Welcoming Shirley

Chancellor-elect Shirley McClellan wants everyone to know that she is more than aware of the distance from her farm in New Brigden, Alta. to Lethbridge.

Her family made the more than 400 km drive regularly while her daughter Tami (BEd '89) attended the U of L. She also has four hockey-playing grandchildren who travel to Lethbridge and southern Alberta on a regular basis. Indeed, the former politician, rural advocate and veteran community volunteer has been on the road as much as some long distance truck drivers.

Since leaving the Government of Alberta in 2007, after a 20-year career as a member of the Alberta Legislature, McClellan has matched her interests in farming and education with a long tradition of community service, most recently as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Alberta's Rural Economy/ALES Faculty Office and The School of Business.

"I am very honoured to be selected to serve as the U of L's Chancellor," says McClellan, who was elected by the University of Lethbridge Senate on Feb. 5. "I've had a strong affinity for the U of L which dates back to my days not only as a parent of a U of L student, but in the continuing education field, where we worked with the University and the college in the early days of Campus Alberta to develop credit programming for rural communities."

McClellan says that over the years, she has followed the development of the U of L's water research programming with a lot of interest.

"I was Minister of Agriculture twice, and in my area of the province, water and irrigation issues are critical to the success of the agriculture industry. The U of L is a real leader in that area, and many more. I am looking forward to participating in as many activities as possible to help tell the U of L story."

McClellan has been involved in bringing advanced education to rural areas, serving on the board of directors for the Alberta Association of Continuing Education and the Canadian Association for Continuing Education. She also served as co-ordinator of the Big Country Further Education Council for 12 years, among other volunteer roles.

"I've also been involved in the development of the Prairie Baseball Academy, which serves students at both the U of L and Lethbridge College," says McClellan. "A lot of young people who had academic talent as well as baseball skills had to go to the United States, and this model has really shown what they can do. I really like that they develop the whole student, not just the sports aspect. It's exciting to see more of these academies develop in such places as Vauxhall and Oyen."

She adds that as a proponent of Campus Alberta, she was aware that the U of L has always shown strength in the area of developing strategic liaisons with other institutions.

"I really want that process of collaboration to continue in as many ways as possible," says McClellan.

U of L president Mike Mahon says McClellan's small-town roots will be a great benefit to the University. Students come from all over the country to attend the U of L, and many of them are from smaller communities, so it is helpful to have a Chancellor that relates to their circumstance.

"Shirley appreciates the challenges they face and the interests they have," says Mahon. "We are fortunate to have her on our team."


• McClellan served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Drumheller-Stettler constituency from 1987 to 2007. During that time she had a number of diverse portfolios, including finance minister. She also served as deputy premier.

• McClellan is a member of the Olds College Board of Governors, and is active in the governance of Horse Racing Alberta.

• McClellan now farms near New Brigden, Alta., with her family, which includes husband Lloyd, son Mick and daughter Tami (BEd 89) who, with her spouse Jeff, have four children ages 10 to 14.

• Several community organizations have named facilities in McClellan's honour, in particular Olds College, which unveiled the Shirley McClellan Riding arena in 2009. The town of Oyen also dedicated their aquatic centre to her.

• In 2010, McClellan received an honorary degree from the U of L.

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