Linking past to present

When the Galt School of Nursing Alumni gifted close to $150,000 in scholarship money to the University of Lethbridge nursing program, it was a case of the past meeting the present to benefit the future.

"We're very pleased to continue in the tradition established by the Galt School of Nursing and are proud to educate the next generation of nursing professionals," says U of L president, Dr. Mike Mahon.

For nearly 70 years (1910 to 1979), the Galt School of Nursing trained more than 1,100 nurses who played a key role in providing quality health care to the residents of southern Alberta. The Galt family first established a fund in 1910 that supported nursing students and helped to purchase equipment for the school of nursing.

"It is remarkable that this fund has carried over for more than 100 years, from the pioneering Galt family to the present day," says Donna Karl, RN, and a 1963 graduate of the Galt School of Nursing.

Galt Gift
Galt School of Nursing Alumni enjoyed connecting with today's students.

Administered by the Galt Alumni Association for the past 15 years, it provided scholarships to descendants of Galt alumni, but as applications waned in recent years, the association wanted to put the money to good use.

"When we realized that, due to our alumni's aging population, we were not receiving many applications for scholarships, we knew it was time to move this money to a place where it would be utilized and the University's nursing program was an obvious choice," says Karl.

While descendants of Galt alumni are still in the terms of reference for the rewarding of scholarships, academic merit will weigh heavily. The fund will be endowed to provide scholarships to entering or continuing Bachelor of Nursing and Bachelor of Nursing After Degree third- and fourth-year students.

"Nursing is all about caring for people and I can see that the students today are carrying on in that tradition," says Karl, who, along with other alumni, toured the new Simulation Health Centre with current students.

"The nursing students that I met today are still all about taking care of people but are far more educated than we were because of the facilities available to them. That lab we toured is wonderful!"

Karl, who works part time at Lethbridge College in the Health Services Office, says the alumni association felt a great responsibility to administer the fund.

"For years we've been managing that money like it was our own – there were about six of us who would gather around my kitchen table and make decisions about scholarships," she says. "We looked after that money very well and gave it out very carefully. I'm happy that the U of L will be able to look after that from here out."

That it will live on in perpetuity and continue a century-old tradition of supporting nursing students is gratifying to Karl.

"I absolutely love this profession, and am really pleased to still be working nearly 50 years after being in school," she says. "Much has changed since 1963 – we certainly didn't have the facilities or services today's students have – but we can continue to ensure today's students are supported throughout their education."


· The U of L first established a School of Nursing in 1980.

· There are 698 students currently enrolled in the nursing program, which is now offered jointly by Lethbridge College and the U of L's Faculty of Health Sciences.

· To date, more than 1,500 nurses have graduated from the U of L's nursing program.

· The Galt family built and supported the original Galt Hospital, which is now the site of the Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives.

· The scholarship transfer agreement required a change in provincial legislation, facilitated at a government level by former nurse and healthcare provider Bridget Pastoor, MLA Lethbridge East.