Gary (second from left) pictured with his family.

At St. Mary’s University, the support of our community volunteers plays an essential role in our continued growth as an institution. Gary Strother, Chair of the St. Mary’s Board of Governors, is a dedicated StMU volunteer who recently received The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal (Alberta) in recognition of service to his province in the field of adult education.

Although Gary began his formal volunteering journey with St. Mary’s in 2019, he has been actively involved in our campus community for much longer. Both of his sons attended StMU and loved their experience on our historic campus, and Gary attended many events in support of St. Mary’s over the years.

After working in K-12 Catholic education for his entire career, Gary felt that giving his time to StMU would be an excellent opportunity to give back to something significant to him. He also felt compelled to use this opportunity to view education from a post-secondary perspective while bringing his past experience in governance roles.

“I worked with some very experienced trustees for many years and felt I’d learned a lot and would be able to use that experience to benefit StMU,” he explains.

Aside from primarily volunteering on the Board, Gary has been actively involved with many other Presidential initiatives – including the Field of Crosses, Feed the Hungry, and our Annual Stampede Breakfast.

Gary flips pancakes at our 2022 Stampede Breakfast with Dr. Sinda Vanderpool and fellow board member, Devin Elkin.

Serving as our Board Chair for the past three years, Gary’s many responsibilities include working closely with the President in governance matters, planning and running Board meetings, working on a variety of essential committees, and representing the Board and St. Mary’s at various events.

Before serving as our Board Chair, Gary moved from Montreal to teach in the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) in 1983 and worked his entire professional career there. He began as a teacher, moved into school administration, and then to senior administration as an associate superintendent for ten years, followed by eight years as the Chief Superintendent.

Gary was a featured speaker at our 2022 President’s Farewell Gala.

“It was an incredible place to work, and I had the good fortune to work with some amazing people,” he says. “Teaching at any level is one of the most important vocations that anyone can take part in, and I loved having the ability to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

Working for so many years in the field of Catholic education, Gary has always found faith to be a grounding presence in his life. “There is something calming about knowing that you are never alone and that you have someone to turn to in prayer for guidance and comfort,” he says.

“The beauty with teaching and working in Catholic education is that school is not just about teaching the 3 R’s—there is something bigger than all of us and the knowledge that our time on earth is limited, but there is something after that we could look forward to,” Gary adds.

Now dedicating his time to St. Mary’s and our students, Gary believes this is important work because of the value he sees in how our university offers a unique learning experience for our passionate students.

“Our small classes and caring faculty ensure a special opportunity where students get to know professors personally,” he adds. “We are a Catholic university that is open to everyone, which gives all of our students the opportunity to learn about our faith if they are interested. As well, our campus is set in a beautiful natural setting that contributes to a wonderful university experience.”