University of Calgary

Celebration planned for retiring Religious Studies prof Wayne McCready

UToday HomeMay 14, 2013

By Heath McCoy

Director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities for the past 11 years and a longtime professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Wayne McCready is preparing to retire.Director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities for the past 11 years and a longtime professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Wayne McCready is preparing to retire. Photo courtesy Wayne McCreadyThe broadening of horizons. That’s a theme Wayne McCready returns to as he reflects on his 35-year career at the University of Calgary now that he’s preparing to retire, taking a year-long administrative leave this summer before his official retirement in July 2014.

The veteran Religious Studies professor, who has been the director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH) for 11 years, has never been content to narrow his own academic focus. That’s a passion he strives to imbue in his students, his colleagues, and in the Calgary community at large.

“In any field, be it doctor, lawyer or academic, it’s too easy to operate only within our own silos,” says McCready. “To have that opportunity to broaden one’s horizon is most rewarding. CIH has allowed for that.”

Established in 1976 and part of an international network of humanities institutes, CIH is an organization dedicated to fostering research from a broad range of disciplines and faculties and, in turn, engaging the public with that research.

In his role as CIH director, McCready has overseen fellowship appointments (six a year) ranging from the arts and the humanities to medicine, law and the sciences.

“We have a very broad and inclusive understanding of the humanities in this institute and that’s part of our intellectual energy,” McCready explains. “Of course we’re influenced by the languages and literature and the arts, but scholars from other disciplines who have any kind of philosophical or sociological traction are welcome as applicants.

“And we try to push at the boundaries of where we’re located as individual scholars. So a historian or a sociologist will be sitting at the table explaining their project to someone from kinesiology or environmental design.”

McCready is particularly proud of CIH’s role in contemporary city planning in recent years, taking part in the ImagineCalgary project with its focus on making the city a great place to live in.

As a religious studies professor, one of McCready’s focuses has been on the role of place in the origins of Christianity and early Judaism. That expertise in place studies fit perfectly with the ImagineCalgary mandate.

“How do we make sense of where we live, play and work?” McCready asks. “The tension between expansion and concentration in Calgary is a matter of place. There’s a real willingness to explore what a city might be in city council right now.”

He adds: “In this way, CIH has engaged very actively with the community and that’s been exhilarating.”

McCready’s years in Religious Studies have also been greatly rewarding with the professor serving as head of the department from 1993 to 1998. Under his watch, Religious Studies established its PhD program, which is thriving today.

All members of the university community are invited to a celebration in McCready’s honour, to be held Thursday, June 6, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the MacEwan Conference Centre in the Escalus Room. RSVP by May 27th to


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