Message from the Vice-Prresident Academic

Can you believe it’s the end of August already?! It’s my favourite time of year, when the mornings are starting to be a bit cool but the days are warm – and it is just about the beginning of the term. Time to pick out new notebooks, choose this year’s organization system, and colour-coordinate pens and binders.

I was in the StMU Bookstore this week and besides being thrilled to see some familiar returning students who were picking up their books, I was excited to see the cool new travel mugs and sweatshirts. Picked up a travel size of hand sanitizer that fits in my pocket, too. So I’m ready for term to begin – starting with next week’s New Student Orientation!

For these weekly messages, I have special permission to email your StMU and personal emails – because it is so important to get you the information you need about COVID and how this unusual term will start. But the rest of the university only has access to your StMU email.

Emails – Forward StMU email to your personal email to ensure you get all the information you need!

The University sends all official emails to your StMU email account. Your faculty will be contacting you through StMU email about term start-up details. This is also how all the essential services reach you – Registrar, Library, Advising, etc. So if you want to get notified if you are off the waitlist or your books are ready for pickup, check your StMU email regularly. Even better, forward it to your personal email account. Instructions are below:

  1. Login to
  2. Click on Outlook
  3. Click on the settings wheel in the top right corner.
  4. At the bottom of the screen click on “View all Outlook Settings”
  5. Then click on “forwarding”
  6. Then enable Forwarding and enter your personal email.
  7. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.

New Student Orientation (NSO)

Next week we are welcoming all our new students to join our learning community officially. Some of you are attending on campus, some virtually. First year Education students’ NSO is September 2nd. Arts & Sciences students, we will see you September 3rd or 4th.

You already know that we are the premier Liberal Arts University in Alberta. We invest in small class sizes and superb faculty so that we know you as individuals, not numbers, and can foster personalised growth and academic success. When Maggie Lachica and Kim Tam and their team put out a call for volunteers for NSO, they were swamped by so many volunteers – staff, faculty, and current StMU students – that they had to turn a bunch away. This is a University where you matter and where we want you to thrive!

Part of fostering your academic growth is keeping you safe during a global pandemic. When you feel safe, you will be able to focus on your learning. Your academic credentials are going to be more critical than ever as our province begins to recover economically from the impact of the pandemic.

COVID Protocol Updates

St. Mary’s University has a COVID Mask Use Policy to ensure the safety of all the members of our community and their families. This adheres to the provincial guidelines and is applicable to all students, staff, faculty, contractors and visitors to campus.

COVID Rapid Response Plan

The University’s Emergency Response Team and COVID-19 Taskforce have developed a COVID Rapid Response Plan that specifies how the University will respond to any confirmed cases of COVID on campus. A copy is attached for your information.

A key part of maintaining the safety of our campus and people, especially as the term progresses and we get into flu season, is for the University to be able to quickly and efficiently track who is on campus for contact tracing, should the need arise. For those of you who will taking in-person lectures or labs, daily attendance is an integral part of information gathering for contact tracing reasons. Keeping doors locked except just before and after class start times is another way we are regulating campus access to keep you safe.

Study Spaces on Campus

Next week we will have the booking system in place for you to reserve a study space on campus if you have an in-person, face to face lecture or lab with an adjacent on-line class. Stay tuned for those details.


  1. I am nervous about doing university remotely. Should I delay?
    Being anxious is totally understandable. Only you can make the decision whether or not to delay your studies, but we can reassure you that we have supports in place to help you settle into the groove and adjust to any bumps you may encounter. CLASS (Centre for Learning and Student Success) will be offering Success Seminars with practical, hands-on skills to give you an academic edge, the Library is geared up to provide research and information instruction and has increased the availability of e-resources, and Counseling Services is ready with a listening ear and some strategies to cope with stress.

    I want to offer a piece of poetry that I shared at Faculty Orientation this week, something that helps me remember to hope and not despair, even in the midst of all the uncertainty that COVID has been generating. Maybe it will speak to you:

    I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
    I want to be light and frolicsome.
    I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
    as though I had wings.
    ― Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

  2. Someone in my household is immune-compromised. How do I safely get my books?
    You can access your textbook list and order your books online for curbside pick-up.
  3. Will it make any difference long-term that we are doing courses remotely during COVID?
    Future employers are looking for your credentials and skills. Your St. Mary’s University degree will retain its value long after the year of COVID-19 is a distant memory! We believe that now is the time to get a degree so that you are ready to jump into a career when this pandemic eases.

We will be looking for you this week – at NSO if you are a new student – in the Bookstore, or perhaps via email.

Tara Hyland-Russell
Vice-President Academic
St. Mary’s University
14500 Bannister Road SE
Calgary, AB T2X 1Z4
Ph: 403.254.3771