Past Presidents

Dr Mike Mahon

Dr. Mike Mahon - Iipisowaahsiiyi (Morning Star)

2010 - 2023

Dr. Michael J. (Mike) Mahon was installed as the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lethbridge in 2010 and served three terms until June of 2023. During his first term, Dr. Mahon introduced "Destination 2020", the University of Lethbridge Strategic Plan. Under this plan, he initiated the "Destination Project", a monumental construction project whereby a $260 Million investment from the Government of Alberta was secured, which resulted in the building of Science Commons, a state-of-the-art science and academic building. In his second term, Dr. Mahon helped create a successful partnership between the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Mastercard Foundation, and the U of L to develop educational opportunities and supports for Blackfoot youth with an aim to increase employment and economic development in Indigenous communities.

William H Cade.

Dr. Bill Cade

2000 - 2010

Dr. Bill Cade was appointed president of the University of Lethbridge in July 2000. Currently serving his second five-year term, Cade has overseen the development of many significant initiatives at the University of Lethbridge, including a five-year strategic plan and the launch of the institution’s largest capital campaign. Throughout his presidency Cade has proudly served as the University’s chief ambassador, and he continues to build and strengthen community relations at local, provincial and national levels. During his term the University remained grounded in liberal education and committed to providing students with small classes, a personal experience and creating the most vital and engaging learning environment in Canada.

Howard E. Tennant

Howard E. Tennant

1987 - 2000

When Dr. Howard Tennant became president of the University of Lethbridge in 1987, the institution was experiencing challenging times. Post-secondary institutions across Alberta were feeling the effects of the recession and budget cuts. During his 13-year presidency, Tennant’s leadership, energy and unwavering commitment to excellence revitalized and transformed the University. By 2000, the U of L was leading the way in administrative systems, financial administration, computer networks and technology. Student enrolment tripled; the campus expanded; and new program offerings were introduced, including additional master’s programs and a PhD program. The University of Lethbridge had emerged as a North American leader in science research and was well poised for the next chapter of its journey.

Gerald S. Kenyon

Acting President 1986-1987

John H Woods

John H. Woods

1979 - 1986

In 1979, Dr. John Woods, a philosopher and founding dean of humanities at the University of Calgary, began his term as president of the University of Lethbridge. During his presidency, Woods acted upon his vision of the University as an institution of outstanding academic quality and standards, and sought faculty appointments of the highest quality. He presided over the building of the Centre for the Arts and the Max Bell Regional Aquatic Centre, and the University of Lethbridge Art Collection grew at an unprecedented rate. In 1986, Woods returned to his first love – teaching. He remained an esteemed faculty member at the University of Lethbridge until 2002, and he continues to serve the U of L as an adjunct professor.

William Bill Beckel

William E. Beckel

1972 - 1979

Dr. William (Bill) Beckel began his term as president of the University of Lethbridge on Jan. 1, 1972, he was already an important part of the institution’s history. Beckel served as the U of L’s first vice-president (academic) from 1968 to 1972 and was acting president in 1971. The 1970s were a decade of growth and change for the newly established university. Construction of University Hall – a project Beckel played a lead role in – was completed and the University moved from the Lethbridge Junior College site to its new west-side home; enrolments climbed and program offerings were expanded. With a strong foundation already established by his predecessors, Beckel led the University of Lethbridge on the next stage of its journey as the institution became recognized as one of the most exciting learning environments in Canada.

W.A.S. "Sam" Smith

W.A.S. "Sam" Smith

1967 - 1972

On July 1, 1967, Dr. W. A. Sam Smith commenced his appointment as the first president of the University of Lethbridge. At the time, Smith was 37 years old and hailed from the University of Alberta where he was a professor of psychology. Over the years, Smith and his five-year presidency – a time that he describes as “radical, exuberant and wonderful” – have become a University of Lethbridge legend. Although there were many great institutional victories, highlights and successes during Smith’s presidency, the sense of community that lives on at the heart of the University of Lethbridge is his greatest legacy. And even now, 40 years later, Smith remains true to his steadfast value of “people first.”

Russell J. Leskiw

Russell J. Leskiw

Acting President 1967

Dr. Russell Leskiw assumed his position as acting president of the University of Lethbridge on Jan. 1, 1967 – the same day the University of Lethbridge officially came into existence. At the time of his appointment, Leskiw was a 38-year-old southern Alberta high school inspector working out of Calgary, and he had recently completed his DEd at the University of Oregon. As the leader of a highly debated and anticipated university, Leskiw was embarking on a new, exciting and challenging journey. During his six-month presidency, Leskiw planted the University’s roots and helped set the institution on course for its future.