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One hundred years later, as we celebrated our Centenary in 2008, our university community spent a year reflecting on our history of graduates and achievements and our growth over the years into a formidable institution close to 40,000 students secure, into one of the top research universities in North America and one of top 100 public universities in the world. The University of Alberta is a Top 5 Canadian university and one of the Top 100 in the world, home to more than 170 graduate programs, 200 undergraduate programs, and 400 active student groups.

The early years, under the careful guidance of Tory, who served as President of the University of Alberta from 1908 to 1928, were fruitful ones in which Tory recruited the University’s first professors and organized the construction of the first university buildings, starting with Athabasca Hall in 1911. These years also saw the shadow of the First World War fall over campus life and the dark specter of the 1918 influenza epidemic. Both events took their toll on the university population, and the 1918 epidemic led to a two-month cessation of university classes and activities in the autumn of that year.2 Despite setbacks brought on by these events, the University emerged from these trials more reliable than ever, and both building construction and population growth continued

The University of Alberta has had the vision to be one of the world’s great universities for the public good since its inception. This University is dedicated to the promise made by founding president Henry Marshall Tory that “… knowledge shall not be the concern of scholars alone. The uplifting of the whole people shall be its final goal.”

This vision endures as the University strives to improve the lives of people in Alberta, across Canada, and around the world. The university motto, quaecumque vera, means “whatsoever things are true” and is taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 8, in the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible.

Within a vibrant and supportive learning environment, the University of Alberta discovers, disseminates, and applies new knowledge through teaching and learning, research and creative activity, community involvement, and partnerships. The U of A gives a national and international voice to innovation in our province, taking a lead role in placing Canada at the global forefront.

The period from the 1970s to the present day has been a time of continued growth. French instruction in Arts, Science, and Education on campus found a home at the Collège Saint-Jean (since called the Faculté Saint-Jean and most recently, the Campus Saint-Jean), beginning in 1970. In 1984, Aboriginal education was formally added to the university mandate in the form of the School of Native Studies. While construction of new buildings on campus slowed during this time, building projects started in the 1960s, like that of the Biological Sciences Centre and the Central Academic Building (CAB) were completed in the early 1970s, while older buildings like Athabasca, Pembina, and Convocation Halls, and the Arts Building were given much-needed renovations throughout the late 1970s and 1980s.

In the last decade of the 20th century, the University fell under financial siege when the government of Alberta introduced a series of cutbacks to university funding. The costs of university administration came under scrutiny. Many university faculties and departments found themselves compelled to merge to reduce costs while struggling to maintain a high level of educational quality for incoming students. Tuition fees were increased following the implementation of the provincial tuition fee policy in 1991, an ongoing increase that continues to generate controversy among university staff and students to the present day.

Despite these challenges, the University of Alberta continues to evolve and adopt a fresh vision for the future one, which embraces the potential of the University’s many research projects to bolster the Alberta economy. This new spirit is embodied in current campus construction projects like the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT). This new center of research is a symbol of the partnership between the University of Alberta and the governments of Alberta and Canada, but, more importantly, it is a place that will draw new scientific talent and creative industrial potential to the province.

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