Who We Are

University in the Community is a free, humanities-based program for low-income residents in the city of Toronto.

It is an initiative of the Workers’ Educational Association (a non-profit, non-partisan, charitable organization that has promoted life-long learning since 1918) and is supported by Senior College and Innis College at the University of Toronto.

From the Farm Radio Forums and the Saturday night Labour Forums in the 1930’s and 1940’s, to the provision of liberal arts courses to hundreds of ordinary people across Canada from 1918 to today, WEA has been a pioneer in the field of adult learning.

The traditions and values of the WEA to support, encourage and include adult learners as fully-engaged participants in their lives, their communities and the wider world lie at the heart of the WEA’s two current initiatives: University in the Community (weekly classes held at Innis College, University of Toronto and at CAMH) and Learning Curves (our newspaper).

Wendy Terry, President of the Workers’ Educational Association:
Wendy has been a tireless champion of adult education for many years. She completed her BA at York University over seventeen years of night school and went on to earn a Masters in International Education at Harvard in 1996.

She has been president of the WEA since 1997 and has been recognized by her peers for her work in adult and continuing education with awards from Ryerson and the Ontario Association for Continuing Education. She represented the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations at UNESCO from 1992 to 2000.

She is the author of :
Unravelling the Tangle: Learning Information Services for Adults in Canada, 1991.
“Workers’ Educational Associations, Liberal Arts Learning for Active Citizenship.” Community and the World: Participating in Social Change. Torry Dickinson (Editor), Prentice Hall-New Jersey, 2003.

Anne McDonagh, Vice President of the Workers’ Educational Association
Anne is a retired adult education teacher and has an honours degree in English from the University of Toronto. She was Head of Co-op for the East York Adult Learning Centre. She also worked in adult education teaching English and business communications at George Brown College, Humber College and Dixon Hall. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre in Toronto for six years and chair of the Board’s Social Action Committee for four years. She helped start University in the Community, a liberal arts program for adults living on low incomes. In 2005, Anne received an Arbor Award from the University of Toronto for her work in establishing University in the Community. Anne is Editor of Learning Curves and contributes many feature articles as well. She also tutors and does some career counselling.

Joanne Mackay-Bennett, Coordinator of University in the Community
Joanne is living proof that eventually, the right job will find you. Having spent many years in an academic setting, she became aware that when learning truly takes place, it often does so quite apart from the material being studied.

Prior to becoming the coordinator of UiC, Joanne worked as a teacher, editor, translator and writer. A lifelong student who can personally attest to the value of continuing education, Joanne has an MA in English and has completed the coursework for a PhD (Theatre). She much prefers to edit other people’s dissertations.

As UiC’s Coordinator, Joanne is the liaison between speakers and students.  She enjoys getting to know the students, writing articles for Learning Curves, being involved in community outreach and thinking creatively.

Al Kish, Webmaster
Al is a hands-on, adaptable person with solid technical and people skills.  He is experienced in developing and maintaining computer applications and able to communicate ideas to people with various technical levels.  Key strengths include “outside the box” thinking and persistence in working through obstacles to achieve desired results.


We are grateful for the encouragement and commitment of Senior College to University in the Community.

Peter Russell is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto where he has taught political science since 1958. He is also the founding Principal of Senior College, the University’s youngest college for its oldest scholars. He has published widely in the fields of constitutional, judicial and Aboriginal politics. His most recent book is Two Cheers for Minority Government. He is a past president of the Canadian Political Science Association, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has honorary degrees from a number of universities.

Donald J. Gillies is the chair of the Senior College University in the Community Committee. He is Professor Emeritus at Ryerson University; Adjunct Professor in the Joint York University – Ryerson University Graduate Program in Communication and Culture. He is Honorary Professor, UHI and a Fellow of Senior College at the University of Toronto. He was the founding Managing Director and CEO of the Telecommunication Executive Management Institute of Canada. He is a graduate of the universities of Edinburgh and London, the Ontario College of Education, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, and Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Scotland. His current research is in media ecology, based on the work of Marshall McLuhan, probing Gaelic media culture.