Champion of Mennonite Literature Retires
Building Project Advances after Delays
A Banner Year of Blessings for a “Healthy” Grebel
Celebrating Community and Connection
Distinguished Doc
Ideas start here!
MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement Inspires Donors
Varsity Athletes at Grebel
49 years and counting 

Champion of Mennonite Literature Retires 

Described as “the quintessential ‘aesthetic academic’ – a scholar who imbues her work at all levels with an appreciation for beauty, indeed a demand for it,” Professor Hildi Froese Tiessen celebrated her 25 year career at Grebel, surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues. (Many are pictured above, dressed in Hildi’s scarf collection!)

Hildi began teaching courses part time at Grebel in 1984 and was appointed Assistant Professor of English and Peace and Conflict Studies in 1987. She was Academic Dean for 12 years, and served as Interim President in 1995. She retired as Professor on June 30, 2012.

“Hildi’s aesthetic underlies her passion for the liberal arts,” explained colleague Marlene Epp. “Her own multi-faceted approach to thinking about literature, film, identity and culture was reflected in her ardent and insistent support for the College’s multi-disciplinary character and in the importance of the ‘in-between’ disciplines – Arts, English, Sociology, History, for instance.”

Hildi taught eleven undergraduate courses, the most prominent and frequent being Mennonite Literature, Multicultural Canadian Literature, Quest for Meaning in the Modern Age, and Quest for Peace in Literature and Film. She also taught Mennonite Literature and Mennonite Literature and the Church at the grad level.

“Her aesthetic is there in her teaching. One always knew it was Hildi’s syllabus, quiz, or lectures notes left on the photocopy machine because they were in fonts no one else would think of using. These are not small things, because they are emblematic of her belief in presentation, in ambiance, in the appreciation of beauty (whether expressed in joy or pain) in film and literature that she wanted to instill in her students.”
“Her work as a publisher and editor of art books reveals her aesthetic, her appreciation for art, for the book itself as well as its contents,” noted Marlene. Hildi has co-authored one book; edited and co-edited 18 books; edited, with various co-editors, 7 issues of journals; authored 12 chapters in books; and has presented more than 80 conference papers and public lectures. She has also published research manuscripts, interviews, encyclopedia articles, reviews, and art books.  Her “Literary Refractions” in the Conrad Grebel Review from 1996 to 2012 were influential introductions to new work by Mennonite writers.

Hildi demonstrated a deep commitment to beauty and clarity in language and expression – be it an academic paper, an editor’s introduction, or indeed a College policy or job ad. Her ability to craft a sentence that had functional and aesthetic meaning, or to edit a clumsy rationale so that it was akin to poetry, may have meant that we had 17 draft versions of our mission statement rather than 10. But it also meant that we created a mission statement which we now quote frequently and which has a poetic quality.  Hildi’s aesthetic literary imprint on the College will remain long after her official retirement.

Colleague Tom Yoder Neufeld expressed his “deep appreciation for this stellar teacher, patient mentor, and loving midwife to Mennonite writing.” Speaking for the entire College, he continued, “Hildi, it has been a remarkable journey serving with you on this faculty. We as your colleagues will all miss your sharp eye for matters of policy, wording of statements, and willingness to criticize anyone’s punctuation. We’ve shared much and often agreed and disagreed with each other, sometimes intensely. Through it all we’ve worked diligently together to realize our visions for this place. We all wish you as rich a retirement future as has been our shared past here at Grebel. God bless you.”

Compiled from tributes by Jim Pankratz, Marlene Epp, and Tom Yoder Neufeld.

The Words of Writers 

Hildi Froese Tiessen is widely recognized as the founder and most significant sustainer of the study of Mennonite Literature. Throughout her career she has nurtured a field of study and a community of Mennonite writers and scholars. As a remarkable capstone to her career, Hildi organized a 9-part lecture series where guests each offered an evening of combined reading/commentary meant to take the audience on a journey tracing how the writer’s Mennonite heritage contributed to shaping his or her literary sensibility. These writers not only captivated full-capacity audiences, but they had many kind words for Hildi.

“Typical for Hildi, that for her own retirement she would choose to celebrate the work of others. There is not another person on this continent who has done more to nurture this phenomenon [the blossoming of Mennonite writing in Canada] than Hildi Froese Tiessen.

We who write have come to count, Hildi, on your unfailing generosity, your gracious style, your tact, and most of all, your always open mind.”
~ Magdalene Redekop

“[Hildi has] spent a career ensuring that the brightest voices of an entire tradition have been heard in a crowded room.”
~ Darcie Friesen Hossack

“What she has done to promote Mennonite writing is incalculable, really. A gift she has given to all of us as writers, readers, and students.”
~ Rudy Wiebe

You can watch this complete video series.

Building Project Advances after Delays

Following the College’s March 16th ground breaking, Grebel embarked on the physical portion of “The Next Chapter” building project - an $8.7 million 4-storey building. Eager eyes watched as a large hole took shape near the atrium at the point where the new building will attach to the old one. Soon afterwards, workers discovered that the walls around the northwest stairwell of the academic wing had been compromised due to shifting and cracking. Attaching the addition to this wall would be more stress than the wall could bear. As a result the engineers had to design a new steel structure to be inserted in and around the stairwell. This stairwell, the main access to the Milton Good Library, was out of commission for several weeks, so a hole in the wall of the library was cut and a temporary stairway was installed for an emergency exit.

Another delay was caused by the soil sampling which detected one small area of  contaminated soil with high metal content. The contaminated soil had to be excavated separately and shipped to a site that can accept unclean fill. This work was completed at the beginning of July, and excavation and cement pouring for the new wing has proceeded.

These delays have had a negative impact on both the construction schedule and budget. While this has forced us to dip into our contingency funding, we are still within the previous estimates of $6,964,578 for construction costs, as proposed in February 2012. The addition of soft costs bring the total budget to $8.7 million.

A Banner Year of Blessings for a “Healthy” Grebel

by Susan Schultz Huxman

At the Grebel Board of Governors meeting in June, I was privileged to report that Grebel passed its yearly “physical” with flying colors! A few diagnostics:

  • Course enrolment is up.
  • We had a long wait-list of Grebel residence applicants.
  • We hired exceptional new faculty and staff.
  • We received approval from the province of Ontario for our second graduate program: Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS).
  • We started construction on our $8.7 million academic building expansion campaign with $5.2 million already in hand or pledged.
  • We had a high water-mark year for donations of $3.933 million. This includes Annual Fund, Next Chapter Campaign Fund gifts and pledges, special events net revenues, designated donations and Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS) matching funds.

Of course, these healthy metrics didn’t just magically appear. Like most “wellness” programs, Grebel’s many loyal stakeholders inside and outside the campus practiced mindfulness, discipline, and good “nutrition” to sustain the vitality of this remarkable College over the course of the 2011-2012 year. Grebel embraces two of the most important and intertwined qualities of healthy institutions: (1) delivering on attractive distinctives; and (2) being intentional and passionate about a mission and core values.

In Service to Church and Society

I never miss an opportunity to articulate the many ways in which I see our mission in action. At Conrad Grebel, we “seek wisdom, nurture faith, and pursue peace and justice in service to church and society” inside and outside the classroom.

“Community building” is a core value at Grebel that helps us practice our mission. Building community is lived out each week on Wednesday as faculty, staff and students share Community Supper. During a recent Community Supper, graduating student Dave Lenton told us:
“My original plan was to become a hot shot software architect pulling in 6 figures by 25…. I was smart, arrogant and ready to take on anything…. I’m so happy Grebel was here to stop me!” Dave expresses well what Grebel tries to teach. It’s not that we don’t want our students to be successful. We do! It’s just that we think adding our mission overlay: “in service to others” to the success-driven mantra of most universities might be a good idea: in performing works of mercy; in extending generosity; in pursuing peace; in serving your community, church and school.

Thank you to all our Grebel stakeholders who have been so incredibly supportive this year in ensuring Grebel’s institutional health! Within these pages of Grebel Now, we share other stories of Grebel’s banner year and with the joyful words of the familiar hymn, we “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

Celebrating Community and Connection 

For everyone at Grebel, Convocation is always a highlight of the year. The College takes this opportunity to honour each graduating student who has been involved over the years – whether this involvement has taken the form of living in residence, joining as an associate, studying Music, Peace and Conflict Studies, or Mennonite Studies, or for some students, all of the above! This program is also the official graduation ceremony for students receiving their Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degrees, conferred jointly with the University of Waterloo. This celebration will continue to grow in the future with the addition of a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies beginning this fall.

Welcoming almost a hundred graduating students and their families (Grebel’s largest cohort yet), President Susan Schultz Huxman described the basis of Grebel’s community. “We seek to connect, not divide: the spirit from matter, the arts from the sciences, study from play, and intellect from faith.” Just as students gather together with faculty and staff for chapel and Community supper, so we “celebrate community, connection and the precious gift of releasing our graduates to the world.”

Convocation is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication students have shown in their studies and allows a moment for each student to share their future plans. Listening to the dreams of travel, plans for further study, commitments to volunteering, successful and unsuccessful job seekers, and promises of marriage, there is an overall optimism and desire to go out into the world and make it a better place.

In her valedictorian speech, Liberal Studies graduate Rebecca Steiner urged her classmates to think of Grebel as a springboard into the mysterious and thrilling unknown. “The world is ready for us to dream and accomplish the seemingly impossible,” she declared. “Use your abilities, wisdom, and young-heartedness to serve your communities and seek new roads, making opportunities wherever you go. We are leaving behind a legacy.” And indeed these graduates of 2012 have already left their mark on Grebel, and we are eager to see what they accomplish in their lives.

Andrew Stumpf represented the nine students graduating with a Master of Theological Studies degree, four of whom are involved as ministers in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. He thanked the faculty for their wisdom, insight, care and friendship in helping to form strong foundations in each student, preparing them to go on and build beautiful structures – whether physical or intangible. Andrew encouraged every person in attendance to “take your stand for what’s good and true and right because light needs to be shone in every area of our society, beginning with relationships and the places where we study and work each day.” Drawing people from many diverse walks of life, the Theological Studies program continues to grow, preparing students for further graduate work, for ministry, or for personal enrichment.

Mark Weber, a Grebel Alumnus from the ’90s gave this year’s convocation address. He described Grebel as a safe place to think boldly! He asked students to ponder some questions: Who are you? Who do you want to be? Who will you surround yourself with? What contribution will you make? While each person’s answers differ, all answers point to the final question of: How will you find a sense of purpose and meaning in life? Ending with a quote from Frederick Buechner, Mark said, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Distinguished DocDistinguished Doc

Larry Willms was a fixture at Conrad Grebel in the 80’s; serving as Don and in a variety of student leadership roles. He also managed to take many Grebel courses in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) and Religious Studies while studying Mechanical Engineering.

Studying a combination of mechanical engineering and religion may sound like an odd mix, but Larry found it to be a perfect combination as a basis for his career as a family physician (along with his wife Marilyn), currently working at the First Nation Mishkeegogamang, and in the Emergency Department of the Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

“Helping people who are ill involves partly understanding the body as a complex machine and partly understanding that a person is much more than the body,” he notes. After 15 years, Larry says that his job is never boring; practicing medicine in this setting “involves a complex mix of biomedicine, socioeconomic factors, local politics, and more.”

“I have many fond memories of Grebel,” says Larry. “I arrived quite naive to larger questions of faith and to the interplay between vocation, a suffering world, and the spiritual path. Grebel was the place where lifelong friendships were forged, and the foundations for my current vocation were laid. Of course, it was also just plain great fun.”

Larry completed his medical studies at McMaster in 1994, where he met his wife Marilyn Koval. In 2004, he completed the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. Integrative Medicine is a reform movement within medicine that seeks to restore older healing traditions, self-care, and holism, to the current biomedical paradigm. “This progression to a more holistic view was in no small part a consequence of sensibilities I developed at Grebel,” Larry notes.

In the first years following his days at the College, Larry was heavily involved with Peace Brigades International (El Salvador and Guatemala). He also worked with Mennonite Voluntary Service in Fresno California as a VORP (Victim Offender Reconciliation Program) mediator, and also was interim co-pastor at Warden Woods Mennonite Church in 1987-88. He spent a term in Chiapas, Mexico in 1995 where he and Marilyn combined medical work at the Altamirano Hospital with documenting human rights abuses associated with the Zapatista uprising.

In 1998 he was part of a delegation that went into war-torn Iraq as part of a team sponsored by Jubilee Partners, delivering medicines to several children’s hospitals in defiance of the US embargo.

Since 1998, Larry and Marilyn have homeschooled their three children and continued their medical practice among the Ojibway and Ojicree First Nations of northwestern Ontario. They also attend St. Andrews United Church, a small, socially active congregation in Sioux Lookout.

Larry provides an inspirational example of following an interesting life path. “He provides Grebel graduates with a prime example of how one can follow their passions and use their education to make a difference not only in their own back yard but in the broader community and around the world. This type of intentional living fits well with Grebel’s mission to seek wisdom, nurture faith, and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society,” said Wendy Cressman Zehr, Alumni Committee Chair.

The Alumni Committee will present the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Service Award to Larry at a Community Supper this fall.

Ideas start here!

Computer science graduate, Daniel Bigham (’03) recently spoke at Community Supper. Stunning the listening students, he offered the group $5000 to make an impact and create a better world. “I know from my time at Grebel, students here combine good hearts with good heads,” Daniel explained. “The idea is simple: I’ll give you money and see what you do with it. I challenge you to use creativity and critical thinking to look out into the world, to see need, and to the best of your ability, use resources to meet people’s needs and make positive change. It’s a learning process.”

After working for five years at Navtech, a local flight operations software company, Daniel was itching to dabble in some hard problems. His fascination with artificial intelligence led him to some interesting home projects, and ultimately to Wolfram Alpha – the first website to allow you to ask all sorts of interesting objective questions and have it answer them for you. The company declined his request to preview their website before it launched, but they tracked down his resume, interviewed, and subsequently hired him in software research and development! Working from his home from Waterloo, Daniel is now a champion of encouraging people to follow their passions and continue to explore things that energize.

Dabbling in mobile “app” building, Daniel has continued to find success. As the inventor of “iTunes Sync” and “Flix”, among others, he is enjoying solving common problems in a succinct manner. He treats problems “as an invitation to apply creative gifts and make a difference.”

With the extra income from his hobby, Daniel, has turned his thoughts to money – specifically the disparity in the world between the rich and the poor. “I feel like this is one of those times in life where one needs to be careful what they wish for,” said Daniel. “Here I am contemplating the disparity of wealth in our world, and the sad state of generosity in our nation, and then life answers back ‘Okay fine, here’s a bunch of money, what are you going to do with it?’”

His idea encourages students to work together and share ideas in a spirit of celebration. Daniel has no set outcome in mind, but wants to empower students to think together about ways to respond to human need and make an impact. They may create a new initiative, support an existing student project or give the money away to another cause.

Daniel and his wife, Meredith (‘03) are “30-somethings” who are both established in careers. “There aren’t many venues for dialogue between people our age and students about how we use our resources in a responsible way,” explained Daniel. “The New Testament stories suggest that we should be generous and give freely without a pretentious spirit, like the Pharisees. We need open conversations about giving and modeling to show what we as Christians in a capitalist society should do with the wealth we have been given.”

Five Grebel students have taken up this challenge. Dubbed “The Grebel Giving Project”, the students are exploring the specific challenges and ethics of charitable giving. What do you choose to support? How do you decide? What happens when our giving actually causes harm? Eventually, the students will decide how to share the money, either individually or collectively, using it at home, abroad, or both. The group is taking time to educate themselves about work already being done in their areas of interest, before they make a decision on what they will do with this generous gift.

Ideas start here is a registered trademark of the University of Waterloo

Grebel Alumni make the best Community Supper speakers. Why not come back to enjoy some delicious Commie Supper bread and to share with the current student body about your work and life?  Call me – I’d love to chat with you about what input you might bring!
~ Mary Brubaker-Zehr

MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement Inspires Donors

The gift of $1 million to establish the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is transformative, yet the construction costs of the fourth floor require more partners. In May, an update mailing was sent to donors, alumni, and friends asking for support of $500,000 for this exciting project.  

The MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement (CPA) at Conrad Grebel University College aspires to be a state of the art peace incubation centre --an innovative and high achieving academic centre of active peacemaking “discoveries” reflecting the vision and values of the communities MSCU and Grebel serve. The CPA is a place where tradition and innovation; scholarship and service; and academic discovery and faith witness will meet to actively advance a more peaceful world.

“We are thrilled to report that we have received over $300,000 in gifts and pledges toward this goal,” noted Scott Beech, Campaign chair. Over 50 generous donors have responded, including a special anniversary gift (photo on right) and a gift of $100,000 from John and Erma Stutzman, who recently returned to Illinois after living in Waterloo.

Jim Tiessen (‘87) and Karen Thiessen gave the CPA a real boost by providing a $50,000 gift to create the “Grebel Gallery.” 

“We are so thankful to Jim and Karen,” remarked Susan Schultz Huxman. “This generous gift to the CPA is important to our goal of making the Centre fully functional in its first year, as it will create a wonderful space to display artwork and be a venue for hosting receptions, readings and other gatherings.”

“Donations for the remaining $200,000 are especially welcome at this time as we are 14 months from our goal to wrap up the campaign,” added Fred W. Martin, Director of Development.

The CPA at Conrad Grebel aspires to bring new capacity, partnerships, outlook and methods to advancing peace in our world today.
Over the last few weeks there have been many conversations with agencies, community partners, peace activists, and church leaders about how the MSCU CPA could take shape. “These conversations are essential to develop a centre that will be collaborative, cutting edge, and engaged with practitioners and policy makers,” commented Jim Pankratz, Dean at Conrad Grebel.

Poised to become a highly credible and attractive place to pursue cutting-edge peace initiatives, the 6000 sqare foot, open, flexible, creative place, is strategically located on the world-class University of Waterloo campus at the home of Conrad Grebel, the college that pioneered peace studies in Canada.

The willingness of the business community, organizations (anchored by MSCU) and individual sponsors to underwrite academic-based peace initiatives is a bold and welcomed new partnership in the world of peace and conflict studies. The business perspective on peace strengthens the “three legged stool” view of peace where civil society, government and business all contribute to promoting and sustaining peace.

“The ‘3i’ view of examining peace: innovative, interdisciplinary, and incubator-driven approach to launching expansive peace projects is the DNA of the CPA,” explains Huxman. “Truly a hybrid and post-modern peace centre, the CPA will not be a silo. Rather, it will demand a synergistic, interdisciplinary, and outward-looking understanding of tackling the many peace issues and initiatives of our times.”

The CPA intentionally interfaces academics with community and civic peace practitioners and peace groups, the church, and the wider faith communities in its efforts to dialogue and discover new ways to advance peace in our homes, communities, civic life, places of worship, our natural environment, and the wider political order. These diverse peace experts bring new triangulated methods of studying peace, and they conflate standard categories of doing academic peace work. The CPA outputs will aim to combine the methodologies of science and art, creative activity and research, teaching in the classroom and in the field, and providing service to the academy, church and society.

John and Anne Rogalsky of Waterloo celebrated their 60th anniversary on July 5 with a $25,000 gift to the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement. “We have always supported peace efforts and education and we wanted this to be our ‘monument’ as we think about our legacy” noted John. Son-in-Law Peter Paetkau (‘80) and grandchildren Stephanie (Paetkau) Janzen (‘05) and Mark Coffey (‘07) are Grebel grads. The Rogalskys look forward to having their great grandchildren enjoy the new facilities.

Varsity Athletes at Grebel

By Rachel Dyck, 2nd year English student

Musicians and mathematicians, environmentalists and engineers; the student body at Conrad Grebel University College is a community of individuals with unique goals and interests. In addition to participating in all that the university has to offer, Grebel students are engaged in academic and extra-curricular activities on the main campuses at Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier Universities. Whether in the lab at the BMH or on-stage at Hagey Hall, they take part in opportunities that allow them to experience different aspects of university life. For Grebel students on varsity-level sports teams, being involved in the broader university community means working hard, staying focused, and getting into the game. 

Living in residence at Conrad Grebel University College are several varsity athletes who appreciate being part of a sports team in addition to the community at Conrad Grebel.

JP Browne, who just completed his first year at the University of Waterloo, refers to Grebel as his ‘“second home.” The Track and Field team member acknowledges the significant impact that varsity athletics have made on his time at university so far. “It has made my experience amazing,” he says. “It feels good to compete for your school. It has opened other opportunities that I may never experience again.”

Third year Honours Science student and UW varsity volleyball player Jill Battenburg originally heard about the Conrad Grebel residence through a friend. For four terms, Jill has enjoyed being a part of life at Grebel and on the volleyball court, as well.

“The challenge of Grebel vs. athletics is definitely there but I can say that coming into university as a varsity athlete you have to be prepared for the biggest juggling act of your life,” she says. “Grebel really is just another ball that you can handle with some patience and organization.”

Jill values the encouragement of her fellow Grebelites as both friends and cheerleaders. “I love coming back to Grebel after a game and having so many people to just chill and relax without feeling the pressure to be anyone but myself,” she says. “Grebel has often been supportive at home games with several people out almost every game to cheer us on!”

Waterloo Warriors wide receiver Dustin Zender is a student who knows what it means to work hard in the classroom and on the football field. Over the last five seasons, Dustin has played varsity football for the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University when UW’s team was cancelled in 2010 due to illegal drug use by several Warriors.

Dustin is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at Grebel after having completed an undergraduate degree in Recreation and Business in 2011. In spite of a broken leg, he finished his university football career on a high note this past year when he tied the Ontario conference record at 63 receptions in a single season.

Now that he has completed his five years of eligibility as a university football player, he hopes to be picked up as a free agent by the Hamilton Tigercats or Saskatchewan Roughriders.  “It’s important to know where you’re going,” he says, all the while acknowledging that things may not go as planned. “Everything happens for a reason – if it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be.”

Other Grebel Varsity athletes include:
Jason Elzinga – varsity volleyball
Stephanie West – varsity swim team
Danielle Kamps – varsity volleyball
Mackenzie Loughheed  - varsity basketball
Daniel Tisi – varsity football

49 years and counting

Next year, Grebel (or Conrad, Connie G, CGC...) will mark its 50th Anniversary. This is a momentous occasion! So many students have lived under the Grebel peaks, studied in the morgue, sung in the stairwell, been surprised with insight and knowledge, prayed in the chapel, made out in the practice rooms, worked together to promote peace, scarfed gigantic cookies, dodged angry geese, discussed the meaning of life, been forever changed by a conversation, found their soul-mates, discovered their calling, and made deep and lasting friendships. This is Grebel. This is what we want to celebrate!!!!

Your 50th Anniversary Committee has already been planning this amazing reunion for a year. Mark August 23-25, 2013 as a weekend you do not want to miss!

Reunion weekend will include:

  • The Fretz Bow Tie Gala - a Friday fundraising dinner for the new Fretz Seminar Room, and an entertaining evening paying homage to the first Grebel president, Winfield Fretz
  • Chapel Choir Reunion - under the direction of Len Enns, singers are invited to practice in preparation for several songs in the Sunday Celebration Service
  • Sixties Era Saturday Brunch
  • Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, crokinole, knitting
  • Kids Activities - for the young and young at heart (Bouncy Castle and more!)
  • Grebel Had Talent - and we’re sure you still have some! Recreate your favourite act from talent shows gone by. Share your newly acquired entertaining skills (or lack thereof)! Wow your family with your interpretive dance moves or juggling genius!
  • Sunday Celebration Service - alumni across the decades will tell the Grebel Story. Participate in an “act of community” and listen to the reunited Chapel Choir. All are invited to a light brunch afterwards, to delight in your favourite Grebel treats.

People are what make Grebel special, so all of our celebrations include YOU!

We can’t fit all the 50th Anniversary excitement into one weekend. Throughout 2013-14, there will be other celebratory events, including a Peace and Justice Academic Conference, Sound in the Lands, an art collage, a 50th Anniversary book, a choral commission, extra awards, a 50th video, and a commemorative wood-working project from recently fallen Grebel trees.

50th Anniversary Committee
Fred W. Martin, Hendrike Isert Bender, Ed Janzen, Wendy Cressman-Zehr, Jen Konkle, Marlene Epp, Cheri Otterbein, Susan Schultz Huxman

Download the Grebel Now Summer 2012 edition (PDF).

Calendar of Events

July 30-August 3rd, 2012
Peace Camp (day camp)
Conrad Grebel University College
$160, lunch included

August 12-24, 2012
Ontario Mennonite Music Camp
Conrad Grebel University College

September 21, 2012
International Day of Peace Evening Presentation
Conrad Grebel Great Hall
Steve Thomas, Mennonite Martial Artist

September 22, 2012
International Day of Peace Morning Workshop
Conrad Grebel Great Hall
Steve Thomas, Mennonite Martial Artist

Saturday, September 29, 2012
2005-10 Era Alumni Reunion
Conrad Grebel University College

Saturday, September 29, 2012
Annual General Meeting
Conrad Grebel University College Great Hall
2:45 - 3:15pm

Saturday, October 27, 2012
3rd Annual Across the Creek Event
7:00 pm, Festival Theatre in Stratford
The Matchmaker
Join us for a pre-curtain reception with
Prof. Ted McGee from St. Jerome’s who will give
us some background on this classic comedy.
Tickets are $75

Friday, November 16, 2012
Spirituality and Aging Lecture
with Drs. Susan and John McFadden
"Spirituality, Friendship and Community in Late Life"
Registration is required

August 23-25, 2013
Grebel’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Music and Culture in South Africa

 This May, a group of 12 Canadians eagerly ventured to Durban, South Africa for the fourth “Music and Culture” study trip - one of several travel courses offered at Grebel. Led by music professor/composer/pianist Carol Ann Weaver and assisted by Canadian vocalist Rebecca Campbell, the group of 10 students travelled to South Africa for three weeks to learn first-hand about the people, their music, culture, and their lives, experiencing many life-changing moments.

Contribution to Community Recognized

Music Professor Ken Hull received the “Laurier Centre for Music in the Community Award of Recognition”. This award recognizes and celebrates contributions made to enhance the quality and vitality of music in the community. Some of Ken’s involvements include chairing the K-W Symphony conductor search committee, founding and directing Spiritus Ensemble which performs Bach cantatas, and helping to establish the East-West Festival of global music, jointly sponsored by Conrad Grebel University College and Renison College.

Guest Adjudicator

Music Professor Len Enns has been chosen as the only Canadian adjudicator at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Music Festival. Each July over 4000 musicians, singers, and dancers from around the globe come to Llangollen, Wales to perform at one of the world’s most colourful festivals with its unique spirit of peace and goodwill. 

Peace Speech

Fourth year Peace and Conflict Studies student, Caleb Redekop, won this year’s C. Henry Smith Oratorical Contest, with his speech entitled “The Church Needs to Occupy”.

Inspired by a visit to New York City’s Zuccotti Park, Caleb suggested that “the Christian Church must partner with Occupy and regain its ability to speak for justice and peace within mainstream Western Society.”

As first prize winner, Caleb goes on to compete with winning students from other North American Mennonite colleges in this Mennonite Central Committee competition.

Digging a new Volleyball Court

Surveying the beach volleyball court at Grebel last summer, Aaron Neufeld was inspired to give it a massive upgrade. Formulating plans all winter long, he received funding from the uWaterloo Student Life Endowment Fund, then secured volunteers and equipment.

“The new court is a complete overhaul of the old one,” Aaron explained. “The sand area is much bigger, so there is space outside the court to serve and play the ball. It’s level and has a wooded border so the sand won’t wash away. The sand is over two feet deep, so there won’t be drainage issues, nor will it feel like you’re jumping on concrete like on the old court. We installed new posts and hardware, and bought a new net, lines and volleyballs for the court.”

Aaron notes the contribution of many student volunteers, staff, as well as Dean Kropf of Dino Trucking, who volunteered time and trucks to deliver 14 truckloads of sand, and Greg Ramseyer of Ramseyer Earthworks, who volunteered expertise in planning and design, as well as equipment to do the excavation and construction of the court. 

GADFLY Brings History to Life

 Sam Steiner (‘73), a quiet, retired Librarian and Archivist of over 30 years at Grebel, has a wild past as a 1968 draft dodger resisting the Vietnam war. The story of his struggle with pacifism was brought to life this April in the play “Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft.”

Drawing on the wealth of resources in the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, coupled with extensive interviews with Sam, playwright Rebecca Steiner, a newly graduated drama student, illuminated interesting characters and captured issues Sam faced as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. Rebecca commented that “it has been a very rich experience to see this bit of history come alive again, through the lens of Sam Steiner’s journey. I have been challenged to think about how peace and active pacifism can be lived out in my own life.”

The brainchild of Grebel’s Director of Development, Fred W. Martin (‘87), the play included his live band playing a sound track featuring songs from Gram Parsons. Produced by Theatre of the Beat, actors included Johnny Wideman (‘09), Rebecca Steiner (‘12), Kimberlee Walker (‘12), and Benjamin Wert. Additional support from Grebelites included Katie Cowie-Redekopp (‘11), Dave Metcalf (‘10), Katie Honek, Cameron Deweerd, Alina Balzer-Peters (‘12), and Laura Dyck.

GADFLY drew sold-out crowds when it was performed in KW, raising $18,000 for the Next Chapter Campaign. It was nominated for best English play at the Montreal Fringe Festival, and the group is traveling to the Edmonton and Vancouver Fringe Festivals this summer.


Alex (‘07) and Chani Wiens (‘07) had a baby girl, Julianne Elizabeth, on May 18. Chani is on maternity leave from her math teaching position at UMEI Christian High School in Leamington and Alex works as a Manager in Audit at Deloitte in Windsor.

Andrew and Stephanie (‘08) Zwart (nee Hastings) joyfully welcomed their first child, Jake, on January 24, 2012.  They recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary at their home in Burlington where Stephanie enjoys staying home and taking care of her two men and Andrew works in mechanical engineering.

Rebecca Steinmann (‘00) is Grebel’s new PACS Administrative Officer and Graduate Studies Coordinator. She has an MA in Peace Studies from the Kroc Institute, and previously worked in the Academic Dean’s office.

Alison Enns has been hired as Development and Events Assistant. She is a graduate of CMBC, worked for Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, and has been very involved with fundraising for both Hidden Acres and Silver Lake Mennonite Camps.

Robert Pringle (‘09) married Claire Flint on July 7 in a sweltering Grebel Chapel. Rob will continue to work in North Bay until Thanksgiving, then they hope to move together to Australia where Claire’s family lives.

Arnie Dyck (‘68, ‘69) and his wife Lou, pictured here on their deck, have retired on Vancouver Island. Fred Martin met other BC alumni at a reception on July 12 in Vancouver during Mennonite Church Canada assembly.

Karen Enns (‘67) retired from her teaching career but continues to teach piano. She’s been spending her time baby-sitting her grandkids, ushering at Centre in the Square, and providing music for her church. Karen and Peter have three adult children (Jeff, Jamie, and Jenny) and 4 grandchildren. They hope to travel more in the future.

Esther Etchells (‘67) retired after a rewarding career teaching in elementary schools from Kindergarten through Grade 8. She is now following her passion and teaching the entire music program to a Grade 2 class at a local school, getting in her “kid fix.” Esther sings with the Kokoro Singers and enjoys ushering for the Elora Festival and Perimeter Institute’s classical concerts. Volunteer work, yoga, Tai Chi and a support group she helps to facilitate round out her schedule. She has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Megan. Esther is also enjoying being part of Grebel’s Alumni Committee and looks forward to reconnecting with other alumni at Grebel’s 50th Reunion!

Dave Swayne (‘66) lived at Grebel for a year and a half when it first opened. He was a professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph from 1981 until he retired in 2011. Earlier he was faculty at the University of Regina. Dave has been heavily involved in international IT projects in 43 countries. Since retirement, he has remained involved in a few international projects and still supervises graduate students. For exercise, Dave is an avid CrossFitter. Find Dave on Facebook!

Deane, Deane, the Dancing Machine

by William Fick (‘80, ‘83)

One of Grebel’s longest continuous residents, Deane McIntyre (‘79, ‘83), died suddenly after cutting grass on June 24, 2011, at the age of 53. Deane worked for 24 years in Calgary, AB where he kept the magnetic nuclear resonance spectrometers running smoothly in Hans Vogel’s lab. While at Grebel, Deane was the go-to guy to fix anything from hairdryers to TVs. This ability to fix anything made him invaluable in his job, amazing even to the manufacturers of the equipment he maintained. Reflections by colleagues revealed that Deane’s life course continued along the same path as his Grebel days, keeping his humour, big heart, teasing, dedication, and clutter!

As a 1st-year undergrad, Deane had his own research lab space. From this lab came some interesting anecdotes involving reactive metals (yep, that’s how that hole ended up in the cafeteria table!), a contact explosive, and the ever-present supply of acetone to fix plastics (glasses frames, etc.). If anyone needed help with Chemistry, he was a most willing tutor. After ranking in first place out of 5100+ students in the UW high school chemistry exam, and 4th place in the physics exam, Deane turned down a scholarship to study Physics at Queens to pursue Chemistry at Waterloo, where he received a PhD in 1983.

Deane found love, something for which he had yearned for many years, marrying Amy Chaves in 2001. In memorial, Amy wrote, “thank you for all the support and thoughtfulness you have given me. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and for being my best friend. You are an amazing person and I will always love you and miss you until we meet again…”

Deane often recalled his “Deane, Deane the Dancing Machine” sketch with the girls of the short end. Amy would love to hear more stories and see more pictures of Deane from his Grebel days. She was unaware of the streaking-on-the-second-floor episode!  Deane’s Legacy Book

2005-12 Era Reunion!

Recent Grads from 2005 to the present: this is your reunion year! You’re invited back to the College on Saturday, September 29th for “A Taste of Grebel”!
Your alumni reps are Amanda Zehr (‘08) and Ryan Hildebrandt (‘09).
Your email invitation will go out soon!

 Alumni Event

Saturday, October 27, 2012
3rd Annual Across the Creek Event
7:00 pm
Festival Theatre in Stratford
The Matchmaker
Join us for a pre-curtain reception with
Prof. Ted McGee from
St. Jerome’s who will give
us some background on
this classic comedy.
Tickets are $75

We have revamped our Grebel website! This spring we migrated our entire 1000+ page website to a new platform. Using Drupal, the 10 staff charged with maintaining different website sections are already finding it much easier to update.

We invite you to take a look around and feel free to send us comments (good or bad!) so we can improve your web experience.

Conflict Management has Global Appeal

by Sue Baker

The Certificate Program in Conflict Management continues to grow, offering new topics and welcoming participants from as far away as South Australia. This spring we introduced “Mediating Groups in Dispute” to a full house, many of whom were past program graduates. It was co-led by Betty Pries and Kathy Underwood, who is a Graduate of both the Mediation Stream and the Faith Communities Streams in Conflict Management. In June we welcomed back Kay Pranis and Jennifer Ball, together with Tahnahga, to lead a small but rich group in the power and value of “Peacemaking Circles.” While the College is under construction, we are delighted to be using space at the Balsillie School for International Affairs, and enjoyed hosting “Communication in Creative Leadership” there in May.

We continue to look for ways to enact Conrad Grebel’s mission “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in service to society and church” through the provision of high quality professional development workshops geared to both the community and to the church.

Find a complete listing of upcoming workshops.