Panteli Tritchew was 17 years old in September 1975 when he started classes at the University of Waterloo and moved into residence at Conrad Grebel [University] College. “Both institutions shaped my identity and personal values for the next eight years,” he reflected. “Waterloo amplified and confirmed my love of literature and teaching, but it was living in Grebel’s community that exposed me to the values of community: connection, comradeship, courage, compassion, and contribution.”

“My years at CGC as a resident and subsequently as an associate student were among the most formative of my life, where I formed most of my deepest, longest, and most lasting friendships,” Panteli shared. “Grebel’s community of fellow residents, classmates, and roommates, and its hallways, TV rooms, dining room, community suppers, pool table, classrooms, library, and chapel were the basis and foundation for longitudinal relationships.”

Yearbook photo of three people with a poem beside it

Leafing through old Grebel yearbooks, readers can see that Panteli stands out as someone who participated in an abundance of student activities. From broomball to talent shows, football games to pranks, Panteli immersed himself in the community and even wrote poetry in an effort to capture the Grebel spirit. “Living in close quarters with so many people with so many different personalities and backgrounds at Grebel, I learned about how relationships are built and maintained,” he mused. “Like tides, relationships have a gravitational pull. I learned about the give and take, the vicissitudes, the slow swells, and the tidal waves, as well as the rapids, the whirlpools and the riptides.”

After graduating in 1979 with a BA in English, and while pursuing a master’s degree also in English, Panteli found himself working as a TA and then as a sessional lecturer in the University of Waterloo’s English Department. In those roles, Panteli built his teaching skills, and realized how much he enjoyed the profession. Yet after he graduated in 1981, Panteli began a career in technical writing, a field in which he had excelled during coop terms. From Ottawa to Toronto, and onto Calgary, he worked for a decade in numerous corporate settings, writing manuals, reports, policies, and procedures. 

In Calgary, Panteli was moonlighting at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, teaching technical and business report writing in their Communications Department. This is where he found his true calling. Soon, Panteli packed everything he owned into his hatchback and moved to Vancouver to teach similar classes at British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1992. “I believe that the act of teaching is its own reward, and I am very fortunate to have had a vocation where my work was also my play,” explained Panteli, “a space where discipline and delight coalesced.”

Panteli Tritchew

In 1993, Panteli began his 29-year career at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in the Applied Communications Department, where he developed courses and taught communications and writing classes. At Kwantlen, he went on to hold many leadership roles, including chairing two different departments and numerous committees at the institutional level, within the School of Business and for other departments. He was also a member of the Kwantlen Faculty Association Executive for most of his career.  At KPU, Panteli lived out the values of community that he experienced at Grebel: leading with courage, teaching with compassion, building relationships through connection and comradeship, and finding purpose in contribution.

“My final service contribution was as KPU’s first Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Coordinator,” Panteli explained, describing the United Nations-supported initiative that aims to raise the profile of sustainability in business and management education. “KPU’s School of Business became a PRME signatory in 2020 and in my final two years at KPU I coordinated the activities that fulfilled our commitment to providing future leaders with ‘the skills needed to balance economic, environmental, and social goals, while drawing attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aligning academic institutions with the work of the UN Global Compact.” Panteli wrote and submitted KPU’s inaugural Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) Report to UN PRME on August 15, 2022, two weeks before he retired, in “a satisfying way to finish my career at Kwantlen.”

Post-retirement, Panteli still takes occasional contract work, but he spends his free time gardening, reading, and traveling with his wife Carol, who also recently retired. They both enjoy spending time with family and friends. And after a 45-year hiatus from writing poetry for Grebel’s yearbooks, Panteli is slowly working up the courage to try his hand at writing fiction and/or poetry—stay tuned! 

Reflecting on how the Grebel community shaped his identity and personal values, Panteli explained, “I realize now that many of my fellow residents were involved with both social justice and activism long before those terms were a thing. Grebel’s gestalt experience played a significant role in my passion for learning and desire to effect change, whether it be within a classroom or a boardroom, within a department or within an institution.” 

“My life at Grebel gave me countless memories and some of my closest friendships that last to this day,” Panteli added. “The impact of those countless moments of shared joy, love and laughter, sorrow, sadness and celebration is incalculable, but I know that those moments and experiences have played and continue to reverberate and play a role in who I am. That metamorphosis is ongoing.”

Speaking as someone who took a number of years to follow his true calling, Panteli advises current students and recent graduates to “find your passion and know your values—let those be your North Star. Try as best you can to align your passion with your values, else the universe will send you messages, gentle at first, then more prodding, and then more insistent until you can no longer ignore them.” More poetic advice, “Each moment, a choice; each choice, a steppingstone. To the next step, the next moment, the next choice. We are an amalgam of our choices.”

By Jennifer Konkle

Staying focused on values learned at Grebel, Panteli Tritchew (BA 1979, MA 1981) has built community in the classroom and boardroom throughout his teaching career. After a number of corporate jobs in technical writing, Panteli spent the remainder of his career as an educator and administrator in communications at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. He credits the Grebel experience for igniting his enthusiasm for learning and inspiring his desire to effect change. 

Panteli's story is part of Grebel's 60 Stories for 60 Years project. Check out our 60 Stories page for more articles in this series. If you would like to nominate a Grebel alumnus to share about their experiences at Grebel, please submit a nomination form.