The Gauntlet looks back at the last ten

By Noah Miller

Over the last decade a number of events have significantly changed the university into the one we know and occasionally love today.

While campus was relatively quiet during the summer of 2000, construction crews laboured on over 600 renovation and construction projects. Among these projects were the Stör, relocated clubs space and the clubs’ business space above the University of Calgary bookstore in MacEwan Student Centre, delivering snack food and extra curricular activity space to the student masses. Alongside these projects was the ground breaking of the east-side expansion of MacHall, which now includes the concert-packed Ballroom.

More prominently on students’ early-decade radars, however, was the temporary disappearance of the Den when it was taken over from university administration by the Students’ Union in August of 2000.

“It’s a piece of history, it’s a piece of my school career lost,” Social Anthropology graduate and former Den employee Jason Corall told the Gauntlet in 2000.

The SU did its best to keep the Den much the way it was. Despite students’ initial disappointment regarding the takeover, the bar kept its name and remains the campus watering hole today, especially during ever popular ThursDens.

Further disappointment was displayed by students after university administration quashed SU plans to hold a MacHall-wide rave known as “recess” on the last day of classes in December.

In the year that followed, with the Den still closed, the only remaining licensed undergraduate establishment, Max Cafe and Bar, also closed its doors, leaving campus without a place to drown its sorrows in copious quantities of liquor.

Continued renovations to MacEwan Hall in 2001 relocated many campus services to where they are today. The ICT building was completed in 2001, at approximately 17,000 square meters in size and with five lecture theaters on the main floor, along with links to both the earth sciences building and the engineering complex.

The most significant event of 2001, and arguably the decade, for the U of C was the election of a new president, Harvey Weingarten. Weingarten came highly regarded by students and professors who had worked closely with him in the previous 21 years at McMaster for his promotion of a holistic university experience and the integration of both research and academics.

After many years with Weingarten at the helm many of his peers still maintain his effectiveness as president and the number of positive changes he incurred at the University of Calgary.

“All over campus there is evidence of new facilities that serve the needs of students and researchers,” said provost and vice-president academic Alan Harrison. Harrison also noted the significant growth in the student body over the decade, which has increased by about one third from 21,000 to 28,000, but remained confident that quality of education has only improved focusing on student success.

While Harrison admitted that the university’s achievements of the last decade were not accomplished by Weingarten alone, he held that Weingarten’s leadership and tutelage were very important to its success.

Such success includes: a higher proportion of graduate students, a dramatically improved research ranking and incorporation into the G13, a group of research intensive Canadian universities.

Public Relations work led to the renaming of the business school to the Haskayne School of Business in 2002 following a significant contribution from Richard Haskayne. The Engineering School was also renamed the Schulich School of Engineering in 2006. Weingarten’s tenure was directly influential in establishing the first new vet school in Canada in over a decade along with vast expansions to the U of C’s medical facilities.

During the early ’00s the U-Pass was also established. Originally a mandatory $50 per semester in 2002, the U-Pass saw students receive unrestricted access to city transit during the fall and winter semesters. 2002 was also the year that Information Technologies launched a pilot program that boasted a new wireless network allowing students to access the campus network and the internet with laptops. Better known as AirUC, the project originally offered connection points in ICT, information commons and the fourth floor of Scurfield hall, but now covers the entire campus.

2005 marked the outsourcing of campus Food Services to international food services giant Chartwells who brought, among other things, the incredibly busy and now duplicated Tim Horton’s– integral to the average red-eyed, caffeinated student.

Newer students may be more familiar with International House– now attached to the dining center. As a student residence it houses more than 100 international and domestic students. In 2009 another part of the building was opened, known as Hotel Alma. It offers hotel-like accommodations, conference rooms and a training ground for Haskayne students in the hospitality field.

Even more recently the site of the as yet uncompleted Taylor Family Digital Library has stood next to the MacKimmie Library since 2008. According to the U of C website it is “designed for the 21st-century scholar” and will be a “resource rich” facility that will “facilitate learning, research, study and collaborative work.” Older students may remember the former greenspace that existed where the MacKimmie Library now stands. Planned along with this building is the Taylor Quadrangle, a new central greenspace for students to meet in the new decade.

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