Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G6
“What does Grebel do for an encore?” our student council president asked at the beginning of the 2014 academic year. Last year was a very big year. We celebrated our 50th anniversary by hosting 50 events. At the same time, we were in the midst of major construction on our 25,000 square foot, 4-storey, academic building project. Amidst the noise, closures, detours, and portable classrooms, we adopted the anthem “embrace the chaos” and smiled because we remained on budget. That we raised $6.3 million from the Next Chapter Campaign to fund it was a fabulous testament to our generous donor base and allowed us to significantly reduce our projected carrying costs.
The answer to that good question as you’ll hear from many voices in this year’s annual report starts with a trifecta of achievements for Conrad Grebel University College:
1. We breathed life into our beautiful new academic spaces distinguished by floor to ceiling windows, gently rounded corners, and striking vistas. Our new building has significantly elevated our capacity to deliver quality programs to our many growing constituencies. Many of you reading this annual report stepped up in such extraordinarily generous ways to help us realize our dreams. Winston Churchill once said: “We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us.” That synergy happened at Grebel this year. We are finding new places to gather over 4 floors. We are exploring new ways to engage our over two dozen new “neighbors” in the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement on the 4th floor. The “CPA,” as we sometimes call it, officially opened in September with 250 people from the larger community joining us for a reception and festive program. We are congregating more frequently to study, research and view exhibits in the inviting and greatly expanded Milton Good Library, the state-of-the-art Mennonite Archives of Ontario, and the new Grebel Gallery. We are engaged in new ways to lead classes, host receptions and greet the public in brightly lit workspaces, enlarged atrium, new classrooms, practice and rehearsal rooms, and multi-purpose seminar and community education rooms.
2. We hired exceptional people. We began by creating two new “pioneering” faculty positions in the departments of Music and Peace and Conflict Studies and successfully filled them with top-notch, highly sought after experts in important emerging fields. Dr. Maisie Sum (Ph.D. University of British Columbia) comes to us with award-winning research and performance expertise in Global Music and Dr. Jennifer Ball (Ph.D. Guelph) comes to us with an exceptional teaching record and professional expertise in rural planning and women’s empowerment as it relates to Peace and Conflict Studies around the globe. These hires continue our half-decade trajectory to remake the full-time faculty/academic teaching complement at Grebel in the wake of many retirements and the growth of new College endeavors. We have made 10 new academic hires in the past 4 years! All total we welcomed 14 new faculty and staff for 2014-2015, including Dean and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Dr. Trevor Bechtel; Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition, Dr. Tim Corlis; Inaugural Director of the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement, Dr. Paul Heidebrecht; Coordinator for the CPA, Michelle Jackett; Academic Advisors for MPACS and PACS, Kelly Brown and Rachel Reist. All three of these women hold master’s degrees in Peace Studies. Other key staff hires include: Jessica Scott in Recruitment and Conferencing, Dorothy Isaac, in Bookkeeping, Caleb and Michelle Jackett, Campus Hosts for Student Services, Devon Grainger in Custodial staff, and Chris Brnjas, (MTS) Interim Chaplain. We have been blessed with outstanding new faculty and staff to help carry out the distinctive and compelling mission of the College!
Conrad Grebel University College continues to be a forward-looking place for authentic community building and superior education.
The Grebel Board of Governors completed its strategic planning process, and the College has embarked on a five year journey called “Extending the Grebel Table.” One way in which the College has already started to extend the table was the opening of the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement. The Centre has been a wonderful catalyst for the College and broader peace initiatives.
We extended a second term for our President, Susan Schultz Huxman. She is well equipped to lead us in the process of starting and completing many parts of the strategic plan. We hired two “new” faculty, Maisie Sum in Global Music and Jennifer Ball in PACS, and these hires will extend our mission to the university and to the world.
Finally, we say thank you to three board members who served the College. Susan Taves was board chair for two years, and Scott Beech and Lynn Yantzi served on the on Finance Committee and were integral voices in the building process.
The College is in a good financial position to go forward with its strategic plan, and the future is bright with many opportunities to extend the Grebel table and whole Grebel house to the university and beyond.
Shalom and strength,
Fred Redekop, Board Chair
3. We completed a new strategic plan that envisions an exciting and bold direction for the next 5 years. The Board ratified plan supports our mission “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society.” It also capitalizes upon our core value of community building. We call the new plan: “Extending the Grebel Table: Strategic Visioning 2015-2020” and conveniently designed it as a “placemat.”
In late fall, our commissioned research in the strategic planning process revealed an overriding conclusion: Grebel’s identity (or brand) is very positively aligned with building community, promoting peace, and modeling a life of service. A chorus of voices from telephone and in-person interviews with students, staff, alums, donors, community and church leaders led our strategy team to conclude: “Grebel must leverage this remarkable relational gift inside and outside the classroom.” In a competitive educational milieu, Conrad Grebel “stands out as a place you want to be” for acceptance, challenge, and authentic community.
By March of this year, after several all-college conversations and strong Board engagement, the fruition of our planning process yielded “Extending the Grebel Table” to build on the Mennonite heritage of food and fellowship. The imagery captures the spirit of the round tables in our dining hall and weekly community suppers first envisioned by founding president J. Winfield Fretz that continue to mark the Grebel experience today.
The “menu” has not only been prepared, but we are already “setting the table” and “inviting the guests” to advance more than a dozen initiatives that support 4 “legs of the table”: Engaging Growing Constituencies, Elevating Distinctive Programs, Enriching People and Positions; Enhancing Facilities and Campus Presence.
To organize this year’s Annual Report, we employ the University of Waterloo’s strategic plan priorities (and its visual symbol legend, see page 5.) These 8 Waterloo initiatives were ratified one year prior to our strategic plan. As a small, but vital, affiliate liberal arts college to Canada’s top comprehensive research university, Conrad Grebel interfaces intentionally with these Waterloo initiatives.
As we aspire to make our community more welcoming—to add a few “leaves” to the “Grebel table” — we support our mission and concomitantly support the University of Waterloo’s commitment to a “sound value system.”
This year, our “sound value system” was evident in a myriad of ways. Here are several to savor:
Fiscal Stewardship. We live in healthy fiscal times with exceptional staff “minding the store.” We balanced the budget for the 18th year in a row; surpassed the annual fund goal by $20,000 with $346,767 in hand by April 30; awarded a record amount of student scholarship aid ($380,000); continued to collect over $800,000 on our pledges for the Next Chapter Campaign; recorded a modest surplus above budget ($98,000) that we placed in capital reserves; and received a clean audit from Graham Mathew Professional Corporation.
Gratitude for Vibrant Community. We heard a common theme from students, faculty, alumni, parents, and other guests this year at Commencement, Convocation, community suppers, chapels, move-in day, and the all-college retreat. It goes something like this: An empowering and intimate place (Grebel) and exceptional and caring people (teachers, mentors, friends) matter a whole lot in the pursuit of excellence in elite programs (at Waterloo). Students said “Thank you, Grebel,” many times over as they walked across the stage at convocation. Our distinguished alum said: “Grebel allowed me to reach the highest levels of teaching peace at the pentagon.” Distinguished guests said: “Grebel is the peace college—we want to invest in you!” Parents said: “This is my third child I’m entrusting to the good people at Grebel.”
Honouring People who make a Difference. We celebrated with students who won contests. The Grebel team of Jono Cullar, Anneke Pries-Klassen, Elliott Parke and Sarah Steiner won the MEDA Business Case Competition in Winnipeg, Manitoba in November. Matt Steinman and Michael Born won an all-expense paid trip to NYC for winning first prize in the youth video contest sponsored by the United Nations for their rap piece: “Deepening Community.” Kenny Hildebrand won the C. Henry Smith Oratorical Contest at Grebel for his speech on “Peace and Disability in the Church.” Marina Gallagher (B. A. Music) was named the top academic student in the Faculty of Arts at UW Convocation in June. We recognized 7 staff who have reached milestones in dedicated service, two of them for 20 (Carol Lichti) and 25 (Cheri Otterbein) years of service. We honored a faculty member who won a distinguished research award (Maisie Sum) for the most significant article in ethnomusicology published in 2014 and an alum (Dr. Lisa Schirch, class of `90), a research professor of PACS at Eastern Mennonite University, who received Grebel’s distinguished service award.
Find out more specifically “what’s cookin’” in each of the major areas of the College. And help us launch our next half-century as we “Extend the Grebel Table” to you and many others in our expanding Grebel constituency. Pull up a chair! Bon Appétit!
Susan Schultz Huxman, President
Greetings friends of Grebel. It has been another exciting year for Conrad Grebel here on the campus of the University of Waterloo. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary with over 50 events both celebrating our past, our present, and looking toward the future.
The minutes of the first Board meeting highlight issues that are still discussed today. Various conferences of Mennonites were represented around the table to discuss their possible role. There is also a note in the minutes about the role of the executive secretary-treasurer being important as he would have to handle the negotiations with the University. We are a church college and so we serve the church. At the same time, Grebel was created to add value to the University. Today, Grebel is still in constant negotiations with the University.
On June 22, we celebrated the Grand opening of the expansion of the academic programs including the MSCU Center for Peace Advancement. It was a great event marking the tremendous generosity of our Grebel supporters. The new space will provide opportunities to continue our work in peace, music and community engagement.
In the past few years we have said goodbye to many long term faculty and staff. In this past year, Professor Carol Ann Weaver retired after 29 years of service in the Music department, and Jim Pankratz retired as the dean of the College. We have hired Tim Corlis and Trevor Bechtel as their widely endorsed replacements.
With the new space and the new people on staff, we have great energy to fulfill our mission “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in church and society.” As a Board , we have begun the process of formulating our next five year strategic plan (2015-2012). It is our task to set out the future plan for Grebel and determine how the College interacts with both Church and University. We had two long-term board members, Byron Weber Becker and Wendy Cressman Zehr completed their valuable service to the Board of Governors.
Fred Redekop, Board of Governors Chair
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G6