Top Stories at MacEwan in 2020

December 22, 2020 | Campus Life
As 2020 (finally) comes to a close, we're celebrating the stories that surprised us, made us laugh, taught us something new and warmed our hearts.

9 student moments that made us proud


All of our students make us proud — from their ability to find strength and resilience in the face of a difficult year to overcoming challenges and discovering new ways to thrive.

We couldn't tell all of their stories, but we wanted to highlight a few, like the students who presented their work at the annual Ending Sexual Violence Research Forum in January. Then there was Brendan Collinge (above), a third-year Bachelor of Communication Studies student who received the Hayley Jayne Richman Memorial Award for his work in and support of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

We saw our student community come together in so many ways to support each other, like Jordyn and Jillian in the MacEwan chapter of the Canadian Nursing Students' Association. Their group took the funds they had raised to attend conferences and donated it to MacEwan's COVID-19 Relief Bursary. "We knew that using any extra money we had to support students who are struggling right now was the right thing to do."

Future journalists learned first hand how to prepare and share news in challenging times while working on stories for their latest edition of hyper-local news, the Magpie.

Meanwhile, like their peers across the university, students in theatre, design, music and fine art had to pivot to finish their term.

“Both our faculty and our students were amazing about all of this,” said Jim Guedo, program coordinator of Theatre Arts, after the 2019/20 theatre season was cut short.

2020 was just getting interesting for the Griffins athletes when their season was cut short. But we did get the chance to recognize our Athletes of the Year, including Jamie Erickson and Max Vriend.

8 remarkable stories of scholarship


Did you catch the story about the ways parasites have shaped evolution? It was around Valentine's Day when Dr. Michael Stock told us that when female birds choose a mate, they’re on the lookout for any undesirable baggage that their male suitors might be hiding.

Dr. Katie Biittner's (above) told us that handwoven baskets play a major role in Tanzania's economy.

Like most people, you probably took to the internet to make most of your (essential and non-essential) purchases this year — but if you ever wondered about the political impact you make when you choose to add or not add something to your shopping cart, you might want to read up on Dr. Shelley Boulianne's research. Boulianne, who is one of the 2019 Board of Governor's Research Chairs (along with Dr. Erin Walton), also worked with 10 student researchers on a study about climate change, politics and social media.

Two new Board of Governors Research Chairs were announced for 2020 — Dr. Cristina Anton and Dr. Fernando Angulo-Ruiz.

Dr. Emily Milne's published papers this year included one that explored why schools are "really dangerous places" for Indigenous children and their families, and Dr. Hongmei Tong led a recent study that found mental health issues that come with resettling in a new country as a refugee can last over the long term.

There is so much incredible work being done by faculty members — and students! Stay connected with the Office of Research Services to find out more.

7 amazing alumni stories


You better watch out — our alumni have been taking the world by storm. A new Alumni Advisory Council was put in place, and we welcomed two alumni representatives to the Board of Governors.
"Alumni are champions of the university and provide invaluable insights into making our institution even better and brighter," said Board Chair Carolyn Graham.

Alumni also made waves across the country and around the world. Earlier this month, we celebrated Brenda Barton (Advertising and Public Relations, '81), who's part of the Nobel Peace Prizing-winning team of the World Food Programme. Meanwhile, Jessica Johns (BA Hons, '14) won the Writers' Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for her short story, "Bad Cree." And we celebrated four grads who made Edify magazine’s annual Top 40 Under 40 list.

We also saw the many ways that our alumni are pushing themselves to make the world a better place. Pictured above, Steven Teeuwsen (Design and Digital Media, ’14) has been creating big, bold murals to engage with and delight the public, and alumni found ways to bring arts and culture into people's homes by embracing technology more than ever before.

6 memorable moments in the media


Our top news pieces to appear in the media included the fun and quirky stories of an 87-year-old music student Lawrence McKnight (above) who has been mastering four different musical instruments and Dr. Miranda Giacomin who received an Ig Nobel Prize for her part of a research study on identifying narcissists.

Terri Suntjens, director of Indigenous Initiatives, spoke with Global News and CBC about her involvement in creating Indigenous ward names for the City of Edmonton.

News about the university's Social Innovation Institute (SII) developing a proposal as part of a high-profile awareness campaign to combat liquor store thefts had people talking — and the SII team ended up winning a $500,000 grant to continue their work. "This engagement is a great example of how post-secondary institutions can positively impact the communities we serve," said Dr. Wanda Costen, dean of MacEwan's School of Business.

Speaking of engagement, Global TV stopped by campus for a full day of radio and TV coverage — and announced the donation of a new journalism scholarship to help mark the opening of our new TV studio (more on that below).

And at the start of the Fall term, Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor, talked to CBC about the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.

5 fantastic faculty accomplishments

Diane Symbaluk

Remember when we mentioned how proud we are of our students? Well, we're also incredibly proud of our faculty and staff. Earlier this year, we announced our first 3M National Teaching Fellow – Dr. Diane Symbaluk. “A 3M National Teaching Fellowship is, truly, our country’s most prestigious recognition of leadership in university teaching,” said Dr. Craig Monk, provost & vice-president, Academic.

Dr. Kristine Peace became the first-ever recipient of the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) Distinguished Teaching Award and Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto became MacEwan’s first Chair of International Health Research.

We also celebrated recipients of MacEwan's own Distinguished Teaching Awards: Tanya Huever, Neeraj Prakash, Dr. Samuel Mugo and Dr. Andrea Wagner.

And the university gave this year's Distinguished Research Award to Dr. Christopher Striemer for his work that studies the human brain and cognitive neuroscience.

4 givers giving


We saw a lot of kindness and generosity this year, from the provost & vice-president, Academic donating a major gift to the university's Bent River Records after being inspired by students' album cover art displayed in Allard Hall, to the volunteers working hard to fill the shelves of the SAMU Pantry at the start of the pandemic.

We also talked to alumni who are supporting the city's most vulnerable populations through their work at the Edmonton Food Bank, Boyle Street Community Services, Chimo Youth Retreat Centre and the University of Alberta Hospital.

Most recently, a $1-million legacy gift created bursaries that will transform the lives of computer science students for years to come.

3 campus changes


If you've been studying and working from home, you may have missed some exciting new features on campus.

In January, the new SAMU Building opened its doors. The Bachelor of Communication Studies students gained access to an all-new television studio (above) in Allard Hall. And the School of Continuing Education moved out of the Alberta College Campus to make its new home on the fifth floor of Allard Hall.

2 curbside convocations


There is no bigger celebration at MacEwan than our twice-yearly convocation ceremonies. So when COVID-19 forced the university to cancel our large gathering, staff and faculty worked hard to come up with something truly unique.

Curbside Convocation was an event to remember with over 2,300 grads in the spring and 500 this fall receiving special boxes filled with goodies to celebrate at home and online. Though we wish we could have celebrated in person, we were blown away by the number of people who joined in to make this day special for our grads.

And 1 new president


Since joining the university in August, Dr. Annette Trimbee has been hard at work. One of the biggest things on our new president and vice-chancellor's plate going into 2021 is leading the multi-phase process of creating MacEwan's strategic vision.

We're excited to see what happens in the new year, but until then, happy holidays, warm wishes and happy new year!



5 deeply personal, must-read stories from 2020

We’re so grateful to the many people who tackled difficult topics, celebrated with us and inspired us this year.

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