By Kayla Perry, Editor in Chief
This Q and A is the third of four interviews in the President Series. In each issue, I’ll be sitting down with a president from each of the federated universities, discussing what makes each of the universities unique: we’ll be discussing everything from programs to faculty to the residences offered. My first interview was with Pierre Zundel, the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sudbury.
For the second interview, I sat down with Robert Derrenbacker, President and Chaplain of Thorneloe University.
In my third interview, below, I met with Kevin McCormick, President and Vice Chancellor of Huntington University.
The segment will end with a Q and A with Laurentian University President and Vice-Chancellor Dominic Giroux, which will appear in the Jan. 13 edition of Lambda.
Q: Academically speaking, what sets Huntington University aside from the federated universities and the rest of Laurentian?
A: Huntington University is truly a community. It’s a place where our faculty, our students, our staff and our external community partners come together to work on programs, to work on courses, and to work on ways that the education we receive can translate in meaningful ways to the larger community. I’ve felt very blessed to be here – it’s truly a community that’s based on peace, purpose and passion.
Q: Which programs are based out of Huntington University?
A: We have programs and courses in areas such as ethics, religious studies, theology, communications and gerontology. What’s nice is that the programs and the courses themselves, while unique and in separate strands, really come together with our faculty and our students. I always like to think of it that they’re woven together as a tapestry, and that’s what makes it unique. When students come to Huntington they can take a course, they can take a program or they can even live in our residence: they’re each able to take their unique strands they find at Huntington and put them together in a way that reflects for them their journey to that point with us.
Q: Why would you encourage students to study one of the programs offered at Huntington?
A: First, I always encourage students to do what is most important and meaningful to them, and what really speaks to their passion and their purpose. If they choose to come to Huntington for one of our programs or our courses or our residence, I hope it’s with an understanding that they’ll be a vibrant part of our community, and someone that will be respected and welcomed. There will be expectations of them to also be active in the community in some way – that could be on a local level with student government, participating with extra curricular activities, or providing that leadership to a new student coming in when you’ve been here for three or four years and know the ropes. We always hope that students will reach out with the same hand that they were welcomed with, to help a student who is having challenges with his/her studies or life at that time.
Q: As a building what does Huntington offer students?
A: We have the library, we have a number of centres in spirituality and religious studies, communications, and we also host the first teaching and learning centre in Northern Ontario, the Lougheed Teaching and Learning Centre. We’ve just established in the last year and a half to two years the Canadian Institute for Studies and Education, which is really bringing together students, faculty, and the external university community, to see creative ways we can respond to challenges of age, and do it in a very respectful way.
Q: What sets Huntington University aside from the other federated universities and the LUL residences?
A: Huntington is a community. It’s a place where people want to be, and what I find very interesting is that we have generations of students coming to Huntington. They’ll say my mom went here, my dad went here, and we’ve even had opportunities where grand children have come here. It’s the character the institution has – it’s a place where students work with other students to help them… I think the greatest testament to Huntington is when students take time away, they’ll return when it’s time to come back to Huntington. I don’t attribute it to the bricks or the mortar, or any of the other clichés we can use – I truly think it’s the people and the place, and the passion that we have. We have outstanding faculty, who are committed and award-winning to their scholarship and passionate about their teaching… It creates that unique environment for students, whether they’re living here or taking a course or program. It really speaks to the community Huntington is, and has been for well over fifty years.
Q: Many students who’ve lived in Huntington often return throughout their studies, so much so that there’s a Master’s student living here. Why do students return so often?
A: Yes, there’s a master’s student here, who is president of the student association. It’s quite interesting when people come to Huntington – at first, when you’re new, you don’t know what to expect. Sometimes students will make the decision to go to another place or another institution, and if they decide to come back, to live or to study our programs, they say things haven’t changed. I think that’s a real testament to our institution.
Q: Can you pick one word to encompass everything that Huntington University is?
A: May I use hyphens? It’s a community of peace purpose and passion.
Q: As we enter the final weeks of classes and begin exams, is there a piece of advice you can offer first year students to deal with stress?
A: Absolutely. Realize that many people have been through it, realize that they are exercises you’re going through, and try whenever possible to find that balance. Learning is a journey; it’s not just a destination. And that sounds rather cliché, but for first year students, and I see them in the pit – that’s where some of our students will spend time – or the library, and they’ll sometimes be obsessing over a grade: recognize that while grades are important as far as measurements, they’re not necessarily the only testament to the knowledge.