Campus Life

Wilma G. Winter Hall dedicated in honour of founding faculty member

Recognizing the significant contributions of founding faculty member Dr. Wilma Gail Winter, the University of Lethbridge has dedicated a space in her legacy.

Dr. Wilma Gail Winter was a true trailblazer, assuming leadership roles on campus at a time when very few women were afforded such opportunities.

As one of the last orders of business to conclude the University’s 50th anniversary, the U of L’s Board of Governors passed a resolution in December 2017 to name the area that encompasses the offices, classrooms and laboratory spaces of the Department of Kinesiology as Wilma G. Winter Hall.

“I think she’d be embarrassed, and I think she’d be very moved,” says Dr. Dayna Daniels, a retired professor from the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education and a longtime colleague and friend of Winter, who passed away in 2009. “She was a very quiet leader, a great colleague to me and just one of those real unsung women changemakers on campus.”

Winter obtained a Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta and a Master of Education and a Doctorate of Education at the University of Oregon before becoming a founding faculty member of the U of L. She coached the U of L’s first ever national championship team, the 1971 women’s basketball Chinooks, and played an integral role in shaping the delivery of physical education at the U of L, both as a faculty member and Chair of what was then the Physical Education Department.

A trailblazer, Winter was one of the first faculty members to sit on the University’s Board of Governors. At a time when few women were afforded leadership roles, Winter made her mark as a member of the General Faculties Council, was Chief Marshal of Convocation and the University’s first female Athletic Director.

“I think she was a quiet feminist,” says Daniels. “She recognized the importance of women’s contributions to things. She always kept pushing forward and didn’t ever want anything for herself. She was funny, hard-working, a creative thinker, and really cared about the students.”

Winter’s contributions went beyond campus and into the community. Her enthusiasm and leadership qualities led to her involvement in many charitable endeavors. She was a Chair of the Provincial Special Olympics Games, Co-Chair of the Provincial Senior Games, and Chair of the Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival.

At the time of her passing, she was President of the Lethbridge Duplicate Bridge Club and past board member of the Lethbridge Country Club, the YWCA, and the 1st Choice Credit Union.

In 2005, The Province of Alberta honoured Winter with the Alberta Centennial Medal for her community involvement and she was also chosen as the YWCA Woman of Distinction for her volunteerism and leadership skills.

“The thing that I find interesting right now is that there are only one or two people left in the department who would even remember her. People don’t know her and I think that’s a little sad,” says Daniels. “I’m quite grateful that her legacy on this campus won’t be forgotten, that there will always be a building space named after her. People are always still asking who’s Hepler, who’s Turcotte, who’s Anderson and I think that’s very good. Now they’ll be saying who’s Winter – and her legacy will live on.”