Distinguished Service Awards Recipients

  • Melanie Peacock (2023)
  • Rafik Kurji (2022)
  • Shiraz Kurji (2021)
  • Brady Killough (2020)
  • David Sabiston (2019)
  • Cheryl Techentin (2018)
  • Elaine Mullen (2017)
  • Pat Kostouros (2016)
  • Gerry Cross (2014)
  • Lee Easton (2012)
  • Mardy Roberts (2009)
  • Marlene Kingsmith (2008)
Melanie Peacock, General Management and Human Resources

DSA Recipient 2023

Dr. Peacock joined MRU in January 2004 as an instructor in the Faculty of Business and became a tenured Associate Professor in 2007. Throughout her years at MRU she was committed to serving her students, her department, and the MRFA. She served on numerous MRFA committees, including the Negotiating Committee, Grants Committee, Social Events Committee, and many more.

In 2018, Dr. Peacock was elected as President of the Mount Royal Faculty Association. The first female President since Maxine Mott in 1991 and the first women of colour to be elected President since Jane Hayes in the 1980s, Dr. Peacock led the Association through two challenging rounds of collective bargaining as well as the onset of the COVID-19. As members were directed to begin emergency remote teaching on an unprecedented scale, Dr. Peacock worked hard to ensure faculty rights were protected while advocating for a safe and healthy workplace.

Responding to the pandemic, Dr. Peacock also oversaw the MRFA Office’s smooth shift to remote work and, through her weekly video updates, led by example to show that we were indeed “stronger together.”

Dr. Peacock also led the MRFA Executive’s decision to address directly the racialized violence against George Floyd and joined the Association’s Equity Review Working Group to examine the Association’s by-laws, policies and procedures to ensure that they were inclusive and promoted belonging for all faculty.

As Immediate Past President, Dr Peacock facilitated a smooth transition between the Executive Board and the new President, a task more difficult given the University and the MRFA were working remotely. She continued to participate on the Executive Board and graciously offered advice and insight when called upon to do so. Since leaving the Board, Dr. Peacock has remained active in the Association as a member of the MRFA 2025 Working Group and the Audit and Finance Committee. Dr. Peacock has announced her plans for retirement effective August 2023.

Rafik Kurji, Accounting and Finance

DSA Recipient 2022

Rafik Kurji was instrumental in overseeing the Association’s financial operations, management, and Internal Controls in the role of Treasurer for 8 years. He served as Treasurer from 2008-2012 and again from 2018-2022. In his time as Treasurer he enhanced the Associations processes, controls, and reporting. In his early years he spent countless hours brining the Associations books in order.

Shiraz Kurji, Accounting and Finance
DSA Recipient 2021

The Distinguished Service Award, given to members for their long-term, exemplary and diverse contributions to the MRFA, was awarded Shiraz Kurji at the MRFA’s 2021 AGM. Over the past two decades, Shiraz has served the Association in many different positions including: Treasurer (2012-2018), Grants Committee (Chair: 2012-2018), Faculty Centre Management Committee (2012-2018), Professional Development Committee (2004-2006 and 2018-2022), Ethics Committee: (2010-2014), Social Events Committee (2004-2008), Tenure Granting Committee (2008-2010), and MRU Benefits Committee (2018 – 2020). The Association expresses its sincere appreciation for Shiraz’s efforts to always go above and beyond in his dedication to the Association and his willingness to contribute in a variety of ways. 

Brady Killough, Mathematics and Computing
DSA Recipient 2020

Dr. Brady Killough has made significant contributions to the collegial governance of the MRFA and his long term efforts have advanced the goals and important aspects of the operations of the MRFA. Brady has a strong sense of where faculty voice can be emboldened. Since his arrival at MRU  in 2009, he has served on numerous key committees of the MRFA. In 2011, Brady was elected as member of the Negotiating Committee. His interest in this position came from his profound faith in the significance of collective bargaining at all times, and especially in times of economic hardship. Since then, he served on this committee for five years in three rounds of collective bargaining. He was the Chief Negotiator in the 2016 round of bargaining. Brady held two key positions on the MRFA Executive Board. He was the Vice President, Negotiations in 2015/2016, and Vice President Policy and Senior Grievance Officer in 2018/2019. During the same time, he served as Chair of the Grievance Committee. Following the 2012 round of bargaining, Brady was one of the three MRFA representatives on the Joint Committee on Financial Exigencies. The joint committee produced a report with draft financial exigency language, which was brought to the table in 2014, 2016 and 2018. After many rounds of collective bargaining, in the 2018 round, the MRFA Negotiating Committee successfully negotiated an MOU on Financial Emergencies, which was based on the fundamental principles of the report. Further, in 2014/2015, he represented the MRFA on the Joint Committee for the Revision of the Faculty Annual Reports. This committee produced a report with recommendations that led to the current version of the annual report system.

David Sabiston, Economic Justice and Policy Studies
DSA Recipient 2019

David has served multiple times on the Negotiations Committee (nee Economy Policy Committee) where he has always brought a clear sense of standing for faculty.  David first joined the Economic Policy Committee in May 2002.  David was determined even then to ensure that the College met faculty’s need for real wage increases. Indeed, it was David who at 10 PM on Friday evening in March held firm on our demands and ensured that we achieved a bit more in a wage settlement. Or, as the College’s lead negotiator, Bill Armstrong (also the College’s legal counsel) put it, “It’s not like you didn’t get every nickel on the table.” David served as Vice-Chair in the 2004-05 round and held out valiantly to retain the Association’s right to strike after the Conservative government legislated it away. In 2012, David became VP Negotiations and the Association’s chief spokesperson of the Negotiating Committee.  In that role, he again stood strong for the best financial settlement possible and set in motion a process to bring Financial Exigency into the Collective Agreement. Although that struggle is not yet done, David pushed hard to keep job security for full-time faculty foremost in the 2018-19 round of collective bargaining.   Over the years Dr. Sabiston has also served on the MRFA Executive Board and the Professional Standards Committee.  Dr. Sabiston’s record shows that the MFRA has had a passionate advocate for faculty’s right to maintain their real waged in the face of inflationary pressure, a cool negotiator who is steady when the pressure rises, and a fearless leader who has served the Association steadfastly for over two decades. We have all benefited from David’s principled stands.

Cheryl Techentin, Department of Psychology
DSA Recipient 2018

Cheryl Techentin has been an engaged member of the MRFA for many years and in multiple capacities.  She was selected to receive this award especially for her distinguished service over three years as Chair of the Association’s Faculty Evaluation Committee (FEC), from 2015 until 2018.  These were years of significant activity for the Committee, as Mount Royal University moved to implement a new Faculty Annual Reporting System as well as an new Student Perception of Teaching instrument.  Under Cheryl’s leadership, the FEC worked to ensure that these instruments would be of formative value to faculty, all while respecting the collective agreement and avoiding inappropriate and unfair assessment practices.  Cheryl’s continual engagement during this process, advocacy for evidence-based practices, and the resulting reports and recommendations provided to the Association by the FEC were important in identifying potential problems, and in liaising proactively with University administration to avoid them.  We recognize Cheryl’s service as a model of member engagement and dedication which, while unassuming in approach, has benefited the wider collective many times over.

Elaine Mullen, Department of English, Languages, and Cultures
DSA Recipient 2017
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Elaine Mullen started at Mount Royal in 1969; so, her many contributions to this institution and to the Association are far too numerous to list here in any detail. However some of the highlights include her significant contributions to MRU through ADC’s Instructional Support Program and to the MRFA through the PDC, Executive Board and Awards Committees. Elaine co-developed the Instructor Support Program (ISP) which assisted new faculty members improve their teaching. This has had significant and long lasting impact. She was a trusted person whom faculty sought out to provide mentorship and support in their teaching practice. Though it was not a formal relationship, many faculty have viewed Elaine as their mentor over the years. No matter the faculty members’ needs or the issues they faced, Elaine was always there to support them. One of her legacies at MRU is a commitment to the support for quality teaching and teaching development. Also, Elaine was instrumental in forming early connections between the MRFA and new faculty members by facilitating the involvement of the MRFA in the ISP program. Though her contributions to the MRFA go far beyond that. To list only a few of her MRFA service roles, she was the MRFA Faculty Representative to the Board of Governors for 4 years and a Member at Large for two years, she was the Chair of Awards Committee for 5 years and a member of the PDC for 18 years. She was instrumental in developing the MRFA’s Teaching Excellence Award, having brought to this committee many years of service on the University’s awards committees. The creation of this award is a lasting legacy in which the Association membership demonstrates its continued commitment to the importance of quality teaching at MRU. Elaine was, also, instrumental in the creation of the MRFA’s Annual Spring Retreat in 1990. The benefits this annual event provide to the Association and its members are several, it promotes collegiality, promotes the development of relationships across the university, supports faculty members in their various roles as academic staff, connects members to the MRFA who otherwise would not be, and provides a much needed break for faculty at the end of each academic year. For these things, and so many more, we are grateful for immeasurable contributions Elaine has made to the Association and the University over the years. And, we look forward to her continued involvement in the years to come.

Pat Kostouros, Department of Child Studies & Social Work
DSA Recipient 2016
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Pat’s scholarly interests include mental health of post-secondary students, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. While maintaining a very active scholarship program, Pat pursues extensive internal and external service. She has served on various MRFA and institutional committees, including the MRFA Executive Board. Her external service is, likewise, extensive: she is involved in the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta and Post-Secondary Student Mental Health.

Gerry Cross, Department of Mathematics and Computing
DSA Recipient 2014
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Gerry Cross’ dedication to the Mount Royal Faculty Association spanned his entire career at Mount Royal. Before moving towards phased Retirement, Gerry spent four years as President of the MRFA and, prior to that, several years on the MRFA’s Negotiating Committee and as the MRFA’s VP Negotiations. Through bargaining, Gerry was instrumental in negotiating the changes required for MRU to become a University. As MRFA President, Gerry was a strong advocate for the proper administration of the Collective Agreement and focused other Association efforts on Advocating for Post Secondary Education.

Lee Easton, Department of English
DSA Recipient 2012
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Lee Easton joined the English Department at Mount Royal in 1996 and served as the Chair of the department for several years. His special interests include media and representation, gender/queer theory, literary theory, multimedia, and film.

Lee was selected to be the recipient of this award for his many years of service to MRU and the MRFA. Particularly, his service on the MRFA Negotiating Committee. He is our longest standing member of the Negotiating Committee and was integral in bargaining the changes in the Collective Agreement required for the transition from a College to a University.

Mardy Roberts, Department of Psychology
DSA Recipient 2009
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Mardy was, and as Professor Emerita continues to be, a knowledgeable and committed teacher who is particularly responsive to students. She has been creating excellent learning experiences for her students from the first time she entered a classroom.

Mardy was selected as the recipient of the DSA for her dedicated service to the MRFA over the years and in many capacities, including the Negotiating Committee and the Executive Board.

Marlene Kingsmith, Department of Child and Youth Studies
Inaugural Recipient of the DSA in 2008
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Marlene’s dedication to creating community amongst faculty members across campus, through the MRFA Social Events Committee, inspired the Association to create the Distinguished Service Award. Her dedication to serving the MRFA in this capacity has had a long lasting impact on the MRFA and all of its members.

Marlene has been dedicated to the welfare of children and youth for more than 35 years. She has fostered more than 40 adolescents, served as a Child Welfare Worker, worked in a variety of treatment facilities, and operated a six-bed group care program for 18 years. In 1989, Marlene began mentoring others to be advocates for   vulnerable children, youth, and families as an instructor at Mount Royal University. Marlene plans to retire from Mount Royal University in 2017.