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Alan’s Notebook
My “day one” moment: Speaking to incoming first-year students during Orientation Week festivities, September 3, 2019  —  two months after becoming president.

Universities are all about possibility

Re-imagining Western’s alumni magazine

If this magazine looks different to you, it’s not just your imagination. We have, indeed, shaken it up.

About a year ago, we set about re-imagining what is now called Western Alumni Magazine. Why? It really comes down to this: if a university is a lens through which we can understand global society, then we wanted a magazine that allows you, our readers, to see how Western is working to achieve that understanding—and what we’re doing to help ease the problems we’re all grappling with.

There is no question that one of the driving forces of Western, as a globally respected research university, is to understand and tackle tough problems. This is a mission we take seriously.

That drive comes into clear focus in this issue, which features stories that explore how members of the Western community believe we can move forward on five issues that continue to confound society: homelessness, access to health care, the degradation of the natural environment, the impact of social media and food insecurity.

This new take on the magazine also places a big emphasis on our alumni. I have never seen alumni as enthusiastic about their alma mater as Western’s. With that in mind, we’ve created new ways to share your stories in this magazine.

Western Alumni Magazine also highlights our other mission—creating an experience that helps our students shape their futures.

This past summer, someone asked me just what it is that fascinates me about universities. My response is simple and comes from my own first year of university in Minnesota. Within a week of being there, a whole new world opened up for me. A world that immersed me in a wave of possibility.

More than 40 years later, I still feel that way.

At a university, you see people, of all ages, on an upward trajectory. They’re excited. They’re building and often re-building their lives and careers. They’re gaining knowledge and learning to apply it. They’re sending what they learn out into the world as students, as teachers, as scholars and researchers and as the hundreds of thousands of alumni who span the globe.

It’s an experience rooted in growth and transformation.

Both of these driving forces—research and learning— are enriched through collaboration. Across disciplines, and in partnership with government, businesses, organizations and peer institutions, we look at everything through a variety of angles. That’s because global problems are not one-dimensional.

This multidisciplinary approach to understanding the world brings me back to where I started, with the launch of this revitalized magazine—which will examine global society and our challenges through a multitude of connecting perspectives.

What the Western community—faculty, students, staff and alumni—is doing is important. Through this magazine, we’ll be sharing their stories of innovation and impact.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

An image of Alan's signature

Alan Shepard
President & Vice-Chancellor

Headshot photo of Alan Shepard