MRU celebrates broadcasting’s 50th
Dean calls for broadcasting degree
by Rachael Frey
Broadcasting alumni of Mount Royal filled Wyckham House on Oct. 15 to pay tribute to their program’s lasting success.
Representing 50 years of radio and television education, attendees spanned the entire history of the broadcasting diploma — including many faculty members who were once students of the program themselves.
Alana Gieck, who graduated from broadcasting in 1994 and began teaching it in 2006, said she was excited to celebrate as both faculty and an alumnus.
“It’s quite a milestone for the little program that we are, and we’ve gone through a lot of struggles over the years, so to have made it 50 years and still be going strong is something we’re really proud of,” Gieck said.
She knew broadcasting would be her career since the fateful day that, as an English major, she happened to visit the school’s television studio to rehearse for a project.
“When I stepped foot in there, I instantly knew right away that I had to take this program,” Gieck said.
“As soon as I was done I ran down — like, literally ran — to the registrar’s office and said, ‘You need to tell me about this broadcasting thing.’ And I have stuck with it in one way or another since then.”
Irv Ratushniak began teaching in the broadcasting program full-time in 1997, 20 years after graduating, and is now the program’s chair. He said it never occurred to him as a student that he would end up teaching at Mount Royal, but credits the strong ties he developed during his education for bringing him back.
“That’s the kind of program and institution it is,” Ratushniak said. “Once you get started here it’s almost like home, and no matter how far away you go, you have roots back here at this institution.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi attended the anniversary party to cut the cake and say a few words, some of them at the expense of the attendees who good-naturedly groaned and booed.
Nenshi started his speech with, “I’m thrilled to be here with you tonight, even though so many of you are journalists.”
He talked about the surprising number of centennial events he has attended since becoming mayor, and how 100 years ago Calgarians were not building for the community they were, but rather the community they dreamed of being.
“Just like those pioneers 50 years ago who said that Calgary can be a real centre for broadcasting around the country and around the world,” he said.
“Let’s honour those pioneers of 50 years ago, and let’s look forward to what we can build together for the next 50 years.”
So, what does the future hold for broadcasting at Mount Royal University?
According to Marc Chikinda, dean of the communications department, they have their sights firmly set on a broadcasting degree.
“One day, with the support of the school and the good lord of advanced education willing, we’ll have a fourth major called broadcast studies,” Chikinda said. “Only the second degree in radio and TV in Canada, second only to Ryerson.
“That is our future.”