May 2, 2016
Lively festivities launch a year of 50th Anniversary celebrations
From posing at a glittery photo booth and taking selfies with living gold statues to learning about urban design, public health and the intricacies of the biosphere, there were lots of ways to celebrate University of Calgary’s 50th Anniversary Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff — past and present — poured into the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building to join the festivities, complete with taiko drummers, the University of Calgary jazz combo and artists from the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Upstairs, guests explored displays showcasing the breadth of research and scholarship at the university — everything from cleaning wastewater, novel classroom technologies and techniques, solar-powered vehicles, and human physiology to advanced robotics, astrophysics, DNA extraction, and a magnificent display of rare butterflies.
At the Human Performance Lab display, a woman in three-inch heels fired a puck into a net while her shot was measured. At an archeology display, a row of children pressed their noses against a case of bones. “A lot of the little kids think that we only deal in dinosaurs,” says graduate student Tatyanna Ewald as she rearranged bison bones on the counter. “We’ve had a lot of people through and the kids like to fit the bones together like puzzle pieces.”
Karen Delaney was impressed with the beauty of bacteria at the Petri Dish Picasso display she found next to the Olympic Oval showcase. “I was mesmerized,” says the staff member in the Faculty of Kinesiology. “They take E.coli bacteria and make it into art. It’s amazing.
‘It’s wonderful to see so many people out celebrating’
In the lobby, between posing for photos with students, Mayor Naheed Nenshi reflected on his days as an undergraduate and a volunteer at the university’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. “I am now the first UCalgary alumnus to serve as mayor of Calgary,” he says. “It’s my school and it’s wonderful to see so many people out celebrating.” During his remarks a little later, the mayor underscored how great cities need great universities like the University of Calgary and formally proclaimed April 29, 2016 as “University of Calgary Day” to huge applause.
“I’ve never been to a university’s 50th anniversary celebration before,” says Bruce Barton, director of the university’s School of Creative and Performing Arts and champion of several pop-up music, dance and drama performances in the building over the afternoon. “UCalgary has such strong forward momentum and clarity about what it wants to achieve.”
That momentum started building long before the University of Calgary was created in April 1966. Professor Emeritus Finley Campbell helped lobby the provincial government for autonomy in the 1960s and worked closely with more than half of the university’s presidents over the years. “There was the opportunity for a bright future and to make a big difference and that’s really what happened,” says the former head of the Department of Geology and three-time vice-president, who made a special effort to be at the celebrations and whose wheelchair was surrounded by admirers. “I have confidence that the challenges ahead will be met with a lot of force.”
Kicking off a year of activity
In her remarks, President Elizabeth Cannon expressed her gratitude to the campus community, thanking all the “everyday heroes, past and present” who have contributed to the university’s tremendous growth and “wonderful success” over the decades. “Happy Anniversary to all of us,” she said. “This is just the start of the celebration; we have a year filled with activities that showcase the university and your great work here.”
Marcel Rodriguez left the party with a grin on his face and a little red cupcake in his hand. “I am really impressed with this university,” says the PhD student in mechanical engineering. “You have the research, you have the technology, you have the people. It’s really exciting to be part of the University of Calgary.”
The celebrations were repeated later Friday evening, when more than 900 alumni, campus and community leaders (past and present), supporters and donors, dignitaries and friends filled EEEL once again.