Q and A with GPRC President and CEO Dr. Robert Murray
Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Dr. Robert Murray, GPRC President and CEO, shares his vision for the future of the College.
GPRC President and CEO Dr. Robert Murray’s first day was December 2, 2019, and he spent the first couple of weeks meeting GPRC students and employees as well as community and education leaders throughout the Peace region and across the province. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about what brought him to the College and his vision for the future as GPRC’s 9th President and CEO.
What excites you about being GPRC President and CEO?
What I find exciting is GPRC has unique variables that don’t exist in any other post-secondary institution in Alberta. The College is in and of the community, and by that I mean it’s incredibly supported by community members and its employees to an extent I don’t think a lot of other colleges enjoy. GPRC also has a great Board of Governors and exceptional talent among its staff and students. So it’s exciting to come and harness that talent and start planning for what GPRC can be and how we can unlock all that potential for the future.
What are the highlights of your career path that brought you to GPRC?
I’ve had a pretty eclectic career and had the opportunity to work and take leadership roles in a variety of different areas. For much of my career I’ve found opportunities to work with organizations to help them take a look at what they are currently doing and help chart a path forward. Most recently, my work at Dentons as the Managing Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Practice allowed me to work closely with executives and c-suites in both the public and private sectors to understand the unique opportunities they had to unlock their potential to grow and thrive in a changing landscape.
How do you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style is all about people, values, innovation, outcomes and results, and finally service above self. People are really important to me because I truly believe an institution’s strength, resilience and potential is in its people. I want to make sure our people are empowered, supported, mentored and allowed the opportunity to grow in their roles. I’m also a values-driven leader. I try to lead with integrity, and when it comes to GPRC specifically, it means we must consider how every decision affects and helps students. Another of the big piece of values is around relationships and I believe relationships are built on honesty, integrity, transparency, and stewardship. When it comes to innovation, we must always be looking at how we can do things differently and encouraging visionary thinking to help address and solve problems creatively.
I also believe we need to be looking for the outcomes and results that students, the community and government expects of everyone at GPRC. That means all teams across GPRC working together and listening to students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders to gather input that helps deliver on what we say we will do and that we are an essential part of the future growth and prosperity of the region and province. Finally, I believe in putting service to others above self and in servant leadership.
Grande Prairie and this region is proud of its independent spirit of being able to get things done. How have you experienced that spirit in these first few days?
You don’t have to spend a lot of time in the region to see there is a lot going on and the College isn’t any different. In my first few days one of the most amazing things was getting to meet people and listen to what they’re up to and the incredibly exciting plans they have for the future of the college. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit about the region and GPRC that fits really well with my work ethic.
What do you want GPRC students to know about you?
I want students to know that I genuinely believe in a student-centric ethos and that students can approach me any time. Ultimately, students are the reason we are all here and all of the decisions, plans and actions we take must be focused on students.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I’ve been weightlifting for over 20 years so pretty much every day I’m up at a ridiculously early hour doing that. Otherwise, I’m an absolute sports fanatic so you can find me often watching some kind of sporting event either in person or on TV.
Final thoughts on the opportunity to be at GPRC as it travels its path to become degree-granting?
This is a really exciting time for the College as it works to become a degree-granting institution. We’re going to be moving along this path while a lot of change is occurring at all post-secondary institutions in Alberta, so that creates an opportunity to build on what is already here and create something new for the region as part of this change.
It’s going to be a balancing act as we move toward becoming degree-granting while we make sure what we create will last into the future and be adaptable to future change. We will also balance our goal to become a degree-granting institution with protecting and supporting the programs that continue to be so important to this region such as the trades and apprenticeship programs, as well as our diplomas and certificates. We are also going to balance the speed we move toward degree granting with making sure our students graduate with degrees that are recognized as being the highest quality.