Meet Canadian Studies: Board Member Rosann Greenspan
Dr. Rosann Greenspan may be one of the Canadian Studies Program’s newest board members, but her connections with Berkeley and Canadian Studies are longstanding. Hailing from Toronto, Rosann moved to Berkeley to attend graduate school and has lived there (mostly) ever since. Prior to her retirement in 2019, she served as executive director of the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley. Read below to learn what motivated her to join the Canadian Studies advisory board, and why she thinks the program is a valuable resource for all Canadians in the Bay Area; find the full interview on our website here
What’s your connection to Canada?
I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. After attending college in the States (Vassar and Yale), I returned to Canada and received my M.A. at the University of Toronto, worked for the Law Reform Commission of Canada in Ottawa, spent some time as a grad student at McGill, built a log cabin in the Yukon, and lived in the beach town of White Rock, B.C., among other adventures. I moved to Berkeley for a Ph.D. in the then-fledgling interdisciplinary program Jurisprudence and Social Policy, which seemed tailor-made for my interests. Other than a few years in the ’90s in Washington, DC as a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and as research director of the Police Foundation, I have lived in Berkeley and been connected to UC Berkeley since 1980. My family are all in Toronto and I return there frequently, several times a year.
Why do you support Canadian Studies?
Canadian Studies provides an intellectual lifeline to Canadians at UC Berkeley and throughout the Bay Area. Whether visiting scholars passing through only for a few months, or transplants like myself who have settled here, I’ve yet to meet a Canadian affiliated with UC Berkeley who, once connected to the Canadian Studies Program, isn’t hooked! It provides a hub for Canadians whose work may not be obviously related but who crave the connection. But beyond that, Canadian scholarship, as Irene’s marvelous expansion of speakers has shown, leads the way in cutting edge thinking in so many fields. I have no doubt that more and more scholars across the university are turning their attention to what Canadian Studies has to offer.
Tell us a fun anecdote about being Canadian in the Bay Area.
I remember the day I drove into Berkeley in August 1980, after a solo cross-country drive that began in Montreal. As a foreign student, the one location I knew about was International House, where the Berkeley International Office was. I thought I might be able to rent a room there while I looked for an apartment. So I drove from I-80 up University Avenue and into the main gate of the university. I spoke to the gatekeeper, and asked him for directions to Piedmont Avenue. Only I pronounced it as you would in Montreal – I think it must have sounded something like “Peeyaymoan” in my poor accent. I wasn’t being fancy, I honestly couldn’t remember how to say it in English. He had no idea what I was saying. So he helpfully asked where I was trying to go and I told him International House and off I went.