Premier Ralph Klein--the infamous high school dropout--will be teaching college students next fall.
Mount Royal College has just announced the creation of the Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies, thanks to a $2.5 million donation by a group that wishes to remain anonymous. The first occupant of the chair will be the man himself.
"We're bringing in an individual with a wonderful reputation in broadcast journalism when he was a reporter, a man who ran the government of Alberta, was a cabinet minister, was a mayor of this city and has had daily contact with the media, daily contact with public relations practitioners," said MRC communication studies dean Marc Chikinda. "His viewpoints on those areas we offer education on in the Centre for Communication Studies will be very important."
Endowed chairs allow an institution to bring outside knowledge into the institution, said Chikinda. They allow students and faculty to keep in touch with the latest developments around the world.
"[Klein] is an individual who has a rather unique combination of experiences, both as a reporter, a journalist and as a politician," said Chikinda. "Because of the things that we teach, his involvement in all of the particular areas under the domain of the Centre for Communication Studies makes sense. He is extremely versatile and has something to say to virtually all of the programs within the centre."
Klein will have an office on the MRC campus and will act as a guest lecturer but will not be responsible for his own class.
The communication and culture faculty at the University of Calgary also makes use of chair positions, but indicated that Klein was not right for them.
"Mount Royal serves a different clientele than we do," said U of C communications and culture dean Dr. Kathleen Scherf. "It's fine for Mount Royal. He doesn't have an undergraduate [degree], so it wouldn't work at a university."
"We hire scholars," said Scherf. "People who do research and have PhDs."
The world of journalism has changed since Klein's reporting days, but he is enthusiastic about the post.
"The Premier's passion has always been communications," said Klein's communication director Marisa Etmanski. "He's talked about what he's wanted to do when his term is up and it's always involved media or communications. It's also an opportunity to help kids while going through their studies."
Klein will be actively involved with the students, said Chikinda. There will be question and answer sessions and students are welcome to visit his office.
"It's unique and exciting for many reasons," said MRC student association vice-president external Adam Boechler. "[It's] the opportunity to sit down with an ex-premier--Ralph Klein no less--who was not an ordinary leader."
Klein eventually finished high school, and was principal of the Calgary Business College. He holds honourary degrees from SAIT, Olds College and Kangwon National University in Korea.