Executive changes and new role mark MRU’s academic future
MRU selects first chancellor, parts ways with Provost in executive shakeup
By Noel Harper, News Editor
Over the spring and summer, Mount Royal University made some changes to the executive branch, creating a new position and severing ties with its vice-president academic.
Since January, MRU had been searching for a candidate to fill the role of a chancellor for the institution. “This person will be able to broaden our network, deepen our connections and act as a sage advisor,” the university said in a statement.
By July, Dawn Farrell was unanimously approved by the board of directors to serve as the university’s first chancellor. Farrell, born in Calgary, is a veteran of the electricity industry throughout Western Canada, working for BC Hydro and TransAlta before becoming president and CEO of the latter. She is also a former professor and board member at MRU.
While with the Calgary-based TransAlta, which claims to be “Canada’s largest clean electricity provider,” Farrell spearheaded efforts to reduce the economic footprint of its services, moving away from coal towards renewable energy.
The chancellor’s four-year role is a ceremonial one that is not paid, and one that involves promoting the university on and off campus which Farrell will officially begin in November.
“When Mount Royal described the chancellor position as one that uses connections to contribute to a strong future for Calgarians and Albertans, I was on board,” said Farrell.
Recent updates to the Post-Secondary Learning Act allowed the university to appoint a chancellor for the first time, in an effort to make “MRU’s governance structure [become] more like other Alberta universities,” its statement on the role of chancellor read in part. MRU can now also grant honorary doctorates under changes to the act, which began this year.
On June 2, MRU announced that provost Dr. Lesley Brown would be parting ways with the university. A reason was not given for the departure, but a statement from the university wished her well in future endeavors.
Dr. Elizabeth Evans, MRU’s founding dean of the faculty of business and communications studies, was selected as interim provost and VP academic shortly after Brown’s departure. Evans has been with the university since 2016.
In May of this year, MRU lost 40 positions, 17 of them vacant with 23 employees being let go, on top of 10 jobs that were cut in November of 2019. MRU President Tim Rahilly cited reduced post-secondary funding from the provincial government, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, for the losses.