President's address at employee appreciation event on Aug. 27, 2019

Thank you, Trika. Thank you to Human Resources, Facilities Management, and Marketing and Communications for making this event possible. On behalf of my PEC colleagues, I thank all of you for being here today. You all contribute to transforming lives.

To everyone who makes this a safe, high-functioning campus every day, who keeps our campus welcoming, our buildings and our people safe, and our programs running efficiently, managing our resources: I thank you.

Thank you to all faculty, staff and managers. An interconnectedness links our work. I can do my job well because each of you does your job well. A web of interdependencies exists across our campus. No matter your role, you contribute to the exceptional student experience we offer.

From the professor in the classroom, to the advisor in the Registrar's office, to the analysts, space planners, information technology specialists, learning strategists, schedulers, librarians, field school organizers to name but a few -- you are all here for students and you all contribute to the same mission.

To faculty members, full time and contract, we know the time you put in. We know students' needs and expectations have increased. We know the emotional labour your work demands of you every day, through holidays and weekends, late nights and early mornings. There are few boundaries in teaching. We see you. Please raise your hands and allow us to thank you.

To those of you in our many student-facing services: we know from research that students are extremely satisfied with their choice to come here. We know the lengths you go to support students in their learning, to be responsive and helpful. We see you. You take a personal interest in each student's success. You guide them, link them to other resources, listen to them and consistently strive to meet their needs, to provide direct student services, whatever they may be. Please wave so we can thank you.

Across campus, employees work to make sure our technology functions, our class materials are ready, our finances and insurance are in order, our network is protected, our classrooms are fitted out, we all get paid on time… and the list goes on. Every day we have people answering students' questions; helping them enrol in classes, plan a career, apply for scholarships and work terms, and find their way - to their future or to their classroom. We see you.

Whether you fundraise, teach, clean, mark, recruit students, counsel students, buy equipment, repair equipment or plan curriculum; whether you move snow, hire people, fix boilers, research a societal problem, solve a student's problem, fill shelves, move shelves or liaise with government; and whether you manage emergencies, plan fire drills, write papers, mark papers, build a budget, pay our bills, supervise research or apply for grants - we see all of you. We know you do all of this because you believe in Mount Royal's purpose and you take pride in your work. I have learned that people care deeply about the University, share their views openly and are committed to teaching and learning and the student experience. How fortunate we are that you belong here. We applaud you all.

I see lots of you are wearing your lanyards for your new OneCards. These lanyards are a small way to recognize everyone, whether you're new to Mount Royal, or you've been here for decades! Loyalty to an institution is a rare thing today. I would like to be among the first to thank Elaine Mullen for what is assuredly an unprecedented 50 years of service to Mount Royal, as well as Ken Cummins and Ruth Murdoch, each marking 45 years - and to thank the nearly 200 others here today who are celebrating service milestones of between 10 and 40 years. We benefit greatly from your deep institutional memory and from what keeps you here: your unwavering belief in the kind of work we all strive to do for students.

Today is an excellent way to launch an exciting new academic year. More than 10,000 full-load equivalent students are enrolled in a growing number of degrees and majors. We also have new faculty and staff who have joined our strong and vibrant campus community, ready to help welcome the students and kick off the new semester at the best undergraduate university in Canada!

As we start the new academic year, I recognize there is reasonable concern about our financial pressures because of uncertainty around our budget. Tuition and fees are frozen, the Calgary economy is still recovering and we are waiting to learn about the government's spending plans in the coming weeks. At the same time, while we address our near-term realities, we must also revisit our strategic priorities, to reflect on what is truly important to us as a university, and revise our strategies accordingly. This reflection will logically result in an updated strategic plan - one that honours Mount Royal's history while creating our future.

Since my arrival, the campus community has been sharing with me what is most important to us at MRU. We need to capture these shared values, so that they can guide us in our strategic planning process. It's clear to me that this campus community cares deeply and is filled with intelligent and innovative people. So this is where I want us to focus our efforts this academic year: defining our shared MRU values. So what can you do, as part of the campus community? My answer is three-fold: First, stay focused and positive.

There's a saying that when you focus on problems, you'll have more of them. When you focus on possibilities, you'll have more opportunities. Second, keep informed, and where there are opportunities to share your ideas, please take them. Go to town halls and information sessions. Ask questions when you have them, and share answers when you know them. Your knowledge and perspectives are valued. Third, know you are appreciated. It is because of you that Mount Royal has a long history and a strong reputation. It is because of you that Mount Royal will be around for another century.

I hope this event today will spark conversations between you, remind you of the community to which you belong, who your peers are, and all that you have contributed and will contribute in your time here.

Thank you for coming today. Today belongs to you because you belong here. Thank you for all you do for MRU. Have a wonderful afternoon.