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Committed to offering an exceptional experience for FEAS graduate students: Dr. Miljana Horvat

After 17 years at Ryerson, with six of those also in the role of interim associate dean, Miljana Horvat was ready for a well-deserved break. Now, following her sabbatical, we are excited to welcome back Dr. Horvat in her renewed appointment as associate dean.

“I had time to take care of myself a little bit, read more, and I had more time with my graduate students. We put several papers together, some of them have already been published in conferences and others in the review journal papers,” said Horvat. 

Despite her years as an associate professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS), Horvat says she didn’t plan to end up in academia while working on her PhD at Concordia University. Initially, Horvat looked for a job within the industry, but it wasn’t until a colleague showed her the open role at Ryerson, did Horvat begin considering education as a career—and she hasn’t looked back since. 

“Teaching is something that I grew into, and it wasn't easy. I didn’t have a preparatory program for teaching, and, like many fresh PhD graduates, I was basically thrown into the deep end,” said Horvat. “I was given three courses in my first term, and I had to just go for it. I used the memories of my own learning experience, and I reflected on how I wanted to teach and how I didn’t want to teach. Going through this, I discovered my true passion for educating.” 

From participating in the development of FEAS’ masters of architecture and building science programs, to being a driving force behind the push to create a PhD in building science degree, it is clear that Horvat is committed to offering an exceptional experience for FEAS graduate students. That’s why Horvat says her proudest moments are when she can inspire her students.

“I want to try and show my students that sometimes even technical aspects of architectural design can be very exciting. I want to inspire them and their curiosity to look beyond the surface of just submitting an assignment,” said Horvat. “Being able to make a mark on my students is one of my greatest achievements.” 

Reflecting on her work as an associate dean, Horvat is happy to report some of the major initiatives that put FEAS graduate studies at Ryerson’s forefront. This includes establishing guaranteed funding packages for all research-focused graduate students, increasing the number of international graduate students, and creating infrastructure for graduate administration and governance at the faculty level. Through the creation of the Accelerated MASc pathway for talented and academically strong undergraduates in their final year, select students can jumpstart their postgraduate degree while learning to become successful researchers. Finally, with the development of various initiatives including a workshop series to help with writing, academic integrity issues, mental health, consent, and interpersonal communication, and successful teaching and GA training, the overall graduate student experience improved.

Looking towards the upcoming academic year, Horvat says she is excited to return to her position as associate dean. In her second term, Horvat is looking forward to continuing to provide support to graduate students, increasing the visibility of graduate studies at FEAS to reach a global scale, and expanding the various co-curricular offerings to students.

“It was a great honour to be reappointed. It made me feel grateful and humble for the feedback that was delivered from the community, faculty, and students about my performance in the last five years. It showed me that we got a lot accomplished,” said Horvat. 

“In our everyday busy lives, we never stop to think about the impact we’ve made. This not only reminded me of what we've done but also that people noticed. That was a huge boost and showed me that what we’ve been doing is on the right track.”