2019 PLENARY SPEAKER BIO – Cathryn M. Heslep (B.A., M.A., Ed.D. (candidate)

Cathryn M. Heslep – Ombudsperson – MacEwan University – Edmonton

Cathryn M. Heslep (B.A., M.A., Ed.D. (candidate) is currently the Student Ombudsperson at MacEwan University. She retired from the position of the Vice President, Student Services in April 2015, a position she held since 2002. In that position, Cathryn provided overall leadership and strategic direction for a team of Student Services professionals who delivered a range of services and activities for students from prospective/inquiring to alumni. Included within the Student Services portfolio was the Office of the University Registrar, Student Life, MacEwan Athletics, Student Residence, Alumni Relations and Services, MacEwan Centre for Sport and Wellness, on campus medical clinic, and administrative liaison with the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU).

Cathryn has worked in higher education at several postsecondary institutions totalling over thirty years. She was appointed Registrar at MacEwan (then Community College) in 1989, and Vice-President in 2002. Her research interests include the impact of multiple generations in the classroom, student success, and legal issues in higher education.

She completed a Master of Arts in Leadership at Royal Roads University in 2003 and pursued doctoral studies in Higher Education Administration at the University of Calgary.  Providing leadership external to MacEwan University, Cathryn chaired the provincial Senior Student Services Officers committee for several years, participated on the Pan-Canadian Student Engagement Survey Advisory team (ACCC) and was a member of the initial management committee for two provincial initiatives – eCampusAlberta, and ApplyAlberta.

Cathryn initiated and developed MacEwan University’s first Office of the Student Ombudsperson in May 2016. The Student Ombudsperson is an independent, impartial, confidential and accessible resource for students who will, in a fair and impartial manner, assist students in understanding and clarifying policies, processes and decisions that affect their enrolment. It is a student-friendly resource to resolve conflict informally. She holds membership in the International Ombudsman Association, Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons and the Alberta Network of Ombuds in Higher Education.

Personally, she has served the community as board member of an after-school care program, and  The Alberta Baroque Music Society. Currently, she is on the board of Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg), her church (Lendrum Mennonite Church) and Te Deum Singers. Cathryn enjoys watching the MacEwan Griffins compete, reading, travel, classical, choral and jazz music, and golf.


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