University of Alberta releases its 2011 Report to the Community

(Edmonton) On May 9, University of Alberta staff were joined at the Westin Hotel by various university stakeholders to get an update on the university’s accomplishments and challenges from the last year, and to hear an outline the year ahead.

The evening, which included the sharing of the U of A’s 2011 report to the community, Serving Through Knowledge, saw President Indira Samarasekera speak to a long list of accomplishments, starting with the continuation of the university’s first-rate teaching and research environment while administrators continue to put an emphasis upon face-to-face contact between students and professors.

“I am pleased to report that more than 60 per cent of our undergraduate classes now have 25 students or less and more than 80 per cent of our undergraduate classes have 50 students or less,” said Samarasekera. “We continue to receive accolades for the high quality of undergraduate teachers on campus.”

Some of the highlights of the past year also included:

- Two faculty members—Billy Strean and Scott North—received 3M National Teaching awards, Canada’s highest teaching award. This brings the U of A’s total to 34, 13 more than any other university.

- U of A students have access to some of the world’s leading thinkers in fields as diverse as carbon sequestration to Islamic studies to print making.

- In the spring of 2010, the U of A boosted its faculty and research capacity when it succeeded in securing four new Canada Excellence Research Chairs—the greatest number of any campus in the country. In this new federal funding program, each of the U of A’s four CERCs will receive $10 million over seven years to build on the U of A’s already established excellence in oilsands, Arctic, virology and diamond extraction research.   

- The U of A has expanded the Helmholtz Alberta Initiative, a partnership formed in 2009 with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, and supported by a $25 million investment from the Alberta government. This partnership initially focused on research related to the sustainable development of the oilsands and other heavy hydrocarbon resources, but has moved into areas such as infectious disease and neuroscience.

In addition to strong government investment, Samarasekera singled out the historical support from donors in the past year, which included a $28 million gift from the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation—the largest cash donation in the university’s history—to establish the Li Ka Shing Institute for Virology. The university also received a 5,000 hectare ranch in southeast Alberta from Edwin and Ruth Mattheis—the largest land gift ever given to a Canadian university, as well as the home of Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart, which capped a philanthropic legacy now equal to an unprecedented $100 million in donations and gifts in kind.

“The fact that donors, governments and other partners are willing to invest so much in the U of A is humbling—and we are very grateful,” said Samarasekera. “With your support, the U of A’s impact continues to grow within this city, across the province and country, and increasingly throughout the world.”

Full text of the president’s speech, remarks from Chancellor Linda Hughes and a link to the 2011 Report to the Community, can be found at the official blog of the U of A: Colloquy.

Report to the Community: