Getting it done

November 29, 2016

Director of Campus Services wants to revolutionize food and sustainability at MacEwan

Image-SUSTDEC-kbruckmannPeople on campus know Kris Bruckmann as the guy who gets stuff done. Kris has worked at MacEwan University for almost four years, where his portfolio as director of Campus Services involves altering campus sustainability and food services through innovation and social responsibility.

Over the past several months, Kris has worked with Campus Services and the Office of Sustainability to revolutionize food sustainability at the university’s downtown campus.

“We want to move to where we’re leading the industry,” he says. “And we’re becoming very innovative and very creative in the way that we’re doing things.”

Last year, Kris delivered the Green Towers project. This year, he introduced the urban cultivators and the Urban Beekeeping projects, allowing the university to grow and sell its own produce and honey.

Eventually, he hopes to make MacEwan one of the few post-secondary institutions that exclusively grows all of its produce on campus.

Long before he spearheaded food security projects on campus, the Edmonton native was a high school dropout and carpenter’s apprentice—which involved three weeks of digging a 10-metre-deep hole, followed by a swift return to school.

“That hole changed my life,” Kris says. “I knew I had more to offer this world. Any time I thought of quitting or giving up, that hole would hit me with the motivation I needed to overcome those thoughts and push myself to do better.”

Doing better meant a diploma from culinary school. That was a fitting path for Kris, who defines himself as a “foodie by nature”—the result of years spent sleeping in restaurant booths as a child of restaurateurs.

Now, however, baking and cooking are only hobbies, but food continues to direct his career path.

“I miss the kitchen all the time,” he says, “but I really love what I do now.”

Working on the corporate side of the food industry allows Kris to better balance work with the needs of his wife and three children, he says. And, while he hasn’t worked in a kitchen in 15 years, he says he actually finds business to be a more intriguing challenge than cooking ever was.

“What used to be my craft, my career, has turned into more of a hobby now,” he says. “I still have control over it, but at a higher level.”

Kris landed at MacEwan after attending business school at NAIT and the University of Alberta, followed by working at five other universities. He says he has found a career that brings his passions of business, food and sustainability together, and hopes to pass similar values on to his children.

As a certified master composter (“It’s a big deal!”) and former chef, Kris has used his skills to turn his home into an environmentalist’s dream. A large garden with fresh herbs for cooking, a homemade aquaponics system, and worm composting are some of the main attractions.

Whether it be in his personal or professional life, one thing is for sure: “With sustainability, opportunity is always there.”

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