Dalhousie's new vice-provost leaves a lasting legacy at Ryerson
July 26, 2018
As an international student in the mid-1970s, Ivan Joseph Sr. spent two years at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, which was absorbed six years ago by Dalhousie University, before heading to McGill University.
The soccer team goalkeeper’s fondest memory of his time in the Maritimes was when he was forced to push a bed from Halifax to Truro – a distance of about 105 kilometres -- as a part of a student initiation activity.
Now 74 and residing in the Greater Toronto Area, he has a reason for going back to Nova Scotia for the first time in nearly 40 years.
His son – Ivan Joseph Jr. – has left Ryerson University after a decade as the athletics director to become Dalhousie’s student affairs vice-provost.
“When I thought about moving, I looked at the list of things I said I would accomplish and was able to check off every box,” said Joseph who has a doctorate in sports psychology from Capella University in Minnesota. “When our women’s volleyball team won the university’s first national championship last March, I knew it was time.”
Dalhousie was one of three Canadian universities that interviewed Joseph this year.
“The feedback from the two that didn’t hire me was that although they were impressed with the amazing things I had done in athletics, they wanted to go with someone who has been in the field directly and has more experience,” he pointed out. “It was a little disheartening because there is only one way to get experience. Before the job at Dal became available, I thought I had to make a lateral move and get a little more experience directly in the portfolio.
“But Dal said we will take a risk on you. They indicated they love what I have done, they see my potential and they are willing to help support me in the transition as I wrap up and get the experience I need. They said they are hiring me for my leadership skills which they think are transferable.”
Leaving Guyana with his family at age five, Joseph attended King City Secondary School and Laurentian University before Graceland University recruited him as a student-athlete in 1993. He went on to become the director of soccer operations, head coach of the men’s team that won its first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) soccer title, the mastermind behind the creation of a premier multi-field soccer complex and an assistant professor at the Iowa university before joining Ryerson in the summer of 2008.
With the 2006 NAIA Coach of the Year at the helm, every varsity player that competed at least one season graduated.
At Graceland, he also helped manage student leadership development and was a residence hall director and instructor in the student affairs portfolio.
“All of my first foundational experiences were in student affairs,” he said. “In fact, when I started this career, I wanted to be a dean of student affairs. I took a side track in teaching and coaching all of these years. I have looked at what I have done as director of athletics and I wanted to see if, with what I have done, I could scale up and impact a greater number of students.”
The author of ‘You Got This: Mastering the Skill of Self-Confidence’, Joseph is excited to be joining Dalhousie in its bicentennial year.
“It’s an institution that has an outstanding academic reputation and global status of excellence,” he said. “They attract people from all over the world.”
When the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team made history in 2017 in Halifax by winning the program’s first silver medal, Joseph was there to congratulate the players.
“That was my first visit to Halifax and even though my time was limited to the hotel we stayed in and the facility where the games were played, I was awestruck by the little I saw,” he said. “I am a small town guy and Halifax, I think, blends the best of what Toronto has to offer from a cosmopolitan experience to also being a small town community. Doing away with an over two-hour daily work commute also made the Dal offer attractive.”
Reporting to the provost and vice-president academic and working closely with vice-presidents and deans, Joseph is expected to provide strategic leadership and overall direction to the development and delivery of a wide range of programs, services and resources that enhance the student experience, including student access, inclusion, engagement, wellness and success both in and out of the classroom.
He’s also accountable for managing all the university’s policies, programs and services related to student affairs and fostering cooperation between student affairs and academic and administrative units to enhance student experience and student success. Developing and implementing the strategic enrolment management agenda, using a broad institution-wide perspective on the drivers of student enrolment, student experience and student success in support of the academic mission of the university will be crucial to his success.
Joseph is leaving a successful and lasting legacy at Ryerson.
Founded in 1948, the polytechnic institute-turned-university won just one Ontario University Athletic title -- men’s curling in 1959-1960 -- prior to his arrival in 2008.
The two-time Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East Coach of the Year spent six seasons coaching the men’s soccer team that qualified for the OUA Final Four championship three times and the U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport) national tournament for the first time in 2013. He took over the women’s program in 2015.
The 2011 Military World Games Canadian women’s soccer coach also led the revitalization of the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens into a new $60 million multi-functional athletic and recreational centre for Ryerson students and the community.
Finding a home for Ryerson’s soccer was a priority for Joseph who made a one-year commitment to help develop the Guyana women’s soccer program and coach the team.
Ryerson recently signed a long-term partnership with Downsview Park which is about an hour commute from the downtown university.
“It’s still not ideal, but it’s the best we can do,” he said. “We were so close on so many different places.”