University affords great opportunity

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade chats about what's happening in the University community

I consider myself very fortunate to be in a position that affords me the opportunity to meet truly exceptional people from all walks of life. In recent weeks I have shared the company of two such people, Mike Babcock and Ron Sakamoto, who are not only accomplished in their respective fields, but who are personable, genuine and generous friends of the University of Lethbridge.

Babcock headlined the inaugural Calgary Alumni & Friends Dinner, a wonderful affair that packed the grand ballroom at The Westin. Recently crowned as an Olympic champion, Babcock turned the event into a very special evening by taking his audience into the dressing room and behind the bench of the Canadian Men's Olympic Hockey Team. At the same time, his message of humility and being true to your roots, as he is with the strong connection he maintains to the U of L, resonated with the crowd.

If you had told me 10 years ago, when I first came on as President, that we would be able to fill a ballroom of that size, in Calgary, with our alumni, I never would have thought it was possible. We have come a long way in that time and our University is evolving to where we now have alumni who are well into their own careers and are in a position to give back to their alma mater. This is a very important bond that's been established and events like the one in Calgary will only nurture that relationship going further.

Just recently, the University and the Faculty of Fine Arts had a sneak peek at the new digital audio arts studio, and with that came a very valuable contribution from Ron and Joyce Sakamoto. Ron had always said he'd do something significant for the University while I was still President, so this announcement was very special to me and will benefit students for years to come.

Ron is someone I've really enjoyed over the years. He's been a lot of fun to be around and is a keen supporter of the U of L. In 2003, the University granted him an honorary degree and Ron regaled the convocation crowd by yodeling his acceptance speech. It remains one of the three most memorable honorary degree speeches of my time as President. It ranks with Tom Droog's electric presentation and Chava Rosenfarb's heartfelt address, which both took place in 2006. I still cannot listen to Chava's speech without crying.

When I look at the lives of these three unique individuals, they are very similar in that none of them had a formal education and they all have been extremely successful while also using their talents to benefit other people.

On another note, the University continues to hum along with exciting news from every corner of campus. Congratulations to Dr. Robert James Ellis, the new Dean of the Faculty of Management. With a new Dean in place and Markin Hall readying to open, the future is very bright for this Faculty.

As well, congratulations to the people in the Alberta Water and Environmental Sciences Building. The recent announcement of federal funding to support the establishment of a Water and Environmental Sciences Hub and the University's significant role in this project further illustrates the research excellence that exists on campus.