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Monday 02 of October 2023 11:28:17 PM


University of Alberta 2008 Centenary note
University of Alberta 2008 Centenary note:

In marking the centenary of the official opening of the University of Alberta (1908) we should all feel tremendous pride. This was a university hewed from the poplar bush on a river lot farm, shortly after Alberta became a province.

The university was a logical extension of the overall plan to further the K-12 educational system, which saw thousands of schools built across the province as a fundamental part of Liberal policy formed in Calgary on Thursday, August 3, 1905.

It must have seemed unimaginably ambitious to create a new university from scratch, starting with an undeveloped bush-covered lot on the river valley. But in their remarkable teamwork, Premier Rutherford and President Tory managed, miraculously, to kick-start a transformation. Not only did they succeed in establishing the University of Alberta, they also induced a popular trend towards useful higher education that gave birth to many other outstanding universities and colleges across the province, so giving us the "Campus Alberta" of today.

Almost everyone in Alberta has been in some manner affected by the University as it has shaped the minds and spirit of thousands of our young and not-so-young. Its graduates have contributed in their myriad ways to making Alberta, Canada and the world better places. Our U of A students and faculty alike should be lauded for their untiring dedication to excellence and for helping to make Alberta one of the best places on the planet to live. In our first century, many graduates have achieved notable feats: Nobel Laureate Richard E. Taylor, Oxford's Regius Chair of Medicine John Bell, Dean of Harvard Medical School Joseph B. Martin, to name only a distinguished few. These have made a University of Alberta mark on the world.

Yet while it has been an incredible achievement to create the University of Alberta and “Campus Alberta” from such humble beginnings, we should recognize with continuing humility that this is a step on a long and on-going project of building a robust society and a viable and diversified economy. In this new century our economy is faced with the challenge of growing appropriate, sustainable, and highly competitive organizations, and of creating thousands of interesting career opportunities for all Albertans. In this future we will invest in organizations solving exceptionally difficult problems by developing breakthrough technologies, and by targeting large, rapidly growing markets with experienced teams of highly educated people qualified to succeed in creating sustainable solutions.

The University of Alberta and “Campus Alberta” will play a critical role in attracting investment, in setting the scene for a century-long string of successful ventures, and in helping to build a sustainable, diversified future. We should mark this centenary by celebrating a magnificently productive past, and, at the same time, we should, like the University’s far-sighted founders, think ahead to the challenges of the next century and to how we can, again, best invest our limited resources for maximum impact.


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