positively impacted me at a critical time in my life as a learner.

One of the many positive features of your appointment is that you are, indeed, a “person of evidence”, that is you have the chance to practice evidence-based politics, somewhat a rare phenomenon in government, yes?

Minister Kirby:   I do come to this position with a strong sense that policy-making needs to be informed by research, We need to make sure that effective evaluation and research protocols are embedded in implementing policies at the beginning, rather than an afterthought. You are correct; I carry my OISE and Memorial experience with me into this new challenge.

You have indeed had an impressive public service and academic journey to date.  Given your experience and history with OISE, what advice do you have for OISE’s future?

Minister Kirby:  Two things stand out for me. One being the need to continue to embrace academic thought from all of the various epistemological orientations – they are all important to academic debate and scholarly development. Another is the necessity to ensure students from all economic means have equal opportunities to study at institutions like OISE. There comes a point where increasing net costs of graduate education create a overwhelming deterrent for some of our most promising people. 

Thank you very much, Minister and best wishes going forward.

Many thanks and my very best to all of my colleagues at OISE!