FLASHBACK: May highlights in the history of the University of Regina

By Dale Johnson Posted: May 23, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Prime Minister Lester Pearson spoke at Darke Hall at the first Regina Campus Convocation on May 17, 1965.
Prime Minister Lester Pearson spoke at Darke Hall at the first Regina Campus Convocation on May 17, 1965. U of R Archives and Special Collections

Among the historical highlights at the University of Regina and its forerunners during the month of May:

1924:  Francis Darke announces a donation for a new arts building. The Morning Leader reports “The offer of a gift of $100,000 for the erection of a Music and Arts Building on Regina College grounds or other suitable site was made Wednesday to the board of governors of Regina College at their annual meeting from F. N. Darke.”  An editorial later says “It was the wish of Mr. Darke that the building be made available for the educational and artistic interests of the entire city.”

1940:  Students and faculty at Regina College move to offices downtown, because the buildings on College Avenue are converted into a training centre for air force recruits. The move is controversial, because some people don’t like the idea that education for young people is being disrupted, while others think it is a demonstration of patriotic duty. The Royal Canadian Air Force returns the College Avenue buildings to Regina College in during the 1944 Christmas break.

1951:  Low enrolment at Regina College is a topic of discussion at speeches at the closing exercise for the 1950-51 academic year. Dean Dr. W. A. Riddell says only 152 full-time students attended, compared with 183 the previous year. “The main factor causing the lower enrolment may have been the disastrous frosts which struck the province in 1950,” he told the students, parents and visitors. University of Saskatchewan President W. P. Thompson also spoke at the event and told the Regina audience that the university would benefit financially by closing down Regina College and paying subsidies to college students to go to the parent university in Saskatoon.

1961:  Regina College marks its first half-century, and anyone who had attended Regina College during its first five decades is invited to return to Regina for the celebrations. One of the people who comes to Regina for the event is Hal Hunt – the second person to register at Regina College in 1911. He recalls when classes were first held in the old hospital building a few blocks away – before the College Building was ready. After attending Regina College, Hunt earns a law degree and then settles in Ohio.

1965:  The first students to attend the new Regina Campus graduate. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson receives an honorary doctor of laws degree and gives the Convocation address at the ceremony at Darke Hall. There are 151 graduates: 72 students are awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees and another 79 students are awarded certificates in such areas as art, business administration, music and public administration.

1979:  In his convocation address, University of Regina president Dr. Lloyd Barber warns that financial pressure on universities might create a shortage of qualified and trained people to handle Saskatchewan’s anticipated prosperity. He says the quality of education can only be maintained if there is adequate financial support from “the society we serve.” He also says: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

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