Fall signals new beginnings

September 8, 2021 | Campus Life
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A message from Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor.


 

I hope your summer was wonderful and that you’ve all had time to relax, recharge and enjoy time with family and friends as we turn the corner to fall.

For me, fall brings thoughts of change. Leaves turn to pale and brilliant yellow, and our summer adventures come to an end. For universities, fall signals new beginnings, new discoveries and renewed energy.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve loved seeing the excitement of students exploring our campus. It’s inspiring to see the energy of faculty and staff on campus getting prepared and greeting colleagues for the first time in many months. It’s an exhilarating time of celebration, and at the same time, we are rediscovering how to safely return to campus as conditions around the pandemic continue to change.

As the Fall semester gets underway, make sure to check out the free events and webinars we have lined up for September.

Pandemic response

The pandemic has challenged us to think about how we learn, how we work and what we value. I extend my thanks to our university community members who have worked so hard to put safe and flexible plans in place as we start the Fall semester. Our plan includes offering hybrid, online, and in-person classes in order to pivot quickly depending on changing circumstances.

I was pleased to see the results of our voluntary survey. Of the 50 per cent of our community responding, 95 per cent of faculty and staff and 86 per cent of our students indicate that they have received two doses of the vaccine.

As you prepare to return to campus, remember that masks are required. We are also in the process of implementing a rapid testing program for September. I strongly encourage everyone, who is able, to get vaccinated. This is our best tool to end this pandemic. We have also introduced a vaccine promotion campaign, including a tuition waiver draw for students. The university is partnering with Alberta Health Services to offer vaccine clinics on campus in September. More details related to our pandemic response, health precautions on campus and other updates can be found on our website.

Around our campus

Over the past few weeks, it has been energizing to participate safely in a number of events on campus. I know many of you have had the opportunity to gather for online and on-campus orientation events. I hope you have felt the same reassurance and energy I have as we start the Fall semester.

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Last week we were delighted to welcome Dr. Brenda Barton, one of MacEwan’s first honorary doctorate recipients, to campus. Board Chair Carolyn Graham and our first Chancellor, Dr. Tony Fields, joined us to celebrate and welcome Dr. Barton.

It was a pleasure to have Dr. Barton tour our campus. Dr. Barton’s life work with the United Nations World Food Programme focuses on food security and world hunger, and it was fitting that she was present for the launch of the Pop the Trunk initiative. Pop the Trunk is a partnership between SAMU and MacEwan’s United Way campaign. The initiative is designed to fill The Pantry and to raise awareness about hunger in our community. Be sure to bring a donation to support Pop the Trunk on September 11!

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In memoriam

Our community also came together on August 31 to celebrate the life of a key member of the MacEwan family. The sudden passing of Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Roxanne Tootoosis is a great loss to our community. Roxanne’s guiding presence has inspired many. I was blessed to attend her Celebration of Life on campus where her family and those closest to her joined together to acknowledge her immense contributions to community. 

As we head into the fall, I know Roxanne’s words, “Know who you are first, and you’ll never get lost” will offer comfort to us. We will greatly miss Roxanne, her wisdom and her kindness. As we move forward, and I think of those moments of community, loss and renewal, I know that we will continue to find ways to build our resiliency and our strengths as we serve our students as Edmonton’s downtown university.

50th anniversary

September brings the launch of our 50th anniversary year. I’m excited to see the opportunities to celebrate our successes, our people and our community.

Milestones like this inspire us to both reflect on the past and look forward to the future. We have grown from a community college into an excellent undergraduate university.

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I’m proud of how far MacEwan has come over the past five decades. This anniversary is a reminder that our place and our community is vital to the delivery of the quality learning experiences that our students value. In the midst of all the change we have experienced, I see a bright future ahead, full of energy, partnerships, and scholarly contributions within our community and beyond.

I encourage all of you to think about how you can mark our 50th milestone with events and activities that reflect your area’s unique perspectives. You will see 50th anniversary pageantry around campus, including banners, signage and a few other big surprises to come.

Watch for the launch of our 50th anniversary website in the coming weeks. This will be the place to look to for information about the many events that will take place over the year, opportunities to learn more about our history and other features, including a place for you to share your memories of MacEwan.

Strategic visioning

We embarked on this process in a year of great change and shifts: a global pandemic challenged the way we do things and the province released Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs, a new vision for Alberta’s post-secondary system. On the global front, there were renewed calls for action on equity, diversity and inclusion, climate change, and on reconciliation. It was clear that, in our 50th year, we needed to confirm our strengths and respond to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.

During the summer months, we synthesized the feedback received from the dialogue sessions we held with our internal and external community members over the fall and winter. The fact that so many of you participated in these sessions guided us in the creation of five strategic directional statements for the university.

Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to test these statements with Deans’ Council, General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors. These have been energizing conversations, full of great ideas about what success can look like as we consider MacEwan’s future.

I’m excited to share with you the strategic directions that are emerging from the conversations:

  • Energizing MacEwan’s commitment to exceptional undergraduate learning 

  • Maximizing flexibility to meet students where they are 

  • Preparing MacEwan graduates who are versatile and future-ready 

  • Pursuing deliberate growth to help shape Alberta’s future 

  • Strengthening the value MacEwan adds to community through scholarship

These directional statements will be supported by a set of beliefs and behaviours that infuse our decision-making and our day-to-day operations. They are found in everything we do. We are committed to the principles of Indigeneity and reconciliation, of equity, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship and of connection, partnership, and place.

As we enter the final stages of setting the strategic vision, I look forward to finalizing the strategic components with GFC and seeking final approval with the Board of Governors this fall.

Programs to watch for

This fall brings the piloting of four new micro-credentials. Our thanks to Dean Heather McRae and her colleagues in the School of Continuing Education, to our industry partners and to the Ministry of Advanced Education for their assistance in developing these new and exciting micro-credentials:

  • Data Analysis for Financial Growth, in partnership with the Canadian Western Bank

  • Intelligent Supply Chain, in partnership with Routeique Inc. and the Edmonton International Airport

  • Sustainable Business Revival, in partnership with Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

  • Digital Marketing for Small Business, also in partnership with Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

I’d like to acknowledge the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications as they plan for the first intake of students into our new Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in September 2022, with applications opening this fall!

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: September 30

September 30 coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an important day of remembrance for Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools.

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Events are being planned with more information to be shared soon on how the MacEwan community can participate. There is a session on September 15 that will provide resources and supports to faculty and staff for their spaces on September 30 and offer an opportunity to ask questions. I encourage you to register for this online session.

The campus will remain open on September 30, as previously announced. How MacEwan recognizes this day in the future will continue to evolve. There are many ways to grieve, celebrate and come together, and I look forward to seeing how MacEwan develops its own path to support and recognize this important day.

Leadership changes

I would like to welcome Robert Sabulka, associate vice-president, Infrastructure, Planning & Management and Cheryl Earle, associate vice-president, Financial Services who started in the spring and summer months.

This fall brings changes in leadership as we bid farewell to two vice-presidents: Michelle Plouffe, vice-president, General Counsel, and Sharilee Fossum, vice-president, Finance and Administration & chief financial officer. We thank both Michelle and Sharilee for their contributions to the university and wish them well in their future endeavors.

I’d like to extend my thanks to the following individuals who are assisting us, on an interim basis, through this transition period:

  • Acting Vice-President, Finance and Administration: Helen Ngan-Paré, associate vice-president, Human Resources

  • Acting Vice-President: Barry Horan, associate vice-president, Internal Audit and Risk Management

  • Acting Chief Financial Officer: Cheryl Earle, associate vice-president, Financial Service

  • Acting General Counsel: Ian Hanson, legal counsel

  • Acting University Secretary: Sumiko Yip, director, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the President 

Two senior academic leadership searches, one for the dean, School of Business and another for the dean, Faculty of Health & Community Studies are underway, led by the Provost & Vice-President, Academic, Dr. Craig Monk.

In closing

Today marks the first day of the Fall semester, and it is heartening to see many of you safely return to our campus community. I share the excitement and optimism with many of you that we will be able to come together more often this year, on campus, through our work, celebrations and experiences.

I hope the energy of the return to campus uplifts your work and carries you through this semester. I look forward to the excitement of this month, and to the year ahead, with optimism and hope for a wonderful and successful academic year!

All my best,

Dr. Annette Trimbee
President and Vice-Chancellor




 
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