Mount Royal Staff Association drops "Support" from its name

What's in a name? Well…everything.

This is something Mount Royal Staff Association (MRSA) President Baset Zarrug says made all the difference when the Association opted to drop the "Support" from its name.

After a membership-wide vote, the logo contest winner, Michal Waissmann, creative and design strategist with the Office of University Advancement, was announced in September 2012.

"We definitely needed to update our name to better reflect how we as members view ourselves. We want to be seen as equal partners across campus." says Zarrug about the Association's name change that was recently certified by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

"So now that our name is official, hopefully there will be a different perception about the MRSA and the value that we bring."

Valuing staff

At the Association's 2011 Annual General Meeting, it was revealed that findings from the Support and Exempt Staff Transition Task Force discovered that many staff members did not feel like equal members on campus.

Many staff felt that they were placed behind faculty and management in terms of recognition, committee memberships, visibility to the Mount Royal University Board of Governors, professional development funding, salaries and benefits. While staff and exempt employees recognized that the role designations are necessary, many expressed interest in viewing these roles as a collaborative team supporting the success of the University.

Zarrug, who has served on the MRSA Executive for the past eight years, says removing the word "Support" from the Association's name better aligns with the MRSA vision statement - fostering an organizational culture of ongoing recognition and respect as an equal partner within the Mount Royal University community.

"The name change reflects the fact that as staff, we play both a direct and indirect role in the academic journey of our students. We have over 700 members that interact with students in all of their education initiatives - inside and outside the classroom," says Zarrug.

"The success of our students is the result of the collective impact of all the employees at Mount Royal."

A collaborative effort

A name change committee featuring MRSA members from across the University and MRSA Executive was created in February 2012.

The committee formed a shortlist of names following suggestions from the general membership. In April 2012, a survey was sent to the membership to vote on the shortlist of potential names. By an overwhelming majority, the new name - Mount Royal Staff Association was announced in May 2012.

"We wanted to encourage membership participation and collaboration so it wasn't seen as a unilateral board decision," says Baset.

Similarly, members were encouraged to submit logo designs to accompany the new name. After a membership-wide vote, the logo contest winner, Michal Waissmann, creative and design strategist with the Office of University Advancement, was announced in September 2012.

"Some of the reasons we went to membership for the logo design was cost savings, but more importantly, we thought it would be nice to have a member create it because it would be their legacy and something he or she could reflect on and be proud of," says Zarrug.

MRSA legacy

Baset says the membership agreed that Waissmann's logo design had a versatile, clean and modern look that mirrored the Association's rebranding theme.

"It was about creating equality and a new direction," says Waissmann about his choice to incorporate a triangle in his logo design. "A triangle is dynamic; it has equal sides and points in a guiding direction, all of which represent the MRSA."

Waissmann is humbled that his logo design will leave a lasting legacy at Mount Royal, a place where he has spent over 10 years.

"With me doing it in-house, it more reflects my connection to Mount Royal. Besides being an employee, I was a student and I'm an alumnus."

Looking forward

The MRSA Executive is currently in the process of working on a five-year budget and strategic plan and is soliciting member input at two information sessions (March 19 and March 22 in Jenkins Theatre, noon to 1 p.m.).

There will also be two open house sessions for discussion, feedback and input (March 28 and April 4 in Jenkins Theatre, noon to 1 p.m.).

"The name change and new logo will increase our exposure and raise our profile on campus," says Zarrug.
The Association has already started the process of updating the new name on Mount Royal's website and throughout campus and the new MRSA website should be operational by late spring. Over the coming months, if you see instances where the old name/logo needs to be updated, please contact MRSA Administrative Assistant Kathy Homer (

"We want members to be more involved - we want to hear from you," says Zarrug. "The MRSA Board is here to serve the members, but if we don't hear your concerns and your challenges we can't speak for you."

- Jondrea De Ruyter,
March 21, 2013