Breaking new ground in leadership

Peter Lougheed Leadership College marks milestone as construction begins on its future home.


(Edmonton) Leadership is often characterized as a journey, and today marked a milestone for the students whose leadership journey is starting at the University of Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Leadership College.

These students joined with faculty, administrators, dignitaries and supporters in Adair Park on the eastern edge of North Campus to celebrate the construction of Peter Lougheed Hall, the future home of the only undergraduate leadership development program in Alberta.

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada and founding principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, thanked the “extraordinary people of vision” who have pulled together to bring into being the interdisciplinary program that will admit its first cohort of students this September, and the innovative facility scheduled for completion in 2017.

“While we often speak about the role in the university in uplifting the whole people, what’s really wonderful is when we have an enterprise that’s uplifted by the whole people and this whole community—students, faculty, administrators, facilities people and generous, generous donors, people whose heart is in the University of Alberta. You are all making it possible,” Campbell said.

The pioneer class of the program comprises third-year students from various faculties and campuses who will augment the last two years of their regular program of study with two leadership classes per year, along with lectures, seminars, retreats and project work. Campbell said the leadership training experience will have a broader impact at the university than on just the students enrolled in the program.

“The bottom line of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College is that, as we create content and gain experience in cultivating leadership in students, we can share it around the campus; we can support other faculties that want to create programs themselves. Everyone here is thinking of how we can constructively add to the value of leadership training at the U of A.”

U of A President Indira Samarasekera noted that this would be her last public event as president, and said she was pleased to celebrate the milestone with students from the pioneer class.

“I cannot imagine a more fitting close to my official duties. I first began thinking about how to embed the theme of leadership into the fabric of this institution when I was preparing for my interview for president nearly 11 years ago,” Samarasekera said. “I will watch the development of each person in the pioneer class with great interest. Just as a building will slowly be erected on the concrete foundation that lies behind us, their own capacities to lead will begin to take shape, develop steady walls and open windows. The view promises to be fantastic.”

Justin Draper, a third-year political science student at the U of A’s Augustana Campus, said he’s especially excited to be part of the leadership program’s pioneer class because he’ll have a hand in creating the leadership development experience of subsequent cohorts.

“When people think of leadership, they often think of politicians or CEOs, but leadership can happen at many levels, in all our personal and professional relationships,” he said. “My fellow students and I believe it’s something everyone can do, and it’s an honour to be part of the group that will help discover and shape the way the Peter Lougheed Leadership College trains the leaders of tomorrow.”