The holiday season offers us the opportunity to take pause and reflect on the past year, one that can be classified as a year of great change, both in our province and in our University.
At the forefront are the sweeping changes to government and the election of a new governing party and a host of new ministers with which we are now engaging. The transition is still in its early stages and we remain very optimistic for the future of post-secondary education under this new leadership structure.
On campus, we have also seen a great deal of change. Dr. Claudia Malacrida, recently appointed as Associate Vice-President (Research), has joined the Office of Research and Innovation Services (ORIS), working closely with Vice-President (Research) Dr. Erasmus Okine. I’d like to thank personally the efforts of Dr. Matthew Letts in his role as Acting Associate Vice-President (Research) under both Dr. Leslie Brown and Dr. Okine as substantial change and transition took place in ORIS. The work he put in was invaluable and points to a great future as a senior administrator.
I’d also like to acknowledge the significant contributions of our outgoing Board of Governors Chair Gordon E. Jong and his wife Elizabeth Martin Jong (BFA ’81). Gordon has been a part of the U of L family since graduating with Bachelor of Science (1980) and Bachelor of Management (1982) degrees and has served as a member of our board since 2006. His commitment to the University is remarkable and I know he will continue to champion the U of L going forward.
I would like to thank Richard Masson, who will be stepping into the role of Acting Board Chair during this time of transition, as well as Patrick Forrest, who will serve as Acting Vice-Chair.
We’ve realized some important milestones over the past year, from achieving the University’s greatest increase in enrollment numbers, to realizing a new benchmark in student retention rates. The U of L once again was ranked third nationally in the annual Maclean’s rankings and garnered a top-five ranking from Research Infosource.
Pronghorn Athletics also underwent significant change over the past year and I’m excited for the future of our athletic programs under our new Director of Sport & Recreation Services, Ken McInnes.
It has been a very positive start to the 2015-16 season with the women’s soccer program qualifying for playoffs, the women’s rugby team earning a berth in the national championship tournament and both our men’s and women’s hockey teams getting off to hot starts in Canada West play. Meanwhile, the men’s basketball program is on top of the Pioneer Division at the holiday break and looks poised for a big season.
In speaking both with coaches and athletes, it’s quite evident that they are feeling much better about their place at the University of Lethbridge and I believe that stability and enthusiasm has translated into great results.
I have always believed that having a vibrant athletics program is an essential aspect of an engaged campus, much in the same way our Faculty of Fine Arts adds to the campus experience. Both athletics and the arts contribute so much to the campus experience, and likewise to the southern Alberta community.
I thank everyone for the roles they played in helping the U of L achieve these accolades. From great teaching to important research and terrific service to our students and the southern Alberta community, everyone on campus has played a part in the University’s successes.
As I look ahead to 2016, I’m optimistic even more good news is on the horizon. We are looking forward to further development of the Destination Project and with our 50th Anniversary just a year away, plans continue to take shape for that significant milestone in our university’s history. Please engage with the anniversary committee should you have any ideas on how the U of L should mark the occasion.
Thank you for your service in 2015 and I wish you all the best throughout the holiday season and into an exciting new year.