FLASHBACK: Highlights from the month of May in the history of the University of Regina

By Dale Johnson Posted: May 14, 2016 8:00 a.m.

The first convocation for students at Regina Campus was held on May 17, 1965.
The first convocation for students at Regina Campus was held on May 17, 1965. Photo: U or R Archives

The first students to attend the new Regina Campus graduated with their degrees on May 17, 1965.

Previously, students could take classes in Regina – but had to then move to Saskatoon to earn degrees.

At that first convocation ceremony at Darke Hall, 72 students were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees, and Prime Minister Lester Pearson received an honorary degree.

Throughout the years, the month of May has been an important month for the University of Regina and its forerunners, Regina College and the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan.

Among the historical highlights during May:

1924: Plans were announced for a new gymnasium at Regina College at a cost of $45,000. “The proposal is to construct a building that can readily be converted into an auditorium capable of seating between six and seven hundred people. In this form the new building would take care of concerts, conventions and large college functions,” the Leader newspaper reported. This was before Darke Hall was built. After the College Avenue gymnasium was demolished in 1988, some stone pieces, including the archway, were saved and now are part of the new Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport – a permanent reminder of our history.

Archway Pix
Part of the College Gymnasium remains on display in the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. (Photo: External Relations)

1950: It was reported that 284 students attended Regina College – an increase of four students from the previous year. The target for the next year was 300 students. Today, enrolment is more than 14,000.

1954: A front-page newspaper headline on May 28 said “VARSITY REJECTS REGINA BID FOR DEGREE COURSE” and explained that the University of Saskatchewan’s senate and board of governors voted unanimously against a proposal that degrees be offered at Regina College. A group of citizens in Regina had been lobbying for degree-status for Regina College, but the U of S said it would be too expensive and there would not be enough students. But the lobbying continued in Regina, and as enrolment increased in Saskatoon, the U of S was soon looking at restricting enrolment. In the summer of 1959 the U of S agreed to allow full degree programs in Regina.

1969:  Dr. William Riddell – who had been with Regina College since the 1930s as an instructor, dean and principal – gave his final convocation address. Riddell talked about the future and said Regina would soon have a school of social work, a department of law and jurisprudence, Canadian Plains studies, a bachelor of fine arts program, and a four-year bachelor of science degree program. During the previous eight years Regina Campus had grown from a student body of 855 to 3,900.

1979: President Lloyd Barber announced the appointment of Ronald Robbins as the first director of the University of Regina’s school of journalism and communications. Robbins had just retired after a 26-year career with CBC.  More than 60 candidates, including well-known media figures, were considered for the position,” the Leader-Post reported.  

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