Haiti situation elicits campus compassion

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade chats about what's happening in the University community

There are times when we all take aspects of our lives for granted, and we don't necessarily appreciate the fortunate circumstance we have of living in a prosperous country such as Canada. When we then see the devastation of a tragedy like the Haitian earthquake, it quickly brings into focus just how lucky we are.

Last week's gathering in the Atrium in support of the Haitian people was a scene we've replicated far too many times here at the University. Whether it is in response to the shootings at Virginia Tech University or the terrible tsunami in Thailand, we've come together as a community to support our fellow humans.

The outpouring of support for our Haitian brothers and sisters has been heartwarming but hardly unexpected. We here at the University have always shown a great measure of compassion, and I feel it comes from the global nature of our campus community.

We have a number of groups on campus that make such positive contributions to society, and it is especially evident during times of tragedy. From the International Students' Association who manned a donation table for the Red Cross, to the Rotaract Club and its campaign to collect money for shelter boxes, to Steve Ferzacca's health science students and their Partners in Health program that has a permanent presence in Haiti, our faculty, staff and students consistently give to those less fortunate and in need.

I look forward to celebrating that international spirit at the Feb. 10 International Dinner. Always a highlight of the spring, the International Dinner features wonderful cuisine from all corners of the globe. This year's guest speaker, Kim Phuc, promises to be especially poignant. Known as "The girl in the picture" Phuc is an advocate for children affected by war and terror. Her message of compassion and understanding is always relevant and should make for an excellent evening.

As we approach spring, the word 'transition' is being used often in the President's office. It's a process I feel very good about and one I expect will go very smoothly as we introduce
Dr. Mike Mahon to the University and its partners.

This week both Mike and his wife Maureen are here in Lethbridge to take part in a number of events. Mike attended his first President's Executive meeting, accompanied Vice-President Finance and Administration Nancy Walker, Vice-President Advancement Chris Horbachewski, and me to Rotary Club, participated in the annual Donor Gala celebration and took part in a number of other social gatherings. Richard Westlund, our government relations director, also arranged a host of courtesy calls for Mike as he spoke with key representatives from the local, provincial and federal governments.

We're making sure Mike has the opportunity to meet people in a social, casual and informal basis as he becomes accustomed to the U of L in advance of July 1, when he assumes the Presidency. He'll officially be installed Oct. 15 and preside over his first convocation ceremony on Oct. 16.

Finally, I have heard through numerous channels that Michael Nolan is coming to town this spring. Nolan is someone who I knew many years ago, and I can't wait to see him once again.