After more than 40 years working at the University of Toronto, Rosalyn Figov, Senior Strategist, Special Projects, will be retiring in December 2022.
Rosalyn started at the University of Toronto in 1979 with a two-week assignment. She had been looking for a break from working on her doctorate at York University and walked into U Temp, then called Secretarial Services. She came out with an assignment doing transcription in the Botany Department, even though she confessed she couldn’t type. “I still can’t”, Rosalyn added.
One assignment led to another, then another, and eventually she ended up in Robarts Library. She loved the challenges, the environment, working with both academics and students. In 1981, Rosalyn was excited to join a newly created office called Occupational Health and Safety within the portfolio of the Vice President, Internal Affairs. “It was a really, really great group of people under a wonderful vice-president, William (Bill) Alexander,” she said.
In addition to the colleagues and friends, Rosalyn’s decision to stay at the University of Toronto was just as much informed by the benefits, career and professional development opportunities, and the unexpected perks. “Where else would you have the opportunity to see and hear the Dalai Lama in person?”
Rosalyn’s most memorable role was the inclusion work she did in partnership with Angela Hildyard, first as Director of the Vice-President’s office, and then as Chief Operations Officer. To Rosalyn, Angela has been a fabulous mentor and colleague.
“Angela’s mission was always to weave equity, diversity and inclusion into the fabric of everything we do here at U of T. We started with three equity offices – Status of Women, Sexual Harassment and Anti-Racism. Look where we are now.”
That there is no longer a Status of Women Office at the University speaks to the important progress brought about by the initiatives under Rosalyn’s direction and care.
Over the years, Rosalyn witnessed many technological changes at the University too. She remembers when Simcoe Hall got their first computers in 1985, and what a radical change it was at the time.
“Those days, you would compose a draft and if you wanted other people to comment on it, you’d put it in campus mail. It would take a day or two to get delivered, then the other person would have to send it back, which would be another day or two. Now, everything is instantaneous. Technology is wonderful, but it has really changed the way people work and the expectations.”
Speaking of her upcoming retirement, Rosalyn said, “I have so many wonderful colleagues that I’ve worked closely with over the years, and I’ve gotten to know them and their families and their stories through good times and bad. I will really miss the people at U of T.”
Her plans for retirement include a lot of travel, from getting some sun in the Caribbean to visiting London for the opera. “Who knows whether the world is going to change again?” Rosalyn said. “You might as well do these things while you can.”
During her time at U of T, Rosalyn had her fair share of highs and lows, including strikes and demonstrations, pandemics and ice storms, and she was grateful for it all.
“It is absolutely wonderful to see the happiness on the faces of the new students during orientation and the pride and joy on the faces of graduates and families during convocation. That’s what makes it all worth it. I think I’m really fortunate to have spent my entire career here.”