Murray awarded for making a difference

Posted: September 19, 2014 9:45 a.m.

Sel Murray, BA'74 (Hons) (Campion)  BSW'76
Sel Murray, BA'74 (Hons) (Campion) BSW'76 Photo: U of R Photography

For Sel Murray, the line between career and community involvement frequently blurred as both were inspired by concern for the welfare of others. Murray, BA'74 (Hons)(Campion) BSW'76 served as the University of Regina’s first international student advisor and later as manager of international student services.

Not only did he throw himself into his job, laying the foundation for what is today a thriving international program at University of Regina, he also made himself available to students whenever they needed him, earning the nickname “24/7 Sel.”

At the same time, Murray put his passion for diversity, human rights and internationalization to work as a volunteer and advocate for a broad range of community groups at the local, provincial and national levels.

 “Causes that advance respect for diversity and promote a culture of inclusion, and programs that foster the intellectual and social development of disadvantaged, marginalized and at-risk populations, are especially important to me,” he says.

Murray is the 2014 recipient of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Humanitarian and Community Service. This award recognizes an alumnus or an alumna who has made a difference to the well-being of others, as a professional and/or a volunteer, by contributing service "above and beyond the call of duty."

Murray came to Regina as an international student from Trinidad in 1967 and worked part-time as a janitor, cab driver and barber while attending University.  During this time, he also helped establish the International Students’ Association.

Following that, he was hired to research the need for an international student advisor at the University.  This led to a 32-year career at the University and the beginnings of what is now UR International.

Over his career, Murray helped thousands of international students adjust to life in Canada and succeed with their studies. He was there to help whenever he was needed — with visas, finances, family, housing and other issues.

He played a key role in the development of University policies to address issues such as support for students with disabilities and harassment on campus; the latter led to creation of the first anti-racial and harassment officer position. He also participated in Immigrant Advisory Board discussions that led to new regulations regarding international students’ right to work while studying and after graduation.

In 1975, he developed and taught the first class in cross-cultural communications, entitled “Introduction to Cross Cultural Communications – Working with Canada’s New Immigrants,” for the University’s Faculty of Social Work.

Murray says his willingness to respond to the needs of students beyond the normal workday was borne of his own experience as a student far from home and family support.

“It also came from the knowledge that problems did not arise only between nine and five, Monday to Friday,” he adds. “Concern for others, responsibility to assist those in need, and the fact that there were others who gave of their time and talents to assist me all motivated me to assist others where possible.”

He’s quick to add that it was a two-way street, providing him the opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world and enriching the lives of his own children through the contact they had with students who needed assistance.

Murray says he hopes he played some small part in advancing the internationalization process at the University and in developing policies that address the needs of vulnerable members of the University community, both students and staff.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have had opportunities to participate in the process of advancing change and development at a young and vibrant institution, in areas that were important to me, and to get paid to do it,” he says.

He also spent time developing other organizations. Now, Murray says the effort he put forward to grow and develop  the Saskatchewan Caribbean Canadian Association and the Regina Open Door Society was well worth it.

He played roles small and large in many other organizations, some connected to the University and others not. These included the World University Service of Canada, Regina Multicultural Council, Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation, University of Regina Group for Refugees, Canadian Bureau for International Education and Sepak Takraw Canada, among others.

Murray will be awarded the Alumni Award for Distinguished Humanitarian and Community Service at the 2014 Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards Dinner on October 22, 2014. For more information about this event visit:  www.uregina.ca/external/alumni-relations/events/2014/10/event.html