On September 2, members of the MacEwan University community came together online to celebrate the retirement of former acting president John McGrath.
McGrath began working at the then college's Jasper Place campus in 1983, McGrath has worked at MacEwan for the past 37 years, including as acting president and before then as vice-president, Resources and People. He served as acting president this past year, giving strength and guidance to the university during a tumultuous year of uncertainty in funding, budget planning and navigating a global pandemic.
Dr. Annette Trimbee, the university's president and vice-chancellor, was among the small in-person group of guests in attendance at the Triffo Theatre and described McGrath as a living, breathing MacEwan history book and expressed her appreciation for his generosity in sharing his knowledge and experiences.
"The challenges John had to face during his leadership were truly extraordinary. There is no question that he was instrumental in guiding us through one of the most difficult times in MacEwan’s history."
A nod to McGrath's past attempts at retirement, his son Brendan performed a composition by Allan Gilliland, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications, titled "Just When I Thought…" based on a quote from The Godfather (“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"), and is telling of McGrath's commitment and love for MacEwan keeping him here a little while longer.
There were several speakers at the event, each of whom referenced McGrath's steadfast support of the university and his dedication to its students' success.
"John never loses focus on why he does the work he does," continued Dr. Trimbee. "For him it has always been about the learner, the student at all levels. It is about his core commitment to access to inclusion and opportunity for all."
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.