The “whole student” experience

Andrea Carter
Friday, November 25, 2016 - 10:02am
Elaine Smith

Andrea Carter, U of T Mississauga’s new assistant dean, student wellness, support & success, has seen her life come full circle since graduating from university. Carter is no stranger to the city of Mississauga, where she grew up and earned her BA in psychology and sociology at UTM, but hadn’t foreseen the day when her career would lead her back to campus.

Carter joined the labour force after earning her undergraduate degree, working with not-for-profit organizations specializing in assisting people on probation and parole or those experiencing intimate violence.

“It was important for me to have the type of work where I felt I contributed to someone changing their life for the better,“ Carter says.

Nonetheless, she realized that in order to progress in her career, more education was necessary, so she obtained an MA in counselling psychology at the University of Western Ontario. While in graduate school, Carter began working for the university’s psychological services and discovered that she really enjoyed working with the student population.

“Often I meet people who are experiencing a challenging life situation or difficulties following an incident that was unexpected. They are not always in the best place,” she says. “What amazes me is the resiliency students have; each one of our students has their own story of overcoming adversity.”

Carter also takes pride in working at the University of Toronto, where “there is a comprehensive framework of supports for students, staff and faculty at this institution. While we benefit from reviewing these services, we are fortunate to have great teams of people working to support student success.”

Carter first joined the U of T staff in 2007 as the manager of community safety. She then became the employment equity/Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act officer at a time when the act was being introduced to all government-funded organizations. The act included requirements for building accessibility, printed and web materials and workplace/classroom accommodations to better support  those with disabilities. Carter worked closely with the former vice-president of human resources and the vice-provost (students) to implement the legislated requirements.

“U of T has become an institution that leads in this area,” Carter says. “The engagement of units that traditionally did not have to address issues of accessibility has been exciting. As an institution, we have moved beyond the minimum standards of  compliance.”

Carter’s own leadership in creating, promoting and implementing policies prompted the vice-president of human resources and the vice-provost students, to create a position for her as director of high risk, which led the teams that handled the university’s critical incidents and crises. Carter was recognized for this work in 2015 as recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Emerging Leader.

Her success in that role led to Carter’s current position, also a newly created one. As assistant dean, student wellness, support & success, she oversees health services, accessibility services, student welfare and conduct – all of the non-academic aspects of student life.

“What’s great about this portfolio is that it looks beyond academics to support the students in their whole experience at university,” Carter says. “I work with some amazing people and their commitment to the students is phenomenal. I am excited to be a part of an exceptional leadership team in Student Affairs and Services.”

Although she’s familiar with inhabiting a newly created position, at UTM, Carter is excited about what lies ahead.

“New roles open up lots of possibilities and the support I have already received and continue to receive here at UTM will certainly bring success,” she says. “It is a wonderful campus, with a strong sense of community. I am working with brilliant students on the cusp of extraordinary careers, leading scholars engaged in revolutionary research, and amazing, energetic staff. I  am privileged to be part of such a strong team.”