Message from CIRHR Director, Rafael Gomez

Photo of CIRHR Director, Rafael GomezDear CIRHR Community,

What an incredible start to 2023. It’s been an eventful term, with important milestones to celebrate, and exciting CIRHR-sponsored events to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead. Allow me to highlight some pieces of exciting news, and just a few of the projects that have been keeping us busy and engaged over the last few months.


First, please join me in congratulating the Spring 2023 graduating MIRHR class (and one of our fabulous PhDs) on the completion of their studies, as well as Milad Moghaddas, our very deserving Spring recipient of the Frank Reid Prize, which is awarded to the graduating MIRHR student with the highest GPA. I'm incredibly proud of our graduating cohort's accomplishments, and I'm looking forward to celebrating your achievements with you, your friends, and loved ones at convocation on June 2nd.

We’re also celebrating Associate Professor, Elizabeth Dhuey, who will be joining the Toronto Region Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC) as the Director, from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2028. The Director provides leadership and direction to the on-site operations of the Toronto RDC, and in the coming years will be focused on supporting the development and roll out of a virtual Research Data Centre (vRDC) IT platform. It’s a vitally important role, and I couldn’t be more delighted by Elizabeth’s much-deserved appointment.


I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our newest part-time instructor, Alejandra Gonzalez-Jimenez. Alejandra is an anthropologist of labour and global capitalism. Her research ethnographically examines car production in Mexico with a focus on the social and labour relations between unevenly located workforces; and her work illuminates the ways in which workers reinforce, disrupt, or contest a tier-labour system. Starting in Fall 2023, she will hold a joint position between the CIRHR and the Centre of Diaspora for Transnational Studies.


I’m thrilled to tell you that we’ve received a generous grant from Employment and Social Development Canada which will allow us to expand the scope of our Workplace Democracy project to the national stage. Co-led by Gustavson School of Business Associate Professor, Simon Pek, and myself, Canadians’ hopes, perceptions, experiences and deliberations about workplace voice will be a collaborative partnership between the University of Toronto and the University of Victoria over the next three years. It will explore how Canadians currently experience speaking up at work, what they think the future of worker voice should look like and why, and how we can arrive there together.

It’s with much excitement and gratitude that I also announce the inception of the Robert (Bob) Hebdon Fellowship, thanks to a generous gift from Centre alumnus, Bob Hebdon (PhD ’92). We recently sat down with Bob to talk about his time at the Centre, the inspiration behind his very generous donation, and his distinguished 50-year career (which shows no sign of stopping) – I encourage you to read the full interview.

I would also like to remind you that nominations for the Matt Dowdle Leadership in IRHR Award will be accepted until Tuesday, May 23rd, and may be sent to This award was established in memory of Matthew Peter Dowdle, a dear member of our CIRHR family whom we lost in 2020. Matt was an alumnus of the MIRHR program who remained actively engaged with the Centre, and was also actively engaged in his professional community.

This year, the award will be presented to an alumnus of the Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resources program who, like it’s namesake, has displayed qualities of leadership and team building within their professional career.


The 60th annual Canadian Industrial Relations Association Conference  (CIRA/ACRI) will take place at York University (Toronto) from May 27th to 29th, and will examine Industrial Relations’ proposed solutions, with a particular emphasis on how work can be improved in a post-COVID era marked by economic uncertainty, high inflation, and rising worker discontent. The conference program is now available, and you can register now to attend.

We’re also supporting The Future of Worth: Leveraging the Longevity Dividend, which will be delivered by the Centre on June 14th, in coordination with What’s neXT?!, the National Institute on Ageing, and the Women’s College Age Lab. It’s going to be an incredible day of programming that will begin with a Keynote address by the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s 26th Governor General, and bring together educators, policymakers, as well as local and global decision-makers to discuss opportunities to leverage the wealth of experience and expertise of our rapidly aging (but not diminishing) populations.


Last, but certainly not least, I must once again acknowledge the important contributions of our CIRHR staff, librarians and faculty, without whom we wouldn’t be able to deliver the programming and support our students deserve. Alumni frequently report back on their positive experience at the Centre, often due to the members of our community doing the heavy lifting, and your work – logistics and planning, researching and cataloguing, teaching and relationship-building – does not go unnoticed. I’m so grateful to work alongside you,  and I'm looking forward to the work we’ll do together in the months and years ahead.

I wish every member of our CIRHR community a fantastic summer.




Dr. Rafael Gomez, Professor
Director, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources
University of Toronto