Greg McKellar retires after twenty-seven years of service to student government

Previous AMS presidents share admiration for permanent staff member

Greg McKellar (middle) pictured with 2007-2008 AMS executive team and permanent staff members.
Credit: 
Supplied by AMS Communications

All good things must come to an end, eventually — and for decades of AMS leaders, the April 27 retirement of Greg McKellar was just that.

McKellar, the information officer for the AMS, served almost three decades since he was hired in 1989. In his role, McKellar acted as a liaison between Queen’s administration the AMS.

However, he also took it upon himself to provide guidance to the waves of students employed by the AMS over his 27 years.

The Journal spoke to past AMS Presidents who served during McKellar’s tenure, each of whom spoke about the unique impact McKellar’s dedication had on them.

 

Scott Nowlan - Year One (1989)

Scott Nowlan, ArtSci ’90, was there since day one with McKellar.

Serving as the AMS President at the time, Nowlan personally sat on McKellar’s hiring panel.

“He was the obvious choice for the position,” Nowlan said via email.

Nowlan remembers McKellar distinctly as a person who was “incredibly enthusiastic and passionate” about a range of student-related and post-secondary-relevant issues.

During his first year, McKellar played a large role in the restructuring of tuition funding, Nowlan recalled.

 

Sarah Corman - Year 10 (1999)

McKellar had been in office for a decade when Sarah Corman, ArtSci ’00, was elected as the AMS President.

Corman spoke to how McKellar truly devoted his career to helping students and mentoring student leaders — going so far as to credit him with her presidency.

“It is doubtful that I would have ran for AMS President had it not been for Greg,” Corman told The Journal via email.

Corman explained that she had served as the AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner in her third year, but never considered herself “presidential material”.

McKellar, she says, gave her the confidence to run.

“As it turns out, my year as AMS President was one of the most wonderful and formative years of my life,” she recalled. “I owe tremendous thanks to Greg for his mentorship”.

“Greg’s retirement is truly the end of an era for the AMS,” she said.

 

Michael Ceci - Year 20 (2009)

Fast forward another ten years to 2009. Michael Ceci, ArtSci ’09, had just been successfully elected as the AMS President for the 2009-10 academic year.

Ceci’s term saw significant structural changes to the University’s administration with the hiring of Principal Daniel Woolf, two new vice-presidents and multiple other turnovers in senior staff.

Ceci explained that having McKellar was critical during this time of change. “Permanent staff are part of the institutional memory,” he said.

McKellar helped to navigate the AMS hiring process, by working with executives to determine the necessary attributes and skills of incoming staff. He was, truly, “an invaluable resource” to Ceci and his council.

“He always acknowledged his role as an advisor. He never tried to push any agenda or undermine the students,” Ceci said. Ceci believes that this is what allowed the student leaders to achieve their full potential.

McKellar, to Ceci, was the most sincere example of “bleeding tri-colour”, especially during a time of change for Queen’s and its students.

 

Kanivanan Chinniah - Year 27 (2015)

The last AMS President to have worked with the veteran staff member was Kanivanan Chinniah, ArtSci ’15, who was president for the past academic year.

“My own experience — and that of countless others — would not be the same without Greg McKellar,” said Chinniah via Facebook message.

According to Chinniah, his staff relied on Greg’s “wisdom and insight” to make some of their most consequential decisions of the past year.

“His support and guidance on a variety of topics — particularly on our non-academic discipline regime — were second to none.”

Non-academic discipline was one of the more contested topics between the AMS and Queen’s administration over the past academic year.

However, what Chinniah admires most about McKellar is beyond just his knowledge of Queen’s and the AMS as organizations.

Rather, Chinniah echoed the sentiments of his predecessors: what he admires most about Greg was the deep and meaningful personal relationships he formed with AMS leaders, past and present.

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