Hats off

Looking back, native-Texan Elsa Cade recalls that after living in cloudy Ontario for 23 years, the decision to relocate to Alberta felt like coming home.

"The idea of moving out west and enjoying the big sky, the sunshine and the down-to-earth nature of the way people are here really appealed to us," explains Elsa, wife to University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade. "Yes, it was hard to leave, but settling in was made so much easier because of the way we were received by the community."

And while she admits that at the start there were occasional times when the couple felt like "deer caught in headlights," it didn't take long until both Bill and Elsa were a deeply knit part of the University. In large part, that reality can be credited to Elsa's attitude.

"I always saw myself as a servant. It's a model I've held for years: if you want to see something done, you need to get involved and just do it," says Elsa. "I knew I was part of a presidential couple, and I felt that part of my role was to support Bill in accomplishing the mission of the University."

Now, 10 years later, it's hard to imagine any University function without the cheerful presence of Elsa. Not only has she graciously hosted many groups and individuals in her home, attended countless dinners, student receptions, lectures, celebrations and other events, but she has been to every convocation since arriving.

"I really do enjoy each one of the ceremonies – they're all so different. Besides, it's given me a chance to wear my hats," says Elsa with a laugh.

As for Bill, having Elsa by his side is something he doesn't take for granted.

"I could have done nothing without Elsa's help, assistance, friendship and love over the years. I just couldn't do it," says Bill.
"I'm not a real party person, and we've gone to many, many functions over the years and having Elsa along allows me to do that. I'm much more comfortable sitting at home with my wife and my dogs."

An accomplished teacher and educator in her own right, Elsa earned her Alberta certification when the couple first moved to Lethbridge. While the demands of her role did not allow for her to carry a full-time job, she has still managed to make a huge impact on the greater community.

Only a short time after arriving in Lethbridge, Elsa began a google-search to find out what was happening in science education in Alberta. She soon satisfied her "itch" to be involved in this area through active volunteer involvement with Science Alberta Foundation, as well as 5th on 5th Youth Services.

In recognition of Elsa's contributions, both on campus and off, Elsa received a Senate Volunteer Award at the Spring 2010 Convocation.

"I feel extremely good about that," says Bill. "It makes me feel very satisfied that the University acknowledged her in that capacity."

As for the next chapter, in October Bill and Elsa will embark on a six-week research adventure throughout South Africa, with the first stop of Namibia, somewhere Bill has promised to take Elsa for years.

"We're going to shed our fancy duds and jump into our grubby gear and go back to our life as people in the field, eating SpaghettiOs out of a can on a four-wheel trek," says Elsa.

Not surprisingly, Elsa's life-theme of service remains forefront in her long-term plans, with intentions to move back to Texas and support her parents, now in their 80s. But even so, she's not setting any plans in stone.

"I look forward to spending more time with family and making trips to Africa and to settling into a new life, but I try not to have too many expectations," she says.
"I would never have thought Bill and I would end up out here, I just would have never thought. So it's nice to be open because who knows what the future holds?"

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