Dec. 24, 2020Print | PDF
The Wilfrid Laurier University community is deeply saddened by the death of Glen Carruthers, former dean of the Faculty of Music. The following testimonials help to highlight Glen's legacy at Laurier and illustrate how Laurier staff, faculty and students are remembering him.
Tamara Menon, recent graduate of the Bachelor of Music in Community Music program
"Walking into Dean Carruthers’ office for the first time, I remember feeling nervous and excited to be in Canada and begin this new program. Our conversation that day brought about a sense of warmth, belonging and confidence within me to the extent that, in the following months, I could feel inspired to take on an international project in a foreign country. Running into Dean Carruthers in the hallways of the music building or outside campus was something students looked forward to. He listened to us intently and enlightened us with his stories, his humour and his insights. Some of the most powerful learnings happened through these exchanges, learnings that often made me smile and helped me move through challenging moments in life. Dean Carruthers is an example of how true leadership sparks leadership in those around them. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to be at Laurier when he was dean. His continued support for the Yuva Arts Project is something our team will always remember and be grateful for. And most of all, thank you Dean Carruthers for lifting us up and building a community at Laurier Music based on trust, generosity and courage."
Amanda Brunk, Laurier voice instructor
"When I was hired to teach Contemporary Voice at Laurier, it was under unconventional circumstances. There was a student who had auditioned for the program in hopes of pursuing Music Therapy. This was before the Community Music undergrad program had been established, and she had no previous training in classical voice or technique. She had a uniquely pop background and auditioned with an (at the time) inappropriate repertoire for a BMus.
Glen, however, saw her talent and drive beyond her lack of technique and training. He was impressed with her interview and went out of his way to make a way for her despite the previously assumed requirements for acceptance by seeking out a teacher (me) who could guide her voice to achieve her goals at Laurier. It was unprecedented. That was how I came into my role as a Contemporary Voice instructor.
This student had an incredibly successful tenure in music therapy, went on to receive a master’s and is now pursuing her doctorate. This is due to Glen's vision and open-mindedness for an inclusive and expansive Faculty of Music at Laurier. He has transformed this program into something to be envied across Canada, and I am so much in debt to him and his confidence in me, as well as all the students he impacted with his energy and passion."
Carissa MacKendrick, BMus, BEd and MA in Community Music alumna
"Glen has the most authentic way of approaching everyone: through generous kindness and gracious acceptance, no matter who you are. I was pleasantly surprised to have him call me by my first name within weeks of meeting me as a student and have never crossed a graduation stage without a congratulatory hug from him. I have never met anyone who has taken such an active role to meet and welcome everyone who crosses his path in such a warm and personable way.
As a staff member I loved being able to walk prospective students right into his office to meet him. He would learn their names, welcome them and their family or friends, and conveyed so effortlessly that his door was open to them without question. The student would always leave blown away by how friendly he was and that they got to meet the dean!
Glen embodies this quote to a T – “People will only care how much you know when they know how much you care.” He has been able to impact so many because he genuinely and authentically cares.
He has taught me through his actions how to care for students in my work, and he has and always will empower and inspire my love of music.
From the deepest part of my heart, thank you Glen."
Colin Labadie, assistant professor, composition
"When I moved back to Waterloo in 2012, I was finishing my PhD thesis and working toward achieving a long-time goal of teaching at the university level. I didn’t know Glen then but asked if he would meet with me to give me some advice on getting a job in academia. I can’t convey how gracious and generous he was in that meeting. He gave me guidance and advice that I still hold on to. It left a deep impression on me. I was eventually hired as a contract teaching faculty in 2016, and I’m now on a one-year term (my first full-time academic position). During my time at Laurier I met with him several times, and I always left those meetings invigorated as an educator. I know that a job like his must be incredibly busy and stressful, and yet whenever you spoke with him during his tenure as Dean, he always projected a sense of calmness and curiosity, and you were always left with the sense that he profoundly cares about the staff and students. He is a gentle but strong leader."
Jeremy Bell, violinist, Penderecki String Quartet
"I cherish so many things about Glen, but especially I miss encountering him in the hallways or sharing a table in the café where his brilliant humour, warmth, optimism and encouragement was so energizing!"
Kimberly Barber, associate dean: external and professor of voice
"The central element of Glen’s legacy, in my view, is student-centredness. Glen cares deeply about students. He loves to be around the energy of young people. Having no children of his own, the students are, in some ways, all his children. This includes virtually every student he has ever served, whether at Laurier, at Brandon or, before that, at Lakehead.
When I spoke about my sadness around Glen’s illness with my students, they all leapt at the opportunity to characterize their relationship to Glen. Every single student had a story about Glen and how they had felt seen by him. They were explaining to the one first-year student in my studio (who has no experience of Glen) just what Glen meant to them all. Each and every one of them could name a time or several times where they had felt warmed by the glow of Glen’s attention. I know Renée Ellis often said that when Glen would head out on his daily perambulations around the halls of the Music Building, he would say, “I’m going to see my people.” By that he meant students. Although I know that Glen so much valued the work of our faculty, it was always what would serve students best that propelled Glen.
Another thing that sticks out to me is Glen’s humanity, his humour and his delight in all things musical, but also culinary (especially desserts!). His annual fall parties for faculty and community members were outstanding for the delicious appetizers that Heather provided, as well as for the enormous hospitality that both of them demonstrated through these events. Each party had its own particular vibe. An unforgettable one was last year’s, where several faculty members decided to do an interpretive dance to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Etched in my memory forever!
Last but not least is Glen’s off-the-charts love for music. As a gift of love and appreciation, some students and faculty offered Glen and Heather the gift of home concerts this fall. Glen always dressed up for these occasions and treated them with reverence, thanking each person for their contribution and always sharing some anecdote or other about the music they had presented or favourite artists he had enjoyed over the years. These will remain special memories for all of those who participated and, fortunately, several of them were documented in videos and photos so that we can enjoy them for years to come. In particular, what I love about watching these is to see Glen’s face as he enjoys the music and to see the genuine love he has for the people performing it when he speaks to them before and after. These things are beautiful to witness.
It has been my deepest honour to work alongside Glen these past few years as his Associate Dean: External. He is a role model, a mentor and a guiding light. His legacy will live on in all of us — this would be the greatest gift that he has given us, his example of wholehearted, student-centred leadership."
Kira Omelchenko, associate professor, Faculty of Music, and conductor, Laurier Symphony Orchestra, and Stas Omelchenko, instructor in the Beckett School of Music
"Glen was one of the main reasons why I decided to come to Laurier. I remember our meeting during my visit and the great conversation we had about the orchestra program and the future of the program. I left our first meeting feeling inspired and cared for and knew this was the type of leader and dean I wanted to work for. Thank you for making such a positive impact from day one."
Elizabeth Mitchell, assistant professor, Faculty of Music and coordinator of the Bachelor of Music Therapy program
"During a class I was teaching in March 2020, shortly after Glen had shared news of his medical leave with music students, a student asked, “Can we talk about Dr. Carruthers?” One by one, students shared stories. Students spoke about spontaneous and memorable hallway chats. Glen frequently roamed the hallways and struck up conversations with undergraduate students. Students spoke about the mentorship that Glen had provided. Glen’s office door was open to students and he had provided meaningful guidance during times of struggle. Students spoke about Glen’s humorous and hip social media presence, his genuine care for them and his strong leadership. He knew their names. Many of them felt known and seen by him.
It was moving to witness these students reflect upon the impact Glen had had on their lives. And as I listened to their stories, they echoed my own experience of working within the Faculty of Music, first as a contract teaching faculty and more recently as a full-time faculty member. Glen’s door was always open and I knew that he genuinely wanted to connect, even when I was young and totally green. I always felt that my voice and perspectives mattered to him. The impact of his mentorship upon my academic career has been immeasurable and I will always be grateful."
Joseph Ferretti, piano instructor, Faculty of Music
"I always associate Glen with the biggest, most spirited round of applause and cheering from the students at the annual Orientation gatherings in the Faculty of Music. It speaks volumes about the high regard with which they hold him. This sentiment has always been echoed by the faculty."
Elaine Lau, piano instructor, Faculty of Music
"He has done so much to advance development of facilities and keep the program evolving, and always with a friendly and positive approach."
Eva Branda, instructor of music history, Faculty of Music
"I met Glen Carruthers for the first time at a conference (the New York State-St. Lawrence chapter meeting of the American Musicological Society) in 2012. At that time, I was a fairly inexperienced graduate student and I did not know anyone at the conference, but I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Glen at dinner and I really enjoyed our conversation. I recall that he had a wonderful way of putting me at ease and making me feel like I belonged among the group of academics. A few months later, Glen and I happened to be on the same flight to New Orleans en route to another conference, and he once again took the time to reach out to me. By then, I was fully immersed in my PhD dissertation and he lent a sympathetic ear to my writing woes, while offering some great advice based on his own experiences. It was with the same attitude of care that Glen welcomed me on my first teaching day at Laurier in September 2018. His words of kindness and encouragement on these and numerous other occasions will never be forgotten!"
Kathryn Carter, acting dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts
"When I was going through my own awful grief just a year ago, Glen was someone who could sit and talk openly with me about how to process loss. We sat in his lovely office one day, and when he asked how he could help me, I asked him for music that might soothe or distract or comfort. He told me then about Nick Cave and how Nick had lost his 15-year-old son in a tragedy. We then wandered down a path of speculation about the role of music and art in times of tragedy that felt honest and full and helpful. I offer this snapshot as a way to gauge the still depth of Glen, who could be so present and so collected in all situations, precisely because he was so open to creativity and creation. I offer, too, these words from Nick Cave, as he reflected on losing his son:
“Far from your eyes in a place where winter never comes … And all along the wind I run … And I return to this place … And all along the wind I run.”
I’m also jealous of all the concerts he saw in the ‘60s and ‘70s! And ever after! What a rich and abundant life."
Anna Ferenc, acting dean, Faculty of Music
"Glen was made for Laurier. Every day, he modelled for us the meaning of student-centred leadership, and the wisdom of caring genuinely for people in every community to which he belonged. Though learned and erudite, Glen was mild-mannered, soft-spoken and unpretentious. When he spoke, the timbre of his voice enveloped you like a soft blanket of protection from the hardships of life. His gift was a rare ability to make everyone feel valued. Glen walked the hallways of our faculty softly and left a lasting imprint for which we are deeply grateful."
Maria Cantalini-Williams, dean, Faculty of Education
"Dear Glen. I fondly remember many enjoyable meetings with you entertaining all the deans with your quick wit and sharp humour. I only knew you and Heather for a short time yet I cherish the time spent with you both at La Cucina restaurant and again at Gohar's Armenian Christmas party. Those were very happy days indeed. It was evident to me that you and Heather both inspire and enliven every person that you encounter. You and your musical talents have been a source of joy to Laurier's faculty, staff and students!
Dear Glen, I can assure you that the Faculty of Education will strive to continue the strong collaboration that you nurtured with the Faculty of Music."
Steve Sider, associate professor, Faculty of Education
"I only know Glen through his involvement with a dean’s search committee we sat on together at Laurier. I quickly learned that he was kind and an excellent listener. I teach a grad course in the Faculty of Education on educational leadership and Glen is the kind of leader that I aspire to be."
Mieke Kanmacher, outreach and student recruitment coordinator, Faculty of Music
"Glen was a fierce champion for the ideas of our students. Despite his many accolades, awards and positions as dean, he would often remark on how much you could learn from young people. He connected with everyone he met in a way that left you feeling understood. Many of us feel a special bond with Glen, which he strengthened with his keen ability to remember hurried hallway conversations, as well as his storytelling, compassion and kindness."
Renée Ellis, senior administrative officer, Faculty of Music
"It isn't hard to find the appropriate words to describe just how extraordinary and unexpected a mentor and friend Glen has been to me these past nine years. Glen's humanity and love of music drove his work, which was always anchored by his priority to provide our wonderful students with the best possible learning experience. In return, his students inspired him every day. There were very few student concerts where Glen and his wife, Heather, weren’t cheering our students on from the audience. This is just one reason why everyone who has had the privilege of knowing Glen, our #devoteddean, holds him in such high regard. I'll remain forever grateful for all he has taught me about navigating challenges with a level head and with optimism and compassion, but most of all for always aiming to keep our students' best interests at the heart of every decision."
Charles Morrison, professor of music theory, Faculty of Music
"Glen made an enormous mark on music education in Canada — from his two decades in university administration to his work with the Canadian University Music Society, as well as contributions to countless arts admin organizations in Canada and abroad. One of the things that I so clearly associate with Glen is his rapport with people — not only his lively and thoughtful interactions with colleagues but, perhaps even more vividly, his deep affection for students in the faculty."
Colleen Willard-Holt, professor, Faculty of Education
"I was on the original hiring committee for Glen. I was immediately struck by Glen’s evident passion for music and sincere desire to ensure the best possible experience for students. His sense of humour and gracious manner came through strongly.
Immediately, the other deans found that Glen was humble, kind, generous and extremely easy to work with. He was a great dean! As deans of small faculties, we found many common issues and challenges and developed a great deal of mutual trust. We formed many short- and long-term partnerships between our faculties, to the benefit of students in both. We would often drive to Brantford together and he made the trip go very quickly. We share a love of travel and often compared notes on train trips. I valued Glen’s friendship and support and looked forward to spending time with him. Meetings were never dull when Glen was there! I will miss him so much."
Deborah MacLatchy, president and vice-chancellor
"Glen’s impact on Laurier has been immeasurable. From the day he started as dean, he has put students first and brought out the best in everyone with whom he worked. His innovation, creativity, leadership skills, and heart enriched the trajectory of our exceptional Faculty of Music. He will be missed by all who knew him."
Anthony Vannelli, provost and vice president academic
"Glen had a transformative impact on the Faculty of Music and on the university. He was also a beloved and valued colleague to whom the deans and other university leaders looked for wisdom and counsel. Most importantly, for those who were fortunate to know Glen, he showed us how to make our journey through life a joyous one."
Bob Egan, Film, Music & Interactive Media Officer, City of Kitchener
"I first met Glen seven or eight years ago when I was just some guy in a band with a side hustle, moonlighting for Conestoga College, developing curriculum for producing audio recordings. He welcomed me to his office, made me feel at home and listened intently to my pitch to offer Conestoga classes to Laurier students. Although this was a radical, risky idea opposed by many, Glen loved it and undertook the thankless, Herculean task of moving the academic bureaucracy to make it a reality. This is who Glen was.
Since that day, I've had a handful of chance interactions with Glen, often with his wife, Heather, at a concert or restaurant or library and every time I felt like the most special person in the room. He had a way of effortlessly cultivating intimacy and making those around him feel warm, listened to and valued. This was not an act or a skill, this came from his heart. This is who Glen was.
Over the years, speaking with dozens of Laurier music students, the reaction was always the same when Glen's name came up – reverence, respect, deep affection and love. He knew them by name. He walked the halls to inquire how they were doing. He was always encouraging and supportive, a beloved role model who inspired. He genuinely cared about the students and they knew it. This role wasn't in the job description of a dean. This is who Glen was.
Last year, looking to change jobs, I asked Glen to be a reference for me. Without hesitation, he enthusiastically agreed. His excitement was quite reaffirming and inspiring. By law, this organization was required to speak to three references, but they spoke with Glen first and made me an offer without calling the other two. They had to reach him on his cell because he was “taking some time off for a little medical procedure.” Glen knew full well he was not facing a little medical procedure, but he didn't burden me with that fact or let it keep him from taking the time and effort to go to bat for some guy in a band with a side hustle because, well … this is who Glen was."
We see you are accessing our website on IE8. We recommend you view in Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE9+ instead.×