A Note from Michelle Fach, Executive Director of OpenEd

Posted on Wednesday December 20, 2023
Michelle Fach

First, let me say thank you. For more than 30 years, I’ve served the University of Guelph—and it is all the people within the institution that have made my time so worthwhile. It is what has made my decision to retire so challenging; but it is time for me to spend more quality time with my family. It has been a pleasure to dedicate my career to helping others access lifelong learning and experience its transformational impact.

As I reflect on the past 34 years, I am forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me and the connections I’ve made along the way. I have had the privilege of working and collaborating alongside many inspiring and brilliant individuals, including my amazing colleagues in OpenEd. Each of you has contributed your time and talents to advancing the University’s teaching and learning mission and to making everyone who reaches out to us feel important. I am truly proud of what we have collectively accomplished.

Over the years, I have been privileged to witness the wide reach of OpenEd’s impact and many successes. We have received provincial funds to support the expansion of online learning opportunities in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs. In addition, we received provincial funds to support the redesign of several courses using a competency-based pedagogical approach and funding to examine early warning indicators to support student success. We have been the recipient of many awards including for the innovative use of technology, program design and marketing.

I have witnessed our expertise evolve to continue to meet the needs of the University of Guelph campus as a whole. Moreover, I have seen true resilience in the team as they supported U of G instructors and students in response to a constantly shifting and high-needs time during the pandemic—including moving all courses to remote delivery, providing support and guidance on the effective use of educational technology, rapidly developing and redeveloping online courses, and making our classrooms more accessible through conferencing technology.

As a lifelong learner myself, I have always believed that the work of OpenEd has a significant impact on our students, instructors, and the University. Beyond my belief, though, is having been witness to this impact time and time again. From student events and program orientations to conferences and graduations, students share their truths and stories of the impact of the work of OpenEd. This is why we engage in this work – because it truly does matter.

I take considerable pride in knowing that I stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before me to extend the teaching and research expertise of the University to the world. I felt a real sense of responsibility to continue their important work. Throughout my career, I have had not only the opportunity to help meet the needs of our local community but have extended the impact both provincially and nationally. I served as President of the national organization, Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE) and led various initiatives provincially as part of the Ontario Online Learning Consortium. I am grateful for the opportunities to serve as a leader, make connections, and build partnerships with incredibly talented and intelligent members of the U of G and beyond. It is through these connections with people who are similarly dedicated to improving lives through access to lifelong learning opportunities that OpenEd was able to experience such growth over my tenure.

As I leave the University, I will look back fondly on my time at OpenEd and will be cheering on the continuation of this critical work from the sidelines. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey.

My very best,