Mary Collins

My first impression of Royal Roads goes back to when I was a teenager. Growing up in Vancouver, my girlfriends and I were always trying to get to one of the Royal Roads military balls with a good-looking cadet. I never quite made it. It took me until I was a federal cabinet minister before I finally got to go to the campus for a graduation ceremony. Then when I was associate minister of national defence I attended many events at Royal Roads.

I was adamant that I did not want to see the military college closed during my watch, so they backed off until I left the portfolio. Afterwards, I was part of the group looking at what the options were for Royal Roads; the governments finally agreed to an independent university.

What was created is a very special university, unique, I think, across Canada. One of the challenges is that we initiate new and innovative approaches to education and then other post-secondary institutions copy them.

I know so many of the students I’ve talked to appreciate the quality of education they receive at Royal Roads, and the opportunities they have to interact with other students from all over Canada and the world during their on-campus sessions.

We are also very fortunate with the fabulous physical setting we have with the beautiful grounds and gardens, despite challenges maintaining and adapting some of the old heritage buildings. RRU is very different from my own university experience – I attended University of British Columbia and then graduated from Queen’s – in my day, the only format was the old style large lecture classes while classes at RRU are often remote and much more personal. 

I have been a member of the board of governors at RRU for the past five years. As a board, we are responsible for governance and policy issues. I chair the finance committee, which is always a challenge these days in education. However we’ve been extremely fortunate at RRU coming in with not only balanced budgets but small surpluses in recent years.

I am a big believer in education, particularly the kind of educational opportunities that RRU provides to undergraduates, as well as graduate, professional and international students. Receiving a degree from Royal Roads really impacts positively not only on their careers but their lives. It is life changing, just as our motto says.

Education is such a critical part of helping people to fulfill their potential. I have been a strong advocate for improving educational opportunities for women. It is most satisfying to see the numbers of women pursuing graduate degrees at Royal Roads, enabling women to take their places in leadership roles whether in politics, business or more specialized fields, and helping to create a more equal society. At Royal Roads, we have a big emphasis on leadership studies that prepare students for those roles.

We have lots of plans and have a very bright future ahead. I am very proud to volunteer to be part of such a dynamic organization.

Mary Collins
A recipient of two honorary degrees from Royal Roads – one from the military college and one from the university – Mary Collins also serves on the Royal Roads University board of governors. Collins was the Member of Parliament for Capilano-Howe Sound (1984-93) during which time she held several cabinet posts: Associate Minister of National Defence, Western Economic Diversification Minister, Minister of State (Environment) and Minister of National Health and Welfare. Now she is Director of the Secretariat of the BC Healthy Living Alliance, a group of organizations committed to collaborating on the prevention of chronic disease.

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