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FT writers share most memorable stories

Wow, what a year.

It seems like only a few weeks ago the campus was abuzz with whispers of becoming a university. And yet it seems like an eternity has passed since last spring.

Indeed, 2009 has been nothing if not busy around Mount Royal.

Among the events that have kept us running, writing and talking, we’ve seen major changes to our parking system, announcements of campus expansion, the opening of an elite forensic crime lab, and that little thing on Sept. 3 when we were officially granted the right to call ourselves Mount Royal University.

It was also just under a year ago that we started the new internal newsletter, Face Time.

In honour of all the exciting events that have transpired this past year and the closing of Face Time’s inaugural calendar year, we asked some of our regular contributors to tell us about their most memorable story of the year.

Since we all could have selected stories surrounding the name change, everyone agreed to choose something different. In fact, each contributor decided to share their most memorable experience while working on a story for Face Time this past year.

Some memories tell a rosy and fun story. Others remind us that things don’t always work out like you’d hoped they would, which makes writing for a weekly deadline an adventure …

Fred Cheney: Mount Royal Media Relations Officer
King of Rhetoric takes over Media Studies throne

The most memorable story I wrote this year was on the appointment of the second Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies.

I was tasked with tracking down Royal Roads University professor Gilbert Vanburen Wilkes IV, who was taking over from former AB premier Ralph Klein.
This proved somewhat challenging as Wilkes communicates primarily via Facebook.

The initial correspondence was a bit awkward to say the least.

Once I found Wilkes on the social networking site I sent him a message explaining my task, but with the caveat that I want to keep personal and professional lives separate so “don’t be offended if I don’t ‘friend’ you.“

Fortunately Wilkes wasn’t. He completely understood.

Ultimately I managed to convince him to correspond with me via email to make things a little smoother.

I managed to improve my vocabulary, now worthy of SAT preparation, while deciphering Wilkes’ messages to me. I didn’t expect anything less from a PhD in Rhetoric!

Wilkes’ predecessor gave me the exact opposite problem. Not wanting to bother Klein at the actual event during which he handed the Chair over to Wilkes, I decided to take my chances on e-mailing him the next day for his take on the succession.

Long story short, Klein who is usually a man of many words and colourful ones at that, was at a loss other than to say that, “Wilkes is good at computers, I’m not.”

Steven Noble: Editor of Internal Publications
Sept. 27, 2009 A Shark Tale


Part of what makes working at Face Time so interesting is the built-in excuse to meet a wide range of people, whom I might otherwise never connect with.

When I had coffee with Laurel Robbins, program director for business education training in continuing education, last spring it turned out to be one of the more memorable conversations I’ve had this past year.

Robbins was brimming with excitement as she shared her rare passion for shark diving with me. I have to admit, it was contagious.

I left the interview high on adrenaline even though I’ve never scuba dived in my life and probably won’t go shark-diving any time soon.

When I sent out the call in Face Time for staff or faculty with unusual hobbies, swimming with Jaws was the last response I expected to get.

What I found most intriguing was not so much that she spends her vacation time risking her life, but that her hobby is driven by love.

Robbins has rare respect and admiration for these deep sea predators and believes that if more people tried to understand and appreciate them maybe it would be the start of a more harmonious relationship between shark and man.

It’s a perspective I had never really considered but after meeting Robbins, I don’t think I’ll ever look at sharks in quite the same way again.

James Bailey: Conservatory Marketing & Communications Consultant
Nov. 18, 2009 Marriage of Bette & Boo video feature


Art is a visceral, emotional experience that grabs us by our senses. And sometimes writing about theatre or music events just can’t capture the depth that viewing or hearing a piece in person can.

That’s why I’m so excited to be pushing forward with Face Time video clips.

What better way to give you all a look behind the curtain of what we do here at the Conservatory, than to create a video of it?

Our preview of Theatre MRU’s Marriage of Bette & Boo was our first experiment, and I’d like to thank Face Time editor Steven Noble for his time spent filming and editing the clip. Hearing our actors speak about their experiences with the play, in their own voices, was captivating.

And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy, either. While our intrepid Media Services department makes this stuff look simple, a video shoot I tried to set up with our choirs was a disaster of poor lighting, hazy focus and shaky camera work.

Exploring how we can use technology to better tell our stories here at the Conservatory is definitely something I’ll continue into the New Year.


Anika Van Wyk: Web Editor
Captain Literature, August 2009

In a year Mount Royal reached such great milestones, one of my favourite stories reflects a MRU trait that helped us get there — quality teaching.

I interviewed English professor Richard Harrison, aka Captain Literature, shortly after he returned from his guest speaking gig at the hugely popular Comic-Con International.

Not only was Harrison’s enthusiasm infectious, but his dedication to teaching was impressive. Harrison, who is both a poet and a comic connoisseur, makes literature accessible with his “high culture and low culture interests.”

And he’s a cool and entertaining guy to talk to.

Dana Thielmann: Administration, External Relations
Oct. 10, 2009 Student wins tuition for a year

This article takes me back to We Are U day when the entire school was filled with fun and excitement as students, staff and faculty celebrated Mount Royal becoming a university.

The sun was shining and the concert was jamming — it really couldn’t have been better. But for Jonathan Wynder, it did get better— he won free tuition for an entire year.

My husband is a student at Mount Royal, so I understand how school can be a financial burden.

Receiving free tuition truly is a joyous gift. I love to read this article because it reminds me of the pure excitement the student was feeling.

He was genuinely grateful and astounded by the surprise he received that day.

Jondrea De Ruyter, Communications Officer
IMS Therapy, April 9, 2009

The most memorable story I wrote this year had me on pins and needles — literally.

I put my investigative reporting skills to the test and tried out Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) therapy, one of Optimal Therapies’ newest offerings at the time for individuals suffering from chronic pain.

I then wrote a first-person account of my experience for Face Time readers, to give them an inside look at the treatment.

The thought of submitting myself to a form of therapy that uses needles (acupuncture) did not exactly appeal to me at first. But needless to say my fear of needles was assuaged when I discovered the benefits that cumulative IMS sessions could provide.


Nancy Cope: Communications Officer
Historic Convocation at Mount Royal, June 2009

I always find it a challenge to report on the Convocation ceremonies at Mount Royal. It’s tough to take notes while brushing away tears. And, even when I don’t personally know any of the graduates, I still find myself beaming at them all like a proud auntie — a slightly crazed auntie who is clutching a tape recorder and pen and working to a deadline.

But I’ve chosen this article about the summer Convocation because it showcases not one, but two firsts. Back in June, when we were still Mount Royal College, we saw our first graduates cross the stage to receive Mount Royal’s own bachelor’s degrees, and the first appearance of Mount Royal’s black bachelor’s degree hoods.

Before coming to the University, I worked at a museum for many years, so perhaps I chose this story because it is about history. But mostly I think it’s because I feel lucky to have covered an event that made history.