Governance and Development
The University of Alberta was a bold dream conceived by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first Premier of Alberta, and Henry Marshall Tory, a professor of mathematics and physics at McGill University in Montreal. Without the development of the university’s governing and administrative bodies, Rutherford’s and Tory’s dream would have remained little more than an abstraction.
Overall governance of the University of Alberta was established soon after the passing of An Act to Establish and Incorporate a University for the Province of Alberta, (also known as the University Act) by the Alberta Legislature in May of 1906. Rutherford, who had corresponded extensively with Tory over the type of university Alberta should have—publicly funded, non-denominational, co-educational—immediately approached Tory to take the position of university president in November 1906;the University Act, however, did not make provisions for the appointment until the legislation was amended the following year.* Rutherford saw in Tory a man of vision needed by the fledgling university to help it grow, and, in turn, Tory saw a magnificent opportunity to create the ideal post-secondary institution. Tory left his position at McGill and started as the University of Alberta’s first President in January 1908.
Under Rutherford and Tory’s guidance, the University of Alberta established its first governing body. The first University Senate was convened on March 30, 1908. Its members consisted of a combination of elected and appointed officials, including the first elected Chancellor, Charles Allan Stuart. The first order of business for the Senate was to authorize the hiring of lecturers and professors for the University and to further the development of the University administration.
In 1910, under President Tory’s direction, a new draft of the University Act was put before the Alberta Legislature. Rutherford had resigned his post as Premier earlier in 1910. The new version of the University Act was passed by the Alberta Legislature under Premier Arthur Sifton in December, creating the University’s Board of Governors. Thus, the main administration of the University of Alberta was established, with the President and Board of Governors responsible for the business and financial operations of the University and the Chancellor and Senate overseeing academic issues, including the establishment of faculties and departments.
The first (and, until 1912, only) faculty at the University of Alberta was the Faculty of Arts and Science. This was followed by the addition of the Faculty of Law and the Department of Extension in 1912, the Faculty of Applied Science (now the Faculty of Engineering) and the Faculty of Medicine in 1913, and the Faculty of Agriculture in 1915. The University has gradually and steadily added new faculties and schools since then. Many of the faculties, in turn, are subdivided into specific teaching departments. But it is not only the faculties, schools, and departments of the University of Alberta that act as places of learning on campus. There are also the libraries and archives, museums and collections services, and numerous affiliated institutions, centres, and institutes both on and off campus. The virtual world for the University of Alberta has expanded as well, and the University plays host to numerous websites, podcasts, and online materials.
- * McLeod, Rod. "Mr. Rutherford's University" from "The History of the University of Alberta" (unpublished manuscript).