Wow – what a year this has been! Our 40th anniversary year was filled with plenty of excitement, but I can honestly say our 41st year is proving to be truly transformational.
We continue to build a comprehensive institution by expanding our horizons into the world of graduate studies while maintaining our tradition in undergraduate education. This year, 8,000 students from around the world call our campuses in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton home. Our student body has grown by 50 per cent in the last 10 years, phenomenal growth among post-secondary institutions in Canada. Despite this growth, we have remained true to who we are – student-focused, research-intensive and grounded in liberal education. Our graduates face the world with confidence – not only in their educations, but in their abilities to succeed in their careers.
The University of Lethbridge is built on a commitment to the individual student and to providing each student with the most vital and engaging learning environment in the country. We are a university that sees teaching as a core activity and a university that has developed a reputation as a major research institution. In what is being called the biggest research hire for a university in Canada, this fall, Dr. Bruce McNaughton joined our Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience team as the inaugural Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Polaris Award recipient. The award is a 10-year, $10 million research grant that will ultimately result in $20 million through matching funding.
Our centres of research excellence provide opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students that are second to none. New facilities, such as the Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building and the future Markin Hall, will create additional research space and accommodate future student needs. Over the last two years, we have had $147 million worth of new construction on campus. To date, five projects are complete and two more are under construction and set to open in 2009/2010. A key part of the U of L's campus infrastructure, our signature Arthur Erickson building, University Hall, is also being preserved through an $18.5 million renovation investment.
I am also pleased to report that we set out to raise $20 million from the community through our Legacy of Leadership Campaign and we actually raised $35 million, an achievement made possible in part through the support of the Government of Alberta's Access to the Future Fund. The largest percentage of the money raised went directly to establishing scholarships and bursaries for our students. I want to thank alumnus Dan Laplante (BMgt '88) for serving as Chair of the campaign – he did an outstanding job of motivating support and we sincerely appreciate the enthusiasm he brought to the campaign.
And last, but definitely not least, I would like to highlight two U of L students who shone brightly on national and international stages this year. Theo Tams, a music and psychology student, won the Canadian Idol competition, and hammer thrower Jim Steacy competed for Canada at the Beijing Olympics.
So why rethink? Because we want you to "rethink" what you thought you knew about the University of Lethbridge.
William H. Cade, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Professor of Biological Sciences