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When plans were announced for degrees in Regina

By Dale Johnson Posted: July 21, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Students at Regina College during the 1950s, like these music students, could not earn degrees - but that was about to change as the decade came to a close.
Students at Regina College during the 1950s, like these music students, could not earn degrees - but that was about to change as the decade came to a close. Photo courtesy of Saskatchewan Visual Education Branch (Saskatchewan Film Board), by Olive B. Roberts.

Huge changes for Regina College were announced in the summer of 1959.

That’s when it was announced that degrees would be offered in Regina, and Regina College would become a campus of the University of Saskatchewan.

LP headline July 59

It was big news when degrees were announced in 1959. Photo courtesy of Regina Leader-Post

It was front-page news in the Regina Leader-Post on July 9, 1959. The headline said “DEGREE STATUS FOR REGINA COLLEGE PROJECTED FOR ’63” and the article said “Development of a second University of Saskatchewan campus at Regina College was announced by University President Dr. W. P. Thompson.”

"The University of Saskatchewan has decided that a desirable level for enrolment at Saskatoon is between 7,000 and 8,000 students and that it will promote the development of a second campus at Regina,” Thompson said.  

Regina College opened in 1911; although university classes were offered, to earn degrees students had to transfer to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. That’s because in 1907 the U of S had been named the only degree-granting institution in the province.

Some civic-minded residents of Regina had been calling for degrees to be offered at Regina College since it opened. But those arguments proved unsuccessful for decades.

However, by the late 1950s the U of S was facing overcrowding issues and there was consideration to limiting enrollment. So to meet this increased demand, it was decided to allow degrees to be offered in Regina.

“The move to expand the college was hailed by Reginans…who have pressed for arts degree courses at the southern college,” the Leader-Post reported.

“G. H. Barr, president of the citizens committee which has pressed for college expansion and who with Mrs. Barr has worked for half a century for a degree course at Regina College termed the announcement ‘gratifying.’…He felt the announcement must be particularly gratifying to descendants of pioneer citizens that their fathers’ efforts and sacrifices to provide facilities for the higher education of their children had not been in vain,” the newspaper said.

After obtaining the right to grant degrees, Regina Campus continued to evolve.

In May 1965, students were awarded their degrees at the first convocation ceremony in Regina, which featured an appearance by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. He was granted an honorary degree.

The new campus – now known as the main campus – opened in July 1965.

And in July 1974, Regina Campus – previously known as Regina College – became the University of Regina.