Celebrating our first full professors

On May 7, 2012, more than 150 colleagues, family and friends gathered in the Leacock Theatre as Mount Royal University announced the promotion of 16 faculty members to the rank of full professor.

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Bruce Ravelli delivers his address to the assembled crowd.
Their achievements were recognized in a simple but stirring ceremony. Mount Royal’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Robin Fisher, PhD, who is also chair of the University Tenure and Promotion Committee, acted as Master of Ceremonies and began the evening by explaining its importance.

“Tonight is an important moment in the history of Mount Royal University because, for the first time, members of our faculty are being promoted to the highest level in our academic rank system — a system introduced as part of our transition from a college to a university,” Fisher said.

Fisher went on to explain that promotion to the rank of full professor is based on a career of achievement. Candidates must demonstrate excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, and each candidate must show that this excellence has been sustained throughout his or her academic career and is recognized by peers across Canada or internationally.

“It is often the academic way to be modest about academic accomplishments but — make no mistake — these colleagues have accomplished amazing things,” Fisher said.

Mount Royal President David Docherty also congratulated the full professors.

“As someone who lives and breathes universities, I believe tonight’s milestone is particularly significant,” Docherty said.

“There is no higher honour for a professor than to be recognized by your peers.”

Docherty went on to say that Mount Royal’s 16 full professors embody the essence of true citizenship, thanks to the time they dedicate to their students and to the University.

“Many students experience a turning point in their academic careers that is associated with a certain professor,” Docherty said.

“Our full professors have changed so many lives for the better through their teaching, research and commitment to learning.”

As part of the ceremony, Mount Royal introduced a new lapel pin that will be presented to all full professors. Inspired by Mount Royal's logo, the first silver pins were presented to the new professors.

The evening concluded with remarks by Bruce Ravelli, PhD, who was among the 16 promotions to full professor.

He was selected to speak on behalf of all of the new full professors; below are his remarks in their entirety for those who were unable to attend the ceremony.

Welcome family, friends, administrators, colleagues, and perhaps most importantly, those who have been promoted.

I have been asked to share a few thoughts on what this promotion means to us.

To find out what my colleagues were thinking, I sent an e-mail and asked what this promotion meant to them.

In their responses, colleagues noted:

  • how deeply honored they felt.
  • how the promotion was a formal recognition of their career-long commitment to scholarship, teaching and service.
  • how the promotion has energized them, and made them feel even more committed to demonstrating excellence and leadership to their students, their colleagues and to the University.
  • a few also noted that many of us have “grown up" at Mount Royal and how these promotions show not only the achievements over our careers but also how the University has evolved and matured.

To put this achievement into some context, we need to appreciate that most of us did our scholarship when there was no formal recognition for it, or requirement to do it, and this all occurred within a teaching load of five and four. What makes this truly meaningful for me is that none of us came to Mount Royal ever thinking about, or wanting, academic “promotion” because it simply did not exist when we came.

The fact that my colleagues were able to achieve, and contribute, so much without ever thinking they would be rewarded for it, is for me, a wonderful testament to their character and their dedication. To achieve everything that they have simply for the pleasure and satisfaction of doing it makes these promotions even sweeter, and perhaps more pure, than most.

To my colleagues on stage, I want you to know what this promotion means to me. When I found out I was promoted, I could not help but think back to my experiences in Grad School. I remember working evenings, through weekends and holidays, and always craving some little morsel of recognition or validation from my supervisor. I am sure the experience was the same for many of us. For all that work and sacrifice, we earned our degrees.

Fast forward to today. We are still working evenings, through weekends and holidays, doing our research, meeting with students, grading papers and preparing for all the committees we sit on. And, whether we want to admit it or not, we still cherish a pat on the back or a sincere thank you from a trusted colleague. When I think about it, perhaps not much has changed since Grad School!

However, for me, this promotion is far more meaningful than getting my PhD. After all, promotion is not about how well you did on your comprehensive exams, or how confident and articulate you appeared during your oral defense, but rather, whether or not your career has made a difference to your discipline, your university, your peers or your students.

This promotion confirms that, in fact, it has. Personally, I cannot think of a more gratifying thing to hear from my colleagues than: “You have made a difference and we have noticed.” That is what today is all about — your colleagues and your university are saying, “Thank you for a job well done.”

I look forward to working with all of you in the years to come, as I know we will continue to set a very high bar, not just for each other, but for our students, our colleagues, and our university.

Professors, thank you for giving me the privilege of speaking on your behalf — I am truly honored and humbled to be in such fine company. Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

 Congratulations to Mount Royal University's full professors:

  • Duane Bratt, PhD, Department of Policy Studies
  • Dawne Clark, PhD, Department of Child and Youth Studies
  • John Cox, PhD, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Steven Engler, PhD, Department of Humanities
  • Richard Gale, PhD, Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Katja Hoehn, MD, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • Mark Lafave, PhD, Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies
  • David Legg, PhD, Department of Physical Education and Recreation Studies
  • Irene Naested, EdD, Department of Education and Schooling
  • Todd Nickle, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • Robin Owen, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • Izak Paul, PhD, Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • Bruce Ravelli, PhD, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
  • David Taras, PhD, Faculty of Communication Studies
  • Norman Vaughan, PhD, Department of Education and Schooling
  • John Winterdyk, PhD, Centre of Criminology and Justice Research

To see more photos of the Full Professors and the celebration, make sure to visit the Full Professor web gallery.

Nancy Cope, May 10, 2012