President message to community

Posted Feb. 5, 2021


Hello everyone, it’s Tim here. I know that January and February can be really hard. It’s a bit cold outside, and we might not be getting out as much as we would like and sometimes I feel the strain as well. I want you to know that I’m thinking about the well-being of students, faculty and staff at the University every single day.

I think it’s so important that we reach out to one another ― to our networks, to our friends, family and colleagues ― to help us continue to find a way through. And even taking some time, if you’re able, can be good for you as well.

I want you to remember that there are supports in place: for students through Wellness and for employees through Human Resources.

Right now we are well into the winter semester. Last week, the province also signalled that the COVID pandemic will be a part of our lives for some time yet. Of course at Mount Royal, we have been, and will continue to be, highly proactive as it relates to the evolving public health measures. So, we’ll have to continue to manage the restrictions and expand and contract them as we have to.

We also need to turn our mind to the time ahead. We continue to have teams in place to manage Mount Royal’s day-to-day pandemic response, and while we’ll continue to manage the day-to-day matters, we’re keeping an eye on the future as well. There’s no doubt we’ll need a co-ordinated approach to our return to campus in 2021/22, and to see what’s possible.

We need to acknowledge that no matter what happens with the vaccine rollout that there will be some anxieties and some people will have strong feelings about returning, or not returning, to campus. So, we’ll have to find a way to work through that and find an approach that is reasonably compassionate as well as pragmatic. Of course, we will respect our governance models and agreements in the process.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the ongoing planning.

On the horizon, we have Reading Week in February ― February 16 to 19. I know that many students are looking forward to the break to catch up, recharge and perhaps just step away from the computer for a while.

There will be more supports available for students this month, so please … I hope students, you will search those out and take advantage of those opportunities, and watch MRU’s social channels for the most up-to-date information.

Looking a little further ahead, in terms of spring and summer, we have decided that we will continue to offer most classes online in the spring and summer semesters. And like past semesters, there will be a few in-person exceptions. The list of those exceptions will be available at the beginning of March.

In terms of the fall, we’re already planning for the 2021/22 academic year, but we’re not sure what the fall will look like in terms of in-person or online delivery. I am certainly hopeful that one way or another there will be an opportunity to have more people have activities on campus so that we can spend more time, provide more face-to-face programming, and safely engage with our community members and in activities.

Like you, we’re all watching the changing directions coming from Alberta Health Services very closely and we hope to be able to make a decision about the fall semester by the end of April.

Changing gears again, the provincial government is scheduled to table the budget on the 25th of February. After this date, we will have more information to share with the campus community.

This leads me to share with you plans for a virtual Community Town Hall. Please mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 3 at 10 a.m. While we are committed to this date, if there is a shift in the provincial budget we may need to revisit it. While we will talk about the budget at the Town Hall, we’ll cover a number of other topics that are important to the MRU community, as well.

It will follow the same format as we’ve had previously and as usual, we will invite you to submit questions in advance. So, we’ll share the question submission form and the live stream link with you a little closer to March. I do want to mention something that remains on all our minds as well. Black History Month is February and equity, diversity and inclusion are very much on my mind.

In terms of Black History Month, certainly we are sharing more BIPOC stories online and more content on our social channels than ever before.

I also wanted to share with you that the work of the President’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion continues and we’re finding our feet and this will allow us to shift to being more outwardly focused as we move forward.

Of course, this important work cannot be done by the EDI committee alone. There is much work to do, and we do have some great people at MRU who care deeply about these issues and some folks who have been doing great work that needs to be recognized and amplified. So, we need to identify and connect with the areas on campus that are already engaging in EDI initiatives, and other areas that can begin to join in and participate.

I am working towards the development of a new senior role to advise me on EDI. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area, I recognize my role as a leader and president at Mount Royal, but as a human, I am also a learner.

We can build momentum to create meaningful change that benefits BIPOC and other equity-deserving people at MRU.

So in closing, I want to recognize all of you for your perseverance. Whether you’re on campus or working from home, thank you for persevering in your work, in your studies and staying safe.

All we can do is keep going and I’m so grateful to everyone for their ongoing dedication.

We will make it through. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll connect with you again very soon.