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University of Regina

Regina College, 1928.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B7313

The University of Regina traces its origins to 1911, when the Methodist Church established Regina College to offer high school education to the young people of the city and surrounding area. The school was located on College Avenue at the south edge of the downtown district and across Wascana Lake from the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. In 1925 the college affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan and began to offer the first year of the Bachelor of Arts degree. Ernest Stapleford, President of the College (1915–37), hoped to expand the academic program to a full degree course, but President Walter Murray of the University of Saskatchewan firmly and successfully opposed the plan: he did not want to relinquish Saskatoon’s monopoly on university education in the province.

The Depression of the 1930s brought Regina College to the brink of bankruptcy. With considerable reluctance, the college agreed in 1934 to a takeover by the University of Saskatchewan. While the arrangement provided financial security, it postponed for a generation the dream of attaining university status. In March 1954 a group of citizens gathered at City Hall to form the Regina College Citizens’ Committee. Led by lawyer George H. Barr and including individuals from a variety of community organizations, the group lobbied for a full degree program in Regina. In 1959 their efforts were finally rewarded: the University of Saskatchewan, under heavy pressure from increasing baby boom enrolments, decided to allow the expansion to proceed. The second year of the BA program was introduced in the fall of 1961, and the third year in the fall of 1964. On July 1, 1961, Regina College officially became the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. The university hired architect Minoru Yamasaki to draw up a master plan for the development of a new campus on a 300-acre site on the southeast edge of the city. The Classroom and Laboratory Buildings were completed in the summer of 1965, followed rapidly by the Physical Education Centre in 1966, the Library in 1967, the Education Building in 1969, a temporary Student Services’ Building in 1969, College West in 1972, and the Administration/Humanities Building in 1973. In addition, there were two federated colleges, the Roman Catholic Campion College and Luther College, whose buildings opened respectively in 1968 and 1971.

As the planning and construction of the campus proceeded, new professional programs were added to the Arts and Science core. The Board of Governors approved the establishment of a Faculty of Education in 1964. This was followed a year later by the School of Public and Business Administration, which evolved in 1968 into the Faculty of Administration. The Faculty of Engineering was established in 1965, the Faculty of Graduate Studies in 1968, and the School of Social Work began offering courses in 1973. The number of full-time faculty members increased from 23 in 1959 to 308 in 1972; full-time student enrolment soared from 327 to 4,009 over the same period. Despite numerous attempts to devise an organizational structure that met the needs of both the Regina Campus and the Saskatoon Campus, it soon became apparent that the one-university model was not working. The provincial government in 1973 appointed a Royal Commission on University Organization and Structure, chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Emmett Hall. The Commission reported that it had found “two campus groups warring within the bosom of a single university” and recommended the establishment of two separate institutions. This became reality on July 1, 1974, when the University of Regina came into existence.

After a lull in enrolment in the 1970s, the number of full-time (or full-time equivalent) students began to increase, rising from 4,762 in 1982 to 7,615 in 1992 to 12,447 (9,428 full-time and 3,019 part-time) in 2003. In 1976 the University of Regina entered into an agreement with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations to recognize and support the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which has since evolved into the First Nations University of Canada. New programs have been added over the years, such as Journalism, Film and Video, Human Justice, and Kinesiology and Health Studies. The Language Institute Building went up in 1991, and the W.A. Riddell Centre, housing the Faculty of Fine Arts, Student Services, and the Students’ Union, in 1997. New construction since then includes two storeys added to the Education Building, expansion of the Research Park adjacent to the campus, a residence complex, and a Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. The University of Regina has developed from its modest roots as a junior college into a well-rounded university that provides a full range of academic programs, professional training, scholarly research, and public service, all in keeping with its motto: “As One Who Serves.”

James M. Pitsula

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