Information Technology Services (ITS)

IT@UofT 2022 explored change, resilience and adaptation in higher education

Published on: May 16, 2022

On May 4 and 5, the University of Toronto’s (U of T) IT@UofT 2022 conference hosted a variety of presentations and conversations that revolved around the theme: Change. Resilience. Adaptation. This theme prompted community-wide reflection on how a global shift forced the higher education community to change our perspectives, respond with resilience and adapt accordingly, while continuing to meet the University’s teaching, learning and research objectives.

Formerly known as TechKnowFile (TKF), the IT@UofT conference brings together U of T’s IT tri-campus community each year to share ideas, learn about IT innovations and make lasting connections with colleagues. To this end, U of T’s Information Technology Services (ITS) three pillars — People, Solutions and Collaboration — are always at the core of the conference programming. In fact, we asked the tri-campus community and past volunteers what IT@UofT means to them, and what excites them about the IT@UofT conference experience. Watch the video to see what they had to say!

Attendees were also treated to May the Fourth (Star Wars Day) programming on Day 1. This included space-themed trivia and a performance of popular science-fiction film soundtracks by U of T’s Faculty of Music.

For the second year in a row, the conference was hosted virtually on the Hopin platform, with a turnout of 654 staff and faculty members from across the University. We also welcomed:

  • 80 speakers
  • Three keynote presentations
  • One panel discussion
  • 36 breakout sessions
  • Two rounds of trivia
  • One live music performance
  • Five sponsor booths — Dell Technologies, Salesforce, Softchoice, U of T Bookstore, Zoom
  • 29 volunteers

A special thank-you to our co-chairs who led us through the two-day conference: Marden Paul, Director, Planning Governance Assessment (PGA), Office of the Chief Information Officer and Anthony Betts, Director, Information & Instructional Technology Services (I&ITS), U of T Mississauga. And to our executive sponsor, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Bo Wandschneider.

Conference highlights:

Dr. Rhonda McEwen, Vice-Principal, Academic and Dean, U of T Mississauga, Canada Research Chair in Tactile Interfaces, Communication and Cognition, Professor, Emerging Media

Dr. McEwan opened the conference with stories about her journey in the IT field and shared important messages about equity and diversity within work environments.

“How do you include people? You make space; reflect on anything you’re doing that may seem exclusionary; provide opportunities for new people to come onboard; listen to the people you bring in; and create alumni networks.”

Watch the recording

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, Vice President for Science, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

Keeping on brand with May the Fourth programming, Dr. Hammel joined us on May 4 to highlight some of the most exciting new discoveries in the cosmos:

“Over the past 400 years, our understanding of objects in the sky has gone from points of light and unknown worlds to crisp understanding of what other planets are like.”

She also spoke about various cutting-edge facilities, techniques and tools, including the James Webb Space Telescope:

“We’re going to create a revolution with the James Webb Space Telescope… Not only will we be able to see the first galaxies of our universe, but also galaxies over cosmic time.”

Watch the recording

Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief, Dell Technologies

Dagher led us through her remarkable journey from selling IT equipment to leading a $60 billion tech company. Reflecting on the types of leadership and work environments that she has seen thrive, Rola noted:

“It starts and it ends with people… People need flexibility and psychological safety in the workplace. Every organization needs to step up, learn how to retain and invest in people, and help them to innovate faster.”

Watch the recording

Panel discussion

U of T’s CIO, Bo Wandschneider, led a discussion with three IT leaders at U of T, who explored the unique challenges faced by their diverse divisions, how they have dealt with the pandemic and what is coming down the road.

Paul Morrison, Director of IT at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education shared his praise to the University’s preparedness for the pandemic:

“What was most interesting [about the pandemic] was how prepared U of T was for it… We had the right suite of tools in place. Mainly, we kept on doing what we were doing, and I don’t think that would have been the case five years ago.”

Watch the recording

Dr. Steve Joordens, Professor of Psychology, U of T Scarborough

Dr. Joordens closed out the conference with a presentation on rebuilding our approach to education, post-COVID, starting with building a community that is connected, resilient, empowering and understanding of our fragile mental states.

“Even during the pandemic, there are times when you will feel good. When those things happen, become aware of what made you feel that way… When we do these things, our bodies release positive hormones and stop the flow of cortisol and adrenaline.”

Pushing against the term “social distancing” as opposed to “physical distancing”, Dr. Joordens explained:

“At times of stress, we need our social connections… Social connection helps us to weather difficult times.”

Watch the recording

Thank you to everyone who helped make IT@UofT 2022 a success! We look forward to seeing you (hopefully) in person next year!

Video recordings:

Pushing boundaries in astrophysics: The new era of astronomy

Being me: A fireside chat with Rola Dagher

We can rebuild it better! But first, a hug (of a sort)

Single department faculties. Smaller, not (always) simpler.

Opening remarks by Dr. Rhonda McEwan

What does IT@UofT mean to you?

Prize winners:

Congratulations to all IT@UofT 2022 prize winners!

Connections Café participants:

  • Wah-Ming Wong, Financial Services Department
  • Tony Di Felice, ITS
  • Ian Thomas, ITS
  • Lisa Chen, ITS
  • James McAllister, ITS

Trivia winners:

  • Carl Chan, ITS
  • Alan da Silveira Fleck, Office of the Vice-President and Provost
  • Jess Whyte, ITS
  • Nia McCash, Information and Instructional Technology Services (IITS)
  • Christine Concannon, Enrolment Services
  • Bahman Yaghoobi, OISE Education Commons
  • Sarosh Jamal, ITS
  • Kaitlin Klaas, Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Paul Morrison, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education

Photo gallery: