Culture of University has changed in recent years

The following is a personal letter from Dr. Dennis Fitzpatrick on the occasion of his leaving the position of Vice-President (Research) after 10 years

When I was hired 10 years ago, the University of Lethbridge was not on Alberta's research map. At provincial research and advanced education meetings, the talk was of Alberta's two research universities. When the U of L applied to join the Alberta Science and Technology Foundation we had to seek approval of the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary because of a non-compete clause in the membership agreement. Times have changed. The notion that there are two research-intensive universities has been put to rest.

The University's commitment to scholarship provided the foundation for change. Research is at the heart of a university, not just an activity for the faculty but also an integral aspect of the student learning experience. Curiosity driven and problem-based learning is important and should be incorporated in the curriculum as soon as possible. Undergraduate level research is an important teaching tool. This prepares students for employment and feeds our graduate programs. As measured by the awarding of some of Canada's most prestigious scholarships, the Julie Payette NSERC Research Scholarship and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, our student research programs are very successful. The hallmarks of research program success – grants, research chairs, fellowships and other honours – are too numerous to list. The University of Lethbridge has become a comprehensive university.

Timing is everything. The creation of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation presented unprecedented opportunities. We accessed funds from other federal agencies, including Western Economic Diversification, to build the most important element of any research program – the human capital and supporting research infrastructure.

The Government of Alberta – through programs managed by Advanced Education and Technology – complemented this federal support and much more. The Government of Alberta funded our first two research buildings; the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neurosciences and the Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building. These investments changed the very nature of the institution.

People are important. Success within the research portfolio stemmed senior leadership and commitment to scholarship. The support of Presidents Bill Cade and Howard Tennant; Vice-Presidents Andrew Hakin, Nancy Walker and Chris Horbachewski; and Deans Christopher Nicol and Jo-Anne Fiske are gratefully acknowledged. The contributions of two good friends, Vice-President Seamus O'Shea and Board of Governors Research Chair Bryan Kolb, were significant. No one works alone.

The Office of Research Services family made the events of the last decade possible. Heartfelt thanks to Marg McKeen, Jane Allan, Penny D'Agnone, Penny Pickles, Eric Kokko, Morgan Guo, Pejman Ghanipour and Robin Schafthuizen. The contributions of my friend Christine Picken were significant.

A decade has flown by and it is time to take my leave. It has been my honour and my privilege to serve as Vice-President Research at the University of Lethbridge.

Dr. Dennis Fitzpatrick