Campus Life

2023 Highlights

An eventful 2023 at the University of Lethbridge is rapidly coming to a close, and as is tradition here at UNews, we like to take this time to look back at all that took place over the last 12 months.

It always surprises us how much activity our students and employees are involved in and the incredible contributions we collectivaly make to our southern Alberta community and far beyond. From philanthropic and volunteer activities to breaking research boundaries, energizing our cultural and athletic scenes and disseminating new knowledge, ULethbridge makes a tangible difference in the world every single day. And the most exciting thing is, there's always more to come.

Join us over the coming days as we share 10 stories we thought resonated with our communities and highlighted some of the many ways ULethbridge continues to benefit society. Of course, these stories just scratch the surface, and we urge you to browse through UNews as well as our ULethbridge Stories site to read about the amazing people who make the ULethbridge experience truly unique.

Posing with Luxie from left to right are Drs. Harold Jansen, Lisa Starr, Digvir Jayas, Jon Doan, Michelle Helstein and Heather Davis-Fisch.

New President & Vice-Chancellor and new senior leaders at ULethbridge

Announcing and introducing Dr. Digvir Jayas as ULethbridge’s seventh President and Vice-Chancellor, followed by his installation in the fall, was historical for ULethbridge and the broader southern Alberta community. Dr. Jayas’s introduction was also representative of a year of massive change at ULethbridge that saw a significant infusion of new perspectives across the University. Among the new senior leaders introduced this year were Terry Whitehead (BA ’94), Chancellor; Dr. Michelle Helstein, Provost & Vice-President, Academic; Dr. Heather Davis-Fisch, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts; Dr. Jon Doan (PhD ’06), Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences; Dr. Harold Jansen, University Librarian, Dean, School of Liberal Education; and Dr. Lisa Starr, Dean, Faculty of Education. With new leaders and a new comprehensive strategic plan in progress, the future is bright and full of promise.

ULethbridge joining provincial partners to join Quantum Horizons Alberta research network

In June, a partnership between ULethbridge, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary was announced as we combined to form Quantum Horizons Alberta (QHA). A new $25-million Alberta-wide program, it is an initiative to expand our foundational knowledge of quantum science and pursue transformational research into the potentials of quantum physics. QHA brings together world-class scientists to deepen our understanding and unlock the mysteries of quantum mechanics, where the rules of classical physics do not apply. ULethbridge was already involved in quantum and this announcement further expanded our research capacity — an indication that our university, once again, is home to some of the most advanced research in the world.

Jason VandenHoek, left, and Kurt Schlachter at the ULethbridge Pride Flag Raising Ceremony.

Alumni donors establish first-of-its-kind endowment fund to support 2SLGBTQ+ students

ULethbridge prides itself on having created a welcoming and inclusive campus environment and an early summer announcement epitomized that commitment. A pair of alumni, Kurt Schlachter (BSc ’00) and Jason VandenHoek (BMgt ’05) established the VandenHoek Schlachter Pride Fund. Announced during ULethbridge’s Progress Pride flag raising ceremony, the $200,000 endowment fund supports a suite of awards aimed at reducing barriers for 2SLGBTQ+ students. For VandenHoek and Schlachter, the power of representation is critical to building confidence on the pathway to success, especially for 2SLGBTQ+ students. The first award from the VandenHoek Schlachter Pride Fund will be presented in June 2024.

ULethbridge President & Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon signs the historic Buffalo Treaty.

University of Lethbridge becomes first post-secondary school to sign on as supporter of Buffalo Treaty

What began as conversations between a University of Lethbridge graduate student and Blackfoot elders more than a decade ago came full circle in March when the University became the first post-secondary institution to sign on as a supporter of the historic Buffalo Treaty. A treaty of cooperation, renewal and restoration, it was born out of graduate research work Paulette Fox (MSc ’05) was conducting in environmental science. Her conversations with elders included the issue of the buffalo and its importance in Indigenous culture. The Buffalo Treaty was first signed on September 24, 2014, at the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, to honour, recognize and revitalize the time immemorial relationship with buffalo. ULethbridge's commitment to continue fostering its relationship with the Blackfoot and all Indigenous Peoples is reflected in its support of this important treaty.

Kacie Bosch, left, and Paige Crozon, second from left, have joined forces with twins Katherine and Michelle Plouffe to form the world's top-ranked 3x3 women's basketball team.

Horns assistants Crozon, Bosch making most of 3x3 opportunity

Pronghorns fans will have a special rooting interest this summer when the Paris Olympics take place as they will likely be cheering on women's basketball assistant coaches Kacie Bosch (BA ’20) and Paige Crozon as they represent Canada in 3x3 women's basketball. Now, the duo still faces a do-or-die Olympic qualifying tournament in February but given the dominance of the Canadian team over the last two years, it seems a certainty they'll be on the courts in Paris this summer. Earlier this year, the duo, along with twins Michelle and Katherine Plouffe, secured their second straight FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series Final title — this time in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In early December, the group won bronze at another tune-up event, the AmeriCup, in Puerto Rico. Go Canada go!

Marshall Vielle

Yisstsiiyi production a historic first for the University of Lethbridge

Marshall Vielle (BFA - Dramatic Arts ’17) made history earlier this year when they joined forces with fellow Making Treaty 7 members Caleigh Crow and Neil Fleming to bring the institution’s first Indigenous-led and created production to the stage — Yisstsiiyi. The production is a collaboration between Marshall, Caleigh and Neil, as well as ULethbridge students and community members, focusing on Blackfoot storytelling and the importance of listening to each other. It ran Nov. 6-10 in the University Theatre and told the story of Sky Woman and the creation of Turtle Island. While it may have been the first Indigenous-led creation, it surely will inspire many more in the future.

Gregory Robinson

University of Lethbridge grad student sees a world of possibilities in mushrooms

Innovation in research is found throughout ULethbridge and encompasses a breadth of activity. One research piece that created quite a stir was work being done by Gregory Robinson, a PhD candidate and entrepreneur. Robinson launched his psychedelic pharmaceutical research and development company, Mycos Biotech, a year ago after seeing much promise in developing techniques to make extracts from mushrooms. Working with Dr. Igor Kovalchuk inn the department of Biological Sciences, Robinson says mushroom extracts can be helpful in fighting inflammation, maintaining cardiovascular health, promoting sleep and regulating blood glucose levels. He is looking to develop processes and techniques that provide both consistency and a high quantity of metabolites in mushrooms and then sell those techniques to mushroom producers.

Proactive approach to student mental health at the heart of R.E.C. Room initiative

A student with a healthy and positive state of mind is more likely to be engaged, successful and flourishing. With that in mind, ULethbridge launched a new strategy to enhance student mental health with the introduction of the R.E.C. Room — multi-site campus hubs designed to invite students to step away from the stress of study and research to relax their minds and connect with one another. Launched in January, the "rooms" include everything from a giant chessboard, to Jenga, puzzles and table tennis tables. The R.E.C. Rooms (an acronym for refresh, energize, connect) have proven to be immensely popular and are almost always busy, proving once again that the student-first approach continues to make the ULethbridge experience unique.

The IGBM is the first diploma in the country that focuses on both Indigenous business and governance.

Dhillon School of Business launches new diploma in Indigenous governance and business management

The University continued to forge ahead and lead the post-secondary sector in preparing students for a world where Indigenous perspectives must be incorporated in all levels of business and management. In June, ULethbridge introduced the Indigenous Governance and Business Management (IGBM) diploma, one of only a small few Indigenous business diplomas in Canada, as well as the first diploma in the country that focuses on both Indigenous business and governance. It will give students an Indigenous perspective on business management, community development, governance and entrepreneurship, and was created because of the significant market demand in Canada for graduates with a solid understanding of Indigenous economic and cultural issues who also possess a strong business foundation.

Lindsey Kapitzke was one of many alumni who had a hand in the making of The Last of Us.

Alumna Lindsey Kapitzke helps The Last of Us characters dress the part

An HBO hit series that turned into an Alberta cultural phenomenon had a distinctly ULethbridge presence and we were lucky enough to tell the story of Lindsay Kapitzke's (BFA - Dramatic Arts '15) contributions to the show The Last of Us. Touted as the largest television production in Canadian history, The Last of Us generated $141 million in revenue for the province of Alberta. Kapitzke, who has been working in the film industry since 2019, served as a costume buyer for the massive production, sourcing costume materials and working with costume designers to bring their vision to life. She was one of many ULethbridge alums who worked for the production — just another example of how our students are ready to contribute to any of a thousand industries when they embark on their careers.