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DLSPH Welcomes Inaugural Registrar

March 2/2022

By Elaine Smith

Throughout her career, Jabeen Aslam has cherished the opportunity to work closely with students. Now she brings her nearly 10 years of experience in student support and enrolment management to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health as its inaugural Registrar and director of Student Services.

“The job posting placed a strong emphasis on student support, mental health and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), all things I’m really passionate about,” said Jabeen. “I’m excited about this opportunity.”

Prof. Dionne Gesink, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, is also delighted.

“We knew pretty quickly that Jabeen was the person we wanted to fill our Registrar role,” she says. “Every question we asked her was answered holistically and with a natural and reflexive concern for student well-being, equity, diversity and inclusion. Jabeen’s approachability and genuine interest in people and helping students was readily apparent and has continued to shine through as she has been learning our School, connecting with students, faculty, and staff in IHPME and PHS, and looking for strategic ways to improve structural supports for everyone.”

In her new position, Jabeen will work with the graduate offices at both the Institute for Health Planning, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) and Public Health Sciences, as well as many university offices that support students, such as Accessibility Services, Student Success, EDI and Health & Wellness.

“We want to ensure that student needs are met and there’s someone to help them if things aren’t going well,” she says. “I am motivated by working collaboratively with our students to come up with creative solutions to support them throughout their time at DLSPH.”

Aslam has spent her first few months at DLSPH exploring the various programs, meeting the faculty and students, and working with student associations to better understand what the community needs are. She plans to use this input to inform future programming.

“I want that deeper understanding so our programming, policies and supports meet the needs of our students right now,” she says. “I’ve been doing focus groups to hear firsthand how people are feeling. Our students are working hard to enhance public health on a systemic level, with a deep interest in social justice – it’s an intense undertaking. And it’s more challenging when you add COVID-19 to the mix.”

Some of Aslam’s immediate plans include integrating a strong EDI lens in reviewing recruitment and admissions practices; supporting the faculty in acting on commitments to enhance student mental health and wellbeing; and investigating financial aid and scholarship opportunities for domestic and international students.

Aslam has strong ties to U of T. She earned her BA here and went on to get a master’s degree in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

As a result, she certainly understands the challenges of being a student navigating a large university system. Reflecting on how challenging it was for herself at the time, Aslam recognizes that students often don’t realize what supports are available, and that there is often stigma attached to asking for help.

“What’s great about my experience at Dalla Lana so far is that I feel such a deep commitment across the administration and faculty to helping reduce barriers and stigma attached to asking for support. We all need support, whether is its mental health, overall wellness, academic counselling, accessibility, learning skills, financial — we need to continue to normalize it and make access simple.”

Known among her former colleagues as a collaborative leader and innovative problem solver, Aslam is passionate about integrating social justice and inclusion throughout her work. She currently volunteers on the executive committee of U of T’s Connections & Conversations, an affinity space for racialized staff.

In her life away from campus, she is a mother to three elementary school children and co-chairs the EDI committee at their school.

“I certainly understand and empathize with many of our students who are juggling several commitments. I also try to find the balance between career and family,” she says.

Aslam is also an artist who focuses on acrylics on canvas, something – in addition to EDI – that sparks her passion.

“Painting is very meditative for me and has been especially necessary over the last two years, managing COVID realities,” she says. “It is a creative outlet that gives me time for myself.”

It’s a pursuit that will contrast nicely with the challenges and pace of her new role.