Championing the U of L mandate


A key part of most successful government relations strategies is to identify and utilize champions for your cause. For federal initiatives, the
U of L has found a literal champion of its own.

The Deputy Minister University Champion Program is an initiative housed in the Canada School of Public Service, and is aimed at strengthening linkages between the Government of Canada and Canadian universities.

Earlier this year, the University of Lethbridge was granted membership into this program. Subsequently, Dr. James Ralston, the Comptroller General of Canada, was named as the U of L's University Champion.

Ralston received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, his Master of Arts (Economics) from the University of Ottawa and a Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) from Carleton University. Beginning his career with the Provincial Auditor of Alberta, he later joined a national accounting/consulting firm in Edmonton and Ottawa. He was appointed the Comptroller General of Canada after working for the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) for 15 years.

The role of a deputy minister champion is flexible. In speaking with my counterparts across Canada, it is clear that relationships between universities and deputy minister champions vary greatly and are unique to each institution. It is hoped that the relationship between Ralston and the University of Lethbridge will create new opportunities for our students and faculty, such as stronger co-op arrangements between the
U of L and the federal government, the facilitation of interactions that link U of L research and teaching strengths with appropriate federal departments and continuous information sharing of university and government directions and priorities.

Ralston has been an eager and willing partner with the U of L from the outset of the champion program. He had already taken the time to tour the U of L and meet with a variety of folks from different parts of campus, including meetings with President Mike Mahon, Provost Andrew Hakin, the Career Resources Centre and our co-op programs office. He also toured the Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building, the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience and the U of L Art Gallery.

Now that Ralston has an understanding of the programs offered and research conducted at the U of L, he is in a better position to identify links and opportunities between the federal government and the University.

Furthermore, he is in a better position to represent U of L interests and, when appropriate, facilitate and advise on effective strategies.

Richard Westlund is the Director of Government Relations at the U of L. In an effort to better inform different parts of our campus and external communities about the various government relations activities that occur at the U of L, he has started a blog. Visit it at