Faculty Spotlight: Anthony Wensley, Professor and Wine Connoisseur

Most ICCIT students will first meet Professor Anthony Wensley if they take CCT206 Law, Technology and Culture, and some may meet him when they are trying to graduate with not quite the right courses. I remember my first impression of him was that he sure did have a lot of papers in his office, with piles upon piles of papers and books; so, I was sort of relieved when I went into his office to interview him recently and saw a Kobo on his desk and much smaller piles.

Professor Wensley’s story is an uplifting one: during his undergraduate degree, he first began to seriously consider a career within academia, however due to his low marks it took him nearly ten years after receiving his first degree to take the proper steps in order to receive his doctoral degree. Professor Wensley, or Anthony (as his friends and colleagues call him, though only some leave the H silent) has been in academia since 1979, prior to that he had come to Canada from the United Kingdom to receive his Masters in Business Administration.

For a person who has essentially been in academia all of his working life, I thought it would interesting to ask him to describe the evolution of ICCIT since his arrival to the CCIT program in 2002. “I think it’s evolved in the sense [sic] we have a much clearer understanding what we are doing now than perhaps we did in the beginning.” Anthony describes how ICCIT changed its view to be a little bit more focused than it was at the beginning. He has come to terms with the fact that the original benchmark  1500 students enrolled in CCIT may not come to be as soon as they’d hoped; however, last year ICCIT  had nearly 1000 students enrolled. Adding new courses and getting a better feel of what they are trying to accomplish, Anthony is now also proud to announce the new program that was launched in September 2011, IDM (Interactive Digital Media). This Specialist is another opportunity for ICCIT to get a clearer vision of what they are trying to do. But the main point that Anthony noted about the evolution of ICCIT is that, “More and more students are graduating from the program, which is a nice expansion of ideas and input in the workplace”.”

I had heard rumblings in a few of my classes about future plans for the ICCIT with Samsung. Although the plans are still very premature, I wanted to ask Anthony what sort of plans he has for ICCIT in the future. “The plans I have for ICCIT are a continuous revolution, in terms of expanding what we are doing into areas that our students would be interested in and expanding relations and expanding our faculty,” he says. ICCIT is in the process of hiring new Assistant Professors for the IDM program, which Anthony was excited to talk about but mentioned that he can’t go into detail since no one has been given an offer yet. Additionally, the new IDM program has ties with the Faculty of Information downtown, working with their research teams and their programs, thus growing ICCIT’s influence. When I brought the conversation back to the topic of Samsung, Anthony said, “We are trying to be bold in identifying ways in which we can give access to neat, new, cutting edge technologies to students.” He then continued,  saying “We are very concerned about and we want to develop relationships with industry for our students so they will be prepared when they enter the working world.”

The interview ended on a funny note: I wanted to catch a glimpse of the side of Professor Wensley we rarely see. The first question I asked was, Which course is his least favorite to teach? He remained quite diplomatic with his response saying that over time he will hand over the reigns to another professor, “I always say you shouldn’t ask me which course I dislike to teach but my students which class that I teach they dislike.” His favorite to teach remains the Law course, CCT206; Anthony describes it as an interesting course that follows contemporary world issues and there are small number of students who get enthused by it. He told me that in his academic career he has never dreaded going to class.

If you ever took one of Anthony’s courses you’ll notice the e-mails he sends tend to be sent at 1:00am to 3:00am in the morning, so I asked him what his sleeping habits were like: “It varies,” he chuckled. “I tend to work with a number of people in different time zones, and so I tend to feel my most productive right after or before a Skype chat with one of my researchers.” I think his late night hours are great though, as a student it’s helpful to get a reply almost immediately.

Lightning Round!

ME: Favorite place to travel?

AW: I don’t really have a favorite place, having said that if I was pushed it would be France.

ME: Wine or Beer?

AW: Oh! Wine every time!

ME: You have a extensive library in your office, who are you currently reading?

AW: Uh good question, I usually read mysteries and thrillers because they don’t require a lot of attention. I guess the book I’m reading at the moment is Surface Detail by Ian Banks.

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