I am thrilled to be joining Carleton University as Dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs and to return to my home province of Ontario when the leaves are a splendour of colour.

The Faculty of Public Affairs includes strong and distinctive units with a clear commitment to public action and discourse. One of the key priorities during my tenure will be to increase external recognition of the Faculty’s reputation and strengths. I’m prepared and eager to work hard alongside our students, faculty and staff to make this happen.

The University recently released its Strategic Integrated Plan: Shape the Future. The plan is inspired by Carleton’s three borders — the Rideau Canal, Bronson Avenue and the Rideau River — which represent three strategic directions: Share Knowledge, Shape the Future; Serve Ottawa, Serve the World; and Strive for Wellness, Strive for Sustainability. These directions align perfectly with the mission and priorities of the Faculty of Public Affairs, found in Raising Our Sights: Priorities and Directions for the Faculty of Public Affairs.

Released in April, the document is the culmination of 20 months of consultations in the FPA community. Raising our Sights offers future possibilities and opportunities for FPA locally, nationally and internationally. Raising Our Sights lays out several strategies for our academic community to build on its existing strengths. The overarching values of community and collaboration help shape the four themes: grounding our mission in research, digital technology as tool and topic, advancing diversity and inclusion, and expanding our international footprint.

The mission of the Faculty of Public Affairs — to produce research to build better societies and stronger democracies in collaboration with the community, to foster informed citizenship, to address regional and global challenges, and to enhance and inform public discussion — has never been more important than during this extraordinary period in history.

In Fall 2020, more than 8,000 students and over 350 contract instructors and faculty rose to the challenge of online learning. Some FPA programs were already online (in program evaluation, Indigenous policy and administration, and philanthropy and nonprofit leadership). More than 300 undergraduate and close to 170 graduate courses, which would normally be taught in lecture halls and small seminar rooms on our scenic campus, were transformed over the summer to online platforms.

This ability to adapt quickly is a tremendous accomplishment which demonstrates the commitment and determination of our students, faculty members and support staff. Even though we cannot meet in person on campus during this time, the FPA community continues to come together and connect through online events, classes and conversations on social media. Together we will see these challenges through.

Please keep well and stay safe.





Brenda O’Neill
Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs