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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. RUSSELL LESKIW
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Russell Leskiw
Russell was appointed the University’s first Acting President in January of 1967 after serving as the Alberta School Superintendent. His job was to organize and set up the governance structure of the University including establishing the Faculty of Education. After Sam Smith was appointed as the President of the University later that year, Russell was appointed the Dean of Education and he remained in this position until 1975. He passed away in 2015.
Russell discusses his work to establish the Faculty of Education at the University.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(JT: Jim Tagg, Interviewer)
RL: And of course it was about March or April (1967) that we started thinking about maybe we should have a second faculty and that was obviously the Faculty of Education and that’s when work on that started. And, I hired Aubrey Earl to come down from the University of Alberta and we talked in my hotel suite for a couple of days and outlined some of the major features that we would like to recommend. And, Aubrey and I were pretty well on the same level. But it was very difficult in getting things across. The Coordinating Council in Edmonton of all the universities was a major stumbling block in all kind of things and of course the traditions of the people of the universities from whence they came had a lot to do with it to. And things were not easy. And I remember that, and this is an old, old story that you have heard many times of how the Faculty of Education was really formed. The Faculty of Education needed a charter and so we went to the University’s Council which said 'No, no you can’t. We don’t think we should have faculty over there.' and of course they were supported by the other two universities, Edmonton and Calgary. So I, we were all sort of downcast, and driving home, and moving towards Ninth Street, I made a left turn instead of right turn. 'Where are you going Russ?' 'Well, I think we’ll go over to the Education Building Department and see what they say there with a view of seeing the Minister.' Well, we went to the Minister’s office, he wasn’t there. He was at the Legislature. So I went to the Legislature, knocked on the door and asked for the Minister. And he was a fellow who had expressed interest in the Faculty of Education before because he was kind of tired of people saying, 'The other two universities.' So I asked, 'Sir, would you, we need a charter for the Faculty of Education in Lethbridge and we need a signature?' 'Oh sure, sure!' 'Can you sign it?' And that’s how we had a Faculty of Education.
JT: Were you angry at that time, when you did this? I have heard this story that you hauled him out of the Legislature.
RL: Well, I wasn’t angry when I hauled him ... no that was the last thing I was ...
JT: You were just determined.
RL: Yes, I was determined that we should have Faculty of Education. And I would follow every step possible. Where else to go but the Minister of Education, who’d already expressed an interest.
JT: But even though he signed it off pretty quickly, you think he pretty well knew what he was doing.
RL: Oh yes, because he had already expressed his view point.