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UAC gains autonomy

The University of Calgary is born

The University of Calgary was created as an autonomous provincial university in 1966 when the Universities Act received royal assent in the Alberta Legislature on April 15th. Formerly known as the University of Alberta at Calgary, or UAC, the institution had been a satellite campus of the University of Alberta since 1945. The day after it received autonomy, Herbert Stoker Armstrong was installed by Lieutenant Governor Grant MacEwan as the first President and Vice-Chancellor of the new university, during a Special Convocation held at the Jubilee Auditorium. As required by the Universities Act, the University of Calgary established its own Board of Governors and F.C. Manning was appointed as its first Chair. A Senate was also established and the Honourable Chief Justice Colin Campbell McLaurin was elected first chancellor.

During his installation ceremony President Armstrong presented the new university with its Coat of Arms and motto. The Coat of Arms was granted to the university by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh, Scotland as a heraldic symbol of the new institution. Included in the arms' design was a bull's head and crossed flags, reminiscent of the family crest of NWMP Lt. Colonel Macleod, who founded Fort Calgary; a wild rose, symbolizing Alberta; open books, representing scholarship; and the university's newly chosen Gaelic motto: Mo shuile togam suas -- I will lift up my eyes. The chosen colours were gold, representing golden sunshine or golden grain; and scarlet, for the North West Mounted Police under whose influence Western Canada was settled.

Full-time student enrolment in 1966 was approximately 4000 students, but anticipated growth resulted in the continuing development of its campus facilities.  New buildings completed or under construction in 1966 included the Students’ Union Building, Blocks F and G of Calgary Hall (renamed Craigie Hall in 1987), Blocks B, C and D of the Engineering Building, the Education Block and Tower, the Central Heating and Cooling plant and the University Theatre. The university’s programs were also expanding to accommodate demand and 1966 saw the Banff School of Fine Arts become affiliated with the University of Calgary, and the establishment of the School of Social Welfare and the ‘Environmental Sciences Centre’ at Kananaskis. This new university was off to a running start!

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

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