Campus Life

Call it clutter with a purpose

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade has collected a carefully constructed mass of objects that fill his office.

One wall of windows overlooks the Oldman River, while another is lined with bookshelves housing artifacts that connect Cade to his travels, colleagues, students and interesting experiences or people he has met.

Space is reserved for his trusty office mates Stan, Stella and Steve, a trio of African veiled chameleons, who occupy well-appointed cages within arm's reach of Cade's desk space.

The overall result is one of continual surprise, a beginning for many conversations and a clear sense that this is an office occupied by a curious person who isn't afraid to put a South Park talking-cartoon key chain on his desk.

With Cade's open-door policy, many people have seen the space at some point in time, but for those who have not had the pleasure of sitting in his office, here is a snapshot of the "so-called clutter" and just a few of the many stories behind the objects.

During his time in southern Alberta, Cade has developed a relationship based on a mutual respect with the First Nations community. Several gifts remind him of this: a pair of eagle feathers given to him by a student representative of the
U of L Native American Students' Association, as well as commemorative images of his induction into the Kainai chieftainship.

Quick: which one is the turtle? Not many people get it right, and most people have no clue what the skeletons are, unless of course, they ask.

As people found out about Cade's research, cricket toys started to appear. He uses them as a teaching tool for young children (and some adults) who visit. The most important fact people need to remember is that Disney got it wrong: Jiminy Cricket did not have six legs, as most insects would; he had four. And, crickets don't wear gloves.

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Cricket cages come in all shapes and sizes.

You don't want to trip and fall into the northeast corner of the office lest you meet this cactus. Brought from Texas years ago, it has now reached beyond the ceiling multiple times and its offspring can be found throughout the U of L campus.

Collected in Africa, this specimen the size of a bowling ball is from a herd of elephants that came though Cade's camp at 4:30 a.m. in search of food. To distract them, Cade got out of his tent, waved a flashlight in one of the elephant's face and tossed rocks at it. By startling it, Cade narrowly prevented his truck from being wrecked.

As a researcher of crickets, Cade's natural interest in these tiny, vocal insects and their communication and mating habits is well known. For years, people have given him cricket enclosures, ranging from fancy to plain, which are used in some cultures to keep crickets for good luck or to transport crickets en route to cricket fights.

Reflecting Cade's Pronghorn pride, this autographed basketball was a gift from the 2009/2010 men's team and was signed by the players as well as the1999/2000 men's team during a recent alumni reunion and game.

A paperback western story about a man named Jubal Cade who is "Trained to Heal but Born to Kill" sits on Cade's desk. The fact that Cade shares his last name with a character in a pulp fiction western makes him laugh.

This trio of green crickets was a gift from a colleague at Brock University, Josephine Meeker, who encouraged Cade to move forward in his career and run for dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at Brock University, a position he formerly held that served as a stepping-stone to his presidency at the U of L.

Cade's interest in the U of L pronghorn symbol started as simple curiosity then grew. He found pronghorn stamps dating to the late 1950s and others have given him pronghorn stuffed toys, sculptures and items related to the second-fastest land mammal.

The "other" horns, that is. A proud dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Cade is a triple-degree graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and a fan of the legendary UT Longhorns teams.

Common names for very uncommon office guests, this chameleon trio, known fondly as Stan, Stella and Steve, have it pretty good with constant visitors, a spectacular view and an endless supply of their favourite food, crickets.

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