When President Dr. Bill Cade first laid eyes on the University of Lethbridge in 2000, he saw an institution on the verge of a growth spurt, ready to come of age. Still not completely sure of its identity, the U of L was a young, emerging University poised to break out of its adolescence.
A decade later, as Cade prepares to wrap up his 10-year presidency, he sees an entirely different picture – the U of L’s growth as a comprehensive university reflected by its stunning physical profile atop the Oldman River valley.
“I think it was a well-kept secret,” says Cade of the University when he arrived on campus. “I think we were known well in some quarters, but I thought we needed to become more well-known in others.
“Today, I love to stand on the other side of the river with my dogs and look at the campus. I especially like it when the lights are on in the new stadium.”
The Community Sports Stadium is the most recent addition to campus (it opened in September of 2009), and when Markin Hall opens this fall (Cade will return for the ceremony), it will bookend the Cade Decade, a 10-year period of unprecedented expansion and self-awareness at the U of L.
“For the past 10 years, as Bill and I worked together to advance the University’s relationships with Canada and Alberta, he has been a visionary and dynamic force to identify and further the goals of programs, advancement and infrastructure development,” says Dr. Jim Horsman (LLD ’04 ), U of L chancellor emeritus (1999-2003) and a former member of the Board of Governors.
The building boom was just beginning in 2000 with the addition of Anderson Hall, a multi-purpose classroom and office facility. A year later, the $34 million Library Information Network Centre (LINC) and Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) would follow, and while their planning had begun before Cade’s arrival, it was he who introduced the new U of L look to the broader community. It was a role he was ideally suited to perform.
“Bill is the greatest cheerleader the University has ever seen – it must be the Texan in him,” says Greg Weadick (BSc ’77), MLA for Lethbridge West. “Under his watch, the U of L has become a stronger community partner and a source of immense pride for all southern Albertans.”
Cade recognized early that the U of L had a great story to tell, and a southern Alberta community eager to not only listen to that story but become a part of it, too.
“Initially, I don’t think I had an appreciation for the prominence of the University and the office of the president in this community, and that turned out to be one of the very enjoyable aspects of the job,” says Cade.
His previous position, at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., did not afford that luxury. Whereas Brock was one of many players in the eight-million person Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario, the U of L is a benchmark southern Alberta industry.
“When Dr. and Mrs. Cade arrived in Lethbridge, it became clear quite quickly that their outgoing and positive approach to community involvement was going to make a difference in the connection between the community and the University,” says Cheryl Dick, chief executive officer, Economic Development Lethbridge.
“The University has grown during his tenure through new facilities, but its footprint has also grown in terms of influence. By association, the reputation and respect of our city has also increased.”
Cade and the University couldn’t accomplish this simply by putting up buildings. Growth for the sake of growth, in Cade’s own words, “is stupid,” and what the University was able to do over the last 10 years was identify areas of need and create programming that connected with emerging trends.
“We grew because we’re in the business of admitting students to the University, we’re not in the business of excluding them. I’ve always been proud of that fact,” says Cade.
Already blessed with a solid base of undergraduate programs, the University sought to increase its presence in the graduate world. The spring following Cade’s installment saw the CCBN taking shape and the first doctoral students for the University’s PhD in Neuroscience program being accepted.
While expanding graduate programming along with the University’s research portfolio stood out as key priorities, to do so required money – a lot of money. The answer came in the form of an advancement office.
“I’d learned the advancement structure at Brock, and I enjoyed asking for money,” says Cade. “It’s easy to ask if you’ve got people who know what they’re doing and will point you in the right direction. I thought building our reputation, letting people know who we are and what we were doing was a real priority.
“Asking for money is the easiest part of it; the hardest part is building up to it. If you’ve done the proper work leading up to it, I think you’re OK to ask.”
As funding for graduate programming grew, so did the University’s research portfolio. In the past 10 years, the U of L’s research funding has soared a phenomenal 610 per cent, taking what was a primarily undergraduate university to a research-intensive, comprehensive university with a focus on both undergraduate and graduate studies.
The University’s Community of Research Excellence Development Opportunities (CREDO) initiative, a new grant program for researchers in the social sciences, humanities, fine arts, education and management, was established. The U of L’s allocation of Canada Research Chairs, nine, was met, and unique, issue-driven programs such as the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Water Research were established. In 2008, the Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building (AWESB) opened, and in 2009, the U of L attracted foremost neuroscientist Dr. Bruce McNaughton and $20 million in funding to the CCBN, earning the inaugural Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Polaris Award.
“The research side of our mandate has certainly grown tremendously and is as high a quality as you could find around the country and around the world,” says Cade, noting that the University has worked hard to maintain its foundation of providing a personal, supportive small-school approach.
“We’ve done that while keeping our undergraduate and graduate programming very strong as well. If you don’t grow in terms of new programs and evolve your interests in other degrees, you stagnate, and if you’re starting to stagnate by resting on your laurels, you’re in trouble.”
Modestly, Cade is the first to admit that some of the University’s growth was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. While the U of L worked hard to create the community alliances necessary to open the new 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness in 2007, the Community Sports Stadium, a crown jewel for southern Alberta sport, was basically dropped on the University’s doorstep.
“Clearly there were things that we went after and we got them, but there were things that came out of the blue. Serendipity is a wonderful thing,” says Cade.
“We didn’t see the stadium coming, we didn’t know that was something the city would propose, but seizing the opportunity is a really important part of it; that’s something the University has done since its inception, seize opportunities.”
With more than 8,000 students, a new home for the Faculties of Health Sciences and Management ready to open and a continually emerging research presence established, is Cade comfortable with how he is leaving the U of L?
“At the risk of sounding egotistical, yes, I think so,” he says. “I think in terms of our academic development and in terms of having a functioning advancement office and having an outstanding faculty and good facilities, yes, I think so. There’s always more you can do, but I feel pretty satisfied.”
He pays no heed to trying to write his own legacy.
“I hope I have a legacy,” he laughs. “I feel extremely good about the University. It is without question the most satisfying experience of my professional life. But as to a legacy? Somebody else has to figure that one out.”
Perhaps it’s the western skyline that will tell his story, now pierced by the glass and steel that represent a transformed campus and a new, confident identity.
“I scan the horizon and I can see the new stadium, the residences we put in, I can see Markin Hall rising, and from a certain vantage point you can see the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Centre satellite dish, the AWESB and, of course, the new gymnasium. If you had told me 10 years ago that all of these things would be happening on campus, I would have thought it was wishful thinking.”
A timeline of major University of Lethbridge events occuring over the previous 10 years
• Dr. Bill Cade officially jumps into his new role as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Lethbridge.
• The U of L actively takes steps toward moving from a small, undergraduate institution to a comprehensive university – the first graduate students are admitted into the Master of Science in Management program, as well as the first doctorate students to the PhD Neuroscience program.
• The University recognizes its third Rhodes scholar, Russell Goodman.
• On the first day of fall classes, the $34 million Library Information Network Centre (LINC) opens. The 201,922 square foot facility stands as one the largest construction projects to take place on campus since the completion of University Hall in 1971.
• Two months later, the University celebrates the opening of the $7.3 million Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience. As the only research building of its kind in Canada, it helps lay the foundation for the U of L to emerge as an expert in the mysteries of the mind.
• The traditional Blackfoot name, Medicine Rock, is given to the University to recognize its 35th Anniversary.
• Six new townhouse units open to house 96 students in 24 four-bedroom suites. The $6.15 million expansion project also includes the construction of a 5,000 square foot amenities building.
• Continuing to meet students’ needs, doctoral degrees offered at the U of L grow to include Bio-molecular Science; Biosystems and Biodiversity; Earth, Space and Physical Sciences; Evolution and Behaviour; and Theoretical and Computational Science.
• At spring convocation, the first graduates of the neuroscience PhD program cross the stage.
• The U of L continues to grow beyond anyone’s greatest expectations, and in September, combined enrolment for the U of L’s Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton campuses exceeds 8,000 students.
• As plans form to build a new regional health and wellness centre, students agree to contribute $2.5 million and the City of Lethbridge approves a $5.3 million contribution.
• Then-Premier Ralph Klein visits the Lethbridge campus at the end of October to announce $1.2 million in provincial funding to help purchase scientific equipment for the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Centre.
• A $3 million donation from Dr. Allan Markin kicks off the Legacy of Leadership campaign – the most ambitious campaign in the U of L’s history.
• A year of milestones: the University proudly holds its 100th convocation ceremony, while the Faculty of Management celebrates its 25th anniversary.
• President Dr. Bill Cade is inducted into Kainai chieftainship, a group limited to 40 living individuals recognized by members of the Blood Tribe for their service to the community.
• The Prentice family announces an $8.25 million gift to establish the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy.
• The University of Lethbridge launches its 40th anniversary celebrations at the grand opening of the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness, with more than 2,000 people attending the celebration.
• The Government of Alberta invests more than $78 million toward developing the U of L campus, including Markin Hall, University Hall and the Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building (AWESB).
• With more than $35 million raised, the Legacy of Leadership Campaign concludes. When combined with government funding, the result is a $113 million investment in the U of L.
• The U of L is the recipient of the inaugural Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Polaris Award, which brings Dr. Bruce McNaughton, one of the world’s foremost brain scientists, and $20 million in research funding to the U of L’s CCBN.
• The U of L campus continues to transform with the opening of both Turcotte Hall and the AWESB. The AWESB brings experts together and allows for up to 100 new graduate students.
• The University charts its course for the next five years with the release of the 2009-2013 Strategic Plan. The plan affirms what has taken place and promises to stay true to what the University has done well, while making a call to move into a more comprehensive framework and to expand graduate programs.
• In March, President Dr. Bill Cade announces he will step down at the completion of his second term.
• In late September, the new Community Sports Stadium officially opens. Built on partnerships, the estimated $12 million multi-purpose, public-access facility is equipped with an artificial field, a natural practice field, a 400-metre synthetic track and bleachers for 2,000 fans.
• The School of Graduate Studies celebrates its 25th anniversary.
• Pronghorns women’s rugby team successfully claims its third straight CIS national title.
• Just before the new year, Dr. Michael Mahon is appointed as the U of L’s next president.
• The U of L celebrates with its littlest members and opens a daycare facility.
• The U of L community bids farewell to President Dr. Bill Cade and wife Elsa while looking forward to another decade of success and growth.
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