University & City: 50 Years

Since its inception, the University of Lethbridge has helped shape the community into what it is now. The university brought a new social dynamic, opportunities, aspirations and a number of new residents: students, faculty members and administrative personnel. The university also spurred urban and economic growth.

In 1967, the U of L became the third university in Alberta, opening its door to 650 students in the Faculties of Education, and Arts and Science. It grew fast in the subsequent years expanding to thousands of students and initiating new programs–Fine Arts, Management, Music and more. In the 1990s, the matured programs began offering graduate degrees and opening branches in Edmonton and Calgary, thus establishing the “destination” model. Fifty years later, the U of L is a leading undergraduate university that drives Lethbridge’s economy through teaching, research and innovation.

The Lethbridge arts and culture scene has been profoundly influenced by the university. The fine art collection, initiated with the acquisition of Expo 67’s Moses sculpture, grew through strategic acquisitions and donations. Today the U of L fine arts collection comprises over 13,000 cultural objects, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Warhol. Considered the richest university art collection in Canada, it offers unique art experiences not only to the students, but to the whole community. Similarly, the university’s music conservatory and theatre have built a strong tradition of community outreach with courses, concerts and specialized art expertise.

Finally, the university has left a strong imprint on the Lethbridge map. The university opened the west side to urban development and created a unique coulee-view campus. Anchored by Arthur Erickson’s University Hall, the campus’ skyline dominates the river canyon and defines the area’s character. In its turn, the campus attracted residential growth, turning the west side into the fasted-growing housing development in Lethbridge today.