Usha served two terms as dean of Ryerson’s Faculty of Community Services, and recently served as the interim Vice-President, Research and Innovation at Ryerson University.
Usha worked to enhance the faculty’s scholarly, research and creative activities through several initiatives. She developed a number of national and international strategic partnerships to advance student experience, research, knowledge translation, and community engagement. Under her direction, three research centres were established: the interdisciplinary Centre for Global Health and Equity, the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, and the City Building Institute. The Centre for Urban Research and Land development was established with donations from the alumni of the School of Urban and Regional Planning. She launched the Social Innovation Initiative, which has engaged faculty members, students and external communities to address entrenched social challenges. Under Usha’s leadership, The John C. Eaton Endowed Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Community Services was established and exemplifies Usha’s ability to inspire donors to share her vision. In 2015, she was awarded the Errol Aspevig Award for Outstanding Academic Leadership for "extraordinary and outstanding academic leadership" and for contributing "significantly to the enhancement of academic life at Ryerson and beyond."
A distinguished scholar and active researcher, Usha’s research focus includes the areas of newcomer settlement and integration, and diversity and organizational change. She is the author of more than 105 peer-reviewed publications and research reports, and the recipient of more than $5 million in peer-reviewed research grants and close to $8 million in sponsored research grants. Additionally she is often sought out as an expert in her field, having delivered over 100 lectures and speeches and frequently quoted in Canadian media on settlement and newcomer issues. She is a passionate advocate for newcomer settlement programs and women’s health.
Usha came to Ryerson in 2006 from the University of Toronto, where she was associate dean of the Faculty of Social Work, Interim dean and the RBC Chair in Applied Social Work Research. She was the director of the Toronto National Joint Centre of Excellence for Research and Immigration Settlement (CERIS), established as a partnership between universities and community organizations to explore issues of immigrant settlement and integration.
Usha holds a PhD from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, an MA from Loyola University of Chicago, and an MA, BSc and a BEd from the University of Kerala, India. Having worked in India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the U.S., she has extensive international university teaching, research and administrative experience. Usha currently serves as a board member of the Association for Canadian Studies and is also a member of the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. She has recently joined the Work-Integrated Learning Project, initiated by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, focused on broadening the skillset of financial service graduates to ensure their success in today’s fast-evolving economy.
Usha’s extensive academic and professional achievement has pushed the boundaries of academia by breaking down silos, establishing relationships with the broader community and collaborating to solve issues that people face in their daily lives.