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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. OWEN HOLMES
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Owen Holmes
Owen began his career as a research chemist and then taught and worked in administration at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan. In 1965, he was hired by Lethbridge Junior College as Acting Principal. Later, Owen was appointed the first Dean of Arts and Science and later went on to become the Vice President Academic from 1972 to 1982. Owen retired from the University in 1987.
Owen discusses the decisions that early administration had to make in setting up the system for the new University.
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)
(JT: Jim Tagg, Interviewer)
OH: I should tell you that, when the Arts and Science Faculty started, I told you about how Russ Leskiw sort of got things going administratively and we got our academic plans together and then business started in the fall of ’67. Well, Sam arrived … Sam Smith, the new President, in the summer, and that was a turning point too. Because that was the first time we had a chance even to think about what should the nature of this university be?' Sam was perfect for that. Sam was like an Obama, you know …
JT: He was!
OH: He wanted us to think beyond the box. And the kind of things came up: should we have degrees? We had serious debates on these topics, should we have degrees? Should we have courses? Why should we have courses? What is a course … how do you define a course? Later on, Mike Kubara defined a course for me one day, but he wasn’t here then. Should we have lectures? These were serious questions and Erickson (Arthur) asked these questions because he wanted to design a building, he wanted to design a building. Are you gonna have any classrooms? And you know the concourse out there with all those platonic couches. That was Erickson’s answer, 'If you wanna have classes outside the classroom, you have them out there.' And you’ve probably have seen some of those courses their Jim, and I’ve seen some there. I’ve listened to the Marti Oordt courses there and other courses. Walkers-by could just stop and listen in. And then we got to argue about grades. And that was a big argument. Should we have grades or not? Now, this was the era of the free universities in Europe …
OH: … where people would come and lecture and argue among themselves … nobody paid any fees or anything. Well, what should we do here about grades? Should we be grading people as though they were chickens or something or ... ? And there was a big argument, we should have no grades. And then finally we went to … we didn’t go to the 'zero to a hundred' system, but we went to the 'ABCD.'
JT: And that was new for the time.
OH: Yeah, that was new at the time … and made a lot of people mad because that’s not the way Calgary and Edmonton were. And then we brought in pass/fail, a lot of pass/fail, and then you could shop around.