Blair R. McMurren BA '96
2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year
McMurren first earned his reputation for excellence as an undergraduate student at the University of Lethbridge. Majoring in English, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with great distinction in 1996, receiving the Faculty of Arts and Science Gold Medal (Arts) and the Governor General’s Silver Medal for Highest Undergraduate Class Standing.
Following graduation, McMurren was elected to a Rhodes Scholarship for study in the UK at the University of Oxford. During his time at Oxford, he earned an Honours BA in English language and literature and ultimately a Doctor of Philosophy in comparative literature, as well as a professional qualification and MA in translation from the University of Surrey at Guildford. His doctoral research examined the rhetoric and cultural politics of translation, and focused on translation as a theme and critical activity in the life and works of the Irish author James Joyce.
Having a longstanding interest in public policy issues, McMurren returned to Canada in 2002 to pursue a career with the federal government. His clear and thought-provoking approach has advanced a variety of priorities in areas ranging from cultural policy to environmental strategy. He brings a wealth of knowledge, skill and energy to his current appointment as senior analyst with the Priorities and Planning secretariat at the Privy Council Office, where he supports the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in establishing major government policy directions. His integrity and impassioned approach generate an energy and enthusiasm in both himself and his colleagues making him a mentor and a model of excellence for his colleagues and peers.
McMurren’s accomplishments as a young public servant have been recognized with honours including the Public Service Award of Excellence for Innovation (2006), for an initiative to transform public service recruiting practices, and a Deputy Minister’s Award for Inspiration (2007).
In addition to his professional commitments, McMurren continues to cultivate his artistic abilities. A dedicated trombone player, he was involved with numerous university and semi-professional ensembles throughout his university career and he continues to play with community concert bands and dance bands around Ottawa. He is also a creative writer and has published poems and short fiction in Canada and the UK.
McMurren is married to Juliet, a New Zealander, naturalized Canadian and archaeologist. The couple met in Oxford and have three sons: Gabriel, Hugo and Joseph.