Growing Boldly – Insights is a series of regular posts where leaders share their perspectives on topics connected to the university's strategic vision process.

Growing boldly – “Relationships have always mattered here and always will”

June 9, 2021

Authors: Carolyn Graham, Chair of the Board of Governors, and Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor

This is the time of year when we are usually looking forward to spending several days in the Winspear Centre. We both agree that celebrating convocation is one of the best parts of our jobs as chair of the MacEwan University Board of Governors and president of this university (and not just because we get a front-row seat to all of that fantastic footwear).

It is the opportunity to look into a sea of graduates and the people they invite to celebrate with them that we both appreciate so much. When the formality of convocation is interrupted by the occasional “Go, Mom!” it's a window into the individuality of our students and a reminder of the many people impacted by the education they receive.

And while we know that this spring’s convocation will, once again, be different than in years past, it will still very much be about those relationships – and celebrating a few new ones, including our first honorary doctorates and our first chancellor. Appointing a chancellor and awarding honorary doctorates is another step forward for the university – one that builds on the people-focus that MacEwan is known for. Relationships have always mattered here and always will. It is a theme that emerged in our strategic vision process as one of the things we must protect.

In times of uncertainty, those relationships and interconnectedness become even more important because the work we do at MacEwan is not transactional; it is transformational. It is a very human experience – one that, of course, includes the students we serve today, but it also extends to the students of tomorrow and the students of yesterday.

As we look to MacEwan’s 50th anniversary, we are both reflecting on the relationships we share with our 80,000 alumni. This university is a very different place than it was when many of those students attended. How can we make sure to let them know what we are about now? How can we find new ways to invite them back – as mentors, as workplace experience hosts, as students seeking a microcredential, as donors and community partners?

Over the past several months, we have both had opportunities to see exactly how much those connections and relationships matter. Whether it is a chartered accounting firm telling us that they prefer MacEwan grads because they come ready with the skills they need and are prepared to work, or seeing firsthand how well-received our nursing students are out in the community. Our students, alumni, faculty and staff are great ambassadors of our institution. They build bridges over which knowledge, community service and creativity can travel. Those bridges allow for reciprocity and integration, extending the impact of a post-secondary education beyond a single, episodic experience and turning it into a relationship that continues over years and decades.

The rich and complex relationships we build with students, alumni, community members and agencies, governments, donors, funders and other post-secondary institutions will impact our future. This university is not an island. We are connected and relationship-based – and those relationships are integral to helping us determine how we must reimagine ourselves as we prepare graduates for the future.

Because the world our graduates are entering isn’t as finite as it once was. Recently, we have been talking about and reflecting on a session where Simon Sinek spoke about the infinite mindset and used the example of infinite games where players come and go, rules change and there is no defined endpoint. It’s a good parallel, we think, for the type of world our graduates will enter. And it’s why work-integrated learning, community-engaged research and other relationship-based opportunities are so important for our students.

Our graduates are highly valued and make an impact because their experiences at MacEwan illustrate how much relationships matter. Here, they develop the competencies to engage, listen, learn, innovate, lead and serve others.

As the Class of 2021 prepares to receive their parchments and take the next step toward their future, we both agree that the metric that matters most over the long term is the cumulative impact of what our grads go out into the world and do.


Read more about MacEwan's Strategic Vision Process   




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