In the weeks leading up to her August 31 retirement, Nancy Soulsby found herself being peppered with more questions than usual from instructors. The longtime Administrative Assistant and Office Manager of the former McGill Conservatory of Music eventually learned they were stealthily—but apparently not all that stealthily—preparing to submit her name for the Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff in the Management and Excluded Category.
Her reaction? A bit of embarrassment. Some shock. And a whole lot of pride—especially after she found out that she would indeed be receiving that honour at the Fall 2022 Convocation ceremonies, held yesterday in Place des Arts.
Separate from the Schulich School of Music’s university-level programs, the McGill Conservatory of Music provided private music lessons to students of all ages. During her more than 40 years at McGill, Soulsby registered students, met with parents, coordinated staff meetings, choir trips, and concerts, and always had time to listen to—and help—colleagues who were in a pinch.
And she did it all for the music.
“I never wanted to do administration other than for music,” she explains. “Music is very important in my life.” Although she’s dabbled in the flute, Soulsby’s main musical commitment—outside her McGill career—is her 50-plus years teaching Scottish Highland dancing. “You can dance without music,” she says, “but you really do need music to be inspired.”
Soulsby is known for remembering the names of thousands of former students. “I have some favorite students that I think are just amazing,” she says, but admits that she loved watching all the students—whether children or retired adults finally taking those lessons they always wanted—grown and learn. “Each concert was just something that I looked forward to.”
“I feel honored that I was chosen for this award, and I’m extremely grateful to our great instructors for nominating me,” says Soulsby. “I just did my best for them to make sure the music happened.”