Open Mike

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Mike Mahon chats about what's happening in the University community

The more I get to know southern Alberta, the more impressed I am in the relationship the University of Lethbridge has cultivated with its local partners.

This was especially evident during the recent Team Lethbridge trip to Edmonton, where time and again I was reminded what an integral role the U of L plays in this community. It struck me that as much as we speak about the importance of furthering our ties with the southern Alberta community, Lethbridge's key stakeholders share that same vision. I found that when addressing government officials, it was clear that the rest of Team Lethbridge values that relationship just as much as we do.

The Team Lethbridge initiative served as an excellent opportunity to present a shared vision to the decision makers in our provincial capital. It was also a learning experience for me in that it really put into focus how similar our goals are in positioning ourselves as a destination university and a destination community.

When we communicate to the province, the country and the world that we are a destination university, we are also communicating the positives of Lethbridge and the southern Alberta experience. Likewise, as the city of Lethbridge positions itself as a tourist destination, a city of culture, business and education, it is communicating the message of the University of Lethbridge.

More than anything, it is a reputation we are creating and then messaging to those who are looking at the University of Lethbridge and southern Alberta as a whole. From my experience in Edmonton, the reputation we have created locally is one of excellence in education, research and providing a positive student experience, and our Team Lethbridge partners are more than willing to help communicate that message on our behalf.

If you have seen the latest Maclean's magazine, you'll see that our reputation is also recognized well beyond the local level. For the fourth consecutive year the U of L is ranked in the top 10 of primarily undergraduate universities, rising two positions to fourth overall.

While rankings tend to be somewhat subjective and are not without controversy, they do speak to certain things, and when I look at Maclean's and other ranking mechanisms, I see them as a gauge of what you are saying about yourself as a university, relative to what people are hearing and how they are assessing you.

The positive I take away from the latest Maclean's rankings is that the fundamentals we hold dear, that of creating a student-focused environment that values the entire student experience, is borne out in the results. Our excellent student/faculty ratio, small class sizes and awards won by our faculty all speak to our mandate.

As we continue to grow and transition into a comprehensive university, we must continue to be mindful of the reputation we have created as a student-first university. We can only succeed in becoming a true destination university, nationally and internationally, if we build off that fundamental ideal.

For a look at the full issue of the November Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.