Mount Royal University Summit Spring/Summer 2019

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e c u Br e r e h s a w SPRING/SUMMER



In this issue 2

From the (new) president



Bleed blue: campus highlights


On the cover:

Being weird can be wonderful. Bruce McCulloch of The Kids in the Hall fame spent his formative years growing up in southwest Calgary, including attending Mount Royal for a time. This city (and this school) had a major impact on him, and maybe not in the way you would think.

Bruce was he re





Pride. Determination. Focus. See how the U Sports season went for all eight Mount Royal Cougars teams.



Fast facts


The real alternative Being a student at Mount Royal in the ’70s was pretty special, according to alumnus and staff member Brad Simm, with the thencollege providing a muchneeded space to learn, grow and, yes, rock ’n’ roll.



Research snapshots


Staying at the head of the class After only four years in existence, the model for MRU’s Bachelor of Education — Elementary is being duplicated on a national scale.

+ A SoTL primer: What the heck is the scholarship of teaching and learning? Mount Royal holds itself to a very high standard for both teaching and learning, roles that are interchangeable between faculty and students.



Checking in with MRU alumni N OW

A PPE A R I N G...

Alumni in this issue Grant Baker Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019)


Navigating a new mosaic What does it take for a young person to pick up and leave their home country for a post-secondary experience in Calgary?

+ A worldly education The many benefits of internationalizing education extend to students from both here and abroad.


Fintech is the future of finance Professionals have to be well-versed in both money management and new technologies.


Closing the circle A Mount Royal alumnus has created a business that could help solve food insecurity issues around the globe.

Branden Canejo Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Sport and Recreation Management (2019) Colin Cooper Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Huyana Cyprien Bachelor of Communication — Journalism (2019) Alexandra Daignault Bachelor of Arts — English (Honours, 2018) Brittney Glinsbockel Bachelor of Education — Elementary (2015) Tanner Greves Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership (2019) Zac Hartley Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2016) Romissaa Hassan Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Physical Literacy (2019) Zack Henry Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Nikkole Heavy Shields Bachelor of Education — Elementary (2019) Torin Hofmann Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2016) Erin Holt Bachelor of Nursing (2019) Lindsay Jones Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2011)

Jenny Limoges Bachelor of Science — Health Science (2013) Tracey Lowey Criminology Diploma (1992) Bruce McCulloch Class of 1982 Rohin Nazari Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Michelle Owusu Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2016) Stephen Preston Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2013) Tyler Schmidt Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Paul Shumlich Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2017) Brad Simm Environmental Quality Diploma (1978) David Stephens Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Hannah Storrs Bachelor of Arts — Psychology (Honours, 2019) Corrine Thiessen Bachelor of Communication — Public Relations (2014) Jake Vickers Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management (2019) Sarah Webb Bachelor of Education — Elementary (2019) Alexis Webster Bachelor of Arts — Psychology (Honours, 2019)

Jeremy Klaszus Bachelor of Applied Communications — Journalism (2006)

Nicky Zalasky Bachelor of Arts — Psychology (2019)

Brittany Kremer Bachelor of Arts — Criminal Justice (2018)

Jeremy Zoller Recreation Studies Diploma — Recreation Management (1998)





( N E W )


Please allow me to introduce myself... Tim Rahilly, PhD, will join the University as its 10th president and

first vice-chancellor on May 1 for a five-year term, leaving his position as viceprovost and associate vice-president, Students and International at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, where he has been since 2003. Known as a results-oriented leader, Rahilly holds a PhD in educational and counselling psychology from McGill University. He will be officially installed as president at the June convocation ceremonies. Learn more about Rahilly at In what ways do you think Mount Royal is different from other universities? The degree to which people in all roles articulate their belief in the student experience. It’s amazing! I’ve been singing from this songsheet for decades. What are your first impressions of the campus? The first time I came to the MRU campus I thought it was far bigger than I had anticipated. I was impressed by some of the newer facilities like the Bella Concert Hall and the Riddell Library and Learning Centre, and felt a familiarity in the original campus buildings as they remind me of places I have worked and studied. What do you appreciate the most about working alongside students? I love the energy and enthusiasm, even when they are challenging us. Watching students of all ages and backgrounds learn and grow is such a privilege. What trait do you most value in your co-workers? A sense of humour.



How would people who have worked with you describe you? I just stopped people in the hall and asked them. Here’s what I got: honest, funny, tall and hair-challenged. What is the best advice you have ever received and how do you apply it? “Do the right thing, even if you don’t do things right.” Universities are places of rules, processes, procedures, committees and so on. While I don’t want to subvert the rules, I work to make sure that we avoid making bad decisions incrementally. If you could share with graduates one piece of advice, what would it be? This is impossible! I am not a brief man! OK, I guess I’d say “keep moving.” Even if you feel a bit lost or stuck, you have to keep going and a path will present itself. What are you most looking forward to at Mount Royal? I am looking forward to meeting the people of MRU and its supporters. I want to be part of the next chapter of MRU.


VICE–PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT Paul Rossmann ASSOCIATE VICE–PRESIDENT, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS Melanie Rogers DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS Andrea Ranson DIRECTOR, MARKETING Dave McLean Summit is published in the fall and spring of each year with a circulation of approximately 65,000. Each issue features the exceptional alumni, students, faculty and supporters who make up the Mount Royal community. Summit tells the University’s ongoing story of the provision of an outstanding undergraduate education through personalized learning opportunities, a commitment to quality teaching, a laser focus on practical outcomes and a true dedication to community responsiveness. Celebrate yourself through Summit.

The team EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Rossmann

ISSN 1929-8757 Summit Publications Mail Agreement #40064310

EDITOR Michelle Bodnar BCMM (Applied) ’05

Return undeliverables to: Mount Royal University 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW Calgary, AB, Canada T3E 6K6

ART DIRECTOR Michal Waissmann BCMM (Applied) ’07

You can enjoy Summit online by visiting If you would like us to deliver a print copy to your office or home, simply email Mount Royal University is located in the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Iyarhe Nakoda. The city of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation. Sustainably yours.


PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Deb Abramson Journalism Diploma ’77 COPY EDITORS Peter Glenn Ruth Myles Andrea Ranson Public Relations Diploma ’85 Frankie Thornhill Social Work Diploma ’07 COVER PHOTO Christina Riches BCMM ’14 Chao Zhang

DESIGN Leslie Blondahl BCMM ’14 Astri Do Rego Mike Poon Christina Riches Michal Waissmann Chao Zhang PHOTOGRAPHY Leonora André Mike Poon Christina Riches Chao Zhang ILLUSTRATIONS Astri Do Rego Mark Hoffmann Mike Poon CONTRIBUTORS Jonathan Anderson BCMM ’13 Valerie Berenyi Michelle Bodnar Marlena Cross Peter Glenn Julie Macdonald BCMM ‘13 Ruth Myles Rob Petrollini BCMM (Applied) ’07 Melissa Rolfe Hooda Sadden Brad Simm Environmental Quality Control Diploma ‘78

Question of the issue: We asked Summit staffers who are also alumni where their favourite place to hang out was while they were students at Mount Royal. “Although perhaps not my ‘favourite’ place to hang out, I spent a lot of time in the old journalism newsroom on the third floor, affectionately known as ‘Q.’ Hardly anyone else ever went up there, so it was our storytelling sanctuary.” — michelle bodnar “I used to go between the Rathskellar Pub and the darkroom for the photojournalism course. I vaguely recall it being under the stairs and if you timed it right you could get a beer in between processing photos.” — andrea ranson “When I got into the PR program, the place to be for studying, project work and presentation prep was the comms centre in the T-wing. As our cohort got further along, spending time there seemed to happen less frequently, though, as most of us were employed in the industry for the last half of our degree.” — jonathan anderson

“Outside of the communications lab, I spent a lot of time at Good Earth. My best friend and I always seemed to run late, so whichever one of us was less late would grab coffee for the other.” — julie macdonald “Whenever I needed a total break from student life, I headed to the tiny Wyatt Recital Hall in the main building. The hall’s majestic Carthy organ, a work of art in itself, has a magnificent sound if you do some planning and catch a free concert.” — frankie thornhill “My cohort grew to love E161. The majority of our classes took place there, but not much else. I would take advantage of the space to work on projects using the Power Macs and watch Strong Bad Email episodes.” — rob petrollini





Bleed Blue Complete listings of events and happenings at MRU can be found at

Mount Royal alumni,

we want to hear all about you. Get back in touch, sign up for updates on alumni events and receive exclusive benefits at Follow us on Twitter at @mruAlumni.



LEED Gold for Taylor Centre The Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts earned a gold-level certification last fall from the Canada Green Building Council for its sustainability in design, construction and operation, using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. LEED criteria include water and energy efficiency, a high standard of air quality, and sustainable construction and use of materials. Built in 2015, the Taylor Centre is Mount Royal’s third LEED Gold building and fifth LEED-standard building overall.



Co-generation reduces emissions, saves money Mount Royal University commissioned its first combined heating and power (CHP) unit last June. The unit will reduce the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tonnes a year — the equivalent of taking 425 vehicles off the road — and save $700,000 annually. CHP is 30 per cent more energy efficient than conventional electricity production because it uses natural gas to produce both heat and electricity. Natural gas has the smallest carbon footprint of all the fossil fuels. The waste heat that is produced when electricity is generated is captured and routed into the central heating and cooling system to provide heat and hot water throughout campus. The unit provides up to 26 per cent of the University’s electricity. Mount Royal hopes to one day be fully off the grid, generating 100 per cent of its electricity on site with CHP and solar-power units.





On the front line of solving crimes

A recent criminal justice graduate has landed a rare opportunity in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Brittany Kremer works as an autopsy technician, performing external examinations of bodies, organ removals, and extraction of fluids and tissue samples for toxicology tests. “Every day is different,” she said. The office handles more than 40 cases a week from southern Alberta to rule out foul play. All involve unexplained deaths, including crime victims, suicides, drug overdoses and anyone who died alone, unexpectedly or assisted. “We give families insights into what happened, and we remove the constant state of wondering about their loved one. I love the job. It is by far the coolest thing I could ever imagine myself doing right after graduation.” Kremer was offered the full-time position after completing a practicum in the office in her final year. She is one of a handful of students chosen since the opportunity arose a year and a half ago. Professor Janne Holmgren, PhD, who oversees the partnership with the Medical Examiner’s office along with academic advisor and practicum coordinator Leann Acheson, said students are rigorously screened before being considered for the rare, highly soughtafter opportunity.




Championing career development The Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship Program provides guidance from those who have been there and done that. Twenty-eight years ago, Tracey Lowey enrolled at what was then Mount Royal College. Today, she has a challenging and rewarding career with the Calgary Police Service. A commitment to the institution that started her on the path to success led Lowey to give back through Mount Royal’s Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship Program, available to all Mount Royal credit students. As one of 116 community mentors, Lowey meets with her student mentee once a month to help plan for their next challenge. Since the program launched in 2012, more than 1,000 individuals have participated, nearly three-quarters of whom are Mount Royal alumni. Find out how to join in at



Student helps garner gold at the Canada Winter Games Romissaa Hassan is in the final year of her Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Physical Literacy with a minor in Business of Sport and Recreation. She was a member of Alberta’s wheelchair basketball team, which netted a gold medal on home soil for the first time since 1995 at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. True to form, Hassan’s career aspiration is to become a professional basketball coach. “Being a part of the Canada Winter Games was a surreal experience and winning the gold medal was incredibly rewarding,” Hassan said. “As a team, we stuck together through it all and made Alberta proud. What I love about the sport is its ability to combine teamwork, communication and chair and basketball skills. Honestly, the journey through wheelchair basketball has been so much fun, and that’s what makes it so special.”




Close-fought battles are the story of the Crowchild Classic Hosted by the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Crowchild Classic is recognized throughout U Sports as the most well-attended university sporting event in the country. The annual women’s and men’s hockey doubleheader is always emotional. Both the Mount Royal Cougars and the U of C Dinos want to win, and they want to do it in front of the largest audience of the year. As each squad only plays the other four times a year, it’s a game of high-stakes heart and hustle. At this year’s event on Jan. 29, the head count was 11,490, roughly half Cougars fans and half Dinos fans. The number was well ahead of last year’s total of 10,478 attendees, but still short of the all-time record of 12,859, set in 2016. Fans were treated to two furiously hard-fought battles, with the women’s game ending in a disappointing 2-1 loss for the Cougars after a stellar performance by the Dinos goalie. Cougars captain Shawni Rodeback described her team’s efforts as good, but not good enough. “We needed to have people in front of the net. We just couldn’t get it,” she said. A notoriously tough match, the last three years have seen the men’s edition of the Crowchild Classic go into double overtime to determine a winner. This year the game was decided just three seconds before the final buzzer, with the Dinos edging out the Cougars 2-1. “We took it to them for two periods, and of course we were expecting a push in the third, but we weren’t able to capitalize on a couple power plays at the end,” said Cougars captain Grant Baker after the game, adding that the team shot itself in the foot by taking two penalties at the end. Student Brittany Graham, a Mount Royal business major with a concentration in finance, won $5,000 towards her tuition during the second intermission. Get to know your Mount Royal University Cougars at










Exposing true ‘Identity’

May 7 George Canyon, Doc Walker, Charlie Major

For the second year in a row, Mount Royal is taking part in Alberta’s annual photography festival, Exposure. Curated by Curtis Desiatnyk, manager of Insurance and Operational Risk at Mount Royal and long-time member (now chair) of the University Art Committee, the 2019 installation features the work of four photographers. Desiatnyk originally chose gender as the theme, but noticed as the submissions started to stack up that the theme morphed into identity. “It became less about gender and more about acceptance and finding your place in the world. It wasn’t just gender, but race, age, culture and everything else that helps us interpret who we are.” The artists and their works are: »» Sanja Lukac — The Trouble with Beauty & Syllable series »» Kaitlin Moerman — Untitled, Life-Size Self-Portrait »» Ellen FitzGerald Reichbart — The Space in Between series »» Francis Willey — Natasha Brite, Mo B Dick, Drag King

May 12 Calgary Youth Orchestra

The public is invited to view the exhibition on Main Street near the East Gate entrance.

June 12 Dave Kelly Live — Father’s Day Special

Get your tickets at TAYLORCENTRE.CA




Kaitlin Moerman — Untitled Moerman's (almost) life-size self-portrait hanging on Mount Royal's Main Street is mounted into a white frame with acid-etched glass. About her photo she said, "The ratio of flesh to bone. The colour of my skin, hair and eyes. The height at which I stand. Education, interests, professions and pursuits. Placement within political, social, sexual and economic realms. These factors make up how I see the world and my position within it."


Lindsay Jones, owner, Luxura Diamonds P OW ER I N G



MRU to play key role in Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

Mount Royal University has been chosen to play a key role in the newly announced Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). On Dec. 3, Mary Ng, federal minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced the WEKH consortium, led by Ryerson University in Toronto, that will receive nearly $9 million over three years. MRU is one of eight regional hubs and the only university chosen in Alberta. The WEKH will advance research, gather important data and disseminate information related to the advancement of women’s entrepreneurship endeavours in Canada. “Women entrepreneurs will bring different competencies and focus on solving different problems, which will enhance the potential for future economic and societal growth,” said Elizabeth Evans, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies. Lindsay Jones, who graduated from MRU in 2011 with a Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management, owns Luxura Diamonds in Calgary. She said gender should never be a deciding factor in success, “yet female entrepreneurs face very real challenges.” The seven other regional hubs are VentureLabs in Vancouver, the University of Manitoba, the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise in Thunder Bay, Carleton University in Ottawa, Université de Montréal, OCAD University in Toronto and Dalhousie University in Halifax.

MRU faculty and alumnus make Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 Calgary’s Avenue magazine’s annual celebration of local innovators, educators and entrepreneurs acknowledged three exceptional members of the Mount Royal community.

“I’m passionate about promoting girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and supporting students interested in pursuing careers in STEM.” Christy TomkinsLane, PhD Associate Professor, Health, Community and Education As an exercise scientist, Tomkins-Lane focuses her research on the use of advanced analytics and wearable technology to diagnose and treat disorders that limit mobility. Her work is recognized worldwide as changing the way care providers use technology to understand health and prescribe exercise as medicine.

“My teaching goal is to inspire students to be critical thinkers and engaged citizens, contributing to the betterment of society.”

“Mount Royal gave me a well-rounded journalism education. I complained at the time, but now use that training nearly every day.”

Sean Carleton, PhD Assistant Professor, General Education As a historian of Indigenous-settler relations, Carleton shows students how an understanding of the past can help people build reciprocal relations between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians as a whole. Carleton’s scholarly contributions and commitment to community engagement have made him a leading historian in Canada. He also received the 2018 MRU Research Award — Emerging Scholar for his academic accomplishments.

Jeremy Klaszus, Bachelor of Applied Communications ­— Journalism (2006) Founder of The Sprawl As an award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience, Klaszus is a pioneer of “slow journalism.” Functioning in pop-up mode, The Sprawl, a (mostly) online publication, digs deep and focuses on a single story over weeks, even months. Last year, Klaszus partnered with the Calgary Journal, produced by MRU journalism students, to cover the 2026 Olympic Winter Games debate.









MRU site of historic nursing announcement New regulations that expand the scope of practice for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) were announced at MRU by the Government of Alberta in November. These front-line health-care professionals will now be able to prescribe drugs in travel clinics, sexually transmitted infection programs and workplace health and safety clinics. RNs will not be able to prescribe controlled substances. NPs will also now be able to set bone fractures. “For students like me — the nurses of the future — this is excellent news. We will be part of the solution: expanding how we can care for patients in Alberta,” said fourth-year student Nicole Takeda. “Data shows that nurses spend the most time with patients, so this is an efficient way to improve access and timely care for patients. This is exciting news and we will confidently train nurses for these expanded roles,” said Murray Holtby, PhD, chair of the School of Nursing and Midwifery.




New capabilities for midwives announced



In January, the Government of Alberta announced that midwives who complete additional training and are authorized by the College of Midwives of Alberta can now prescribe, dispense and administer a broader range of prescription drugs, contraceptives and contraceptive devices, and, in a hospital, benzodiazepines (used for anxiety and insomnia) and narcotics. They can also prescribe and administer vaccines, insert intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs), provide prescription drugs to induce labour and use ultrasounds to determine fetal position. Midwife-assisted births in Alberta have increased 30 per cent over the last two years. In 2018, nearly 3,600 parents received the support of a midwife, up from 2,400 three years ago. About 56,000 babies were born in Alberta in 2018.





Business alumni Zac Hartley and Torin Hofmann were motivated to start their Smoke Barrel brand at Mount Royal, crediting a LaunchPad accelerator course they took with Ray DePaul, director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for providing the underpinning they needed. They then had a huge breakthrough when Smoke Barrel won a $30,000 investment at MRU’s annual JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition, sponsored by JMH & Co., an Alberta accounting firm, as well as the Busy Foundation, LaBarge Weinstein LLP and Bridgewater Labs. Smoke Barrel created smokers from wine barrels, but after merging with the founder of Burgundy Oak, they took on that moniker. Burgundy Oak also reuses wine barrels to create beautiful handmade furniture and decor. The pair, along with their two additional partners from Burgundy Oak, appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den — the ultimate TV pitch competition — on Oct. 11, 2018. They ended up taking a deal with three Dragons for more cash than they asked for, receiving $250,000 for 15 per cent of their company. Hartley and Hofmann found success because of their own drive, but they credit MRU with preparing them for the realities of being entrepreneurs. “When you start a business, you end up in this ‘trough of sorrow,’ because there’s no end when you’re building,” Hofmann said. “But Mount Royal gave us this great network of people we can turn to as mentors,” Hartley said. “We just want to be the Calgary boys who made it. Not the Silicon Valley boys that got a ton of funding and failed. We’ve bootstrapped this whole thing, and we’re pretty proud of that,” Hofmann said. Read the whole story at

Leslie Blondahl and Michal Waissmann, Summit's digital designer and art director, won the Digital Presence category of the 2019 Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Awards for their work on the web version of "Cybersecurity Warriors: Frontline of Defence," which was written for the magazine's spring/summer 2018 edition. The design was based upon a concept created by graphic designer Emily Eom. Check it out at



Backstage at the Dragons’ Den

A job well done



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You did what?

Alumni, student and faculty awards and accolades

CHALLENGING ENTRENCHED IDEAS ABOUT RELIGION Professor Steven Engler, PhD, along with three Brazilian colleagues, were awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Explore Grant and a Collaborative International Research Grant from the American Academy of Religion for a project on ritual polyphony in AfroBrazilian religions. The team will do fieldwork on Afro-Brazilian temples in Brazil, studying rituals that challenge how schools think about religions as discrete entities and religious identities as mutually exclusive.


DOUBLE SSHRC GRANTS FOR CHILD STUDIES PROFESSOR Associate Professor Cynthia Gallop, chair of the Mount Royal University Human Research Ethics Board, is the recipient of two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants. The first is an Individual Partnership Engage Grant and the second is an Explore Grant. The child studies and social work professor’s scholarly interests include community service learning, interpretive research and Indigenous knowledge and practice.


PROVINCIAL RECOGNITION FOR PROFESSOR Child studies and social work professor Gaye Warthe, PhD (also the associate dean of the Faculty of Health, Community and Education), earned an Inspiration Award from the Government of Alberta for her research on dating violence. Her work is described as the largest multiyear incidence and prevalence study on this issue in Canada. Stepping Up, MRU’s peer-facilitated dating and family violence prevention program, was also awarded.

SOCIAL INNOVATION AWARDS GO TO OTAHPIAAKI FOUNDERS Taryn Hamilton and Spirit River Striped Wolf each presented and won Best in Stream at the International Social Innovation Research Conference at RuprechtKarls-University in Heidelberg, Germany. The two were the only undergraduates to present their work. Their topics were, “Otahpiaaki Law Keepers: Attributional Justice, the Role of Elders and Decolonizing the Intellectual Property of Indigenous Creatives,” and “Challenging Scarcity: Nation-to-Nation Policy Imperatives for Indigenous Community Prosperity.”

MIDWIFERY STUDENT RECEIVES MÉTIS AWARD Bachelor of Midwifery student Noelle Antonsen received the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Award last fall from elder Doreen Bergum. The award helps Métis Albertans realize self-sufficiency through postsecondary education and skills development. It was established in 2001 by the directors of the Canative Housing Corporation, Orval Belcourt, Herb Belcourt and Georges Brosseau.

Tarandeep Kainth

STUDENT HONOURED FOR PROMOTING POSITIVE CHANGE Aboriginal Education Program student Gleniela Ariel Crawler, was selected as a 2019 Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation for her work promoting Indigenous rights throughout North America, including advocating for clean water. From Kiskan Waptan (Stoney-Nakoda), Crawler is a general science student.

PROVOST AMONG COMPELLING CALGARIANS Provost and VicePresident, Academic Lesley Brown, PhD, was named one of the Calgary Herald’s 20 Compelling Calgarians in 2019. In addition to leading the academic division, Brown is an accomplished scholar in the field of kinesiology, with a research specialization in balance and fall prevention in the elderly and people with Parkinson’s disease.

PRESTIGIOUS GRANT PRESENTED FOR RESEARCH INTO ORE-FORMING PROCESSES Associate Professor Michelle DeWolfe, PhD, was awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Partnership Grant for the project,“Evaluating mineral potential of the Winter Lake greenstone belt, Slave craton, Northwest Territories.” Volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits rich in copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold are formed by hydrothermal venting near the seafloor and may be present in the ancient Winter Lake belt. DeWolfe’s research focuses on understanding both ancient and modern submarine volcanic successions and ore-forming processes related to volcanism.

NATIONAL ACCOLADES FOR JOURNALISTIC ACHIEVEMENT Journalism student Huyana Cyprien was named as a 2019 Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship recipient, the fourth Donaldson scholar to emerge from the program. In announcing the winners, the CBC pointed to work that Cyprien and fellow students did on a multimedia project reporting on the Ukrainian internment camps of the First World War.

WORKING TO BRING HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO A HALT Professor John Winterdyke, PhD, of the Department of Economics, Justice and Policy Studies, received a grant from the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development to deliver an international workshop on preventing human trafficking. The project is part of India’s Global Initiative of Academic Networks, which recruits global experts on world issues.

MOUNT ROYAL SWEEPS STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS For the fifth year in a row an MRU student was named Calgary’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The first and second runners-up were also from the University. Thirdyear Bachelor of Business Administration student Tarandeep Kainth won for his sharing platform called Sharyeo. He also took home $30,000 in the 2019 JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition. Fourth-year public relations student Elissa Grohne’s company Swearit came second and Bachelor of Arts — English student Alexandra Daignault’s creation Sarjesa came third.

INAUGURAL AWARD GOES TO INFORMATION DESIGN PROFESSOR Associate Professor Milena Radzikowska was the recipient of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers’ inaugural Educator Award of Excellence. She was a founding member of the information design program, and the award recognizes outstanding contributions to student development and pedagogical research in the field.

ALUMNA GARNERS THREE INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS Bissett School of Business alumna Corinne Thiessen was one of six women to win a Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship from Zonta International. She then secured the Zonta District 8 scholarship and the Zonta International scholarship. Zonta International has provided over US$40.9 million to empower and support women. MRU.CA /SUMMIT




Who are the students of MRU? In 1911, Mount Royal opened with 197 students, less than two per cent of the number today. The school has grown a lot over the years, and along with that, the student population and its educational offerings have evolved as well. * Numbers from the 2017/18 academic year.









Source: Learner and Enrolment Reporting System and the 2017/18 Enrolment Report Card Provided by: Mount Royal’s Institutional Analysis and Planning





37.3% 62.7%





1. Mount Royal has 9,809 full-load equivalent (FLE) students. FLE is an annual measure of course-taking activity by students in all ministry approved programs. 2. International student proportion excludes all students in the following programs: Inbound Exchange, International Contract, Languages Institute, Aboriginal Education Program, English as a Second Language and Transitional Vocational Program.




Learning in height, width and depth It’s the ultimate hack: Bachelor of Science — Health Science student Stian French used a 3D printer in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre’s Maker Studio to make … another 3D printer. He found a publicly accessible design and was supported by Maker Studio specialist Kerry Harmer. The studio’s six 3D printers are available for use by students, educators, staff and the public. French, who plans to apply to medical school after graduating from Mount Royal, was a novice with technology at first. He is now learning 3D-modelling and hopes to print prosthetics for his fourth-year capstone project. “I love building things. Growing up, I always had Bionicles and Lego. The idea of building a 3D printer that can build things that I design was perfect,” French says. Currently, 16 MRU courses include projects that must be completed in the Maker Studio, but enrolment in them is not a requirement for anyone to use the space, equipment or knowledge of the staff. “It’s a democratic space where everyone feels welcome,” Harmer says. “We’re in a library, so we’re a resource, just like all the books and all the other resources that are in the building for everybody.” As the technology becomes more common, Harmer hopes there will be even more opportunity. The desktop 3D printers at the Maker Studio print with resin or plastic filament in a variety of colours, a single colour at a time, which is standard, but does come with some limitations. Changes to the types of material that can be put through a standard 3D printer will also dramatically change what can be done, Harmer says. Although 3D-printed houses and steel bridges are a reality, the industrial materials that need to be put through the printers are only available for the construction business’s big players. “When innovative 3D printing materials, for instance resin with embedded conductive properties, are available for desktop 3D printers at a low cost, entrepreneurs and small businesses will be able to do more,” she says. — With files from Ruth Myles and Rob Petrollini

COPYRIGHT COMPLICATIONS Just as with many new technologies, legislation is struggling to keep up with the implications of using 3D printers. They have been used for a lot of positive projects, but have also been used to fashion weaponry and obsolete machinery and to skirt laws around proprietary ownership and copyright. Mount Royal copyright adviser Alana Gaulin says that 3D printing raises many intellectual property concerns and can be used to violate protections under patent, industrial design, trademark, copyright and common laws.

As well, the source code files used to create items are also literary works protected by copyright and cannot be replicated. “For these reasons, we can’t simply treat a 3D printer as we would a photocopier,” Gaulin explains. “Nor can we assume that the user rights available under the Copyright Act apply to 3D printing, even in private, non-commercial settings.” Maker Studio staff manage all requests on a case-by-case basis. “There is a clear copyright statement in all of our orientations, workshops and documentation,” says Harmer.





Research brings industry knowledge and community mindedness into the classroom WORDS BY MARLENA CROSS

Mount Royal University’s professors are connecting with industry partners and their communities to challenge long-held beliefs, improve student wellness and introduce progressive policies for workplaces and the planet. Research at Mount Royal is leading towards change — for the better. Shaping the world we live in, this sampling of current initiatives demonstrates the impact of this ongoing work.


Working with industry to reclaim the land Assistant Professor Felix Nwaishi, PhD, investigates how development in the oil and gas sector affects ecosystems, especially in the Alberta oilsands region. An ecosystem scientist, Nwaishi is exploring how plants, soil and water interact in natural and disturbed environments. His aim is to identify ecosystem functional indicators, which regulators can use to assess the recovery of disturbed sites. “Industry has a regulatory requirement to reclaim disturbed sites,” Nwaishi says. “My work bridges environmental scientific knowledge, government policy and industry guidelines.”



SHIFTING THE NARRATIVE FROM SORROW TO STRENGTH “Resilience is born from a deep suffering,” says Gabrielle Lindstrom, PhD, assistant professor of Indigenous studies. Lindstrom is looking to the research community and to elders to change the narrative. “It’s really about reframing,” she says. Lindstrom’s research informs her teaching and builds connections between Indigenous and western learners. She says these connections are the key to reframing what needs to happen to build the kind of Canada they all want to see.

LEVERAGING OUTDOOR SPACES AS LEARNING PLACES Assistant Professor Shannon Kell, PhD, of the Department of Health and Physical Education, is using the Mount Royal campus as a microcommunity to study the use of outdoor spaces, with an aim to get more students outside to enhance their learning and well-being. “Younger people are less inclined to be outside. We have to teach them,” she says. A cross-campus survey identified that Mount Royal is underusing its outdoor spaces. Through her research, Kell hopes to change that at MRU and on campuses everywhere.

RECOGNIZING FATHERS IN THE WORKPLACE Rachael Pettigrew, PhD, assistant professor in the Bissett School of Business, is exploring how employer culture and policies can help employees — particularly men — to manage their work and family responsibilities. Pettigrew is investigating the possible reasons preventing men from taking parental leave, such as stigma and managerial attitudes. Pettigrew explains that 90 per cent of employees who take parental leave are women, but this is changing. “Fatherhood is virtually invisible in the workplace,” she says. “Organizations recognize now that diversity in the workplace offers a competitive advantage.”

BUILDING TRUST TO ENHANCE INDIGENOUS RESEARCH In her role as the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous studies for Mount Royal, Tracy Friedel, PhD, confronts the heavy issues of educating Canadians about our colonial past, building communities and changing the way we engage Indigenous communities in research. “It’s taken us a long time as a country to get to this point (of reconciliation),” Friedel says. “We’re asking Canadians to be there alongside us, but in so doing to examine their own subjectivities and privilege, and what this work will mean for relationship-building going forward.”

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ACTIVISM AND POLITICS Public relations assistant professor Peter Ryan, PhD, tackles how online activists and influencers affect corporate and political decisions. Ryan’s work demonstrates how politicians’ digital footprints must remain consistent with their authentic and lived selves to maintain support and win elections. “We can better understand controversial issues and crises of our time by tracking online conversations to establish how dominant groups and voices on the web influence corporate and political organizations,” Ryan says.

This is research at Mount Royal.





Through the eyes of a Cougar The Mount Royal Cougars have finished their seventh season going head-to-head against rivals in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference, which operates underneath the U Sports banner. Many major inroads were made as the teams had strong showings on the court, ice and pitch, with all but one team qualifying for post-season play. The Cougars also led the way in the classroom, with 68 of the 166 student athletes being named as Academic All-Canadians, having maintained an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year, an unprecedented achievement. WORDS BY JONATHAN ANDERSON







With 11 new players, women’s hockey iced its best season to date, setting a Cougars record for points and wins in a single season and emerging victorious from their first playoff game in program history. Stand-out players include Breanne Trotter, who was named Canada West Rookie of the Year; Anna Purschke, who received the Student Athlete Community Service award; and Tatum Amy, who was awarded a second team all-star.

For the fifth consecutive year the men’s hockey side advanced to the semi-finals partly in thanks to a stellar performance by first-year goaltender Riley Morris, who earned an add to the conference’s all-rookie roster. A handful of seniors also showcased spectacular on-ice performances. Zack Henry, Grant Baker, Colin Cooper and David Stephens were all instrumental during the regular season. Connor Rankin also took home the Canada West Sportsmanship and Ability award.

The women’s soccer program achieved its highest point total and division seeding since entering U Sports. Newcomer Rose Hemans from England made an instant impact and was named a Canada West all-rookie, and Quinn Hardstaff became a second team all-star. Erin Holt had a historic season, breaking the MRU record for points.

During the 2018 men’s soccer campaign, the team’s consistency of effort on and off the field never faltered. The men’s season ended in the quarter finals of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Next year the club will have the most returning student athletes to date, with the program only graduating three players (Jake Vickers, Rohin Nazari and Branden Canejo).

RESULTS  11-14-1

RESULTS  12-11-5

RESULTS  6-6-2

RESULTS  5-8-1 Results are from regular season competition.



SHOW YOUR PRIDE Use the discount code SUMMIT2019 to receive 20% off all merchandise excluding texts and course supplies at








Having now made the playoffs for five of the past seven seasons, the women’s volleyball team was able to sneak in again by playing their best during the last week of the year. A big part of their success was thanks to fifthyear Nicky Zalasky, who was a force at the net and was in the top five in blocks per set in Canada West. Dholi Thokbuom also looks to be a shining star in the making.

The men’s volleyball team achieved numerous program milestones this season. Throughout the majority of their campaign they were ranked among the top five teams in Canada. For the first time in their program’s (and in Cougars’ history), the men qualified for the U Sports national championships.

With a focus on development, the women’s b-ball side spent the majority of their season playing one first-year, one second-year, two third-years and one fourth-year in their starting lineup. A total of seven first-year athletes saw playing time over the course of the year. Most of the competitors relied heavily on the experience of fourth- and fifth-year players.

For the first time in program history the MRU men’s ballers took to the hardwood in U Sport playoff action, but ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs to the University of Regina. Matthew Guinto had a breakout season, leading the team in three-pointers.

RESULTS  12-12

RESULTS  15-7

RESULTS  2-18

RESULTS  8-12

SERVING UP HISTORY — MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TYLER SCHMIDT • All-time kills and points leader in Canada West history • U Sports first team all-star • Canada West first team all-star

LUIS LANGE • U Sports all-rookie team • Canada West all-rookie team

TANNER GREVES • Canada West second team all-star



e c u Br e r e h s a w






Believe it or not, Bruce McCulloch of The Kids in the Hall fame is a Mount Royal alumnus. And he happened to learn a thing or two while on campus.

Growing up in Calgary during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Bruce McCulloch’s wacky — but deeply observant — sense of humour flew in the face of his hometown’s conservatism, which he describes as “an oilman’s and businessman’s playground.” His unique outlook led to him being labelled as “kind of weird,” but McCulloch didn’t run from the epithet. In fact, he continues to revel in oddity. “I never felt more ‘alternative’ than I did in Calgary,” McCulloch says. That dichotomy just might be one of the reasons he ended up so darn funny. He credits — with much feeling — his time doing improv with Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre Company as instrumental to his career, saying the long-time bastion of original stage performances launched his development as a comedian, actor, writer and producer. McCulloch’s TV show Young Drunk Punk (which unfortunately only ran for one season) was an award-winning semi-autobiographical series celebrating McCulloch’s interpretation of growing up in Calgary, a place where he says fisticuffs were thrown often, but where it was also easy to explore individuality. McCulloch went so far as to shoot part of the series in Brae Glen, a complex in the southwest community of Braeside where he grew up. McCulloch left the city in 1984 for Toronto, where he and fellow Calgarian Mark McKinney joined up with Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald. Together, they were already known as The Kids in the Hall, a moniker they kept for the sketch comedy troupe McCulloch is perhaps best known for being a part of. Scott Thompson became the final member, and the gang went on to have their own self-titled show on CBC. The series, which also aired in the U.S. on HBO, CBS and Comedy Central, ran from 1989 to 1995.



We all have our garbage bags to bear His personality often leads him to get into trouble “just for the sport of it,” says McCulloch, who took public relations, journalism and business courses at Mount Royal in the early ’80s. “I throw myself into situations for the hell of it and always have. I was talking to my sister about Bagels and Buns in Calgary and how I put my grad suit out the window on a fishing line above the street high enough that no one could grab it, and I just kept it there for weeks until someone stole it. For no other reason than it was interesting to me.” That tendency unexpectedly folded nicely into the journalism courses McCulloch took, which resulted in being “profoundly important for what I ended up doing,” he says, even though he didn’t realize it at the time. “I remember having a teacher ask, ‘Well, what’s interesting about that? Why should I care about that?’” McCulloch says. “And that’s sort of one of the tenets as I write or oversee shows as I do. It’s like, ‘OK, well, why is that interesting, why is that important?’ “Just because it happened to you doesn’t mean it’s important. It doesn’t mean it’s important in terms of fiction or creativity. It has to resonate with people or be funny to people, whatever that is. So, it’s not really about you.” While he did manage to absorb that life lesson, McCulloch says, “Mostly I wandered the halls of Mount Royal with all of my work in a garbage bag because I was such a mess.”




Where the laughter comes from

Human nature can be a combination of audacity and irreverence that results in high comedy, and McCulloch is an expert in its examination. He’s working on his second book, Tales of Bravery and Stupidity, and performed vignettes from it during a January appearance at Mount Royal’s Bella Concert Hall. The show was kicked off by Cathy Jones, who is most known as a performer and writer on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and contained several references to Mount Royal, Calgary and Alberta. It was a hilarious, but touching, trip down memory lane, with McCulloch mentioning often that society only works if people support each other, and that comedy only succeeds when society’s boundaries are tested. “The stories (in Tales of Bravery and Stupidity) are really about how I get myself into situations, in some ways, almost to create material,” McCulloch says, but he is well aware of this idiosyncrasy and how it makes him, well, himself. His first book, Let’s Start a Riot, was released by Harper Collins in 2014, and contains a quote that McCulloch’s good friend Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip would eventually incorporate into a song. “The love that you get will flow right through you if you don’t know who you are.”

McCulloch has also written and performed for network and cable television, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Schitt’s Creek and Trailer Park Boys. His robust show biz resume includes the one-man shows Jazz Stenographers, The Two-Headed Roommate, Slightly Bigger Cities and The Pink Dot Stories. Although he recently moved back to Toronto after 20 years in the Hollywood Hills, McCulloch says Calgary will always be home to him. Of the city’s current economic woes, he says, “It’s interesting. I left in ’84, which is kind of the last ‘official’ economic bust that Calgary had. Some of my best friends in the world are at One Yellow Rabbit. And I feel like, obviously, some of the boom helps fund the arts. But a booming economy sometimes isn’t so good for artists. They can’t find places to play, they can’t find apartments, they can’t find things. A downturn can help balance out a city because the people who aren’t just the rich people ordering $15 glasses of Malbec on a Friday get a shot.” He definitely doesn’t want Calgary to struggle, but he points out the city might just be more resilient than people think. “We want Calgary to be fine, and of course it will be fine,” McCulloch says, noting the good stuff will stick around. Or come back, just like he did.



Mount Royal is, and always has been, a safe place to not only get an education, but to discover who you are — in a number of different ways. Here, head of print publication production for the

Calgary Journal and alumnus Brad Simm (Environmental Quality Diploma, 1978) reminisces about what it was like to be a Mount Royal student in the ’70s.




here’s a white plastic dome, about four feet in diameter that protrudes out of a rooftop patio deck on the second level of Mount Royal University. It blends in with the surrounding weather-beaten wood planks and the concrete tables and walls so passersby have to look twice to even notice it, let alone wonder what the heck it is. The dome is, or was, a skylight that the architects who created Mount Royal’s futuristic Lincoln Park campus implanted overtop a long-forgotten student playground brimming with pure bliss and adventure. It wasn’t always frosted white. When the campus opened in 1972, the dome was clear enough that you could peer down and watch groups of frosh roam around decked out in their bell-bottoms, long hair swinging, mingling in the earth tone stylistics of the day. Once in a while they’d see you gazing at them and they’d wave back, big grins slapped across their fun-lovin’ faces. Why so happy? Directly beneath the dome was one of a number of student attractions that made Mount Royal a special place.

The Games Room was a large open area stuffed full of pool and foosball tables, rows of pinball machines and, of course, a big shiny jukebox pumping out all the hits ranging from the foot-stomping boogie of ZZ Top to Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” to Sabbath’s death blues, Grand Funk’s “We’re an American Band,” Zeppelin’s bombastic thunder and Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust strut before veering off into the acoustic pop of Cat Stevens, Carole King and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Looking in at the party below was forbidden, particularly when you’re a pack of scrawny high-schoolers scrambling around the building’s roof like cat burglars. But being typical teenagers, exploring their minds through various substances and howlin’ at the psychedelic moon was full-on fun. Especially when security guards were below waving their flashlights and yelling, “We know you’re up there. We’ll call the police!” Our snickering response, while lying on our bellies out of sight, was “Yeah, yeah, you do that.” Soon enough, we’d get to know and like campus security a whole lot more.



Back in the day, 1976 to ’78 was a fine time to go to MRU, or MRC, as it was still a community college. In fact, it was a godsend. If you came up through the Calgary school system, you had to ace the 10-20-30 matriculation game to get into academia. If not, taking up a (respectable) trade at SAIT was the best option, or stay labouring, quite literally, in the ranks for the City of Calgary with your “general” high school diploma. (To be fair, working for the City was a valuable education in itself. Most of my high school friends did at least one tour of duty with Parks and Rec or Streets and Roads. Many took that experience and built on it.) But I was still a teen in the late ’70s at MRC, and getting retrofitted for the professional world wasn’t always at the front of my gooey little brain. In addition to the party in the Games Room, a big draw to MRC was the building. Its radical open-concept design obliterated classrooms and encouraged social and personal interactions that extended beyond academia. The architecture was bold and beyond: angular, modernistic slabs of rock jutting out of the prairie landscape like a space-age creation, a secret James Bond compound, part scientific, part paradise. There was nothing institutional about the esthetics of MRC’s interior. The sun beamed down through numerous skylights (many now covered up), lighting up extended corridors that, in contrast to the futuristic design, were intended to give you the feeling of sauntering along cobblestone streets lined with cafés in the heart of Paris, complete with lampposts and store facades.

Next door to the Games Room, the Rathskellar was sunken below the main floor, built to feel like stepping into an 18th-century German beer hall, complete with cosy wood booths with burgundy leather seats. In the back section, pillars extended to the ceiling and arched over a landing to a secluded Gothic wine cellar experience. Booze wasn’t a mainstay of the Rathskellar — coffee, kettles of soup and carving your initials or witty words into the wood tables were more popular pastimes. Yes, it was quite revolutionary. Not only a fantastic place to meet people, but post-secondary education re-envisioned! And then there was the forum (with a name confusingly lowercase), an open public space intended to host speakers and various social events, nestled in the centre of campus. Essentially it was an open auditorium that extended from the basement to the second floor, with elevated seating on three sides facing a large stage with a dance floor in the middle. It opened up to a wrap-around mezzanine on the third floor that had some seating, but was mostly a place to hang over the edge and watch what was going on way down below. The forum was ground zero for the most fabulous times. Thursday was pub night from 4 to 8 p.m., with tables full of kids on every level drinking beer from plastic cups. Music blared from the PA, sometimes a local beginner band played, but the focus was on tipping a few back and making new friends. Sometimes not making friends, when inconspicuously you’d toss a full cup of beer from the top level, bombing some poor victim down below in a wash of Molson Canadian. Students hired on as security just smirked and looked the other way, unless a full-tilt beer brawl erupted.

Blueprint of the forum circa 1980 24


On Friday and Saturday nights the Students’ Association hired Calgary’s best bands and some touring acts, as well. I clearly remember seeing the power-rock outfit Hammersmith, fronted by vocalist Doran Beattie and guitarist Danny Lowe, local rock ’n’ royalty who formed the city’s first garage bands in the wake of the Beatles. Hammersmith was signed to a major label and released some singles, including “Funky as She Goes,” “Late Night Lovin’ Man” and “Low Ridin’ Ladies.” Yup, there’s a whole lotta livin’ in them tunes. Regina’s Streetheart, who would have a huge hit with their disco version of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” also left a lasting impression.

Fosterchild – 1979

But Spunk, one of Calgary’s premier bar bands, featuring a young Mike Reno of Loverboy fame, tore the place apart. Even though they played mostly covers, the stage sizzled! And so did the crowd. Glenn Hogan, who’s been employed by MRU with building operations since 1982, recalls seeing a room capacity sign outside the forum stating the maximum occupancy was 700. However, digging around the archives of the Calgary Journal (which then had the sci-fi tag, Journal 3009), cub reporters cited that forum cabarets usually had from 800 to 1,000 attendees. Security was obviously a friendly bunch! What was special about those forum shows, like MRC itself, is that they offered an alternative to the city’s clubs and bars. The oversized taverns attached to hotels, some of them hangouts for biker gangs, could be pretty rough for suburban kids looking to shake loose. The forum was a great, safe space that embodied what the community in college meant. In the late ’80s, an expansion of the campus did away with the forum; chopped it up so that it became just another formal lecture hall (part still exists as the Jenkins Theatre). What a shame. It’s hard to fathom how a public space like that, which was originally designed to be multipurpose, couldn’t have lived on as the pleasure palace it once was. All that’s left is a four-foot wide plastic bubble jutting out of the patio floor, the gateway to a student playground that used to be. Let us know of a special Mount Royal memory! Send your stories and pictures to @mruAlumni.

One Horse Blue – 1979 MRU.CA /SUMMIT


Keeping teachers at the head of the class Mount Royal’s collaborative model for its Bachelor of Education — Elementary is being copied around the country. WORDS BY RUTH MYLES PHOTO BY CHAO ZHANG ILLUSTRATIONS BY MIKE POON




or all the talk of problems facing public education — overcrowded classrooms, outdated curriculum, crumbling infrastructure — there’s a significant challenge that’s often left out of the conversation: the teacher attrition rate. Approximately 40 per cent of beginning teachers leave the profession within five years and 25 per cent of graduates from Alberta post-secondary institutions did not assume teaching positions in the province, according to 2010 statistics from the Alberta Teachers’ Association. The extended integrated practicum in Mount Royal’s Bachelor of Education — Elementary (BEd) program is tackling those troubling numbers by graduating experienced and resilient alumni. “It’s shocking. It’s a huge concern for everyone,” says Kevin O’Connor, PhD, associate professor and department chair. The opportunity to help build the University’s new teacher education curriculum from scratch brought O’Connor to Mount Royal from the University of Ottawa in 2012 as MRU launched the degree. BEd students are in the classroom in the very first semester of their very first year. O’Connor and Professor Gladys Sterenberg, PhD, have built numerous in-school field experiences into the program through internal and external research funds. The “heart and soul” of the direct entry BEd is a capstone 14-week integrated practicum completed in the fourth year and supported by unique school collaborations. “We’ve tried to create an experience for our students where they’re almost mimicking their first semester as a new teacher, and we’re giving them the supports while they’re in the field,” O’Connor says of the perseverance-building practicum. “And the supports are not only at the school level, but also at the University. There’s a (Mount Royal) supervisor, the mentor teacher, the cohort of students. The experience really gives them the confidence, the identity to get through those tough first couple of years (as a teacher).” Teaching can be demanding, exhausting work, mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t start with the first bell of the day and it doesn’t end when the kids rush out at the last bell. Did this student really understand today’s lesson? Does that student have an undiagnosed learning disability? Does the class have a sense of community and caring? Are all the lesson plans and paperwork done for the day? It can all take its toll. In the fourth-year practicum students live that new career. “By week six, I usually start the seminar with a box of tissues. I put it down at the start of the meeting and everybody sort of unloads. I hear, ‘Oh, I can’t do this. It’s so hard. Nobody said it would be 12-hour days,’” O’Connor says. “On the other hand, I would say the majority — if not all — of the teachercandidates by the end of those 14 weeks of the practicum are saying, ‘What an amazing experience!’ And they’re talking like ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ teacher now. “They’ve become teachers.”



Nikkole Heavy Shields (left) and Brittney Glinsbockel at Connect Charter School

“What would the ideal teacher education program look like? What would you like to see, not only from a program perspective, but from a student-graduateteacher perspective? And how would you like to be involved in that process?” — Kevin O’Connor, chair, Department of Education



Building a better teacher Mount Royal’s program is built around academic disciplines including indigenization, extended field experiences, in-school seminars and an integrated practicum. Back in 2012, O’Connor and Sterenberg started building relationships with partner schools, one of the signature pedagogies of the newly created degree program. They reached out to four principals who were open to innovation and told them to dream big. “We asked them, ‘What would the ideal teacher education program look like? What would you like to see, not only from a program perspective, but from a student-graduate-teacher perspective? And how would you like to be involved in that process?’” O’Connor says. Mount Royal also formed partnerships with school boards and organizations including Tim Hortons, Telus Spark and the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. “With that synergy and those partnership meetings and deliberations, we started to develop an innovative, community-based program. It really came down to how do we merge coursework with practical experience?” In their fourth year, rather than taking courses that are compacted to fit in before the in-school practicum, students are taught at their practicum schools throughout the semester. There are readings and online forums, all overseen by a faculty supervisor. In-school seminars see the teacher candidates, mentor teachers and school

principals meet face-to-face to discuss that week’s topic and make invaluable theory-practice connections. Those face-to-face seminars are often the scene of “a-ha!” moments when students tie theory to what is taking place in their classroom. It’s not always in the moment, but they can relate what the group has been talking about — whether it’s a concept, chapter from a textbook or a fellow teacher candidate’s in-class experience — to their own teaching. “That’s something that we think better places them in their practice,” O’Connor explains. What started as a pilot project with four schools has grown into a success story that has school boards knocking on Mount Royal’s door to sign on and recruit graduates.

Opportunity knocks Nikkole Heavy Shields will soon be among those graduates. The fourth-year student is in the midst of her practicum at Connect Charter School in southwest Calgary. Her first day of school butterflies were allayed by the fact that her mentor teacher Brittney Glinsbockel knew exactly what she was going through. That’s because four years earlier, Glinsbockel was the teacher candidate standing in the same spot in the exact same classroom — Number 4.2. “My first day was teaching this very grade and subject. I remember feeling that this was such a unique place and it was where I wanted to be. I was just awestruck. It was ‘Wow! Is this real?’” Glinsbockel recalls. Standing by the teachers’ desks in the classroom they share, Heavy Shields laughs. “Me, too! I felt the same way. I couldn’t believe it was happening.” Glinsbockel was there for Heavy Shields during the entirety of her practicum teaching the 26 Grade 4 students in class 4.2. Glinsbockel knows first-hand the difference that support can make. She experienced it as a member of the first cohort of students to graduate from Mount Royal’s BEd program in 2015. She says her practicum at Connect was an amazing experience, and it segued into a permanent position. The teacher who mentored Glinsbockel was going on maternity leave just as the teacher-candidate was graduating. Connect asked Glinsbockel to stay on. She started her new position the day after convocation. When the maternity leave ended, Glinsbockel was brought on permanently. That fresh connection to being on the other side of the mentor-mentee relationship informs how she interacts with teacher candidates. “I have empathy for these students because I understand the demands and how rigorous this time of their life is. I can also relate in that I know the expectations of the University,” Glinsbockel says. “They have a high standard and I want to be able to hold my student teachers to that same standard so they feel prepared and accountable. When they go out into the ‘real world’ of teaching, they know what is coming.”

Follow the leader Heavy Shields, a member of the Kainai Nation from the Blood Reserve, grew up in Calgary. She graduated from Father Lacombe High School and was the 2009 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. While members of her extended family are teachers, Heavy Shields initially wanted to get into social work. She has a background in working with urban Indigenous youth, but shifted her career focus as she felt she could have a greater impact as a teacher. “I really feel that at Mount Royal, they put us at the forefront of current education pedagogy, such as inquiry,” Heavy Shields says. “They encourage us to take this model of inquiry learning and to go where it leads us. They really prepped us. Even in year one, we were in the classroom right away.” Inquiry-based learning is active learning that poses questions, problems or scenarios to the learner rather than just presenting established facts. It’s not just the teacher candidates who spend time in elementary school classrooms. Every full-time Mount Royal faculty member has to supervise a practicum. “From a personal standpoint, I believe that I am a better teacher by being connected to the schools,” O’Connor says. Another innovation has seen a teacher from Connect Charter School taking on a sessional position at Mount Royal. She recently led the Teaching Science course for third-year Mount Royal education students as part of an integrated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) semester. “She’s here sharing her experience, but then also bringing her grades 4 to 9 students with her. Then we’re able to provide support the other way to Connect,” O’Connor says. “It’s a really nice mix, too, where our student teachers and their students are coming back and forth to different environments. Everyone is talking and sharing. It’s been a win-win in all cases.” The Mount Royal arrangement is based on the Professional Development School model, in which schools, school boards and universities have memoranda of understanding to share resources. For example, a university might have two professors who work part-time in schools, while a school might send a teacher to the university to work on assessments. It’s one of the original initiatives that makes the BEd program stand out. And school boards are noticing. “At many institutions, there is a struggle to find placements. We don’t struggle with that. We are very fortunate as we have our partner schools and school boards knocking on our door and saying, ‘Can we have your students train with us?’ ” O’Connor says. That demand for Mount Royal-trained teachers carries over to employment. The program graduates approximately 90 students a year, with 80 to 85 per cent employment in the first year, which is high.



Disseminating the first knowledge of the nation As one of the pillars of the BEd program, and also part of the education department’s advancement plan, indigenization is an integral part of all aspects of the degree, department chair O’Connor explains. Indigenization can be defined as the act of embedding Indigenous knowledge and culture into every aspect of education, and Mount Royal’s program is using a two-year grant to help implement this goal. “Every course, and its individual outcomes (towards indigenization), are being mapped,” O’Connor says. In addition to a semester that incorporates Indigenous perspectives on education, students take part in practical learning experiences such as a recent visit to the Nakoda Elementary School in Morley. Seventy-nine third-year Mount Royal University teacher candidates facilitated science, technology and math lessons for students in grades 2 to 5. “I feel like what makes us stand out is our cultural competency alongside the inquiry pedagogy. There are Indigenous ways of knowing included in a lot of the classes,” Heavy Shields says, who, along with her husband Lennon First Rider (who is also a Sun Dancer), helped organize a gathering of Indigenous students, instructors and staff from the program that included dialogue with elders from the Blackfoot community. “We can go out after the new quality standard of teaching that the Indigenous education mandates and we can feel confident in applying and adapting this to our curriculum,” she says.



Granting the ability to learn In 2014, O’Connor and Sterenberg received a five-year programmatic Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant just as Mount Royal began granting degrees. At the time, the $215,990 research grant was the largest the University had ever received. “Every year for the past five years, we’ve researched those signature pedagogies, including the 14-week integrated practicum, in-school seminars, cross-curricular integration and indigenization. What we did is we followed a cohort throughout the four-year program, getting their feedback and experience of the impact of these signature pedagogies, and then continued to follow them into their first year of teaching,” O’Connor says. That cohort is now in their second year of their profession. O’Connor says the BEd is using those six years of observation to improve the program and understand how their methods have impacted the students-now-teachers’ development. “So, what happened? What worked? What didn’t?” On the practical side, the research has already paid off. The constant feedback loop has led to changes including a redesigned professional learning plan and shifting courses to create themed semesters, such as STEAM, during which science, technology, engineering, visual arts and math are taught in an integrated manner. Although the BEd is relatively new, graduates of the program are making their mark in the field. All because of a commitment to always learn from each other.


what the heck is the scholarship of teaching and learning and why should you care? WORDS BY MICHELLE BODNAR

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is one of the pillars upon which Mount Royal University has built its reputation. But it is a field that is not widely understood. The traditional university classroom conjures up the image of a professor at the front talking “at” students while they furiously scribble notes on looseleaf paper. The teacher is the “keeper of all things,” an expert, even a guru, one who cannot be questioned, one who cannot be denied. But the developing field of SoTL is looking to change this practice and perception, says Michelle Yeo, PhD, and academic director of the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISoTL) at MRU. Fundamentally practical, SoTL addresses what, at many institutions, can be a very visible gap between earning a PhD and distributing that hard-earned knowledge to students.


helping really smart people learn how to teach Being an authority in certain areas doesn’t necessarily mean you can teach what you know. But Yeo thinks the two should (and do) go naturally together. It’s just a matter of altering often-entrenched norms. Mount Royal is a teaching-focused university that has wholeheartedly embraced SoTL. But that isn’t the case everywhere. A November 2018 University Affairs article titled “SoTL: the party that no one really wants to go to,” referred to a study published by Yeo and Profesor Karen Manarin of the Department of English, Languages and Cultures; they have found that discomfort with SoTL generally comes from challenges with “subjectivity, interdisciplinarity and a shifting sense of identity.” Basically, a failure to embrace SoTL, which can be simply defined as researching post-secondary teaching practices, originates from the traditional silo mentality of higher learning.

SoTL is effective, if not always obvious The results of the 2017 Canadian University Survey Consortium survey reported that Mount Royal students have a high opinion of their professors as compared with other universities.


answer Instructors are knowledgeable in their fields.


say Professors are intellectually stimulating in their teaching.


state They are treated as individuals and not numbers.


removing barriers between academic areas Brett McCollum honoured with 3M National Teaching Fellowship Chemistry professor Brett McCollum, PhD, has been named to a prestigious group of Canadian university educators. McCollum joins the 2019 Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows, a group that has been likened to the Stanley Cup winners of university teaching. He is one of just 10 post-secondary professors from across the country to receive this honour for excellence in educational leadership and undergraduate teaching. McCollum, already a Nexen Scholar of Teaching and Learning, an Apple Distinguished Educator, a software developer and an education columnist, focuses his research on the effective use of technology for teaching and learning, chemistry language learning, open education resources and research partnerships with students. His teaching areas have included general, organic, inorganic, physical and nuclear chemistry, plus spectroscopy. Chemists, McCollum says, are experimentalists by training. This has led him to adopt an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning. “I see the scholarship of teaching and learning as a systematic inquiry into what works, what is possible and what is happening when faculty use their expertise to support students in their learning,” he says. Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Lesley Brown, PhD, says, “Brett embodies what Mount Royal University is all about in terms of putting teaching and the student experience first. We are thrilled that his groundbreaking work in the scholarship of teaching and learning has been recognized in this way.”



Departments and faculties tend to be essentially walled off from each other, understandable considering the constant competition for resources and support. Conferences and publications are slowly working to break down these solitary repositories, however. In November 2018, more than 140 professors and educators representing 45 local, national and international post-secondary institutions converged in Banff for the eighth annual Symposium on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, presented by Mount Royal’s ISoTL. Mills Kelly is the current president of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) and a history professor at George Mason University in Virginia. He understands that some may find the concept of SoTL abstract. In fact, when he first heard the term he thought it was “jargon.” But now he sees it differently. “It’s a collection of practises that are rooted in research about teaching and learning, collaboration, inclusion and analysis, and then making that public.“ Mount Royal chemistry professor Brett McCollum, PhD, is a board member for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and is highly regarded in the field. He says that for SoTL to be an effective research community, knowledge must be disseminated to help others improve their pedagogy. “We do that through conferences, we do that through journals, we even do it just emailing each other directly,” he says.

“... I am much more concerned with helping students develop the capacities and habits of mind necessary for learning not only in my courses, but also beyond them.” — Karen Manarin associate professor, Department of English, Languages and Cultures


helping students discover their place in the world While students are working to earn a degree, they are also existentially questioning how to become the people they are meant to be. SoTL is a way to support finding the answer. “You have to realize that’s one of (the students’) main objectives. So then you have to start organizing your teaching around that question,” Kelly says. “Because we usually don’t. We organize it around a body of knowledge, translating that body of knowledge, developing a set of skills, producing future professionals, and things like that.” Kelly says he speaks often with students about the various trajectories that can come from their studies, and how their learning can be applied in the world. Manarin, who also works with MRU’s ISoTL, does the same, saying, “When I was a new teacher, I was very concerned with how to deliver the knowledge I had in the courses I was teaching; now I am much more concerned with helping students develop the capacities and habits of mind necessary for learning not only in my courses, but also beyond them.”


inviting students to create knowledge, too A new initiative, but one with great momentum, is the Students as Partners movement in SoTL, where students are more than research assistants, but true equals in inquiry and discovery. “The Students as Partners movement (allows students to) engage with SoTL not only as study participants, but as co-creators — and sometimes co-authors — of meaning,” Manarin says. Fourth-year education student and research assistant Sarah Webb says she has always felt supported and respected by her research partners. She is looking into concept mapping and flipped classrooms in nursing with Yeo and Associate Professors Sarah Hewitt, PhD, and Joanne Bouma. “I’ve learned about the hidden work of professors, and gained a greater understanding and respect for what they do.”

Webb has had a number of research roles at MRU, and says that as a pre-service teacher, her experience in research has strongly influenced her understanding of student learning and her approach to teaching in the classroom. Alexis Webster, in the final year of her psychology degree, is currently researching how physical spaces impact well-being with Mount Royal’s Facilities Management department and the Healthy Campus Team. She is also a research assistant with the athletic therapy program, looking into how exposure to injuries in the field affects students’ confidence in their practice. Her data began to tell her a story, she says, and with the encouragement of Professor Mark Lafave, PhD, she has broadened her view. “I think students and professors can learn a lot from each other,” she says. Fourth-year psychology student Hannah Storrs has travelled extensively to present co-research in several different fields. Her work has been published and she is looking to publish more. Storrs worked with Assistant Professor Erika Smith, PhD, on Smith’s project delving into the world of Facebook confessions and how students are using the platform to seek help. “I personally can’t be more grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had. It really sets me apart from other students,” Storrs says, and that she is looking forward to continuing her studies after Mount Royal.


international teaching and learning reputation While the research culture at Mount Royal continues to grow, it is being integrated into classrooms as a function of teaching. SoTL has taken hold in Canada in ways it hasn’t in other parts of the world, Kelly says, adding that Alberta institutions are known as places where SoTL is held in high regard. He had been seeing studies coming out of Mount Royal long before he even encountered the University. At international conferences, Yeo says those in SoTL know Mount Royal. “I think the reason we land on the map is because it’s such a hospitable place for the study. “As an undergraduate institution, we put teaching first. I think SoTL really fits into the character of this institution.”



Navigating a new mosaic WORDS BY MARLENA CROSS

Guangzhou, China 34



oving to a different country is a nerve-racking experience for anyone, but consider being young, alone and a novice with the local language. Add that to the stress associated with the rigours of post-secondary education, having to make friends and build a support system, plus the not-so-welcoming Calgary weather, and those who choose to come here to study can only be characterized as adventurous … and brave. Vidal Zhou is a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student at Mount Royal who made the transition from her home in Guangzhou, China to Calgary in 2014. She now refers to the MRU campus as her second home, but it didn’t always feel that way. With a Chinese name of Yixin [Eee-Shing], Zhou renamed herself and launched a new life. Since then, she’s navigated her way through learning a different language, new social norms and distinct educational expectations. Now a leader among her peers, she helped establish the MRU China Social and Cultural Club and is currently the vice-president, marketing, of the group. She is also a learning peer in MRU’s Peer Learning Program and a volunteer with the International Student Support Centre on campus.

Moraine Lake, Canada MRU.CA /SUMMIT



From China to Canada S U M M I T : What is the tradition of assigning English names to Chinese students and how did you come to be Vidal? V I D A L : We start learning English in China in elementary or even preschool. My first English name was Cindy, but I thought that was too generic ... there were at least five Cindys in my class! A friend of mine bought me a bottle of ice wine as a gift after returning from Canada. I loved it so much that I made the name, Vidal, my English name. S U M M I T : How did you hear about Mount Royal University and decide to come? V I D A L : I was thinking I wanted to broaden my horizons. I applied at a few Canadian universities but my mom was being protective and wanted me to study where we had relatives. My uncle (in Calgary) helped me apply to MRU. S U M M I T : Was moving to Calgary your first-ever visit to Canada? V I D A L : In 2010, I took a trip to Canada and spent maybe only two days with my uncle’s family and went east to Toronto before going back to China. Then, when I wanted to go to MRU, I did my English Language Program for three months from January to March. Then I applied to the degree program.

Living in Calgary S U M M I T : What was your biggest challenge initially? V I D A L : That’s kind of a funny story. The first year here, I was living with my uncle. The public transit was a really huge issue for me — especially during winter. The snow was very hairy. I was waiting in the snow for a long time and didn’t know where I was going. I thought I had made a mistake, like, what am I doing here? S U M M I T : What do you like about living in Calgary now? V I D A L : It never snows in the city I’m from. So the first time I was here I was so excited about the snow, but I started to hate it, then got used to it. I love that Calgary is so close to nature. The population is definitely smaller and I just feel like it’s a more peaceful life. I am more adapted to the lifestyle here. I like skating and taking beautiful pictures.



S U M M I T : Do you have any tips for students who are moving to Calgary to study? V I D A L : Yes! Live in residence, even if you have relatives. Just go straight into residence. It would be really great. Good for making local friends (and meeting other international/ exchange students).

Settling into studies S U M M I T : How did you find your initial experience? V I D A L : First, I found that it’s not like the learning style in China. The English style we learn in China is just for exams, not for oral or actual casual language. When I was in a conversation with my local friends, they would tell a joke (more related to a TV show or some language joke), that I couldn’t understand, and I was feeling a little lost there in the conversation because I couldn’t understand their humour. I didn’t have access to Netflix in China but I have Netflix here. It’s really useful to pick up some basic shows and try to follow with subtitles. Plus, I did a lot of practise and tried not to be shy.


S U M M I T : How does the classroom environment differ from your classes in China? V I D A L : When I first got accepted to the bachelor program here, I had to try to adjust to the teaching technique for the classroom and the structure. And the professors talk really fast. I found I had to go over the notes or use office hours a little more. I feel like Canada has a higher quality education for university education in general. To get a good education in China it is very competitive for a good school, but China is making adjustments to that. I feel like the culture here, the study environment, I feel is at a higher level. Most of the students I know in class are dedicated and focused on what they’re doing. S U M M I T : MRU has a lot of collaborative projects in its learning model; have you felt comfortable working in groups? V I D A L : Honestly, I actually was a little bit scared of it during my first class, which had group projects. I wasn’t sure if I could work with people from different cultural backgrounds and from different language backgrounds as well. But, I have to try, that’s the nature of it. The group projects encourage students to eliminate the gap between school and the actual work environment.

To help create a more inclusive and respectful campus, MRU has offered all students the option to indicate a preferred name on their academic record since June 2017. This has helped international students reduce confusion in the classroom as this name is indicated on class lists and student ID cards.

MRU offers an English Language Program for students who need to upgrade their English language skills to meet the admission requirements of a degree program. The International Student Support Centre offers peer programs to practise conversational skills and Student Learning Services holds writing workshops throughout the year.

The biggest challenges S U M M I T : What’s the hardest part about being away from home? V I D A L : Being homesick. Sometimes when I got sick or got into trouble, I felt like there is no one to help me out. Even if I went to the doctor and used counselling services, I have to describe my trouble in English. That’s tough for me because I want to express myself, what I’m going through in my first language, in my mother tongue. It’s a mental health issue — that’s the hardest part. S U M M I T : Could Canadian students benefit from going to China? V I D A L : Canada is a very multi cultural society and very open. But, there are stereotypes towards the Chinese and to China, and probably towards other nations as well. I feel like, if people could have a more open mind and be open to travel experiences, it may eliminate those stereotypes. S U M M I T : Do current events and recent tensions between Canada and China make you worried? V I D A L : A little bit. I would prefer a better relationship between Canada and China. Everyone, wherever they come from, should respect the law of the place where they are. I won’t say I support Canada or China, I just want these two countries to be friends, because I value all our friendships that are building up and I don’t want it to just fade away.

Preparing for the future S U M M I T : Do you want to stay in Canada? V I D A L : I would love to stay, to be honest. During an internship in my hometown, it made me realize that maybe I am more adjusted to the society or culture here. Most of my adult life has been here, so I feel like I am more adapted to this environment. International student Vidal Zhou discovered a love of skating in Calgary.

Residence Services guarantees placement for all students enrolled in their first year at Mount Royal. MRU’s residences are also among some of the more affordable on-campus living options in the province.

While homesickness can’t necessarily be cured by an event or peer support, programs offered at the International Student Support Centre aim to bring people together who are experiencing the same thing. Mount Royal hosted its first International Education Week on campus this fall to celebrate the cultures and diversity of students on campus.

All students have access to on-campus medical, dental and mental health support. Wellness Services offers counselling and the MultiFaith Chaplaincy addresses the diverse spiritual needs of students.

Mount Royal partners with institutions all over the world, including China. The internationalization plan sets out to broaden domestic students’ world views through international field schools, work placements and exchanges, all supported by the Office of International Education.

As the University works to increase its international population, the Office of International Education has added its first regulated Canadian immigration consultant to the team. This role is crucial to supporting students who are new to Canada and considering options for their future.




hether it’s for a career in business, politics or anything outside Canada, graduating students need exposure to international practices and perspectives. Laying the foundation to ensure more students get the experiences they need to gain an edge in a globalized world is a post-secondary priority. An internationalization strategic plan is guiding Mount Royal University through a process of building the right supports for international students, enhancing research, stepping up recruitment and helping more domestic students afford the cost of international field schools and exchanges.

Calgary, Canada 38



“You’ve got to build the foundation first. That’s really what we’ve been trying to do in the last year or two,” explains Dianne MacDonald, director of the Office of International Education. “You have to create the infrastructure and the programming to support it before you say ‘here we are.’” That infrastructure includes new policies and procedures around international recruiting, says Alice MacKichan, director of the Admissions and Recruitment Office, noting that while Mount Royal has been admitting international credit students for some time, the University lacked the systems to proactively recruit from abroad. In the 2017/18 academic year, nearly two per cent of MRU’s student population of 14,258 students were international students. The goal is to increase that number to five per cent by 2025. “We’re building from the ground up and being very selective,” MacKichan says. “We didn’t have any of the infrastructure built around the agent recruitment process, as they need to recruit on our behalf.”

International agents are people working in target countries to establish relationships with interested prospective students and help them through the Canadian application process for Mount Royal. In 2017/18, Enrolment Services closely reviewed admission practices and policies through the international lens to see how they could be more friendly to the international market while still adhering to the University’s own admission policy and stringent requirements set out by Alberta and Canada. The University signed a contract with its first international recruiting agent, based in India, in 2018 and determined its best prospects are in countries where demand for an undergraduate education is high: India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. The programs of greatest interest are in science and business. “As with any recruitment cycle, if you’re going into a new market you’re looking at a minimum of three years before you break into that market,” explains MacKichan. “Internationally that can take longer. Three to five years to break into a new market would not be unexpected.” The infrastructure that’s been built also includes an International Student Support Centre on campus that offers help with career planning, resume writing, immigration support, mental health awareness and academic writing, all of which help international students succeed in a community and finish a degree. Scholarships are available (based on eligibility), and funding can also be obtained from the country of origin. “These students have made some very big life-changing decisions to move here and study at Mount Royal,” MacDonald notes. “We are known as a university that really cares about a student’s belonging, and this is one element of ensuring students feel like they belong by making them more a part of the community.”

“These students have made some very big life-changing decisions to move here and study at Mount Royal.” — Dianne MacDonald director, Office of International Education



WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT MOUNT ROYAL? MacDonald and MacKichan agree that sense of belonging is the Mount Royal advantage. Other selling points include smaller class sizes, first-name relationships with professors — and location, location, location. Calgary’s proximity to the mountains and its size are popular with international students. Recruiters also emphasize the chance to perform research and Mount Royal graduates’ readiness for grad school. These are advantages for domestic students as well. MacKichan says, “Most university students are looking for an experience that will grow their world — enhance that global perspective for them. “Imagine if you’re in a classroom and you have students from a variety of backgrounds. The conversation is going to be that much more rich, and the perspectives that much more diverse than if you were in a situation where everybody has come from the same background or perspective.” MacDonald echoes this point and says many more high school students than before are starting at Mount Royal having already travelled abroad. “More have had an international experience at the secondary level and they come in with expectations right at the beginning of the year. That’s really exciting. The global world is shrinking and they’re much more in it than before.”





“If you don’t have any global or international experiences, are you actually well-educated enough to go out into the world to work and live in our current society?” — Alice MacKichan director, Admissions and Recruitment Office

For those students who cannot or choose not to travel, the University is bringing the international experience to them. “That’s internationalization at home,” MacDonald says. “In any given week students might be communicating with friends halfway around the world. Calgary is now such a diverse cultural environment, and when you walk through our campus you see the diversity, that feeling that the world has come to us. “It’s in the community and in the classroom. More of the dialogue is about what’s taking place around the world. That helps build international and intercultural competencies. So for those students who aren’t having an international experience, how can we give them a sense of internationalization here on campus — and that’s in the classroom.” MacKichan believes that such exposure can awaken an international curiosity in all students “so that everybody learns more and experiences more, whether they’re even aware of that need or desire, which can then grow a desire for international travel, education and business.”

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY By 2025, it is hoped that 20 per cent of Mount Royal’s graduating domestic students will have had an international experience. Both MacDonald and MacKichan are optimistic there’s enough student interest to reach the target. But international field schools and exchanges are expensive, MacDonald says. Another key development this year in internationalization was securing funding that will provide financial assistance to each student who studies abroad. The University is providing this funding through International Mobility awards. “In the past we’ve cobbled together grants and whatever we could find to support the students,” she says. “Now we can actually say that there’s financial support in place for students when they study abroad, which can cost a student anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. We can also help students find additional money. “Our own students, and our own country, need this international experience to work in a global economy,” MacDonald emphasizes. MacKichan agrees. “International experience is an essential aspect of education in the world today. If you don’t have any global or international experiences, are you actually welleducated enough to go out into the world to work and live in our current society?”






inance is in flux and that’s a good thing, according to MRU alumnus Stephen Preston. Fintech, the merging of technology with financial services, is turning tradition on its head and opening a new world of opportunity — and challenges. “What’s particularly exciting about fintech is that it’s disrupting the traditional financial services industry with startups that give people access to more choices when it comes to how they spend, save and invest their money,” says Preston, who graduated from Mount Royal University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management and a concentration in finance. Since then, the entrepreneur and alternative investor has spearheaded multiple startups and international real estate projects. In 2016, he co-founded Exempt Edge Inc., a division of the Olympia Financial Group. They create software for private capital markets, which provide investment opportunities in innovative companies that are not large enough to be traded publicly. “Embracing technology and becoming a rapid innovator is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for businesses operating in the financial services industry. While it may have been a significant competitive advantage in the past, it is now mandatory and companies that aren’t rapidly innovating through technology will ultimately become obsolete,” Preston says. As millennials progress in their careers and start to generate wealth, Preston says they are demanding

more choice, transparency and DIY solutions when it comes to their finances. “Accessing our money, budgeting and investing on smartphones is the norm. There are so many opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs that understand and embrace these trends,” he says, citing blockchain (cryptocurrencies), open banking and artificial intelligence. “The emergence and adoption of new technology will continue to completely change the Canadian financial services landscape.” While much of the change has a smaller, startup feel, larger organizations and corporations are also shifting into these spaces — including giants like Apple, Google and Amazon, as well as banks and established investment firms. Business schools are also responding. The University of Lethbridge is using a $10-million donation from Calgary real estate entrepreneur Bob Dhillon to reshape its business school with a focus on fintech, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Preston believes Mount Royal is also on the right track in terms of preparing finance students for this new world. “I am a big believer in the Canadian entrepreneur and it is institutions like Mount Royal with their forward thinking that play such a vital role in preparing students for the future. The small classroom sizes made it easy to communicate deeply with my profs and my classmates and the experience was invaluable in setting me up for my career,” he says.



At the start of her Advanced Topics in Finance course, Mount Royal University associate business professor Cathy Roy-Heaton, a chartered financial analyst, writes a single word on the board: Noble. She asks students to define the word: then they discuss the state of the industry they are studying. “There’s certainly been a crisis of trust in finance since 2008/2009, and some of that lack of trust is deserved. There was a failure of ethics. I want students to understand that in their role as financial managers they are managing somebody else’s money. You are in a tremendous position of trust and you must enter the profession understanding that,” Roy-Heaton says. The advanced course for students already well-versed in traditional areas of finance such as stocks and bonds, currencies, valuations and derivatives, delves into how technology is changing all of that — fast. If the technological advances that contributed to the 2008/2009 financial crisis (think computer trading of derivatives) were a challenge then, the decade since has brought even more to grasp with fintech’s diverse collection of cryptocurrencies and programs for financial transactions and industry-specific middleware. In the course’s Future of Finance module, Roy-Heaton looks at areas of fintech that touch on payment, security, lending, insurance, capital markets, financial services and more. Students tackle case studies ranging from the lending platforms Kabbage and Lending Loop to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as the blockchain that provides the backbone to cryptocurrencies and also enhances other forms of record-keeping. While excited about their potential, Roy-Heaton says the speed at which fintech is evolving makes these disruptive technologies difficult to understand well enough to represent in a responsible way to clients.



“Every one of these things is trying to provide a solution or an alternative to the traditional way of thinking about delivering a financial service,” she says. “I kick off the course by talking about the future and talking about tech. The students are wondering about it. There’s a lot of media and information out there and it’s not always very clear what exactly the technologies are. When I teach it to our students, I want them to think of fintech as the impact of technology on finance. It is happening, and it’s going to continue to happen. It’s a matter of trying to understand where it is going.”

While banks, for example, have for decades moved money around the world and kept records electronically, they now are looking to the blockchain — a digital ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically — as a simpler, faster way of maintaining client records and possibly more. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary will join a small group of universities and colleges issuing credentials to graduating students on a secure blockchain key. The project is a partnership with On-Demand Education Marketplace built on the Ethereum blockchain. “A lot of the genesis of fintech,” Roy-Heaton says, “is asking why can’t we do this better, faster, cheaper?”

No aspect of fintech has captured the popular imagination as much as cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, even though many people barely understand what it is and how it works. A digital currency that operates outside banks and central regulators, Bitcoin uses encryption to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds. According to, it’s the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network powered by users with no central authority. Bitcoin uses the blockchain to allow a user’s computer to verify the validity of each transaction which is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses. Anyone can process transactions using special hardware and earn a reward in Bitcoins. This is Bitcoin mining. Now 10 years old, a kind of gold-rush mentality drove the price of a bitcoin through the roof in 2017. On Dec. 17 of that year it hit $19,783, but fell sharply and now sits at just above $5,000. Roy-Heaton was called on by Global News National around that time to explain Bitcoin and the mad rush to buy it, amidst a classic “fear of missing out” mentality.

“I shuddered in the fall (of 2017). The price of Bitcoin went crazy,” she recalls. “There were all these interviews with people on TV who had sold everything and gotten into the cryptocurrency craze and I would wonder, ‘Were they advised to do that? Did they consult anyone?’ It’s tragic in a way. It’s great if they make money, but they’re basically risking everything. You’re putting all your eggs in one basket and you don’t even know what that basket is.” What Bitcoin doesn’t have is any intrinsic value, which sets it apart from, for example, a house that is a physical asset with an assessed value along with the property it sits on; a stock backstopped by the value of a company; or even a national currency backed in the past by gold and now by the economy and political structure of the issuing country. “Nothing about Bitcoin fits into that,” says Roy-Heaton, who also points out that the total value of Bitcoin is small in terms of the overall GDP of Canada or the GDP of North America, which has also led to volatility in its value.

The blockchain is organized so that if more than half of the computers that are participating in the chain are not compromised, then the whole blockchain is safe. But is that enough to back something like Bitcoin? While he sees a legitimate use for a currency that is anonymous (for those engaged in civil disobedience or in legal, but sensitive activities, for example), what concerns Charles Hepler, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computing at MRU is the challenge of keeping cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin secure. “Is their theory strong enough? I would say no, but the theory for how to break them I don’t think exists either,” says Hepler. “Is the implementation bulletproof? No, nothing is bulletproof,” he points out, not even online shopping. However, he says Bitcoin is probably as safe as anything in the short term. But advances in computing will make that security even more challenging. “There’s a pretty good chance that quantum computing will enable people to break the current implementation of all the cryptocurrencies, which would mean we’d need a new version of cryptocurrency. There will have to be time to transition because quantum computers aren’t mainstream yet and they’re not very big and they don’t work very well. They can’t solve big problems. But as those things come online, that will change the way we have to do security.”



While its decentralized nature makes the energy used in Bitcoin mining hard to quantify, a large Bitcoin mining project near Medicine Hat that opened in September 2018 reportedly uses more electricity than the entire city of 60,000 people. “In order to have it be secure, more than half of the computing power has to be onsite,” Hepler says. “So that means society has to put a bunch of money into hardware and computing power. I don’t know if that’s the smartest use of hardware and electricity.” Addressing the counterfeiting problem in cryptocurrency and securing against digital disasters comes at a cost. “The idea of having a distributed system where you keep track of important records seems very sensible to me,” Hepler says. “Distributed means it’s less vulnerable to local disasters. We do that by backing things up. When you put more work into it, it’s not as efficient, but you’re getting security for it.” Ultimately, the weak link may not be the cryptocurrency itself. Like cybersecurity in general, it is individual computers and people using them that are vulnerable. “There are lots of layers to the security side that make me say, ‘I just don’t trust that stuff.’ On the other hand I don’t know that it’s less trustworthy than regular money is.”



Other cryptocurrencies are also growing and evolving. Ethereum, for example, is now 40 per cent owned by National Bank. Ripple has also made a splash, as it tries to sell itself as a “frictionless” alternative to the banks. Others include Litecoin, Dash, NEM, Monero and Zcash. “A worldwide cryptocurrency has the potential to erase borders, at least as far as money goes, remove government control from the monetary system, possibly democratize wealth and create a more equitable distribution through secure and anonymous transactions,” says Alan Fedoruk, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computing. “Of course, this also has some pretty big downsides,” he says, pointing out the attraction of anonymous currencies to criminals.

“(As well) Bitcoin already has seen big players stepping in and trying to monopolize the system, which would keep the status quo of inequality rather than mitigate it.” August institutions, including the Bank of Canada, are starting to research, experiment with and develop collaborations around cryptocurrencies, trying to understand better the benefits and risks. As reported in UToday (the University of Calgary’s online news source), during a speech, Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane said, “One of our priorities is to explore under what conditions, if any, we might recommend to the government that we issue our own digital currency.” He added the bank has a team exploring digital currencies and looking at what other central banks are doing in this area around the world.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has crept into our lives so stealthily — think Google Maps telling you where to drive and the rise of home devices such as Alexa, Google Home and Amazon Echo — that often we don’t even notice it. But AI is poised to become an even larger component of finance. “Machine learning is the hot area of AI. New techniques, like deep learning, and exponential increases in our ability to collect, store, analyze and learn from massive data sets have set the stage for machine learning to be applied across human endeavours,” Fedoruk says. Being data driven, he says, has huge opportunities for AI and machine learning. “Our global financial system is so complex that humans really don’t have the capacity to understand it in its entirety. If we could, governments would have no trouble setting the economy to rights. But as our systems learn more and more, they can help us in ways that we have not yet considered. Fraud detection and sub-second trading are only the start.

Maybe AI will be able to predict economic volatility so that it can be avoided or minimized.” AI is already managing funds to get better returns. Wealthsimple is a roboadviser geared to younger investors, while Man Group is a large asset management firm with a variety of funds that include an AI fund managed with algorithms. “At some point there is some human interface, but it’s not the day-to-day management and there’s individual investors who are buying into this and it’s growing,” Roy-Heaton says. “I don’t see it replacing all asset managers by any stretch, but certainly there’s a market and a demand there by investors looking for a fund that operates on logic as opposed to human analysis and human assessment.” In fact, another hot topic in finance these days is behavioural finance, where researchers look at how to remove biases and beliefs from investing, making managers more analytical and process oriented — some might say more like computers.

Computer education and research, meanwhile, continue to find their way into business schools, and vice versa, part of a wider trend of meshing computer education with what it is used for. “More and more, we are realizing that computing is done in a context,” Fedoruk says. “When I studied computer science in the 1980s, it was just that, computing, programming, theory, mathematics. Once I graduated and got a job, the first thing I had to do was learn about the business I found myself in.” The Bachelor of Computer Information Systems (BCIS) program and the applied degree in computer information systems and business at Mount Royal offered before are ahead of the curve, Fedoruk says. “Students gain strong technical knowledge and skills, but also a breadth and depth in business. There are great opportunities for the Bissett School of Business and the Faculty of Science and Technology to work together to provide skills in the data science arena, a natural enhancement to the BCIS.” Fedoruk says that blockchain especially has the potential to be a game-changer when it comes to AI. His research area is in multi-agent systems (MAS), which are a collection of programs and agents that work together to solve problems. MAS research has proven to be fruitful with many applications, he says, but one of the main stumbling blocks is that, just as in larger human systems like finance, some form of central control is still needed. “Blockchain provides the means to have trusted systems in place with no central control. This can change everything.”



Closing the circle Mount Royal community members are working to change the way we look at food WORDS BY JULIE MACDONALD PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA RICHES AND CHAO ZHANG



any major city, stocks of fresh food in grocery stores are typically limited to a three-day supply. Given the four million meals eaten every day in Calgary alone, it’s not a stretch to say we could be in trouble if disaster hit. Because most produce is brought in rather than grown here, it wouldn’t take long before we ran out. In addition, the Calgary Food Action Plan of 2012 notes that in the average North American home, ingredients for a meal usually travel between 1,500 and 4,000 kilometres to get to plates. Sadly, about $27 billion worth of food waste finds its way to landfills and composting outlets annually in Canada. Of that, 30 per cent is lost in the field during transportation and distribution, as well as during packaging and processing. It’s wasteful, pure and simple. So how do we produce food closer to home in a way that creates as little waste as possible? Members of the MRU community are helping to answer this question.

Aquaponics SUSTAINABLE SUSTENANCE Paul Shumlich graduated from Mount Royal with a Bachelor of Business Administration — General Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship in 2017. He is co-founder of Deepwater Farms and one of the Calgary Herald’s 20 Compelling Calgarians for 2019. He saw entrepreneurial opportunities to improve the food supply chain and wanted to show people exactly where their food was coming from. The business began taking off when it performed very well at Mount Royal’s JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition, sponsored by JMH & Co., an Alberta accounting firm, earning $30,000 in cash and in-kind services, and enabling Shumlich to focus on Deepwater full time. Shumlich’s state-of-the-art aquaponics operation produces fish, greens and herbs with little to no waste. Deepwater Farms is the first of its kind in Calgary, blazing a trail for local, sustainable food production. Aquaponics is a system of agriculture that uses the waste from aquaculture (fish farming) to supply nutrients for plants grown hydroponically (in water with no soil). In turn, these plants purify the water, which is fed back into the fish habitat. Plants grow faster because of the biologically active nutrient solution derived from the fish waste and because they are provided with the optimal environment to thrive. Food that is transported (usually taking from three to seven days) loses 25 per cent of its nutritional value within the first four days. Being grown locally, Deepwater’s kale, mustard and arugula are also higher in nutrients.

“Essentially what we’re doing is raising fish more sustainably, completely using all of the fish waste,” Shumlich says. “Typically, fish waste is just discharged into the environment and that’s where you start to see eutrophication in water systems causing the death of a lot of animal life.” Eutrophication happens when water becomes nutrient-rich and the resulting dense plant growth uses up oxygen fish and other animals need.

“It’s really putting into perspective what it takes to provide food at actual scale and feed into the food system.” Paul Shumlich, co-founder, Deepwater Farms

Deepwater is one of the first in Canada to raise the Australian barramundi fish. “We chose the barramundi because they’re friendly, we liked the accent and they think they’re still in Australia, so they swim upside down,” Shumlich laughs. In fact, the fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are marketed as upscale sea bass, making it more attractive to restaurants. More practically, barramundi are a naturally schooling fish and are faster growing and less sensitive to water quality changes than trout or salmon. “As first-time fish farmers, we needed something a little more forgiving.”



THE POWER OF AQUAPONICS • Requires only one-tenth of the water used in soil-based gardening • Creates a natural ecosystem • Uses no harmful chemicals • Is scalable and adaptable • Harvests both plants and fish • Can be created in facilities anywhere, no matter the climate




In fact, Shumlich and Deepwater co-founder Kevin Daniels have encountered a lot of “first times” as they continue to build their business, which germinated while Shumlich was attending Mount Royal. He built teams to analyze the idea in classes, creating initial traction for his venture. “Getting into the mindset that nothing ever works the first time has been important for us,” Shumlich says. “We’re problem-solving and this farm is the first of its kind, so there’s no set path for us to follow.” Shumlich credits Ray DePaul, director of Mount Royal’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with instilling in him the enterprising spirit he needed to get going. “Ray asked me at the inception of it all, ‘What is your greatest assumption?’ I said, ‘That people are going to buy this,’” Shumlich explains. “He challenged me to find one person that was going to buy our product. I decided grocery stores are too big and I didn’t have distribution to consumers door to door, so I had to go to restaurants because they were going to buy just the right amount at just the right price for our scale.” Shumlich also realized that change had to be spearheaded by chefs and restaurants. As they are market influencers, “that’s where we’ll see the trickle-down effects in the greater economy and the choices people make.”

Since then, Deepwater Farms has signed up the likes of local Calgary restaurant Ten Foot Henry, which offers a vegetable-anchored menu. The alignment between the two businesses was clear from the start and Ten Foot Henry became one of Deepwater Farms’ first customers. “Paul just did a cold call one day. He was looking for restaurants that were going to be important for his brand,” Ten Foot Henry’s chef and part owner Steve Smee says. “And ours kind of hit the mark.” Deepwater Farms hopes to continue scaling up to a point where they can export the business to major cities across Canada and, eventually, the world. “The interesting thing is, in Calgary, we’re solving year-round growth and extreme cold climate issues, whereas in somewhere like the Persian Gulf we’d be solving water shortage and extreme heat issues,” Shumlich says. It appears that Deepwater Farms is more than just a business — it’s a business that has the potential to change the world. “We’re seeing what it takes to actually feed thousands of people and what goes into that — the energy, the inputs, all the human labour — and then what the output is. It’s really putting into perspective what it takes to provide food at actual scale and feed into the food system.”


Fish grow in large tanks

Fish produce waste

Solids are filtered out of the waste

Plants clean water and water returns to fish

Plants grow on beds of water

Water is converted to fertilizer for plants



Permaculture A COMFORTABLE CO-EXISTENCE Permaculture was founded in Australia in 1974 and originally stood for “permanent sustainable agriculture.” Today, the concept has expanded. “The task set out by permaculture is to meet our needs (including food, shelter, water, waste recycling, energy, community, health, justice and livelihood) while preserving ecosystem health,” according to the Permaculture Calgary Guild. Put more simply, permaculture is caring for people while also caring for the Earth. Alumnus Jeremy Zoller created Sunshine Earth Works as a way to “connect people with soil.” He says the education he received while earning his Recreation Management Diploma gave him the necessary groundwork to create his own business. He’s been back on campus leading the development of two permaculture gardens, one near the East Residence and the other at the MRU Child Care Centre. Over the past two years, as part of Mount Royal’s TD Friends of the Environment Foundation grant, Zoller’s “food forests” have grown plants and vegetables that work in concert, rather than competing for resources. “There’s a way to garden where you are also building soil,” he says, adding that many Calgarians aren’t aware of the food growing opportunities available to them. Zoller plants several strong species that are native to Alberta, and has consulted with elders on campus to include plants traditionally used by Indigenous Peoples.

Jeremy Zoller Recreation Management Diploma, 1998



“We know communities that grow their own food are more resilient to external shocks ranging from natural and economic disasters, to interruptions in the food supply.” Tim Haney, PhD, professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

COMMUNITY GARDENS TAKING ROOT “As a disaster researcher, it’s my job to constantly ask, ‘What if?’” says Tim Haney, PhD, director of Mount Royal’s Centre for Community Disaster Research. “The saying is that, ‘Things that have never happened before, happen all the time.’ So, could there be things we’re having trouble conceiving of that would interrupt our food supply?” In Haney’s time as a risk researcher, he has become deeply aware of his individual role in helping his community become more nimble in the case of a disaster. “We know communities that grow their own food are more resilient to external shocks, ranging from natural and economic disasters to interruptions in the food supply. When you’re able to shelter in place during a disaster, even for a week, it helps first responders focus on those who are really in danger.” Disaster preparation is one reason Haney’s family adopted the practice of permaculture, converting their backyard into a garden that grows around 100 varieties of produce every summer. What they don’t eat or give away, they preserve for winter by dehydrating, canning or freezing. It cost the family less than $600 to set up their garden, which has produced food for nine seasons. The total cost included seeds, a greenhouse, building supplies and renting a saw to remove a concrete pad. While this may sound like a lot of work, Haney sees it from a different perspective. “When you mow grass, you put in a huge amount of labour, time and fossil fuels to grow a crop you

can’t even eat. With permaculture, you pack the same space with crops you want to grow. And there’s no such thing as weeds — even dandelions can be used for salads, syrup and tea.” While adopting permaculture has helped prepare the Haney family for disaster, Haney says the most rewarding part has been seeing how the garden has brought their community together. “When we see people in our backyard picking produce, we want them to take it because they’re using it to make themselves healthier and we’re happy about that,” Haney says. The family also trades produce with other neighbours who grow their own, and gives it away to an older couple down the street who spends time with their children. The community children, including their five-year-old son Evan, run from garden to garden in the summer. “Our kids are playing and spending time in these gardens, growing up engaged in growing food,” Haney says. “These things reverberate and have impacts.” Haney insists that permaculture can be adapted for most climates. “There’s this pervasive idea that you can’t grow food in Calgary. I think that’s an excuse to be complacent and not try. Even if all you can do is grow lettuce on your patio, the permaculture community is so supportive of that.” The Haneys are inspired to see how, over the past 10 years, Calgary has gone from having almost no community gardens (a notable exception is the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Garden, which started in 1989) to being home to hundreds. “Local food is really catching on,” Haney says.







Scholarships and bursaries can change lives Mount Royal’s 2018 Outstanding Future Alumni Award recipient Jenny Limoges is passionate about women’s health. Her scrapbooks from when she was 12 years old talk about becoming a nurse. As Limoges grew, her focus changed to becoming a doctor. And her professional pursuit changed one more time while studying to achieve her first degree at Mount Royal, a Bachelor of Science — ­ Health Science (2013). Limoges was discussing her options with her mentor from her high school leadership program when she realized that midwifery — with its emphasis on relationship building — was more in line with her vision for her future. Limoges now describes herself as the “happiest medical school reject you’ll ever meet.” Currently in her second year in the Bachelor of Midwifery program, Limoges is preparing to start her first intensive 12-week, 600-hour clinical placement. She works on call, making it difficult to plan ahead. In addition, Limoges is a mother to an active threeyear-old, in addition to being a volunteer, a mentor and working as a server (as much as she can). Limoges credits the availability of bursaries and scholarships as integral to her educational success. “Last year, I felt conflicted and guilty as a mother, split between playing with my daughter and studying to keep up with coursework. But access to awards has allowed me to compartmentalize my life. At school, during the weekdays, I am a successful student and volunteer, whereas on the weekends I can be a devoted mother.” To donors, Limoges says, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Because of your generosity I have been able to stay connected to my family, focus on my studies and continue to serve my community.”

Mount Royal’s bursary supply needs a boost The opportunity to apply for bursaries (funds for students in financial need) and scholarships (awarded for academic or other achievement) is invaluable and would not be possible without the generosity of donors who contribute every year. About 5,000 students apply annually for the 1,870 awards available. Due to a lack of funding, only nine per cent of students who are eligible for a bursary receive one. Donations to student awards have a tremendous impact on the lives of students, with those receiving them being more than twice as likely to graduate within six years as opposed to those who do not.

To discover how to make a long-lasting difference in a student’s life, go to










Bachelor of Business Administration ­— General Management (2016) INTERVIEW BY VALERIE BERENYI PHOTO BY LEONORA ANDRÉ

Michelle Owusu grew up in the B.C. coastal town of Kitimat and moved with her family to Calgary when she was 14. After graduating from high school, she says she was drawn to Mount Royal University because of its small class sizes, its high quality of education and the professors’ hands-on experience in business. “I knew that business was the foundation of most careers and it offered good career security,” Owusu says, who nabbed a sales job with IBM right out of university. She’s since worked her way up through the company’s ranks to become a strategy consultant for Talent and Engagement. Essentially, she accelerates the adoption of digital change in organizations by managing the people side of the equation. Owusu is passionate about using technology to make the world a better place in which to live and work. How did Mount Royal set you up for your career? I’d say it was the courses. One of the business courses I took, The Art of the Pitch, provided us tips on networking. We then had opportunities to practise these tips in a variety of different networking settings with numerous individuals from the community in safe environments. It gave me the confidence to approach and connect with a range of people, regardless of their titles, and build strong relationships.

What are you most proud of about your job? I’m proud of being part of the Millennial Corps, a group of about 5,000 young IBM employees who are working to “future-proof” our company. I was recently nominated to go to New York City to meet other millennials from around the world and pitch ideas to IBM executives. I’m also proud of taking 140 girls from a Calgary private school to see Hidden Figures last February and then talking to them after, letting them know you can break norms and not fall into gender biases. The girls sent us letters; one said she thought she’d be a nurse, but decided to become a doctor after seeing the movie. Is volunteering important to you? Yes. Through the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, I work with a family from Sudan that has four kids who don’t speak English well. I help them feel part of our culture and norms. We do things like send Valentine’s Day cards, go to the zoo or swim at the Leisure Centre. I also volunteer with my church. I’ve helped pack shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse and I recently fostered a dog. What are your plans and aspirations for the future? I want to grow into management and lead a team.

What did serving as a student governor at Mount Royal teach you? I admired how the students’ association’s VPs always put students first. I learned leadership skills and I liked how formal our meetings were. We did personality test sessions that taught me about my traits and how to bring out skill sets in others. All of these things were very transferrable to my job. What’s been your experience working in a male-dominated industry? There are moments when you think, “I might have gotten that job if I were a man.” But the tech industry is focused on creativity, data and intelligence. It comes down to getting good results and being true to yourself.



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Farewell and thank you to the outgoing President President David Docherty, PhD, began his term at

Mount Royal University in August 2011 and leaves on April 30 for his new position as president of Brandon University. He is known for his dedication to the University, his collaborative leadership and his focus on student success. He has been a passionate advocate for mental health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, as well as for the indigenization of the campus, by embracing Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

What is one word that describes Mount Royal? Community. What moments will you cherish? Every convocation, the opening of the Bella, getting Library funding, teaching a course with Dr. Lexier, the annual varsity captains’ dinner at our house, every time I bought a student a coffee, the Crowchild Classic, when MRU helped in times of fire and fl ood, delivering fl owers with TVP (Transitional Vocational Program) students, and being gifted a Blackfoot name. How is Mount Royal different from other universities? Our focus on undergraduate education allows us to provide a unique experience for every student who wants one. We are truly student focused. How did you balance the stress on a daily basis? Kris, my wife, lets me know when it is time not to be a university president. She reminds me of what is truly important and keeps me grounded. As well, spending time with my children, Angus, Quinn and Madie, melts away the stress quickly.

What tangible thing are you taking with you that will remind you the most of MRU? The Blackfoot headdress gifted to me by Elder Miiksika’am. While it was a personal gift, it represents the work of many people to support Indigenous students, connect with Indigenous communities and indigenize the curriculum. The headdress represents my responsibility to continue this journey. What are you nervous about going forward? Brandon is even colder than Calgary, and has no chinooks! If you had one thing to tell the MRU community to treasure, what would it be? Convocation. MRU does it better than any other institution I’ve attended. It embodies the incredible sense of community. You can’t fake the connection between faculty and students, and the pride staff and managers take in being part of student success. This genuine appreciation and commitment is rare. Savour it.