Interview with our Provost, Dr. Craig Monk

The Bent River Records (BRR) team would like to acknowledge the generous and ongoing support of our Provost, Dr. Craig Monk. With his $50,000 donation pledged across the span of five years, Bent River is able to engage students across the design department in an album design competition. Dr. Monk’s donation also funds the production of vinyl recordings of our artists.

In his current administrative role as Provost, Dr. Monk serves as the principal academic officer for MacEwan and leads a talented and dedicated team of deans and academic associate vice-presidents in the shared pursuit of an exemplary undergraduate experience for students. 

Recently, Emily Roth (BRR intern and student in the Department of Music) was able to ask Dr. Monk a few questions about his gift, and about his role at MacEwan.

1. What is your favourite part of your job as Provost? Is there anything that you can share with us that you would rather not do?

I spent five years as Dean of Arts and Science at MacEwan, and I got to know a lot of people across the University and in the community beyond our campus. I have been able to make many more of those connections in my three years as Provost, as I now have responsibility for all of our academic functions. I got involved in administration out of the fear that I did not know enough about the things that go on in institutions like ours, and Provost has proven to be an ideal position from which to learn about every little corner of MacEwan.

Not surprisingly, a Provost has a lot of tasks that are similar to the tasks that are unpleasant in any job. I don’t like long meetings, difficult conversations about performance, or reducing budgets. But, personally, I never enjoy doing anything for the first time. By my second or third time meeting with a group, or visiting a venue, or working a technology, I am more comfortable. Happily, through my third academic cycle as Provost, I have some familiarity with most of the things I am asked to do.

2. As demonstrated by your continuous financial support of Bent River Records, you are a fan of music. Why do you believe music is important in our lives?

For the longest time, I have associated the happiest times in my life with music. I remember the cassette tapes I took to high school parties, the CDs I discovered with my university friends, and the concerts that stand out in my memory. I can even remember the song that was playing during the best day I ever had at any job I ever held. But I have come to realize that music was never simply the soundtrack to those happy experiences; music helped make those experiences happy. Music is the material that binds us all together.

3. Your annual donation goes towards the production of vinyl records at Bent River Records. How did your love of vinyl begin, and why did you decide to make vinyl production the focus of your donation?

I had a wonderful job in a record store while I was an undergraduate. This was in the late 1980s when North American record labels stopped producing vinyl. The music I associate with those great years can be scarce in original vinyl pressings, and so that makes collecting a fun challenge, and the re-release of those records has been an important part of the LP resurgence. I understand that Bent River could function without producing LPs, but if my support can help the label keep participating in the growth of vinyl, I am happy to try to keep that going.

4. Our mission at Bent River Records is to provide mentorship, educational, and research opportunities for MacEwan students and faculty, as well as recording artists. Is there anything you would like to say as to why you decided to support our mission?

I apologize if some people have heard this story before, but I was walking back to my office from Roundhouse one day, and I saw in Allard Hall a display of work done by students in designing album covers, sleeves, labels, and download cards. I joke that it turned out to be an expensive walk! It just struck me in the days that followed that vinyl is where my desire to support students, my boosting of Bent River, and my love of LPs could converge. I still believe that continuing to produce vinyl gives Bent River the most opportunities to engage students across campus because of the many ways that students can get involved.