The Winter Reading Week at many universities is typically a time for faculty and students to catch up on assignments (writing and marking), perhaps schedule some down time, and well, read. It is a busy, but for most, quieter pace on campus with no scheduled classes.
Unless you’re Mount Allison’s Dr. Stephen Runge.
Runge, a celebrated pianist, professor, and department head of Mount Allison’s Department of Music, spent the 2020 reading week travelling across the country to British Columbia where he performed several recitals, met with colleagues, and taught guest classes at the University of Victoria. In between these activities, he also met virtually with current and prospective Mount Allison Music students for auditions, interviews, and academic advising, while managing departmental duties as head, overcoming a four-hour time difference in many cases.
This kind of commitment earned him the 2020 Paul Paré Medal. Mount Allison’s pre-eminent award for faculty, the medal is presented annually to a faculty member at Mount Allison who has exemplified outstanding teaching, research, scholarship, and/or creative activities, and who has an exemplary record of service.
“It’s an honour to be recognized like this by my colleagues and students,” says Runge. “I’m very humbled to receive the Paul Paré Medal this year.”
Runge has taught at Mount Allison since 2007. An award-winning pianist, he teaches applied music lessons (one-on-one performance classes for students), as well as classes in collaborative piano and pedagogy, keyboard literature, and music history and literature.
Runge is also entering his third term as department head, a position he’s held since 2014. In this role, Runge oversees many of the administrative duties of this dynamic department, from course offerings to auditions for incoming students, and an event docket that sees over 80 performances in the department over the course of an average academic year. He oversees the scheduling of these events as well as the management of initiatives such as the annual Bragg Artist-in-Residence program, welcoming renowned musicians to campus each year for a week-long residency, as well as the annual Summer Music Academy, a program for high school music students. The Summer Academy will be offered virtually in 2020.
“It’s a bit of a balancing act for sure. Between teaching, departmental duties, and my own performance career, it’s definitely busy,” he says. “But working with the students and being a part of a small but very active group of performers is energizing. It is exciting to be a part of and good to continue to have these kinds of performance opportunities and see faculty model these for our students.”
Runge is a regular on the Brunton Auditorium stage and other stages across the country. He has released four albums with a fifth one being released in 2020. This album will focus on British Art song with noted countertenor, Daniel Cabena. He has also served as a juror for both the JUNO Awards (Classical Album of the Year) and the East Coast Music Awards on multiple occasions.
From Regina, SK, Runge started playing piano at the age of six. After several years of teaching piano lessons to beginning students while in high school and during his undergraduate studies, he first taught music at the university level while a graduate student, which influenced his decision to become a professor as well as a performer.
“I always enjoyed performing but didn’t really think of academia as a career until grad school,” says Runge. “But working with students is really one of the best parts of my job. Seeing the changes in them from first year to their final recital, is one of the best things about teaching.”
Three Mount Allison University faculty members are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to research, scholarship or creative activities. Dr. Leslie Kern (Geography and Environment and Women’s and Gender Studies); Dr. Mario Levesque (Politics and International Relations); and Dr. Vicki Meli (Chemistry) are recipients of the 2020 Paul Paré Excellence Awards.