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The Turning Point
(1960 - 1975)



    The suggestion that the whole of the School of Commerce should be moved to Calgary reappeared in 1960.  In part, the issue must be seen in the context of growing pressure by Calgary since it now had its own University.  Moreover, while the University of Alberta was growing, the anticipated growth was relatively small and there were some who argued that Calgary was the most logical choice for a School of Business.  A minor (but personal) point should be noted.  One reason for the renewed public interest in the topic was that, in the fall of 1960, I had met a colleague (Frank Dolphin) who, at that time, was working as a radio announcer for CBC.  Frank had asked me what, if anything new, was happening at the University.  I made a casual remark to Frank that there was the possibility of Commerce moving to Calgary and is presented in its entirety  Some years later Walter Johns mentioned to me that he was thunderstruck when Frank had phoned and asked to comment about the rumour.  I must confess I didn’t have the heart to tell Walter it had been my comments that triggered Frank’s call!
Partially as a result of this renewed interest Walter Johns took the opportunity of raising the issue in a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on December 7, 1960.  His talk, while relatively brief, reviewed some of the pros and cons of moving Commerce to Calgary.
A.  Arguments for the Move
1.    The campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton is becoming overcrowded and we shall very soon be unable to find further sites for new buildings with parking areas adjacent to them.  With this prospect facing us, we must look into alternatives which include the following.

(a)    Expanding the campus beyond its present area by e.g. finding space in the present Garneau district east of 112th Street and north of 87th Avenue.

(b)    Finding space on such areas as the University farm on land now owned by the University.

(c)    Developing Junior Colleges throughout the Province and extending affiliation with colleges now in existence which may desire to affiliate with the University.

(d)    Moving some of the Faculties to Calgary where the campus has plenty of room.

2.    The last suggestion made above seems to offer the best short-range solution.  If we adopt it, what Faculties should be moved?  We cannot easily move those Faculties and Departments which have a heavy capital investment such as the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology, with the professional Schools most closely associated with them, including the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Engineering and Agriculture, and the Schools of Physical Education, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Nursing and Household Economics.  The Faculties that can be moved most easily are obviously those without heavy capital investment and without the intimate association with the Departments which have such investment.  The most obvious of these Faculties are Commerce and Law.
3.    With respect to the Faculty of Commerce, a move to Calgary would have certain advantages:

(a)    It would be closer to the Banff School of Advanced Management with which it must continually collaborate.
(b)    It would be closer to the headquarters of many business groups, particularly those connected with the oil industry.
(c)    It would have room for expansion in a building of its own.
4.    With respect to the Faculty of Law, the advantages are not immediately so apparent except that it would be possible on the Calgary campus to provide more room for growth in a new building designed specifically for the Faculty of Law or for the Faculty of Law jointly with the Faculty of Commerce.

5.    On the Calgary campus, the Faculties of Commerce and Law would have close association with the Faculties of Arts and Science and of Education, and would not be so overshadowed by the other Faculties as would be the case in Edmonton.

6.    By moving these two Faculties to Calgary, we should in part avoid that growth in Edmonton beyond optimum size which will take place by 1965 if measures are not taken to limit it in some way.

B.  Arguments Against the Move

1.    The move would undoubtedly be disruptive to the private lives of the members of the staff engaged in teaching in these Faculties.

2.    The removal of Commerce and Law from the University in Edmonton would be a distinct loss to both Faculty and Student organizations.

3.    Such removal would mean a significant loss to the Community as a whole, though this would be counterbalanced by growth in the other Faculties.

4.    Both Faculties would be removed from the centre of the Government of the Province.  This would be of particular disadvantage to the Faculty of Law whose students at the present time have the advantage of working in the Legislative Library, seeing the Legislature at work during the Sessions, and consulting with the Attorney-General’s Department and other Departments of Government from time to time.

In this whole matter, we must remember that the University of Alberta is a provincial institution and not the private preserve of either the City of Edmonton or the City of Calgary.  We must ensure that whatever is done, serves the Province as a whole and the University as a whole in the best way possible.  Now that the matter has come out into the open, we have had a number of editorials in the daily press on this matter.  The editorial in the Edmonton Journal was, perhaps naturally, opposed to the move.  Similarly, the editorials in the Calgary Herald and The Albertan commented most favorably on the suggestion.  In both instances, I think it is clear that the editors were thinking primarily of the advantages to their respective cities rather than to the student body and the Community of the Province as a whole….”
[UAA, 78-156, 2-315-5, Box 18]

Until Calgary became an independent university, its Commerce program continued to be an integral part of the University of Alberta Program.  From a personal viewpoint, I was appointed Assistant Dean and had moved to Calgary in the fall of 1962 in order to expand the program.  Given that I was an Associate Dean and that the total number of academics was in the order of 100 people, I was asked to serve on a number of committees.  One which I recall was the “Committee on Committees”, whose role was to make sure committee membership was widely distributed.  When the Committee on Committees first met, the data indicated that some twenty individuals served on committees; a year later, the number of individuals serving on committees had not increased.

Needless to say, being an Assistant Dean was both a challenging and interesting assignment since the whole University of Calgary, at that time, was housed in only three buildings.  Since only the first two years of the Commerce program were offered in Calgary, students then went to other universities to finish their degrees, with the majority completing their degrees in Edmonton.  Of importance at this point in time was that the University of Alberta indicated, explicitly, that the Calgary Campus was to remain a ‘branch’ of the University of Alberta with reference to the Faculty of Commerce.  In a letter of December 27, 1962, from Walter Johns to Hu Harries, Walter refers to a meeting of the Board of Governors.  His letter states,

    “The general feeling of the Board was that present developments in Commerce indicate that there will be a continuing growth in this Faculty over the years on both campuses and that nothing would be gained by moving the senior staff members and the third and fourth year of the curriculum to Calgary when, in a short time, we may anticipate independent developments there which could justify the offering of third and fourth year on that campus.

    “The Board therefore agreed that the main program at the present time should continue to be offered on the Edmonton campus and that developments in Calgary should be watched closely with a view to adding the third and fourth year there when circumstances seem to demand it.”
[UAA, 69-123, 120, Box 8] 

However, there was also growing pressure from Calgary to become independent. Walter Johns notes in his history.

    “The rapid growth of the Calgary campus was giving rise to please for greater independence.  The first overt and public statement of any significance came from the Honourable Mr. Justice C.C. McLaurin, later Chancellor of the University of Calgary, who, in an address to the students on the evening of Saturday, 30 March, appealed to the old feelings of rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton and advised the students to make their views on independence known.  They took his advice, and the Board of Governors at the meeting on the Calgary campus on 5 April were entertained by processions of students carrying placards reading “Freedom” and “Autonomy for U.A.C.”
[Walter Johns, Op. Cit., p. 342]
Despite these statements, the Calgary relationship was not to be that readily resolved.  On September 9, 1963, Walter Johns again wrote to Hu Harries,

    “I have written today to Principal Taylor of the University of Alberta, Calgary, asking him to let me know the basis on which the U.A.C. Calendar for 1963-64 carries the statement under the heading Faculty of Commerce that “Students admitted in 1963 can expect to complete the four-year program in Calgary”.  I was not aware that there had been official approval of this and I find that Dean Armstrong, the Registrar and Professor Kyle also found it to be somewhat of a surprise to them.  I think it would be well for us to wait until I have a reply to my letter to Dr. Taylor before taking any action but I thought I should let you know that I had written and also ask you whether the matter had come to your attention prior to the publication in the calendar.”
[UAA, 69-123, 1037, Box 57, RG3]

On April 24, 1964, Hu Harries wrote to Walter Johns outlining some concerns with the Calgary situation.  The crux of the recommendations put forward by Hu on behalf of the Executive Committee of The Faculty of Business in Edmonton was that the University of Calgary should establish a Department of Commerce housed in the Faculty of Arts; that a Department head be appointed; that, as the Department grew and offered a four-year program, it would then become a School; and that, eventually, the entity would become a Faculty. 

What is of interest is that the ‘pattern’ of development at the University of Calgary was much like that which had occurred in Edmonton although the changes were much more rapid since Calgary became a university on April 1, 1966, and its School of Commerce became a Faculty in 1967.

The recommendations put forward by Walter Johns were based on three major points: 

1)    that there was a growing divergence between the Commerce programs in Calgary and Edmonton;
2)    that Edmonton personnel had to do considerable commuting to teach in Calgary;
3)    an administrative officer position in Calgary would not allow for good control of programming and eventual growth to Faculty Status.
He went on, “ … I hope as Calgary matures on an independent basis, we may be of assistance in helping through experience gained in our own growth.”
[UAA, 69-123, 1037, RG3, Box 57]

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"My own impression is that we should look forward in the not distant future to some organization corresponding to a School of Commerce of which this might very well form a part. Commercial Departments in connection with Universities have so far not been successful in Canada, although I believe that after some years now the one at McGill is making some progress."

- Dr Tory, First President of the UofA
16 January 1919