Most Influential Person, University of Ottawa's Gazette, April 27 06
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Women’s Studies / Religious Studies
What is your most important function at the University and why?
Making sure my students stay awake during my lectures. They learn better that way in my opinion (wink).
What is it about your job that inspires you most?
Broadening minds – watching that “Really? Wow!” look on a first-year student’s face when the penny drops on a topic.
How did you come to your area of research?
I always wondered why people entered “cults.”
What was your life’s proudest moment?
Standing on the podium at the NAC while my PhD hood was placed on my shoulders (2001 University of Ottawa).
What would you change in the world today if you could?
I would like to see people of differing cultures or religions actually talking to each other and findimg out they’re not that different after all.
Who was the most influential person in your life? Why?
That’s a toughie: I have three very influential past teachers. I would have to say that, as a writer, the late poet Irving Layton was the most influential artistic person in my life. (I took two courses with him as an undergraduate and he was brilliant!)
What would your co-workers be most surprised to know about you?
My actual chronological age . . .
What is your favourite pastime?
I’ve had the same major hobby since I was 16: historical re-enactment with an international group called “The Society for Creative Anachronism” where I get to be a baroness and a master artisan.
You’ve just won a $1 million. What do you do?
Start up a couple of foundations, including one to help fund part-time students or mature students. (Plus the usual indulgences, like a new car, a home, some extravagant gifts for my family...)
What is the quality you value the most?
I value honesty in others. My greatest quality appears to be the ability to make others laugh, even when things are dire and depressing.
Which five people (living or dead) would you like to invite to a dinner party? Tell us why.
* Gregory Bateson, one of the most organically brilliant thinkers of the last century (he worked with everything from psychology to anthropology to studying intellect in dolphins)
* Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, a woman centuries before her time
* Victor Borge, a magnificent classical musician, who never missed a beat, a laugh, or a straight line
* Red Skelton, a comedian who always makes me laugh, but never uses foul or vulgar language
* Danny Kaye, a man of real compassion, vision, and probably, one of the funniest people of the last 100 years
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully having achieved tenure at a university somewhere.
What is your greatest hope for the future?
For the world: dialogue and understanding between peoples. For myself: Getting my boxes unpacked and my books back on my shelves. (No, honest!)
What is the best kept secret in your faculty, department or service?
The InterCulture BA programme.