The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 109

A Director Is Not a Dictator 87 enough, drank beer together. Nothing that happened during my first months back in Toronto was as startling as introducing Jim, now “Canada’s most famous mathematician,” to the distinguished audience at his conference. In fact, it took a long time for the present to dominate the past. It was a relief when it finally happened, and I could look at University College or Sidney Smith or Whitney Hall and not have to remind myself that it was 2004 and not 1964. But it is also the case that, even with impressions of the present and memories of the past fighting for a share of my consciousness, my dominant mood was joy, pure joy at being where I was and doing what I was doing. When I walked across the campus, strangers told me I looked ecstatic. When I look at my calendar from my first year at Fields, what I notice first is how much travelling I did. I seem to have been always in the air! But what I remember best is not the travelling, but getting to know the Institute and its culture. For the first time in my career I was the “boss.” This is a wonderful feeling. Also for the first time in my career, I found that most of my daily professional interactions were with women. Of course, most of the mathematical visitors to Fields were men, as is the case with any mathematics institute. But most of the people I saw all the time, the people I interacted with, the people I consulted to make small daily decisions—these were the Institute staff, and most of them were women. It is hard to overstate the psychological effect of this. A Perfect Institute? I thought that the Fields Institute was just about perfect, and this made it difficult to articulate a vision for growth and improvement. (And, as everyone who has ever tried to get funding for something knows, without plans for change