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Research reputation and capacity grow exponentially

External research grants double in value to $1.8 million from previous year

Only one year after it was established as an autonomous institution, the fledgling University of Calgary was fast becoming known in Canadian university circles for its research activities and its ability to attract support from external organizations. In 1967, the University was successful in obtaining $1.8 million in grants from federal and private agencies, more than double what it had received the previous year. Funding support was provided primarily by the National Research Council, the Defence Research Board, the Canada Council, the Government of Canada, the local oil and gas industry, and the Canadian Heart Foundation. In addition, graduate students received $180,000 in scholarships from provincial and national competitions to support their studies.  

The research topics pursued by University of Calgary academics covered a broad range of subjects across all disciplines, but one study undertaken in the Department of Psychology attracted particular attention in the local media because of its research subjects. Dr R.E. Franken’s research into exploratory behavior and learning employed two young raccoons to assist him in formulating tests for children.  Raccoons’ natural curiosity and exploration behavior made them ideal subjects for the study, which aimed to identify colour and shape stimuli attractive to children of different ages.  “If we can ascertain these preferences and make use of the preferred stimulus objects in our teaching methods, the process of learning can be greatly speeded up”, explained Dr Franken.  

The University also celebrated the successful launch of the Environmental Sciences Centre (Kananaskis) which, like the University, completed its first year of operations. The interdisciplinary centre focused on teaching and research on the natural environment, and involved academics from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Geology and Geography. Buildings had been erected, apparatus accumulated, and the research potentials of the Centre were being shaped as support from national and international agencies was being attracted. The Centre was designed with students in mind to such an extent that no accommodation for Faculty was included in the plans and two trailers had to be purchased in order to mitigate the oversight! 

By Lisa Atkinson, Archivist, University of Calgary Archives and Special Collections

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