My thoughts and reflections on President Murray Fraser
Although I was hired by Murray as the Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs in 1995, I had a relatively brief time to actually work with him. But 2 memories stand out to me from our time together, both of them more reflective of the wonderful warm person he was than of the most important position he held. I think that one of the reasons we all miss him so much, even to this day, is exactly because of the man he was as well as the important leadership he demonstrated.
1) I remember well the meetings that Murray convened of his President’s Advisory Council. These large weekly gatherings included ALL of the people who reported directly or indirectly to Murray, from his office manager, to all the Vice Presidents, to me, the newest member of his team. The purpose of these meetings was for Murray to seek the advice, intelligence, caution and wise counsel from this diverse community of leaders. And advise him, we did. He also challenged and questioned our suggestions. We knew that he would make his own final decisions, but the fact that he genuinely asked for our advice, and listened to what we suggested was quite remarkable to me. These discussions were always frank and animated, strangely, for someone from Ontario, at least, sometimes included dulse. Yes, dulse. It was passed around, and people helped themselves to a bit of it… and I tried it… once.
2) Within a few weeks of my arrival at UofC, I got a new Jack Russell Terrier puppy and Murray asked if I would bring him to the office. I was a bit worried about this, since puppies can be a bit unpredictable, and Jack Russell Terriers in particular, sometimes noisy. But Sam (Samantha) and I came into Murray’s office, and I can still see the smile spreading across his face as he held her and then placed her on his desk. I’m not sure who was happier, Murray or Sam, but I do know that Murray got Sam’s seal of approval, and he also got even more of my respect.