When Caroline Cottrell (BEd’73, BA’81, MA’89) talks about being a Golden Grad this year, it means more to her than the average University of Saskatchewan (USask) grad.
Her life on campus started when as a child, both her parents were professors in the College of Education, a path she originally started down as well.
“I love this place. I really do,” says Cottrell. “This place has been so meaningful for me in so many iterations of my life.”
The ties to USask really strengthened for Cottrell when in the summer of 1971, she was taking classes and was invited to represent the College of Education on the USask students’ union (USSU).
“From then going forward, I was very deeply politically involved and engaged. I don’t know how I actually passed, to be honest. I had an awful lot of fun.”
An interesting sidenote for Cottrell is her final role on campus was as general manager of the USSU before retiring in 2021.
“Talk about coming full circle at the end.”
Her commitment to USask has not stopped as she is now vice-president of the USask retirees’ association.
Cottrell is also a student again taking classes again in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I’ve always like to learn.”
She says her life at USask has been nothing but positive.
“The great joy of my life has been interacting with the hundreds of people I've met on campus - staff, students, faculty, administrators. There have been so many that I don't now remember all of them, but I do remember how much they have enriched my life -- how much they have given to me.”
1 – Favourite USask memory:
“There are so many memories, just so many. But I have one memory of coming to a dance. It was kind of an epiphany moment for me. There was a little, little international student – I’m only 5-foot-2 – and he came over to me and asked me to dance. It was a polka playing and I thought this is going to end so badly. But man, could he dance! We just flew around the room and I never knew his name.”
2 – Favourite place on campus:
“We’re in it (Louis Loft). I love this place. I love the heritage of the building. I love the lights. I love the vibe.”
3 – Favourite course ever taken:
“My favourite course and my favourite prof are two different things. But my favourite course was History 990, I think. It was intellectual traditions of early modern Europe. It was a class taught by Larry Stewart. He had a reputation for being a very difficult human being. I was an older student, and I wasn’t terrified by him. It was the most intellectually rigorous class I had ever taken. I read so much, I didn’t think it was possible to read that much for a class. It was brilliant. I learned more there than anywhere else. It was remarkable. To this day, there are some things I can remember with absolute clarity.”
4 – Favourite professor:
“It’s Zachary Yuzwa. When I started started availing myself of being able to take classes without paying tuition -- something the university does for some classes for senior citizens -- I thought I had never taken Roman history class ever. I signed up. I ended up taking a couple of classes with him. He is truly a remarkable professor, a remarkable teacher. I watched him hold a seminar with 50 students, his energy and his enthusiasm are wonderful. He is always getting nominated for teaching awards. But there is absolutely spectacular faculty on this campus. There are some brilliant teachers, and that makes me very proud of this place, too.”
5 – Give your undergrad self some advice today:
“Don’t take it all so seriously. Clearly, studying is important, but it should not need to be this onerous burden. It should be fun. If you have to take a class because your degree requirements say so, embrace it. Enjoy it. Go for it. But get involved somewhere, somewhere where it’s important to you.”
A LIFETIME COMMITMENT TO USASK:
Interlibrary Loans (1974-80)
Health Science Library (1981-82)
Teaching assistant, Department of History (1984-89)
Manager, Native Resource Centre (1989-92)
Sessional lecturer, Department of History (1989-2005)
Sessional lecturer, St. Peter's College (1989-2002)
Dean, St. Peter's College (2002-05)
General manager, University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (2006-21)
Social director, Education Students Society (1971-73)
Founder, History Graduate Students Association (1984)
Member of the Operations/Finance Committee of the university (1995)
Member of University Council (2002-05)
Vice-president University of Saskatchewan Retirees’ Association (2021- present)
Place Riel Renewal Committee (2007-11)
Member of the Alumni Association Board (2006-12)
Member of the USSU Childcare Board (2006-21)
Saskatoon Public School Board Trustee (1997-2000)
Saskatoon Woman of Distinction in Education and Lifelong Learning (2000)
City of Saskatoon Committee on Cultural Diversity and Race Relations (2008-14)
Saskatoon Intercultural Association Board (2014-22)
Sheaf Board (2021-present)