The current student council is the sixteenth one Caroline Cottrell has been a part of with the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union. Tonight, she announced her retirement as the union’s general manager effective April 30.
“Sorry, bombshell right?” Cottrell said during the University Students’ Council Meeting.
The general manager is part of the USSU’s executive committee as a non-voting member, along with the student president and vice-presidents elected yearly. The executive committee upholds the USSU and its affairs, activities, policies and autonomy.
As campus reopening approaches, Cottrell says “there will be the need to reconstruct the USSU.” She says that one of the principles she lives by is that she does not make decisions and actions for which she cannot take responsibility.
“I had to ask myself if I really thought I was the right person to be the general manager at the age of 72, and frankly the answer is probably not,” Cottrell said. “It’s time for various kinds of renewal.”
Cottrell is leaving the current executive a strategic document outlining her recommendations on how to move forward. She says that the executive members have accepted her recommendation to not hire a new general manager at this time.
“I think it will be cruel, frankly, to bring a new general manager at this point to an organization that almost doesn’t exist, that can’t get into its offices, that can’t get into its buildings,” Cottrell said.
Four USSU senior managers will be splitting Cottrell’s job description until the executive decides to hire a new general manager. These four members are: Amanda Mitchell, accounting controller; Jason Kovitch, business and services manager; Jason Ventnor, communications and marketing manager; and Stefanie Ewen, facilities manager.
Cottrell says that COVID-19 has pushed the USSU to find a new direction.
“As COVID has changed everything, it’s an opportunity for the organization to take a good hard look and see what kind of directions it needs to go in the future,” Cottrell said.
Cottrell has spent her career working with U of S undergraduate students as a sessional lecturer, the dean of St. Peter’s College and as the general manager of the students’ union.
She says she has loved her job. Despite the challenges of the position, being part of the students’ union “energized” her.
“It has been wonderful to see that there are no boundaries for you yet,” she said, addressing students at the USC.
“Your horizons are wide open and you can do things that people my age can’t.”