The Destination Project, a transformational undertaking that will fundamentally alter the path of the University of Lethbridge, received the stamp of approval from the Government of Alberta Friday as the Honourable Thomas Lukaszuk, Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, announced a $200-million investment in the project.
The Destination Project includes the construction of new science facilities that will house a significant part of the science teaching and research activities on campus. Further, a comprehensive revitalization of the iconic University Hall will take place. The result will add 35,000 sq. metres to the campus footprint, but more importantly, the project will help define the University’s direction for the foreseeable future.
Lukaszuk says the Destination Project investment is about providing an exceptional learning environment for students, as well as strengthening the broader community.
“We are proud to invest in this Campus Alberta project because we know that ensuring a world-class education for our young people is essential for building southern Alberta,” says Lukaszuk. “We recognize that our students need access to learning today if they are to compete for jobs tomorrow.”
In the past two years, the University of Lethbridge has received $12.5 million from the Government of Alberta for the planning phase of the project, and a significant amount of activity has already taken place. Final site selection for the Destination Project is expected in the near future.
University of Lethbridge President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon says the Alberta government’s investment in the Destination Project is not only a tremendous boon to the University of Lethbridge, but to southern Alberta in general.
“I cannot overstate how momentous this day is to the future of the University of Lethbridge and southern Alberta as a whole,” says Mahon. “This is the most significant development of our Lethbridge campus since University Hall was completed in 1972.
“The Destination Project will contribute to Alberta’s ability to recruit the best and brightest scientific talent to our province, but it is more than a teaching and research space. Rather, it is a place for community engagement and outreach; a research incubator; a place where undergraduate and graduate research opportunities develop; where knowledge transfer and commercialization happen; a place where the next generation of researchers, scientists and scholars credit for the start of their science careers.”
Cheryl Dick, Chief Executive Officer of Economic Development Lethbridge, says the Destination Project will be a key economic driver for southern Alberta.
“The economic diversification we will see as a result of this investment is substantial,” says Dick. “Not only will we benefit in the short term from the construction activity associated with the project, but the region will profit greatly in the long term through the influx of people and the generation of associated industries.”
By building new science facilities, Vice-President (Research), Dr. Dan Weeks, says that the University is further able to create links between high school learning experiences and those found at the U of L.
Already, through programs such as High School iGEM (which earlier this year finished first at an international competition for young synthetic biologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, MA), the University provides valuable opportunities for high school students to take their learning to another level.
“The U of L’s iGEM program has introduced these world-class high school students to leading faculty, as well as graduate and undergraduate student mentors. This early exposure to University researchers helps students make smooth transitions from high school to post-secondary study and potentially to entrepreneurial endeavours,” says Weeks. “The Destination Project will allow the U of L to give even more Alberta high school students the chance to participate in outstanding research experiences such as these. Eventually, we will see graduates poised to flourish in Alberta’s ever diversifying economy.”
As science activities move into new facilities, University Hall will be the site of a major redevelopment.
“A key aspect of this entire project is the eventual regeneration of University Hall,” says Provost and Vice-President (Academic), Dr. Andy Hakin. “This will give the University the opportunity to create an environment that will lead the academic world in redefining liberal education for generations to come.”
For more on the Destination Project, and to follow its continued development, visit destination-project.ulethbridge.ca.