Williams says support offers a brighter big picture

In the 20-plus years that Lorne Williams has worked and studied at the University of Lethbridge, he’s seen some significant changes. The University has grown, introduced new programs and Faculties, expanded to Alberta’s two largest cities, and become renowned as one of the top-research universities in the country. But for all the positive changes that have occurred, Williams says there is one particular thing close to his heart that requires our collective attention – the stress level of many students on campus.

“Having worked every day with student residents in the past, teaching in the classroom and having lived the university experience myself, I know how difficult student life can be,” says Williams. “It’s more expensive than ever to attend university and students today are under more conflicting demands than ever before. A little bit of assistance goes a long way, and the benefits are something we reap as a society.”

Williams is a long-time monthly contributor to the U of L’s Supporting Our Student (SOS) fund – a cause he feels so passionate about he is the co-Chair of the 2013/14 SOS campaign.

Lorne Williams and Linda Embury are co-Chairs of the Supporting Our Students campaign.

“Students are the reason we’re here,” says Williams about U of L faculty and staff. “Our job as instructors and administrators is to facilitate student success, and that goal has to reach beyond the classroom. In giving to SOS we help students go forward and become positive forces in the external community.”

As assistant dean of northern campuses, a position he accepted after more than a decade as a director, instructor and coordinator at the U of L Calgary campus, Williams has a unique perspective on student life. He says the realities of achieving a post-secondary education are especially diverse and complicated for students.

“There is a huge non-traditional student base today. Many students work full time while pursuing their education, out of sheer necessity in a lot of cases. They have families and other major responsibilities on top of their course work. It’s a lot to juggle, and students struggle because of it. Anything we can do to help alleviate some of that pressure is important and worthwhile, and contributing to SOS does that.”

Having earned four degrees, including a Bachelor of Management and Master of Education from the U of L, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Calgary and a Master of Arts from Royal Roads University, all while balancing a professional career and family, Williams personally empathizes with students and sees his contributions to SOS as a small part of a bigger picture.

“University education is meant for everyone. We have a role to fulfill, an obligation to society – we exist to make communities better,” he says. “The lifeblood of any community is the people who live there, and the U of L is a community filled with citizens who take what they learn here out to the world. We have a responsibility to foster our people. Contributing to SOS, in large or small ways, is a fantastic way of doing that.”