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He left Brandon University 10 years ago, but faculty members say Glen Carruthers’ legacy lives on in various ways.
The past School of Music dean died recently at age 66 as a result of cancer.
Flags were to be lowered to half-mast at both Brandon University and Wilfrid Laurier University, where he most recently served as dean of the Faculty of Music.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Glen studied with lifelong mentor Lorne Watson at Brandon University in the 1970s, returning a couple of decades later to serve as a faculty member from 1998 to 2010.
There are more easily defined examples of Carruthers’ legacy in Brandon, but current School of Music dean Greg Gatien said the biggest impact he made was in the school’s welcoming atmosphere.
"He really focused on students — he paid attention to who the students were, where they were from and what it is they were interested in doing so that we could do a better job as a faculty teaching them," he said.
Carruthers would often be found sitting in the hallway with students, where he would be seen making an effort to truly listen to them.
"You can feel the warmth," Gatien said. "I think it’s something that drew many of us to the school when we came out for our interviews."
Gatien met Carruthers when interviewing for a faculty position in 2000, and got to know him well during their 10 years working together. They kept in contact well after Carruthers left for a position at Wilfrid Laurier in 2010.
"He was a super-compassionate person. He really loved music and all kinds of music," Gatien said. "He was a really, deeply curious person and a good listener ... which he was able to translate into his relationships."
Faculty members at Wilfrid Laurier indicate Carruthers’ reputation remained untarnished during his final years.
"His gift was a rare ability to make everyone feel valued," Wilfrid Laurier’s acting dean of the Faculty of Music, Anna Ferenc, said in a release.
"Glen walked the hallways of our faculty softly and left a lasting imprint for which we are deeply grateful."
Now a sociology professor, Scott Grills came to Brandon University as dean of arts in 2000 and worked alongside Carruthers as a fellow dean and as vice-president academic.
"For him, music was a part of what made a good life … and you could see it in what he did," Grills said. "He was a presence — a force in the School of Music."
He credits Carruthers with bringing the jazz program to Brandon University and playing an important role in the creation of its four-year bachelor’s in creative arts program.
On Carruthers’ departure from Brandon University, Michael Kim served as dean of the School of Music before Gatien stepped into the role a few years ago.
The first thing Gatien said he did upon claiming the office was hang a painting behind his desk that features a prairie field with flowers.
It was the same painting that Carruthers had up when he served as dean and joins other mementos like a photograph and a bookcase in serving as reminders courtesy of his mentor and friend.
"If I’m ever in a situation where I feel that I might lose sight of the things that are most important, like the students or supporting our faculty and their work, having reminders of Glen in the room help remind me," Gatien said.
Although Carruthers’ impact on the Brandon University community has been significant, Grills said that his impact reaches far and wide, and will be "realized through the contributions of his students in so many ways, both in performance, as leaders in music in Canada (and) as music educators."
The Wilfrid Laurier Faculty of Music is dedicating its Jan. 14 Music at Noon show as a tribute to Carruthers.
The performance begins at 11 a.m. Central time, features the Penderecki String Quartet in a special performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 10, Op. 74, and will be live-streamed on the Laurier Faculty of Music YouTube page.
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