Andrew McGillivray, rhetoric, writing and communications department chair

PROFile: Bridging borders through language and literature

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While Dr. Andrew McGillivray comes from a family with a background in the sciences, he followed his passion for literature and took a slightly different path. He’s now the department chair of and an assistant professor in the rhetoric, writing and communications department at the University of Winnipeg.

“It was really kind of the only path that would allow me to continue to study what I love,” McGillivray says.

That path took him to Reykjavik, Iceland, where he pursued a PhD in Icelandic and comparative cultural studies at the University of Iceland. He mentions how he immersed himself in and embraced the country’s culture, language and literature.

“I lived in Iceland as an international student and got to know the people and the language,” McGillivary says.

After graduating, McGillivray returned to Winnipeg with a fresh perspective on his hometown. He says he discovered new aspects of the city he hadn’t fully appreciated before.

“When I returned to Winnipeg, making downtown my home was a goal. I wanted to embrace a lifestyle where I could navigate the city on foot and observe the world around me,” he says.

“I like using our transit system, despite its challenges, because I get to enjoy meaningful interactions with my kids, partner and those around me.”

Now, as an assistant professor, McGillivray’s primary focus is on teaching and guiding students.

“What motivated me to continue on at the university level was, in many ways, the opportunity to continue to work with students within Icelandic studies,” he says.

What is the best part of your work?

“Working with students and helping prepare them to work in the professional field. It really becomes meaningful when students leave and still reconnect with me to let me know how it’s going.”

What was your worst grade in university?

“I got a 57 per cent on my first essay, which was a paper grade. I even remember what the grade looked like on paper, because I was so shocked.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“Maybe it’s not a superpower, but I wish I didn’t have to sleep as much as I did. So the ability to stay awake and have more hours in the day to do stuff.”

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

“Moving from Saskatoon to Winnipeg with my brother in the backseat of a car. It was like a Volkswagen Rabbit. I think I was three years old.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 02 of The Uniter (September 14, 2023)

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