A year in review for MRU: Q+A with Lesley Brown
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
In 2018, Mount Royal University had an eventful year.
Lesley Brown, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, who joined the MRU community on July 1, 2017 had her first full year at the university in 2018. Brown has been accredited with accomplishing many things in her short time here so far and was recently recognized by the Calgary Herald as a ‘Compelling Calgarian’.
News editor of The Reflector, Nathan Woolridge, decided to sit down with Brown to reflect on the work that has been done at MRU last year and how the university is moving forward in the new year.
The Reflector: Could you talk about some of the greatest achievements of last year that really stood out to you? Specifically, the stuff that you’ve worked on at the school?
Lesley Brown: Well last year was my first full year at the institution. I started in July 2017, so last year, a full year of 2018. If I look back, I think the best part of last year and then probably the best part of every year going forward will be getting to tell the story that’s Mount Royal University. Getting to share that and getting to be an ambassador for Mount Royal. And I do that every day. When I meet with students. I do that when I meet with government … I would say that one of the biggest highlights I think was our our commitment and our confirmation or celebration of equality.
We raised the pride flag in June. That was the first time that the institution raised the pride flag. And that was in celebration of Pride Month in June.
Then we also had the permanent sidewalk installation in August. That was a lot of fun. That was a real high energy moment. I think it was pivotal for the university because it was a symbol of permanence. It is the only permanent pride sidewalk in the city. Then, the students came back and they were able to be welcomed by that.
I think one of the great memories I have that one day I was walking over to get a coffee at Barrow, as I do a lot. There was a couple of young men who were standing on that sidewalk just having a kiss. And it was like, ‘wow’ … it was a great, a really proud moment for me to think, ‘I get to work here and I get to be the provost here’ so that was awesome.
TR: And Mount Royal is beginning to become recognized by these and other things, right?
LB: Yes. And there were some other great things that we did. If I look back on the year and this will be a something we’re doing also this year … last year we welcomed 16 new, full-time tenure track faculty members. These faculty members came in as complements to our existing and cohort of excellence in our faculty.
Then, as we look forward to the upcoming year, we’ll be doing the same. We’ll be hiring 22 new full-time hires, 21 new assistant professors and one full-time lab instructor. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to also welcome some new contract people into permanent positions.
TR: Near the end of 2018, you spoke at an Academic Town Hall. Besides the faculty hires, what else was discussed?
LB: I spoke about a couple of things. One in particular talked about was academic programs. One of the great parts of the story of Mount Royal is that we are a university that used to be a college. As we transition to a university we have an opportunity to create academic degrees. Our journey of becoming and confirming ourselves as a university, where students come for four years to obtain a degree is that we have the opportunity to introduce new degrees. So, I talked about the journey of creating a new academic degree and how that process is initiated and introduced. Hopefully it reflects the ideas and contributions of faculty members here at Mount Royal.
TR: Is there anything you would like to add about moving forward in 2019?
LB: One of the things that I often say is that I have the best job. I have the best job because I get an opportunity to interact with students. I get to interact with students who are going to be graduating from this institution and helping to bring impact to make the world a better place. I also have a great job because I work with a fantastic and a wicked leadership team who are helping to transform our undergraduate education. But, mostly I have a fantastic job because I work with an exceptional cohort of faculty who are delivering high quality academic programs that are the flagship of this institution and the high quality teaching and innovative teaching practices that we deliver.
During the interview Brown also discussed “growing Mount Royal’s contributions to research.” She says it is important to create “new knowledge and new understanding to benefit society.” Brown also discussed that the university will be moving forward with a new president, as David Docherty will be leaving on May 1, 2019 to start his new appointment as president of Brandon University.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misquoted Brown saying that 60 new full-time tenure track faculty members started at Mount Royal University last year. The correct number is 16. We regret the error.