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Seat at the table

Board of Regents alumna representative looks back and to the future

Campus and Community

By Heidi Wicks

Facing challenges prompts growth.

Katharine Hickey

That’s the over-arching lesson Katharine Hickey (B.Comm.’87) says she’s taking away from her experience as a two-term alumni representative on Memorial’s Board of Regents.

Ms. Hickey’s decision to run in 2014 originally came from a place of friendship and a desire to remain connected with her alma mater in a meaningful way. The Board of Regents oversees the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the university.

“I was getting together with friends from my class to plan our next reunion when I saw an email about the election,” she said. “I had some friends who previously served, and they spoke highly of their experience. I did a little research and decided to run. When my first term was up, I decided to run again in 2017,” she remembered (alumni representatives are permitted to run for two consecutive terms).

Community connections

For Memorial alumni who wish for a more active role in the governance of the university and the province, serving on the Board of Regents is an incredible opportunity to learn more about Memorial’s unique, special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Memorial’s St. John’s campus
Photo: David Howells

As a publicly engaged university, Memorial is evolving alongside a changing society.

The university’s business faculty attracted national attention when it launched Canada’s first master of business administration in social enterprise and entrepreneurship in 2018.

The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship inspires and enables aspiring entrepreneurs and offers foundational training, encouragement, guidance, access to funding and connections to create high-growth businesses.

The Gardiner Centre develops and delivers current and relevant professional development programs, advancing business and leadership knowledge for the general public.

The Harris Centre assists in the responsible development of the economy and society, and stimulates informed discussion of important provincial issues.

The brand new Signal Hill Campus is a dynamic hub for fostering social and economic innovation, professional and organizational development, civic engagement and public dialogue.

These are just a few of many ways Memorial impacts the wider community.

‘Get out what you put in’

Ms. Hickey says she “fully appreciates” Memorial’s leadership role in both the province, the country and the world.

“I also recognize the challenges Memorial has faced and continues to face,” she said.

“Memorial University has a Senate that oversees academic affairs and a Board of Regents that oversees all other matters, and operates under regulations set out by the Memorial University Act. This type of structure was new to me. The board is large – 30 people – and there are several committees to enable proper oversight. I chaired the Governance Committee and I am proud of the work this committee has done. I have been on the Campus Planning Committee, as well as some ad-hoc committees over the years. As with any board, you get out of it what you put in.”

Watch the video below for a history of Memorial University’s governance  system.

Ms. Hickey’s biggest lesson? The importance of good governance and process.

“We have had a very diverse board over my two terms – people with varied backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, we had a multiplicity of opinions and some heated discussions that really challenged my thinking. I have a more comprehensive understanding of Memorial and its role in our community, the province, economy, our people and our future because of this experience,” she said.

Her biggest piece of advice to anyone who is considering running?

“Go for it! You won’t regret it.”

Nominations for alumni representatives for the 2020-23 Board of Regents close on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m. (NST). For further information, please visit the Office of Alumni Engagement website.


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