Guest Column: New president speaks on MRU’s future
Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself and my plans for the upcoming academic year.
First, some background. I did my undergraduate at Wilfrid Laurier University in the early ‘80s. I have always been interested in politics, and I served as vice-president of the Student Association. I have a deep appreciation for student associations and their role as the voice of student concerns on academic matters and as supporters of excellence in education. Student associations also serve an important social function, from campus pubs to campus clubs.
After earning two graduate degrees, I returned to Laurier as an Assistant Professor. Laurier is a mid-size, primarily undergraduate school that shares a city with the University of Waterloo. But Laurier’s relationship with the “big school up the street” is collaborative, not competitive. I see parallels between Laurier and Mount Royal: in a two-university town, we both believe that “when you are different, you can do different things — and you can do them extremely well.”
So, why am I excited about coming to Mount Royal? Certainly, every post-secondary institution has its challenges, but Mount Royal’s strength is its people: committed and vibrant faculty and staff; professional managers and directors working closely with senior academic and administrative leaders; enthusiastic and bright students; a supportive community.
I foster principles of good governance — accountability, collegiality, a focus on problem solving, among others — and I embrace Mount Royal’s current vision of being Canada’s premier undergraduate institution. I see my role as helping to build the framework to achieve it, and I am interested in discussing and developing ways to measure our progress.
To help meet our goals, the Academic Plan is being updated to enhance our blending of research with teaching, and the Student Services Plan is being updated to support student success through programs and services inside and outside the classroom.
Under the strong leadership of Dave Marshall, Mount Royal became a university. Our challenge now is to “walk the university walk,” and here the Library is my priority, because libraries are the intellectual heart of any university.
And there are many other priorities across campus, so I will be meeting with as many people as possible, both internally and externally, to address those priorities.
Finally, we need to tell our story more broadly. We cannot be the country’s premier undergraduate institution if the country does not know who we are. The story is not the new President — it’s our integrated approach to teaching and learning, and how that approach helps students become thoughtful critical thinkers with a true understanding of community and citizenship.
The students of Mount Royal University have a role in telling that story. Together, we can reach our ambitions.
David Docherty is an author and former Dean of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University.