Grit McCreath speaks at Convocation

The heart of campus

Education—and indeed the University of Saskatchewan—has always been important to Grit McCreath and her family.

By Kris Foster

From being a student and alumna, to a member of the University Senate and the Board of Governors—and most recently being appointed the university's honorary ambas­sador—McCreath has held many roles at the U of S.

But her connection to campus goes back further than her time as a student. "As a young girl I would go to classes with my mom and got to know all the nooks and crannies. It was so cool to be on campus," McCreath recalled.

McCreath is a first gener­ation Canadian. Her parents, both academics in Europe (her father survived the Gulag), came to Canada in the 1949. Though well-educated, upon arrival in Canada they were given only credit for one year of university and had to start their post-sec­ondary educations again.

"My mom and dad both went to the U of S, they were always students," explained McCreath, adding with a laugh that she too has spent a great amount of time as a student at the university.

But the U of S was a place that was more than libraries, labs and lecture halls for the family. "On Sundays we would pack up our VW Bug and have picnics on campus, or go see a concert, or visit a museum. My parents would bring students home for dinner. It was absolutely central to my life growing up."

There was no question, McCreath continued, "that I would attend the U of S." And she did, earning a bachelor of education degree and spending 32 years as a teacher and education administrator in Saskatoon, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary.

No matter the distance, there has never been a time in McCreath's life that she has not been connected to the U of S, from childhood to today. One of her own sons attended the U of S, she and her spouse Scott McCreath, a graduate of the College of Commerce, have hosted countless alumni events, and she served on both the University Senate and the Board of Governors.

"I was sad, after three years on senate and six years on the board, that it was coming to an end," she said. "At my last board meeting in July, they presented me with a certificate that named me as honorary ambassador. I was overwhelmed and absolutely delighted!"

McCreath, in this new role, has possibly found the perfect job, albeit one that does not come with a paycheque.

"I adore the university and as an honorary ambassador, get to share with others all the things that make this such an incredible place," explained McCreath.

University Secretary Beth Williamson said that McCreath, through dedicating so much time to the university over the years, was an individual the Board of Governors did not want to lose.

So the board, Williamson continued, came up with the idea of an honorary ambassador so that the university would continue to be a place where McCreath could still invest her time and energy and help the university.

"Grit has a vast number of skills; she is intuitive, a strong leader, and is such a delightful person who has friends and connections across the country," Williamson explained. "She has a great love for the university and we wanted to find a way to continue to tap into all of that."

McCreath also has extensive experience as both an educator and administrator in the K-12 education system, Williamson continued, and knows "how to connect and appeal to students of all ages. That is of great benefit to the university."

Some of the duties that McCreath will take on in this role include meeting with and hosting alumni and donors, recruiting students, mentoring individuals and groups, attending university events and ceremonies, and providing the president with feedback from the community.

All of these things, McCreath said, she has been doing in some capacity for a number of years already.

"I've always been a small ‘a' ambassador for the U of S," McCreath said, adding that the job description, evolutionary in nature, comes with a big "A."

"We have every confidence that Grit will uphold everything the university stands for," said Williamson. "She reflects the university's values."

"The university is essential to the province and so many people are connected to it and have pride in it. I get to share that with others," said McCreath. "My parents would be over-the-moon proud of this."