Alumnus Barb Colliar-Brown and current student Mary Benson are the newest representatives on Yorkville University’s Academic Council.
Yorkville’s Academic Council is responsible for the academic governance of the university and matters related to teaching and research at the university. The council consists of the vice president academic, the Dean of each faculty, three elected representatives from each faculty council, the registrar (ex officio), the director of library services, the director of online education and learning technologies (ex officio), two elected student representatives, two elected alumni representatives, and the president of the university (ex officio).
Barb Colliar-Brown sees her recent appointment as one of the Alumni Representatives as an opportunity to contribute to her alma mater.
“I truly believe that in any type of occupation or organization, you need to be active. For me, [Yorkville University’s Academic Council] is a way to give back, and to use my experience to help others,” said Colliar-Brown, who graduated from Yorkville’s Master of Education in Adult Education in 2018.
Colliar-Brown’s willingness to serve, along with her desire to take into account the opinions and concerns of her colleagues, is in alignment with the needs and the objectives of the Academic Council, which, according to Yorkville University’s Vice President of Academics John Crossley, include helping “to govern the university—to aid in making policy, to review policy and to make critical review of academic changes.”
Colliar-Brown credits her experience completing her MEAE at Yorkville with securing her teaching and administration position, and enhancing the perspective she is able to offer her students at Portage College, in Cold Lake Alberta. When Colliar-Brown found herself in this new position, instructing in the post-secondary sphere, the former elementary and secondary school teacher quickly recognized that in order to advance further in this new stage of her career, she needed additional education and accreditation.
“I was hired without [my Master’s degree], but I could see the trail leading to a Master’s in the post-secondary world,” said Colliar-Brown. “So I took the bull by the horns, and at age 50, I went back and finished my Masters in 21 months, through Yorkville.”
The experience was a positive one for Colliar-Brown. She was able to continue to work full-time while achieving her graduate degree, and she found the curriculum to be immediately relevant to her work, which bridges the gap between education and the corporate world.
“[The MEAE program] was user-friendly, the instructors had high expectations which I value, and they were there to help you succeed,” Colliar-Brown said. “I just felt blessed that I had an opportunity to finish my Masters while I worked full-time. The ability to access a Master’s degree in small-town Northern Alberta was phenomenal.”
For Mary Benson, a current BBA student at Yorkville University, her appointment to the position of student representative for undergraduate programs means a chance to give her fellow students a voice when it comes to academic-related policy issues at Yorkville.
“I really hope that going forward, anytime there is feedback in terms of what a student might want or need, I can share that with the council,” said Benson. “I think [students] might look at some things differently than faculty, so I hope to be that voice that allows a student perspective on things.”
While Benson is in her second year of Yorkville’s BBA program, she is nonetheless familiar with the process of working within a group decision-making process. She has worked for Irving Oil in Saint John, New Brunswick, for almost 10 years and hopes to move into Human Resources once she has completed her degree.
“I have always wanted my degree, but unfortunately life expectations and circumstances got in the way, so I wasn’t able to achieve it until now,” said Benson. “My kids are grown and I can focus more on myself and that’s why I reached out to do it now.”
In addition to wanting to share a student’s perspective, the other motivating factor that inspired Benson to apply for a position on the Academic Council was a desire to step out of her comfort zone.
“I was always somewhat of an introvert. In high school I wouldn’t ever dare to be on any committee because I was so shy,” Benson said. “So when the opportunity came up [to be on Yorkville’s Academic Council], I thought I should challenge myself and push myself to do something different, so I went with it.”