Reflecting on an exceptional first year

As we approach summer and the conclusion of my first year at the University of Lethbridge, I feel it is an opportune time to look back and reflect upon all that I've come to appreciate here at the U of L.

I think back to my initial impressions of the University and while I certainly understood the ideals of a liberal arts education and its historical context at the
U of L, it was not until I arrived on campus and started talking to people that I grasped the extent to which the University remains committed to this concept.

Dr. Mike Mahon
Dr. Mike Mahon is excited about what was accomplished in his first year at the U of L and the prospects of the future.

Just recently, General Faculties Council approved direct entry into the Faculty of Management, and at the heart of that discussion was the significance and importance of maintaining a focus on liberal education. I also hear this the more I speak to our alumni. When they reflect on their time at the University, invariably they single out the liberal education experience as being fundamental to what they value about the U of L.

As I think about our students, I reflect on the student-centred philosophy I have spoke to numerous times over the past year. I introduced this wording as a way forward but it is in the context of how we already deliver on that promise. Talking to students in the hallways, I hear about the quality of their experience in the classrooms, how their professors know them by name and how small classes and one-on-one attention are truly valued. I even received an unsolicited testimonial from a student I met off campus who had no idea I was associated with the University. He referred to the 'fantastic' experience he was having and how he often told his sister, who graduated from another Alberta institution, how much she missed out on having not attended the U of L.

As we continue to grow and evolve, emerging as a comprehensive university with a greater focus on research and graduate studies, we cannot abandon our roots of providing that truly exceptional undergraduate experience. I believe this will be a real strength of the University going forward because our faculty members remain equally committed to the undergraduate experience, something that will separate us from larger comprehensive universities in the province.

Finally, I'd like to talk about the people I've encountered over the past year. What has struck me more than anything is the passion everyone has for the
U of L. This is reflected in every corner of the institution and has been shown to me time and time again.

Something I will give a great deal of thought to over the summer is how we can continue to move forward with the strategic directions we've established but in a manner that is supportive of our people. I have such an appreciation for how hard our faculty and staff work, and it is important, as a community, to find a way to support each other so that we have an organization that is committed to creating balance in people's lives.

I thank you all for the manner in which you have welcomed Maureen and I into the community. We are thankful of the opportunity to be a part of the University of Lethbridge experience and are appreciative of the way we've been embraced by the U of L family.

This column first appeared in the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.