CHS Community Profile: Get to know College Dean and Vice-Provost Brenda Hemmelgarn

Get to know Dean Hemmelgarn as she shares her thoughts on the College, leading with purpose, and her favourite distractions.

17 August 2023

What’s your favourite thing about working with your colleagues in the College of Health Sciences?

We have an incredible group of people in the College who are dedicated and passionate about their roles. It's inspiring to see the level of commitment they have not only to the College but to the broader institution. The student leadership in each faculty is also remarkable, and it is motivating to work alongside such talented and driven individuals.

The University of Alberta fosters a strong sense of community, making it a supportive environment. I am fortunate to be part of this community, and it reinforces my commitment for the work we do in the College of Health Sciences.

What comes to mind for you when you think of “leading with purpose”? How does your work help the College lead with purpose?

“Leading with purpose” will shape the future of health education and research in the College of Health Sciences. Guided by a clear vision, my role as  College Dean is to lead with purpose by fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment that empowers faculty, staff and students to excel. That involves continuous assessment and improvement to ensure that our graduates are well-prepared for the ever-evolving health landscape and that our educators, researchers and staff are supported and can thrive. It also includes actively listening to feedback and making data-driven decisions to optimize our strategies, responding to the needs of our community. By leading with purpose, I will ensure the College of Health Sciences makes a positive and meaningful difference in the communities that we serve.

How do you create a culture of care with the students, faculty and staff you work with?

I am committed to creating and supporting safe, welcoming, diverse, equitable and respectful environments for all students, faculty and staff. My goal is to create an environment where leaders can engage in open dialogue, reducing barriers so units can participate together in initiatives that promote health and wellbeing. None of this can happen without the accountability that is critical to ensure safe and secure places to work and study. 

What’s your favourite distraction?

I love reading, walking and hiking. I have explored a lot of the river valley. It's my favourite part of Edmonton, and I do some of my best thinking while walking. 

If you were enrolling in one course, program or degree at the University of Alberta right now, what would it be?

There are so many diverse and interesting offerings at the U of A, it is hard to choose just one! If I were to enroll in a course right now, I would like to take the Indigenous Governance and Partnership Program. Learning about Indigenous governance fosters understanding, reconciliation, and respectful partnerships with Indigenous communities.