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Arts retirees in 2020

Mon. Oct. 19, 2020

Fall 2020 brought with it the retirement of four faculty members in the Faculty of Arts, all four of whom are outstanding in their respective fields and dedicated teachers and mentors to their students: Dr. Royden Loewen (HIST/MENN), Prof. Rick Skene (THFM), Prof. Margaret Sweatman (ENGL), and Prof. Blake Taylor (THFM).

Wanting to mark the occasion, we have invited colleagues of our retirees to reflect on our retirees' careers and share some of their thoughts.

Dr. Royden Loewen

Dr. Royden Loewen
Dr. Royden Loewen "transformed a small program into one of prominent international stature," says Dr. Mark Meuwese, Chair of the Department of History.

Photo credit: Dr. Claire Labrecque

 - as shared by Dr. Mark Meuwese, Chair of the Department of History

Dr. Royden Loewen has done tremendous work for the History Department during the many years he worked at UWinnipeg. As Chair of Mennonite Studies, Roy transformed a small program into one of prominent international stature. Each fall, Roy organized a conference on Mennonite Studies at UWinnipeg which attracted a large crowd of international scholars and the local public. He also was and is an extremely prolific scholar who published at least eight monographs and co-authored books. Equally impressive is that almost all of his scholarship was SSHRC-funded. 

Additionally, Roy was always greatly interested in teaching and in mentoring students, whether they were undergraduates or graduate students. Roy also took academic self-governance very seriously by serving in many department committees. Roy especially excelled at building a consensus when things seemed at an impasse. 

Finally, Roy always showed a sincere interest in his colleagues and their work. We wish him all the best in his retirement and hope that he will continue to visit us once the campus reopens.  

Prof. Rick Skene

 Prof. Rick Skene
Prof. Rick Skene "has become the go-to stunt director in Western Canada," says Prof. Christopher Brauer, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film.

photo supplied

- as shared by Prof. Christopher Brauer, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film

Associate Professor Rick Skene leaves the Department of Theatre and Film after a career that has seen him run theatre companies, tour internationally, and stunt direct on major Hollywood films.

After completing his undergrad degree in Theatre and English here at the University of Winnipeg, Professor Skene pursued his post-grad work in Education at the University of Manitoba. This led him to work as a teacher and professional actor and, in particular, to found a professional physical theatre company called Mimeworks, which was enormously successful and toured nationally and internationally.

Starting in 1986, he brought his talents to UWinnipeg's Department of Theatre and Drama to teach nearly every one of our courses in our performance stream, and a few in film as well over the years. In a department that prides itself on strong industry ties for the creative work of its faculty, Rick built and maintained one of the busiest professional theatre and film careers in our history.

Building on his experience and reputation in physical performance, Rick quickly became a mainstay in Manitoba as a stage-combat choreographer. In this capacity, he has contributed to scores of productions at virtually every performance company in the city from Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM) to Royal MTC to the RWB. Not confined to his onstage work, he stepped into the role of Co-Artistic Director for TPM at a time when they were in critical financial difficulties. In leading the TPM to recovery, he authored the full-length play "Ce Weekend La" which became the company’s most popular production even to this day.

Prof. Margaret Sweatman

Margaret Sweatman
According to Dr. Brandon Christopher, Chair of the English Department, Prof. Margaret Sweatman "directly mentored hundereds of students" during her twelve years in the English Department.

photo supplied

- as shared by Dr. Brandon Christopher, Chair of the English Department

As she leaves the English Department after twelve years, Prof. Margaret Sweatman leaves behind a legacy that will be felt in the Winnipeg Creative Writing community for decades. Already an accomplished, award-winning author when she arrived at the University, Margaret continued to produce work in a number of genres, including two novels, "The Players" (2009) and "Mr. Jones" (2014), and, with the Broken Songs Band, one album ("Phenomenological Love Songs" (2010)). In addition, she is an accomplished playwright and poet whose work has been performed across the country.

In her time teaching Creative Writing and Canadian Literature in the English Department, Margaret directly mentored hundreds of students. Behind the scenes, Margaret was instrumental in supporting the Creative Writing program, which, during her time here, offered thousands of students, from across the University, opportunities to develop their voices as writers. Whether it was hosting open mic events, working to organize the annual Carol Shields Writer in Residence, or serving as the faculty consultant for "juice," the UWinnipeg’s Creative Writing Journal, Margaret worked to provide opportunities for students to develop their craft outside of the formal classroom setting. For twelve years we, her students and her colleagues, have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wit and her wisdom, which, thankfully, she was never shy to share. Though we will miss her around Ashdown Hall, we wish her all the best, and we look forward with great anticipation to seeing what she will do next.

Prof. Blake Taylor

Prof. Blake Taylor
"Despite such a varied and accomplished professional career as a performer, Blake’s true calling and love has been teaching," says Prof. Tim Babcock, former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film. (Taylor is pictured here with his wife, Mimi Raglan, at the opening of "Stand!" in 2019.)

photo supplied

- as shared by Prof. Tim Babcock, former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film

After attaining his undergrad degree at the University of Winnipeg, Prof. Taylor then attained both an MA and an MFA from the University of New Orleans, where he was recognized by a National Honours Society as being among the top 10% of graduate students in the US. This led him to work as a professional actor across four states before returning to Canada, where he continued his acting career, both before and after joining us in 1983, in such major western Canadian theatres as Persephone, Northern Light, Theatre Calgary, Prairie Theatre Exchange, The Griffin Theatre, Theatre by the River and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

His performance work has extended beyond the stage. He has appeared in 48 film and television productions, some of which included recurring appearances in series episodes. Last year, he appeared in "A Tennessee Christmas" with Patricia Richardson and in the recently released films "Stand!" and "Percy" (where he plays opposite Christopher Walken) along with roles in the soon to be released "Hunter, Hunter" and "Flag Day." His acting career has evolved from playing handsome leads to doctors, lawyers, professor types, and several mayors as on "Falcon Beach" and opposite Gary Busey's sheriff in "Maneater." Most recently, he has moved on to playing eccentrics, and grumpy old men. Such is the career of an actor.