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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. BILL BECKEL
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Bill Beckel
Bill was appointed the University Vice President Academic in 1968. In 1972, Bill was appointed the University’s second President and he served in this position until 1979.
Bill discusses how he was enticed to a job at the University and his work as Vice President Academic.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (email@example.com)
I had just built, for the University of Toronto, Scarborough College, a constituent college of the University of Toronto but out in the Scarborough environment. And my responsibility was to be the owners’ representative in the design and building of that college, and the University of Lethbridge was doing the same thing. So, they first invited me out to talk about how to finance the University and while I was there they surreptitiously interviewed me, without me knowing it, for the vice presidency and then offered it to me before I left, so. So, it was a good and interesting experience but it was Sam (Smith) who had come to Scarborough on a tour that he had made of new universities in Ontario, and Scarborough was on his list and we talked and there’s no doubt we hit it off immediately. He was the one that arranged the invitation to talk about finance. He was the one, I’m sure, who made the difference in terms of the invitation to become Vice President and it took off from there.
The University was a 'University Section' of the Community College and that created a particular situation. But when Sam came, he came from the University of Alberta with none of that baggage. He was a ‘dyed in the wool’ people person who really created the spirit for the Arts and Science and the involvement of faculty and students and support staff in the life of the University. I came in, some people said, as the ‘hatchet man'. But really, I wasn’t the ‘hatchet man’ because there wasn’t anybody to ‘hatchet.' But, they did need somebody that could keep track of the money that was being spent and the complexity of building across the river on totally barren farmland. Even though we had a first class engineer, Bob Comstock, who looked after the engineering aspects of the building and the construction of the building, and we had a first class finance officer in Harold Cooper but this ... they needed coordination and that’s what my role was. And so, that’s what it was.
(Interviewed by Alesha Farfus-Shukaliak; date of interview approximated)