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Mary Bluechardt hopes successor will continue community engagement

Mary Bluechardt has resigned as vice-president of Grenfell Campus.
Mary Bluechardt has resigned as vice-president of Grenfell Campus.

After almost five years Mary Bluechardt is leaving Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Her departure as vice-president of the campus was announced Tuesday.

Bluechardt has accepted the position of president of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Her tenure at Grenfell ends in April and she’ll assume her new position on July 1. Coincidentally, July 1 is the day she started at Grenfell in 2011.

The Western Star spoke with Bluechardt about her time at Grenfell and moving on.

Question: What has been your biggest success at Grenfell?

Bluechardt: The reach out into the community.

Memorial University is about meeting that mandate and serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. So, the whole piece around public engagement, reaching out to the community, engaging the community in all that we do is really important and really at the heart of Memorial. And so, I think that’s a great accomplishment here at Grenfell.

Question: What has been the biggest challenge?

Bluechardt: I think the biggest challenge is bringing about change and bringing the people along with that change.

Folks here have been very co-operative and collaborative and really have embraced change.

But it is a challenge to change or bring about change in any organization.

Question: What are the lessons learned in the role?

Bluechardt: Whenever you’re bringing about change, the way in which you do it, there are some things that are common about the approach you take. But then regardless of where you are and the contextual reality of where you are, you have to be constantly adjusting and modifying those approaches to meet the needs and interests of the specific environment or community that you’re in.

It’s like going to any new place, you have to meet people, do a lot of listening.

It was a new community that we moved to, so there were things that I had to adjust and change and be flexible about myself.

Question: How will your experience at Grenfell help you in your new role?

Bluechardt: I think it will help in many ways.

There are some commonalities between Mount Saint Vincent and the Grenfell Campus that are very intriguing.

They’re very student centred, they’re very community minded, experiential learning is important to them and also the piece around social responsibility and they really do take that on at Mount Saint Vincent. And these are things that are also very important to Grenfell and to the community here.

Question: What attracted you to the position at Mount Saint Vincent?

Bluechardt: From an academic admin perspective I’ve been a dean twice and now a vice-president. And if you look from a succession perspective certainly it’s moving up, it’s moving on and that I’ve always been attracted to that.

It’s a great professional opportunity and being able to still stay on the East Coast of Canada is very attractive as well.

Question: What advice would you give to your successor at Grenfell?

Bluechardt: My advice would be to keep the momentum with the community engagement going. To come in and listen, and hear what people have to say. And just get to know the community.

I really want the community to still feel part of Grenfell and this is their university campus. I don’t want that to be lost.

Question: What will you miss about Grenfell?

Bluechardt: I will miss many of the wonderful people that I have met and that my husband has met in the community.

The City of Corner Brook and the whole community here embraced us when we came, and so we’ll miss that.

Her departure as vice-president of the campus was announced Tuesday.

Bluechardt has accepted the position of president of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Her tenure at Grenfell ends in April and she’ll assume her new position on July 1. Coincidentally, July 1 is the day she started at Grenfell in 2011.

The Western Star spoke with Bluechardt about her time at Grenfell and moving on.

Question: What has been your biggest success at Grenfell?

Bluechardt: The reach out into the community.

Memorial University is about meeting that mandate and serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. So, the whole piece around public engagement, reaching out to the community, engaging the community in all that we do is really important and really at the heart of Memorial. And so, I think that’s a great accomplishment here at Grenfell.

Question: What has been the biggest challenge?

Bluechardt: I think the biggest challenge is bringing about change and bringing the people along with that change.

Folks here have been very co-operative and collaborative and really have embraced change.

But it is a challenge to change or bring about change in any organization.

Question: What are the lessons learned in the role?

Bluechardt: Whenever you’re bringing about change, the way in which you do it, there are some things that are common about the approach you take. But then regardless of where you are and the contextual reality of where you are, you have to be constantly adjusting and modifying those approaches to meet the needs and interests of the specific environment or community that you’re in.

It’s like going to any new place, you have to meet people, do a lot of listening.

It was a new community that we moved to, so there were things that I had to adjust and change and be flexible about myself.

Question: How will your experience at Grenfell help you in your new role?

Bluechardt: I think it will help in many ways.

There are some commonalities between Mount Saint Vincent and the Grenfell Campus that are very intriguing.

They’re very student centred, they’re very community minded, experiential learning is important to them and also the piece around social responsibility and they really do take that on at Mount Saint Vincent. And these are things that are also very important to Grenfell and to the community here.

Question: What attracted you to the position at Mount Saint Vincent?

Bluechardt: From an academic admin perspective I’ve been a dean twice and now a vice-president. And if you look from a succession perspective certainly it’s moving up, it’s moving on and that I’ve always been attracted to that.

It’s a great professional opportunity and being able to still stay on the East Coast of Canada is very attractive as well.

Question: What advice would you give to your successor at Grenfell?

Bluechardt: My advice would be to keep the momentum with the community engagement going. To come in and listen, and hear what people have to say. And just get to know the community.

I really want the community to still feel part of Grenfell and this is their university campus. I don’t want that to be lost.

Question: What will you miss about Grenfell?

Bluechardt: I will miss many of the wonderful people that I have met and that my husband has met in the community.

The City of Corner Brook and the whole community here embraced us when we came, and so we’ll miss that.

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