The long and arduous road of departmental change

By Eric Fung

The University of Calgary had a varied history in its relatively brief existence and its academic history is no exception. A quick overview of the U of C’s scholastic changes over the years demonstrates this fact.

The U of C’s history as an instructional institution began in 1905, when Alberta became a province and the Alberta Normal School was established in Calgary. This school’s main purpose was to train teachers. The next year, then-Premier Alexander Rutherford designated Edmonton as home to the provincial university and Calgarians unsuccessfully tried to relocate the university to their city. In its place, Calgary College was created in 1910, but upon recommendation of a provincial commission it was not permitted to grant degrees. This essentially left the University of Alberta to provide for the province’s post-secondary education needs.

The Calgary Normal School (formerly the Alberta Normal School) became the Calgary Branch of the U of A in 1945. Initially, it was simply an extension of the U of A’s Faculty of Education, offering the first two years of a BEd program. In terms of an academic program, consider folk dancing and tumbling being offered as Fall Session courses.

In the next decade, the Calgary Branch added more courses: Arts and Sciences [1951], Commerce [1953], and Engineering and Physical Education [1957]. These were all first-year courses and served as additional southern extensions to the U of A, created upon the urging of the Calgary University Committee. It was not until 1962 that full degree study was offered in these areas.

After the University of Calgary achieved autonomy in 1966, more faculties opened. The Faculty of Engineering and the Division of Continuing Education were the first new departments created. In the following years, the final major program additions were completed. The School of Social Welfare [1966], the Faculties of Business, Fine Arts, and Management [1967], Medicine [1970], Environmental Design [1971], and Law [1975] were all established, giving rise to an scholastic landscape not unlike what is currently present at the U of C.

Since 1976, small changes made their way into the university’s academic areas. That year, the Faculty of Arts and Science was split into the University College and the Faculties of Science, Social Sciences, and Humanities. The University College was then renamed the Faculty of General Studies [1981], and again renamed the Faculty of Communication and Culture in 1999. In 1994, the Faculty of Physical Education became the Faculty of Kinesiology to reflect the breadth of studies within the faculty. In 1998, the Latin American Studies program began its own Major program. For a number of years, certain courses such as COMS 201 and ENGL 401 were offered entirely online, with no classroom component. Next year, the Natural Science program will see its first students. These are just a few examples of the U of C advancing in new directions and increasing diversity and accessibility.

New and important developments of today include the implementation of direct entry in Fall 2002, where new students will be able to enter any faculty in their first year given they have the marks to do so, and a fee-based budget system, where faculties will receive funding depending on student enrolment, which may be implemented in just three years. When these new procedures come to life, they will affect the future of the U of C and its academic programs.