Celebrating this decade: ten momentous occasions in University of Lethbridge history

This decade has seen some incredible and historic moments. The Y2K bug/anti climax of 2000, the threat to North American security on September 11th, 2001, the rise of the China’s international political and economic power, the fall of the American economic system, climate change as a ever growing concern, Canada’s lowest voter turnout in 2008, and the political polarization that has occurred in European and South American states.

Living through the events in this past decade, and reflecting on the effect these events have had causes me to pause and marvel at our ability to adapt to new and different surroundings. The world looks very different today than it did in 2000. Old threats have diminished and new ones have emerged. Technology has boldly re-invented itself, and the age of social communication through sites such as Twitter, and Facebook have allowed our personal and professional relationships to draw new boundaries and consider greater fluidity.

The fall of capitalism, the major natural disasters we have witnessed, and the changes in our political and societal landscape are no small thing. This decade has changed the way everyone views the world. When everything can be taken from you in an instance, through no control of your own, suddenly baubles mean less. It is the intangible values, and the moments of happiness that we remember when looking retrospectively, not shiny presents of things.

The University of Lethbridge has undergone some major changes, both physical and psychological. We have grown in prestige and strength as a suburb undergraduate institution, and have expanded our physical presence in the Southern Alberta community tremendously. UofL have expanded their graduate studies programs, more students are enrolling and graduating than ever before from both graduate and undergraduate programs, and UofL is attracting world renowned talent to bestow their knowledge to UofL students, who will one day go on to surpass even the greatest.

In honour of the passing of this glorious decade, a harking back to the years before when “Jenn’s Top Tens” graced these pages; I present a top ten of the most momentous occasions in University of Lethbridge history:

On-Campus Daycare Center (2005 – 2010)

After a long and arduous process of constantly lobbying the administration, the University of Lethbridge reinstated the on-campus day care, promising to have it built as soon as possible. Luckily, this coincided nicely with a boom in our provinces’ resources, and soon the day care plans were under way and a committee was struck to deal with the detailed execution of the building.

This would not have been possible without the persistence of many people, some who are still here to see the fruits of their labours, and some who have since moved on but are no doubt celebrating in spirit. 2005, a rally was held to show support for on-campus day care and those who spoke and attended remember it well. Dr. Harold Jansen of the Political Science department extols as a “Great example of solidarity between undergrad, grad students and faculty.” Together, the entire university came together to show the need for this service on-campus, and the will of the community to make it so.

Fortunate to be able to attend the ground breaking last March, a feeling of overwhelming pride in the community I belong to rose up in me. I am proud of the incredible individuals who attended countless board of governors meetings, who presented solid arguments and who proved to the whole community that there was a need and support for an on-campus childcare center. I am proud to attend a school with lead by members of administration who continue to work to see this plan executed and deliver the tangible outcome of so many people’s hard work.

The day care is set to open officially in January 2010.

Womens Rugby CIS Wins (2007, 2008, 2009)

Our womens rugby team took the CIS National Championships three consecutive years this decade with a lot of hard work and effort. They expended their top notch training with ease and grace and secured this national honour three consecutive years running, the 2nd team in history to earn that title; proving that the pronghorns are indeed the fastest and toughest animal in North America and the University of Lethbridge truly has an athletics programs to shout about. Two time CIS Champion Allie Laurent remembers it is a shining moment in her UofL career, “Winning the universities second CIS national championship since men’s hockey won in 1993 and after only having a women’s rugby team for 7 years…then winning the next two years in a row to start a pronghorn’s rugby dynasty”. This is a feeling every UofL member can hold dear, off and on the field.

Polaris Prize (2009)

They call Dr. Bruce McNaughton the “20 million dollar man” and his decisions to join the University of Lethbridge Neuroscience program, bringing his excellent expertise and experience was very much a win for this university. Of course, the experience and first class facility he gets here was a rather large incentive for him. The Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience welcomed Dr. McNaughton officially in 2008, and celebrated the achievement of securing the AHFMR Polaris Award, a research grant worth $10 million over 10 years, matched by Alberta’s iCORE research grant, giving an addition $10 million over ten years. Dr. McNaughton will be working with University of Lethbridge students on brain behavior, incorporating UofL knowledge into this innovative and groundbreaking research.

WTF?!/First Choice Savings Center – 2006

Yes, not the most glorifying moment in history for either the University of Lethbridge or the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union. After the students passed a referendum to partially, but substantially, fund the new sports and recreation center, the university thought it was fit to allow them to name the building.

Then came the infamous title “Witness the Fitness” or, WTF. Thankfully, the university axed that in favour of naming it after the second largest donor, a bank. Yes, this was the best anyone could come up with, naming the new world-class fitness center either after a bank, or a colloquial term primarily used by 12-17 year olds.

Notwithstanding the naming fiasco, the fitness center has had a major flooding incident, and was partially shut down for a period.

However, overall, with the steam rooms, the rock climbing center and that very sexy track, our First Choice Savings Center – or as it is more commonly know, the PE building, is something to be inspired by. It has aided in attracting many community members from around Southern Alberta to use the facility and interact with the university.

Uleth goes to space (2004 – 2009)

Dr. David Naylor, an astronomy professor has lead a team of both graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Lethbridge to provide a major contribution in the form of the SPIRE instrument, which was used in the Herschel mission, launched May 14th 2009. The Herschel mission is a mission designed to gather information about the universe, the deepest and darkest parts of the universe.

The SPIRE instrument is an infrared camera and spectrometer that can simultaneously look at an entire region in the sky. The UofL delivered the test model and technology to the missions’ headquarters in the UK, and was used for the first time in 2004 to qualify the early version of SPIRE.

Take that NASA, we do not just blow up parts of satellites to see what is going on.

The (new) Library Building (2003)

The building of the new library building was a huge achievement for the University of Lethbridge and allowed not only our holdings to increase, but also future technological changes to be implemented and installed with greater ease. Our library building is fantastic for a school of our size and the decisions to place it in the center of campus completes the student hub between the Students’ Union building, the PE building, and the library.

A 6% increase for Alberta’s post-secondary institutions base operating grants (2004)

The Advanced Education and Technology ministry of the Alberta Government made an incredibly forward and progressive decision in the mid 2000’s. They boosted the yearly increase to post-secondary institutions to 6%, from the traditional increase of 4%. With Alberta rapidly growing economy, and increase in expenses 4% a year was below the Alberta price index inflation adjustments.

Without this extra grant, it is unlikely that the University of Lethbridge would have been able to provide the $600,000.00 in Quality Initiative Program funding, invest financially in the plethora of new buildings, or attract the talent and knowledgeable faculty  members was have taken in over the past 5 years. While the Alberta government has told Albertans that PSE is not a budgeting priority in the fiscal crisis, it is important o remind them of all the good that was done and the benefit it has to Alberta’s students and Alberta’s knowledge economy.

Former ULSU President, Kelly Kennedy comment on this, “When the province started to give post-secondary institutions a 6% increase to base operating grant funding. They normally were given 4% increases yearly, which was generally below API. I doubt QIP and other construction would have happened if it wasn’t for this increase.”

Markin Hall, Stadium, Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience center (CCBN), Water Building, and Turcotte Hall (2000 – 2010)

This decade the UofL built, with assistance from the student population, the provincial, and the federal government, six new buildings and substantially upgraded Turcotte Hall to enlarge and increase the modernity of our campus. This is an incredible feat in ten years, and has no doubt added to the quality of education for every student at the UofL.

Notably, the student body has shouldered a significant amount of the cost of these new buildings.

Poo Day (2008)

Who could forget this incredible day? November 4th, 2008, I know where I was. Sitting in my VP Academics office, hearing commotion outside and then learning that sewage line broke and level one of the Students’ Union building, a building that deals with high foot traffic everyday, is flooded with…well, poo. As this was clearly a health hazard, and the sewage and water system for the entire university had to be turned off to fix the broken line, every single person got the day off from all classes and mid-terms. Hence the affectionate given to this day by at Uleth’er: “Poo Day”.

Dr. Bill Cade, our illustrious leader for this decade.

The University of Lethbridge has been lead admirably by this President for the past decade; and under his leadership the University has lead the field in water and neuroscience research, expanded Liberal Education programming, increased the visibility of the Edmonton and Calgary campus’, and continued to display itself as a strong undergraduate university focused on graduating insightful and critical thinkers. As Dr. Cade is stepping down from the Presidency after this academic year, our institution owes a great deal of gratitude to the passion he has exhibited for the UofL. His Texas drawl, his office Chameleon, his obsession with crickets all give him the personality I think we will miss.

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3 thoughts on “Celebrating this decade: ten momentous occasions in University of Lethbridge history

  1. Kim Siever says:

    Actually, Witness the Fitness was the proposed name for the Fitness Centre (i.e. the workout room) itself, not the entire building.

  2. Kim Siever says:

    Regarding your last point about Bill Cade, I just want to point out that the Edmonton and Calgary campuses having their profile raised was exclusively because of the Faculty of Management. The 7th floor sees them as a fiscal drain and wouldn’t shed a tear if they closed down, particularly Calgary.

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