Grebel Annual Report 2022-23

Conrad Grebel University College 2022-23 Annual Report

Bridges Under Construction

“Always it is by bridges that we live.”  –Philip Larkin

The physical bridges that connect Grebel to the main campus of the University of Waterloo have long been considered a symbol of the College’s aspiration to connect—a vision that was part of Grebel from the beginning.

Our first president, Winfield Fretz, rejected the idea of “a separate school, a non-socializing, non-interacting school, an isolated academic community....” Although Grebel was founded and operated by Mennonites, Fretz and the other founders imagined a college that would: “not...admit only Christians, but...people who were interested in learning something about Christianity, about religion, about the whole nature and meaning of faith in the context of studying to be engineers, mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, or historians.”

One of the joys of 2022-23 was the return to pre-pandemic norms of classroom teaching and social connection. Every day, dozens of Grebel residents crossed the bridge for classes on main campus, and hundreds of Waterloo students came the other direction to attend classes at Grebel.

Bridges symbolize our interest in relationships with the university and the community at large—relationships characterized by mutual respect, mutual curiosity, and mutual benefit. In her written history of Grebel, Professor Emeritus Marlene Epp commented that these bridges are “continuously under construction or repair,” because they are essential to the “vitality and creativity” of the College.

A key project at Grebel this past year was to begin metaphorical bridge maintenance with two important partners—Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and the University of Waterloo. Close engagement with MCEC, which elects the majority of Grebel’s Board of Governors, resulted in a new Memo of Understanding that expressed the partners’ mutual appreciation and a shared vision for their relationship going forward.

Meanwhile, Grebel—along with the whole university community—began a conversation about a long-term vision for the University of Waterloo when it turns 100 years old in 2057. We’re encouraged that the promotion of peace and social harmony has emerged as a strong theme in these discussions because they are long-standing Grebel priorities.

Grebel thrives because of its bridges—its formal and informal connection to organizations, communities, and individuals, including stakeholders like you. We hope this report will provide evidence of the many bridges, connections, and ties that bind Grebel and its people to the many communities we serve.

Marcus Shantz

Andrew Roth
Chair, Board of Governors