Campus Life

Open Mike - March 2013, Understanding and accepting the responsibility of the University's role in the community

One of the words that often comes up when the University of Lethbridge is in conversation with our civic leaders is that of community.

The U of L plays an integral role in the Lethbridge community and it is not one I take lightly, rather it is at the heart of many of the things we do on a daily basis.

Just recently, we invited the Lethbridge community to come to us and experience the University of Lethbridge through Play Day. It was one way of giving back to the community as a whole and opening our doors to the public.

As the University looks ahead however, rather than only asking the community to come to us, we want to bring the U of L to the Lethbridge community. With the openings of the Penny Building and the new community arts centre, and subsequently a move of the U of L Music Conservatory downtown, the University is excited to be a driving force in the vitalization of the downtown core.

President Mike Mahon
The Penny Building is another example of how the University continues to further its links to the community of Lethbridge.

The Penny Building represents a new direction for the University, as it brings several key elements of the University to downtown Lethbridge. The Office of Alumni Relations, as well as members of the Development office within University Advancement, has relocated downtown.

As well, a new University gift shop and gallery space have been constructed in the Penny, allowing an area for Fine Arts students to showcase their work to the general public.

The community arts centre promises to be an iconic representation of the artistic culture of Lethbridge, and it is only fitting that the University is playing a major role in its development. By moving the Music Conservatory to the downtown area, the U of L is helping to give arts and culture a profile in this city that it has never before experienced.

Our esteemed researchers are also looking to create more community connections through the development of the inaugural Community/University Research Exchange (CURE) event, to be held Mar. 22.

Designed to reduce barriers that might prevent collaboration between key business interests in the city and the U of L's research expertise, CURE promises to increase the community's accessibility to the University's intellectual resources in a way that's never been done before.

One of the key points of discussion throughout the Strategic Plan consultation process was the theme of community and how the University's contribution to Lethbridge is absolutely vital. This was further driven home during conversations with our Senate members, who expressed a great interest in furthering the University's role in helping to support and shape community initiatives.

To that end, I can foresee the new Strategic Plan formalizing a community engagement strategy much in the same way that the University developed a formal strategy for First Nations Métis and Inuit initiatives and is working on a similar venture regarding internationalization.

In this way, we are able to put to paper not only the University's commitment to continuing to be a vital member of the Lethbridge community, but we recognize viable strategies to bolster our community relations activities.

This story first appeared in the March 2013 issue of the Legend. For look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.