While the past several months have brought with them much uncertainty and difficult news, they have also been filled with excellent work and many positive developments. It’s easy to set the good news aside in challenging times, but I believe it’s important to take some time to recognize the contributions everyone on this campus – our students, faculty and staff – make in shaping the unique community that is MacEwan.
I am committed to providing bi-weekly budget updates, as promised (the next one will be in January), but in this column I’d like to focus on some of the great moments we marked this fall, to look forward to some of the things we’re anticipating in 2020 and to provide you with updates on some of the ongoing organizational activities you should know about.
During the Fall semester, we took several steps forward in the university’s commitment to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. Signing a memorandum of understanding with University nuhelot'įne thaiyots'į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills, unveiling the university’s Treaty 6 marker and opening the new kihêw waciston. On November 8, we were fortunate to have Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, City Councillors Scott McKeen and Aaron Paquette, Board Chair Carolyn Graham and many other special guests join us at the official opening of the university’s new Indigenous centre. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to visit kihêw waciston to take part in the centre’s many valuable initiatives and activities.
On November 2 we hosted another successful Open House, welcoming more than 7,500 visitors to our campus. Volunteers are a critical part of this event and we’re grateful to the many students, faculty and staff who created a welcoming and inspiring environment for our guests.
On November 20, we celebrated almost 700 graduates at the Fall Convocation ceremonies. It was an honour to select the President’s Medal recipients – Alex Mackie, Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Applied Statistics, and Joey Fickle, Correctional Services – and to celebrate our Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Dr. Jennifer Lavers (BSc Transfer ’01) and Nate Lueck (Music Diploma ’06).
Donors make so many things on our campus possible, and we’re always grateful for the opportunity to personally – and publicly – thank them. In early December, we hosted an event to mark the installation of the donor wall in Building 6. We look forward to the many ways MacEwan’s 50th anniversary in 2021 will allow us to connect with the people who help play an important role in supporting both our programming and our students.
Meeting with Edmonton Police Service’s Chief Dale McFee on December 5 was an opportunity to explore ways our two organizations could collaborate on matters of urban wellness. It also allowed us to share with Chief McFee, who was sworn in last February, the university’s history of community engagement and to discuss the safety issues that come with being a downtown campus.
A new building for students
On January 6, students will have full access to their new Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) building where they’ll find inviting, creative and collaborative spaces. SAMU will celebrate the new space with students on January 8 with a grand opening event. We thank all of the hardworking SAMU representatives – past and present – for their dedication to, and patience with, the process of seeing this new space become a reality.
The next stage in the ongoing search for a new president will see the Presidential Search Committee reviewing candidates and conducting the first round of interviews beginning in January. The committee will then recommend a candidate to the university’s Board of Governors for consideration. Selecting a president is an important part of the board’s role and we look forward to the next steps in this process.
Alberta College Campus move and construction on the fifth floor of Allard Hall
Construction on the fifth floor of Allard Hall, in preparation for the upcoming move of Alberta College Campus operations to City Centre Campus is progressing well – the design is complete, scaffolding has been erected in the Elder Jerry Wood Atrium and construction has begun.
Please know that efforts are being made to minimize noise, and to relocate classes, activities and events impacted by noise to other parts of campus, when possible. However, the schedule for this project is extremely tight, and does not allow time to stop construction for any reason. I know the project team is grateful for our cooperation and patience.
Inviting a senior administrator to speak at your event in 2020
Members of the university’s senior administration and Board of Governors were invited to bring greetings or speak at dozens of campus and community events in 2019 – something we’re always happy to do.
If you have an upcoming event that you would like to invite us to speak at, please complete and submit the online request form with the details of your event, who you would like to invite and what you would like them to speak about, at least three weeks before your event.
Board of Governors
We would like to welcome back Meghan DeRoo McConnan, who was reappointed to the board for a further term until October 2022. Meghan will resume her role as the chair of finance for the board’s Property and Investment Committee.
Implementing the changes to the Post-secondary Learning Act (PSLA)
One of the most recent developments in the ongoing work to implement changes to the PSLA involves adding another academic staff representative to the university’s Board of Governors. Nominated by the General Faculties Council, Dr. Lucio Gelmini will begin his term on the Board of Governors once approval is granted by the Minister of Advanced Education through a ministerial order.
Establishing an Alumni Association, which will eventually play a part in appointing a chancellor and awarding honorary degrees, is also an important part of the PSLA changes. A newly created Alumni Advisory Council, which held its first meeting on November 7, will play a significant role in the development of an alumni association at MacEwan. It is expected that two members from the Alumni Association will be appointed to the Board of Governors in Summer 2020.
Campus development plan
Two of the projects I mentioned earlier – the new kihêw waciston Indigenous Centre and development of the fifth floor of Allard Hall – involved significant work and coordination from our Facilities department. Both projects are also part of the university’s Campus Master Plan and the ongoing strategic development of our campus. There are also a few other master plan projects tied directly to enhancing the quality of our students’ experience that were recently completed or underway, including:
A new TV studio and journalism lab in Allard Hall for the Bachelor of Communication Studies program, which we will officially launch early in the Winter term.
Four new science labs in Building 5, including two research labs, a chemistry lab and an expanded animal care lab, that are now moving from the planning stage to the design phase.
A library renovation project, which is currently in the design phase and will include two separate construction phases – the first of which is scheduled from May to August 2020.
Free expression statement and policy
On November 7, we received confirmation that the university’s freedom of expression statement submitted to the Minister of Advanced Education in October fulfills the requirements of the government. The statement is now available on MacEwan.ca. The minister made this initiative a priority for us, and I would like to thank the Provost & Vice-President, Academic Dr. Craig Monk for his efforts in navigating this process and gaining the minister’s approval of the statement in a very timely fashion.
Code of Conduct reminder
As directed by the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta in accordance with the Conflicts of Interest Act, the university has implemented a new Employees’ Code of Conduct. Implementing the new code involved the work of a cross-functional team, which included a significant role for both Human Resources and Academic Affairs (in determining guidelines around academic freedom in relation to the code).
Please note that the deadline for university employees to disclose potential conflicts with their out-of-scope manager is December 31, 2019. Employees can find more information in MacEwan Today.
1971 photo of MacEwan’s Old Scona Campus. In 2021, the university will mark 50 years.
Into a new decade
When we ring in the New Year, we’ll also be welcoming a new decade – and along with it a new chapter in our university’s history. In 2021, MacEwan will celebrate 50 years as a post-secondary institution. It’s a major milestone that brings with it the opportunity to look back at the many successes – and challenges – that have shaped us over the years. To amplify what makes our university unique. To find and celebrate our MacEwan champions – the alumni, community supporters and donors, and faculty and staff who together have built the university’s reputation of teaching excellence and student support that we are now known for.
It’s also a chance to engage our entire community in shaping our future – to build a foundation of support and investment so critical in an environment of government cuts. University Relations, led by Vice-President Myrna Khan, is currently in the process of determining what marking MacEwan’s 50th anniversary will look like, including the creation of a fundraising framework and case for support.
Next steps will include conducting a fundraising feasibility study and an implementation plan that will follow in the spring of 2020. I would like to thank the Alumni Relations and Fund Development teams for all of their great work in getting us to this point.
While the particular ways in which we will mark 50 years is still being determined, we know it will be infused with storytelling about the people who have made – and continue to make – MacEwan what it is today.
You – our students, faculty and staff – are all part of that story, and I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for the work you do to make MacEwan a great place to study, work and learn.
Yes, we are currently facing difficult times, but how we make our way through this period of our history will also be part of our story.
As 2019 draws to a close, exams are marked and the holidays approach, I hope you take the opportunity to relax, rejuvenate and spend time with the people in your life you care most about. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
John C. McGrath