Dr. Stéphane Brutus

by Dave Tulloch*

In 1957 François (Papa Doc) Duvalier, a physician who graduated from the University of Michigan was elected President of Haiti. He was the only candidate on the 1961 ballot and was “re-elected”. Duvalier consolidated power, and in 1964 he declared himself president for life. This triggered an exodus of Haitian nationals to Canada. Some would argue that this also pointed Haiti toward a downward spiral resulting in its current state. In the late fifties the first wave of Haitians, mostly of the professional class were making the city of Montreal their preferred Canadian destination.

Dr. Stéphane Brutus, M.A, Ph.D, is the son of one of these immigrants. His father, a young anesthesiologist, immigrated to Montreal during the 1960s where he married a French Canadian from rural Quebec. The union produced two children, Stephane the eldest, and his sister Isabelle.

Stéphane grew up in Montreal. He completed primary education at École Sainte-Anne and earned his high school diploma from Collège Jean-Eudes, both Catholic institutions administered by Nuns and Jesuit Priests. Stéphane admitted that he was not a good student. “I was a very poor student, just barely went through.” He explained that his poor performance was not a result of his lack of academic talents but that “the pedagogical approach was not appealing to me.” Furthermore, as a bi-racial youth, he also had to navigate the cultural minefields of growing up in a predominantly French Caucasian environment during the 1960s and 1970s, a period fraught with ethno-cultural unrest. Notwithstanding this backdrop, he encountered very few incidents or racial animus. Stéphane was also buffered by his close Haitian immigrant relatives, all professionals; doctors, and engineers and he viewed those role models as the norm. Therefore, the external factors had minimal negative impact on his early life.  

After his high school graduation, he decided to head out as far away as possible from home. He gained entrance to Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, intending to earn a Psychology degree. Stéphane arrived at Simon Frasier a month before the semester began and soon realized that he lacked the language skills to perform in an English-speaking environment. By the time classes began, he questioned his decision and thought about returning to Montreal. But after befriending a group of students at his first pub night, his level of anxiety abated, and he felt that he was ready for the challenges ahead.

During the first three years at Simon Fraser Dr. Brutus’ academic performance was average. However, in year four, his investigative curiosity was ignited when his Psychology professor assigned him to a research project on perception. He discovered the wonder of gaining new insights in the quest for knowledge through curiosity and practical experiences. He earned his first “A” in his university experience, and this changed the trajectory of his life.

Dr. Brutus graduated from Simon Fraser in 1988 with a B.A. in Psychology and then attended Bowling Green State University where he earned both an MA and a PhD, in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He also continued his academic journey to complete a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, building a body of forward-thinking and referenceable work throughout this process. Professor Brutus returned to his home city of Montreal in 1997 as a professor at Concordia University – John Molson School of Business. He advanced through the ranks and became Chair of the Management Department, Associate Dean, and then Interim Dean of the John Molson School of Business. And in 2021 he took on his current role at the University of Ottawa, as the Dean of the Telfer School of Management.

The kernel of Dean Brutus’ education philosophy had its roots in his early schooling with the recognition that the teaching approach at that time was not conducive to effective learning. His fourth-year University research experience confirmed this and provided the trigger that launched his academic career. His body of research work in “human resource management, organizational behavior, and industrial and organizational psychology” provides a wealth of references for researchers, students, and organizations to adopt proven methods that improve the effectiveness of teams and work groups. He co-authored the publication “Management Development Through Job Experiences” which provides managers with insight into how “on-the-job experiences can provide managers with valuable developmental opportunities.” Furthermore, Dr. Brutus has adopted these methods to the learning environment at the Telfer School of Management, by integrating theoretical and researched-based practical approaches to the learning environment.

Dr. Brutus is in his third year of the initial five-year mandate as the Telfer Dean, and with a maximum tenure of ten years, he is enthusiastic about the current direction of the School of Management.  Outside the academic arena, he is an avid tennis player and, for many years, has committed hours of his time to help others who are in need, particularly through the non-profit Kanpe organization that supports those living in extreme poverty in Haiti.

Dave Tulloch

*Dave Tulloch was born in Jamaica. He immigrated to Canada in 1970 to pursue post-secondary education. He earned a diploma in electronics engineering technology from Algonquin College, a Bachelor of Admin and Bachelor of Commerce (Hon) from the University of Ottawa, and a Master of Business Administration from Concordia University. He has an extensive career in information technology and in IT consulting with Systemhouse, KPMG, and Oracle Corporation where he retired as a director. Dave taught IT and business courses at CEGEP (Hull) and tutored at the Wake Tech College in North Carolina.  He wrote articles for the Ottawa Spectrum publication that focused on Ottawa’s Visible Minorities community and has written a book documenting the life stories of early Caribbean Immigrants to Ottawa, scheduled for publication later this year. He can be contacted via email: [email protected]