Grebel builds on 50 Years of people, programs

September 25, 2013 | Focus On | Number 19
Conrad Grebel University College
A joyful greeting from Grebel’s upper-year students welcomes new students into the residence on ‘Move-in Day.’

This school year marks Conrad Grebel University College’s 50th anniversary! As Grebel welcomed new students from coast to coast into residence and resumed teaching a variety of liberal arts courses at the University of Waterloo, the college community reflected on what has sustained it in its first 50 years and what could be done to ensure another strong 50 years.

“This may sound like an enormously complicated and deep subject,” remarked president Susan Schultz Huxman in her annual commencement address, “but actually it’s profoundly simple: I maintain that building a healthy Grebel community for the next 50 years means that we pay attention to concrete blocks and quilt blocks. At a most basic level, you can’t build a successful college without bricks and mortar.”

“What I didn’t know when I started university, was how positive of an impact my decision to come to Grebel would have on molding my life,” said Jonathan Cullar, student council president. “It is the people that make up Grebel and they have been an encouraging, challenging, supportive and loving community, the catalyst to inspire me to be the best that I can be and to reach for high goals.”

Again this year, Grebel’s residence is filled to capacity.

Call for volunteers

“We’re thrilled with the mix of students we have in residence and are actually pleasantly overwhelmed with the increased number of students who live off campus, but want to connect with our residential program,” said Mary Brubaker-Zehr, director of student services. Grebel has beds for 174 students on campus, and currently has an additional 99 students who live off campus but enjoy having a home base at Grebel for their studies at the University of Waterloo.

Last year, Grebel’s peace and conflict studies program began offering a master’s degree. The enrolment target of 32 students for the second cohort in Fall 2013 was reached, and the master in theological studies also has 32 students enrolled this fall.

“With over 60 students, we are creating a strong graduate student culture at Grebel,” said Jim Pankratz, the college’s dean. “Having 25 new grad students at orientation activities generated an energizing dynamic. Seeing the students from both graduate programs interacting with each other fulfills our vision of creating inter-disciplinary programs.”

A joyful greeting from Grebel’s upper-year students welcomes new students into the residence on ‘Move-in Day.’

Each year at Grebel’s commencement service, students, faculty and staff participate in an ‘Act of Community’ to symbolize the beginning of a new year together. This year, in honour of Grebel’s 50th anniversary, students pieced together a glass mosaic in the shape of the chapel’s stained-glass windows. This mosaic was glued onto a wooden box made from fallen Grebel trees, and the box will contain letters from the students in the form of a time capsule.

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