June 28, 2022Print | PDF
Janny Leung will begin her five-year term as the new dean of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts on July 1. Leung was associate dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong prior to her role as head of the School of English. She brings a wide breadth of international education and experiences to Laurier and took some time to answer a few questions about her work, academic vision, and life outside of the classroom.
You have worked around the world, what drew you to Laurier?
Laurier has ambitious plans to grow, and it will be very rewarding for me to contribute to realizing its full potential. The Brantford campus is also well known for its close-knit community, which is very appealing to a newcomer like me.
Laurier prides itself on preparing future-ready students. How does a liberal arts education prepare them for life after university?
Science and technology education often teaches students how things work and how things are but often doesn’t teach students to critically look at the world and our society through the lens of why or what ought to be. This is where liberal arts education comes in and can provide tremendous value - to educate the next generation of thought leaders and shapers. I’m really excited to start challenging the students to think not only about what Canada has been and is, but also what Canada can be.
What does success look like in your first year as dean?
Great question! This is a challenging time - the pandemic showed us how vulnerable and connected we are as a society and has thrown a lot of challenges our way. Being new to Laurier, Brantford, and Canada, I fully expect a steep learning curve ahead and by the end of the year, I’m looking forward to having fully integrated with the Laurier community, reinvigorating a sense of community on campus, and leading and helping the faculty grow and spearheading the challenges.
What do you think will be the most enjoyable part about your new role?
I cannot wait to get to know everyone – the students, the faculty, and the Brantford community. I’m looking forward to being integrated into a community from the beginning as I start my life in Canada.
What is the best advice you've ever been given?
When I have problems, rather than just talking or complaining about them, I’ve been reminded of the role that I have and the potential to be part of the solution rather than the problem. This is something that I think we often forget and something that I remind myself every day.
Who are you most inspired by?
I am most inspired by people – from all walks of life – who show exceptional professionalism and dedication in what they do. My father is a great example. He grew up on a boat in Hong Kong and raised my brother and me by driving a minibus 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. All the while he would also try to practice his English when he had English-speaking riders.
What is your dream vacation destination?
I would love to visit Cuba. I’ve always been mesmerised by colourful images of Cuba – of its people, the buildings, and its recent history.
What is the last book you read?
I am current reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a historical novel that tells the story of a Korean family that migrated to Japan during World War II. It is a powerful narrative about discrimination, exclusion, and othering that resonates with today. My husband’s family migrated from Korea to Canada in the 1980s and I am also taking the chance to learn more about Korean culture.
What is one thing that you would like the Laurier community to know about you?
I will live in Brantford upon arriving in Canada. If you see me walking around the campus, please feel free to stop me and say hi!
For more information about Leung and her background, read the Oct. 22 appointment announcement.