Celebrating Generosity

Rare collection donated to MRU

A collection of historical artifacts preceding the first oil discovery in Alberta has been donated to the Mount Royal University Library by legendary professor and scientist, Charles Stelck, PhD.

Stelck’s collection is a welcome addition to Mount Royal University and will provide faculty and students with primary literature, essential in gaining geological and paleontological understanding.

Paul Johnston
Prof. Paul Johnston couldn't be more excited about what this contribution means to MRU.

“The literature that will be available from his collection is extremely difficult to get – either it is out of print or just disappears – usually you aren’t able to come by it as easily as having it located in your campus Library,” says Paul Johnston, associate professor of Earth Sciences at Mount Royal.

Stelck’s collection is not only a great resource for faculty and students, but connects the University to an extremely important historic event in Alberta. Stelck’s personal notes date back to early oil discoveries, which directly contributed to the birth of the oil industry.

The historical collection includes a significant portion of Stelck’s personal reference library, classic works on the understanding of rocks and fossils in Alberta, some dating back to the late 1800s and very rare observations by Stelck about his own discoveries and research.

From field study to study group

Johnston, who studied under Stelck as a young man, plans on using this collection as a valuable addition to his teaching.

“In teaching geology, I start with modern examples and then work my way backwards. This collection fills a gap in teaching materials in our existing collection,” says Johnston.

Johnston plans on using these materials as a reference for the Geological History of Western Canada course in the Fall 2011 semester.

“Students will be reading Stelck’s papers in this course. He was a major contributor to Western Canadian Geology, so he will be referenced many times, says Johnston.

Stelck's legacy

A passionate educator, Stelck received several teaching excellence awards in addition to the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 2001, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Alberta in 2003.

He has written more than 100 publications during his time as a professor at the University of Alberta and also served on the Alberta Research Council representing the geological sector.
In 1997, Stelck was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2005 he was inducted into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame.

“It is great that students will be able to make the connection between the course work and the collection available. They will have access to primary literature just by walking down Main Street to the Library.”

Johnston hopes to create a great learning experience similar to what he received from Stelck.

“Dr. Stelck often drew upon his own experiences and research while teaching in the classroom so you always felt as if you were on the front lines of geological exploration in Alberta,” Johnston says.

“I am very excited about all this. For me there is a certain level of sentiment with this donation.”

The past enhancing the future

Stelck believed an education should adequately prepare students for the future and “the most important thing is the graduates you turn out,” notes Johnston.

Mount Royal shares this belief through its mission to prepare students for the next stage in their lives. The University will be the perfect home for this important collection which will do much to supplement students' practical learning experience.

“We are very fortunate to have Stelck’s collection at Mount Royal,” says Johnston. “It adds great prestige for the University. I believe it is a sign of coming of age and bodes well for the University to be entrusted with such a valuable collection.”

Angela Sengaus, Feb. 17, 2011