March 12, 2021

Newly established postdoctoral fellowship in political science honours legacy of fallen student

Generous gift to Faculty of Arts will make the impact Mark Grosjean was striving for
Mark Grosjean
Mark Grosjean

An hour before his tragic passing, while skiing a familiar run with his parents at Panorama, B.C., 22-year-old Mark Grosjean seemed to have a remarkable future mapped out before him, both academically and professionally.

After months of carefully weighing the offers he had received from four prestigious political science graduate programs — including Queens University, McGill University and the University of British Columbia — Mark ultimately “planted his stick in the ground” and chose the elite direct entry PhD program at the University of Toronto.

  • Photo above: Mark Grosjean on Mount Aylmer in Banff National Park. Photo by Aidan Nickel

“It was a monumental decision and he spent so much time going over the pros and cons,” remembers Mark’s father, Adam Grosjean. “That morning (on March 12, 2018), he finally decided what he was going to do; he sent an acceptance email to the U of T. An hour later, we climbed onto the ski lift and (his mother and I) told him how very proud of him we were and how much we loved him.

“He looked at us and he said: ‘I only want to be relevant.’ He didn’t want to do a PhD which only a few of his peers would ever read. He wanted to approach his academic career in a way that would truly be impactful to people.”

Generous donation honours ambitous goals

It’s in the spirit of Mark’s ambitious academic goals that his parents, Adam and Dr. Cheri Stanzeleit, MD ’91, have committed a generous donation to the Faculty of Arts to establish the Mark Grosjean Postdoctoral Fellowship in Political Science. The fellowship will commence in 2025, which is the year Mark planned to complete his own PhD.

While completing his BA (Honours) in political science, Mark won a number of academic awards, including a coveted SSHRC grant. He also studied abroad, which is where the compassionate student of political philosophy found himself drawn to issues of immigration.

“Mark was deeply affected by the refugee crisis when he studied in Prague in 2015,” says Stanzeleit. “He sat in train stations and watched refugees struggling, which inspired a published paper he later wrote. He said many times that he wanted to make a difference and help people. He wanted to make an impact on people’s lives.”

Mark also anticipated that he might need to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship of his own later in his academic career. It was a route highly recommended by Mark’s trusted mentors, Dr. Joshua Goldstein, PhD, and Dr. Jack Lucas, PhD, from the University of Calgary’s Department of Political Science. For that reason, his parents felt that a postdoctoral fellowship was the perfect way to honour their son’s legacy.

“We found out subsequently that there are very few post doctorates exclusively dedicated to political science in Canada,” says Adam. “So, this will be a very important gift to the political science field across the country. That’s something we know Mark would be very proud of.”

Parents' gifts honour their multitalented son

In addition to his academic accomplishments, Mark also excelled as both an athlete — he was an exceptional skier, cyclist, runner and hiker — and as a musician, playing in a number of locally popular jazz, classical and folk-rock bands.

Stanzeleit recalls: “One of his bandmates was at the funeral and he came up to Adam and I and said: ‘I had no idea Mark was that smart.’ Because he was not a self-promoting man. He was humble. He had a huge depth of skills in many aspects of life, but he rarely let on to other people just how incredibly gifted he was in so many ways.”

Mark’s parents have made other generous donations to the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts in their son’s name, including establishing the Mark Grosjean Memorial Scholarship in Political Science and the Mark Grosjean Memorial Award for Conference Travel.

Your UCalgary is for Students   

The Mark Grosjean Memorial Scholarship in Political Science and the Mark Grosjean Memorial Award for Conference Travel recognize excellence in political science by providing the financial conditions to enable recipients to focus on studies and take up related academic opportunities.    

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