From the Nominator
We wanted to go beyond a straightforward institutional profile to introduce the University of Alberta’s new president, Bill Flanagan. He was taking the reins as the university was heading into a period of major change. It was important that readers get to know him as a person—what motivates him, what is important to him—to help build relationships with alumni, faculty and staff, and the community. Flanagan was generous in letting the writer and photographer into his life, which was essential to this approach. His background offered a rich opportunity for storytelling: he was returning to his home province after many years away; he is a gay man who grew up at a time when it was not well-accepted; he has had a varied education and career; and, as the writer found out, he is a man of many interests and talents. The feedback on the article was remarkable. We heard from staff and faculty who said they appreciated gaining insight into their new leader’s background and his thinking. Readers said the profile was useful, inspirational, and made them feel more connected to the university. Given that many U of A alumni play leadership roles in local and provincial government and institutions, the profile also served to introduce them to the new leader of an important institution in the community.
From the Judges
The presidential profile can be full of pitfalls, as all of us who edit alumni magazines know. But this writer wonderfully captured the story of a smart and amiable person who was willing to be vulnerable. The thread of growing up in the prairies, and what that forges in a person and in a family, is a great choice for a president coming to lead during this particular time. A model of the presidential profile, very effectively done. We loved that they treated the new president's sexual orientation and marriage to a Sri Lankan man as something of a minor detail.