Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin sent the following note to the Osgoode community on Sept. 20, 2017:
Dear Osgoode Community:
With the academic year now well underway, I want to share the news that this will be my final year as Dean. I have informed President Lenton that I will conclude my term at the end of April, 2018. It is an incredible honour to serve as Dean of Osgoode, and I cannot count the number of experiences in the role I will cherish.
More than ever, I know the heart of Osgoode has been, and will continue to be our community – remarkable students, inspiring faculty, dedicated staff and committed alumni. I am lucky to have seen this Law School community in different roles and at different points in my own journey. I arrived at Osgoode as a first year law student in 1989, just in time to see the ivy planted outside the building to mark the Law School’s centenary. As an adjunct professor in the mid-1990s, then as a full-time faculty member in the late 1990s, I felt I had won the lottery to have the opportunity to teach and write and be a part of the academic community at Osgoode and York. As Dean since 2010, I have had a front row seat for so many milestones – the transformative renovation of Osgoode’s Ignat Kaneff Building in 2011; the Law School’s 125th Anniversary in 2014 (for which we welcomed Ya’Ya Heit’s Red Eagle and Black Hawk carvings); and the 50th Anniversary of our affiliation with York University in 2015 (which we celebrated with $500K in new student bursary funding). Through this entire time, the pride Osgoode’s community takes in the values and vision we share has been truly amazing.
Through two strategic plans, I have seen the focus of the Law School sharpen and our commitment deepen to shared goals around experiential education, research intensification, community engagement, accessibility and Reconciliation. We have advanced these commitments in many ways, including by doubling the number of clinical and intensive, experiential programs; developing new forms of financial aid aimed at debt relief, including Wendy Babcock Graduation Bursaries and Income Contingent Loans; and launching an array of new Professional Development Certificates, new programs for internationally trained lawyers, and the Anishinaabe Law Camp. We also have welcomed new perspectives on law through McMurtry Visiting Fellowships, Artists in Residence and Journalists in Residence.
In so many ways, Osgoode’s distinctive place in the world of legal education is a reflection of our faculty. It has been a singular pleasure to welcome over 20 new faculty members during my term as Dean, deepening Osgoode’s research breadth and depth and extending our reach and thought leadership. Over this period, Osgoode finally reached gender parity on faculty (in 2016) and the proportion of Osgoode’s faculty from equity-seeking groups has never been higher. I also have seen the unwavering dedication and professionalism of Osgoode’s staff, working in front of and behind the scenes to ensure the best student experience possible. Osgoode’s diverse student body brings initiative, imagination and leadership to every aspect of Law School life. Finally, throughout the country and across the globe, I have met extraordinary and generous Osgoode alumni who have used their legal education to solve problems for their clients and communities, improve society, mentor and support those coming after them, and strive for justice.
I take pride in the accomplishments of the Osgoode community during my term as Dean because I have seen so vividly how many have invested their time, effort and passion to bring them to life – and so much work is left to be done – adapting, sustaining, growing, innovating, reflecting, and living up to our Law School’s motto – “Through Law to Justice.” At a time when we have never been more committed to inclusion, the financial barriers of legal education never have been higher for so many. At a time when we are exploring and embracing digital transformation in law and legal education, the importance of seeing these through the lens of human relationships has never been greater. At a time when we are more committed than ever to Reconciliation, the goal of justice for Indigenous communities seems as elusive as ever.
I know we are up to these challenges – and we are so fortunate to have so many gifted leaders among our students, staff and faculty. I am grateful in particular to the senior staff, Assistant and Associate Deans and Deans’ Office staff, I have had the pleasure to work with over the past years, as well as supportive decanal colleagues, Provosts and Presidents at York. I look forward to sharing in what I hope will be another eventful and memorable academic year for Osgoode. And I am more confident than ever that Osgoode’s best years lie ahead!