Pioneer Holmes looks back at University's beginnings

A chemist, teacher, and university administrator, Dr. Owen Holmes (LLD '05) helped shape the character of the University of Lethbridge as a liberal arts institution.

Holmes began his career as a research chemist, making significant discoveries in electron spectroscopy, before turning to teaching and administration on the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan. He later moved to the Lethbridge Junior College, where he became acting principal, and then Dean of the Academic Section and Professor of Chemistry. When the Academic Section of the college became the nucleus of the University of Lethbridge, Holmes was the institution's first dean of Arts and Science. He went on to become the vice-president (academic) of the U of L, in which capacity he served for a decade.

As an academic leader of the University of Lethbridge, he infused the academic and administrative sides of the institution with the philosophy of liberal education. His great achievement was to create a successful liberal education program, the first in western Canadian post-secondary education and an approach that was less than popular at the time.

Many of the ideas Holmes implemented - liberal arts education, small class sizes, independent research opportunities, and student-professor interaction - have shaped the unique character of the U of L and have persisted in the institution to this day.

Holmes's leadership and vision contributed immensely to the success of the fledgling University of Lethbridge, and he has dedicated much of his career to creating and consolidating the U of L's reputation of academic excellence.

As he neared retirement, Holmes embarked on a new career as an archivist for the U of L and the City of Lethbridge. When he retired from the University of Lethbridge, he continued to serve in educational and social service agencies in Lethbridge.