Over the past 38 years, Candace Dueck has often been the first person students and their parents meet on campus. She has assisted thousands of students over the years and thrived in her position as Information Clerk. She’s met students from all over the world and interacting with them, their parents and the rest of the University community has been the best part of her job.

In 1987, after a year of working in various departments, Dueck applied for and was awarded the newly created Information Clerk position. This was a “one-stop shopping” point of contact for the public. The original location of the Office of the Registrar was on Level 6E of University Hall, right by the main entrance. Almost everyone came through this entrance, so the front desk staff knew almost all the faculty, staff and students. The result was a great sense of camaraderie and belonging.

Candace Dueck helps a student at the reception desk in this photo from a University brochure outlining admission requirements.

 Technological change has been a hallmark of Dueck’s time at ULethbridge. One of the first transitions she made was from typewriters to word processing. She recalls the “epic day” when the first fax machine arrived on campus. The machine was housed in the Library, then located in A section of U Hall.  Employees would book an appointment time and trek down to the Library with their documents to transmit their faxes. When the internet became mainstream in the early 1990s, faxing went from avant-garde communication technology to legacy hardware in short order as faxes were mostly replaced by PDFs attached to emails.

In this photo from the April 27, 1988 edition of Aperture, Candace Dueck (formerly Dyck)answers the phone — note the size of the computer monitor on her desk.

Before the World Wide Web transformed how information was accessed, all the rules, regulations and pertinent information were contained in the University of Lethbridge’s printed calendar. Dueck used colour-coded tabs to index the calendar each year so she could access information quickly.

Prior to electronic document management systems, the amount of manual filing in the Registrar’s office became so great it required a full-time filing clerk. The COVID pandemic helped spur the move to a digital environment. Having student paper files scanned meant the admission specialists could work remotely to process applications and send out offers. 

The pandemic also necessitated a way for information clerks to communicate with their customers beyond emails. Since the information clerks were working from home, Cisco Jabber was installed on laptops, allowing phone calls to the Registrar's Office to be answered remotely, adding a much more personal touch.

“We’re the first point of contact, whether by phone, in person or email,” says Dueck. “I feel like I’m a tour guide, in a way, helping students navigate through the vast amounts of information. As a generalist, when I receive a query with bits and pieces of information, it’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle gleaned from my vast knowledge and delivering it to the recipient.

“When I first began 38 years ago, that took the form of helping students fill out numerous forms by hand. Flash forward to 2024, I am now helping those students’ children navigate many of the same processes but now via web forms. Although I have witnessed so much change at the University, what hasn’t changed is that I have always been there for the students to answer their questions regardless of what kind of technology ULethbridge was using at the time.”

As the first point of contact, a student’s interaction with an Information Clerk can set the tone for future interactions. She recalls being approached by a mother at Ahead of the Herd one year. 

“A mother said ‘You may not remember, but I inquired about my son attending the U of L. He’s coming from out of town, and he has a learning disability. He was too shy to phone and ask himself and you took the time over the phone to explain about the Accommodated Learning Centre and the extracurricular clubs he could join. By having this conversation, our family made the decision ULethbridge was the best fit. I wanted to come and thank you personally,’" Dueck says. “Those kinds of moments mean a lot to me. I gave this mother a sense of comfort that her son mattered and would be well taken care of.”

Convocation is a highlight of the year for Dueck, as she has been the first contact for many students, serving them throughout their academic careers and finally pinning their hoods to their regalia while congratulating them.

 “To see them walk with their peers is so thrilling. Convocation is an epic rite of passage which enables students to step into their new identity and role in the world,” she says.

She and her family have been staunch supporters of ULethbridge. Her husband, Randy (BMgt '92) and their son, Elijah (BSc '17, MSc '21) are alumni. Candace assisted with the organization of the dragon boat teams as land manager and photographer. Randy serves as a steer and Elijah as a paddler. Candace has also been a photographer at numerous University events over the years.

Candace was born and raised in Lethbridge. Notably, her grandfather brought the first Chinese family to Lethbridge. She recalls a cousin, the family historian, telling her the family was related to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (90 generations removed), who is credited with founding Taoism.

“My cousin is telling me this and I’m going ‘Oh, wow!’ That’s kind of impressive,” Candace says. “So, I told Eli and he said ‘Mom, it’s really no big deal. With all the wives and concubines and all their offspring, half of China is related to this guy!’”

Following her last day of work on June 7, the family may go to Montreal if Elijah is admitted into dentistry at McGill. Candace has always dabbled in paper crafts and may sign up for an introductory textile weaving course. With her newly minted unique cookie cutters printed from the Agility Centre thanks to Kevin (Roelofs), she wants to up her baking skills. She also plans to volunteer and read to children in elementary school. She will continue to lend a helping hand, except her audience will be a much younger crowd. 

“The Information Clerk position will continue to evolve once I have retired and I wish my successor all the best in the job that I loved,” she says. “For me, now I am moving on to a new chapter in my life and a quote from my ancestor Lao Tzu seems apt — When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."