Cheryl Pauls became President of Canadian Mennonite University on November 1, 2012. She began teaching at CMU's predecessor colleges in 1994, and came to the position of president from that of Associate Professor of Piano and Music Theory. For over 20 years, Cheryl has thrived on exploring a diverse range of things musical together with highly engaged students in both the classroom and the piano studio. As a faculty member Cheryl also played a significant role in the University's administrative activities; from 2000–2007 as Music Department Chair, and from 2008–2012 as Campus Chair of CMU's Shaftesbury Campus.
Alongside teaching, Cheryl has enjoyed a career as a piano soloist, collaborating musician, and lecture recitalist. She performs a diverse spectrum of music and has made a few forays into harpsichord playing; however, she's known best as a player and active apologist of new music. Cheryl has been active in Winnipeg's new music scene, curating concerts and performing regularly for GroundSwell and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival; she also has been heard regularly on CBC radio broadcasts and in concert at universities, academic conferences, and concert series across the country. She credits Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Elliott Carter, and many local composers for shaping her love of pieces for which there isn't already a template of how the music goes. Cheryl's most recent project is a recording of Carter's recent piano music. Cheryl considers this collection to be the most delightful set she's ever encountered; Carter happened to pen these short pieces between the ages of 85 and 100.
Many of Cheryl's research projects seek to interface studies in music theory and performance with those in memory, physiology, liturgy, and cultural expression. Her recent publications include essays that engage the agency of musical metaphors within theological and socio-cultural studies. At the same time, she endeavours to explore what we think we're doing with musical practices. Cheryl also enjoys creating multi-media liturgical and concert projects in collaboration with her husband, Bryan Harder (and occasionally also their sons, Nicholas and William).
Cheryl and her family are part of the River East Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg, where she participates in worship leading and music and recently completed a four-year term as church moderator. Camping and hiking figure prominently in the family's favourite activities, and this summer, while trekking along a short portion of the Appalachian Trail, Cheryl discovered hiking poles as the secret to (almost) keeping up with the boys.
Cheryl holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of British Columbia where she studied piano with Jane Coop, Douglas Finch, and Robert Silverman, and music theory with John Roeder. Prior to that, she completed an MMus degree at UBC, a BMus at University of Manitoba, a BA from The University of Winnipeg, and a Bachelor of Religious Studies from one of CMU's predecessor colleges, Mennonite Brethren Bible College. Cheryl grew up in St. Catharines, ON, and remains convinced that strawberry picking is the most intense work she's ever pursued!