MRU appoints new Associate VP of Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement
Isabella West, Contributor
Dr. Connie Van der Byl is appointed as Mount Royal University’s (MRU) new Associate Vice-President of Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement as of Feb. 10.
The Office of Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement is dedicated to helping Mount Royal faculty, staff and students with research and scholarly activity from beginning to end.
The said office strives to foster an environment of scholarly inquiry and community-engaged research on campus for the betterment of the broader community.
Van der Byl says that she thinks research is valuable for the student experience because, “research is the creation of knowledge and I think that universities are these amazing places where we discover things, we share things, we analyze knowledge, we critically assess it.”
With a PhD in Energy Management and Sustainable Development, an MBA from Haskayne School of Business and a BA in Economics and Applied Studies, Van der Byl understands that being curious and asking questions is a part of our innate identities which is why she finds research to be highly valuable.
Van der Byl has been a faculty member of the Bissett School of Business at MRU since 2012 and was the Academic Director for the Institute of Environmental Sustainability for nearly eight years. She is now focusing on research targeted towards energy organizations and strategic response to environmental issues.
Van der Byl says that she hopes to foster a collaborative environment where students, faculty and staff can share their stories and experiences in order to better understand what she can do to better support research, scholarship and community engagement.
In order to accomplish this, Van der Byl says she is open and willing to talk and meet with members of the university in an inclusive, kind and supportive environment.
“I love meeting with people, like yourself, I love hearing stories, I love understanding what we’re doing well and where we can improve,” says Van der Byl.
It is apparent that some university students may struggle with comprehending assigned research or reading academic articles, as such, Van der Byl says that academic reading and research is a new way of being presented with information in a complex way which can make it difficult for many.
However, when asked for her advice on this subject, Van der Byl said that students should try to stick with it and don’t become discouraged because the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Van der Byl believes that practicing these skills can help students and faculty develop analytical skills that can be of aid in all aspects of life.
“You’ll be able to decipher things in a different way and I think it’s really a bit of a privilege for all of us who have a university education,” says Van der Byl.
In her newly appointed position, Van der Byl says that her vision for her office is to enhance the foundation and access any gaps that need to be filled.
She also hopes to showcase Mount Royal students and faculty researchers internally as well as externally, to a broader community because “Mount Royal is unique and special in what we do and how we do it” and she believes it’s important to celebrate that.
Van der Byl believes that although her office may seem detached from the student body, students are key to the university and the office is put in place in order to support students. She says that there are many opportunities for students to be involved in interesting and unique problem solving projects because “having a youthful voice and perspective in solving those problems is really really important.”