I am excited to welcome all new and returning students to the University of Alberta! This is my favourite time of year—I love seeing students, staff and faculty return to campus invigorated with a renewed passion and energy.
Let me extend a special welcome to our new students. You’ve made a great choice in the U of A. Although you may find it all a bit overwhelming in the next few days as you figure out where your classes are or while you wait in line at the bookstore, I hope that the advantages of choosing a big, research-intensive university like ours soon become apparent.
You are now part of a diverse and creative community of thinkers, scientists, artists, critics and theorists working in all kinds of disciplines, trying to address the critical questions and issues that our society faces. Join in and become an active citizen. Engage in cutting-edge research projects. Attend lectures by world leaders. Share an idea that you would like to try in one of your classes or labs. Join one of our sports and recreation clubs. Give your time and energy to a cause or group that you believe in.
Many universities and people have had to face some tough times in the last two years and the U of A is no different. We are dealing with some financial challenges that may have an impact on you and the other people who make up the U of A community. If you find that you need some help along the way, I want to assure you that the staff and faculty of the university are committed to supporting and helping you succeed. Student Services is reorganizing with the aim of making it easier for you. On the second floor of the Students’ Union Building, you’ll find the Student Success Centre, a one-stop access point for everything from student health services to career advice.
The U of A is vibrant community of diversity and imagination—and students are a big part of making it a great place to be. Take last February as an example: U of A students organized an incredible event that set a world records for the world’s largest dodge ball game, a record that we held until just this past Friday.
The idea for this event was born from a discussion between our Students’ Union, Campus Residences’ Association and students in Lister Hall who thought that a large dodge ball game would be an excellent opportunity to bring the campus community together.
Soon enough, more than 1,200 people from the U of A family—students, staff, faculty and alumni—gathered in the Butterdome and shattered the old world record of 450 people for the largest dodge ball game. This event attracted national and international attention and was featured in a YouTube video that has received more than half a million viewers. This is an example of what our community is capable of when students take the lead.
As the new school year begins, I am not asking you to break a world record, but I do urge you to think about what you can do to make the most of your time here. Take action. Become a leader. Explore your passions and make a difference. There is no better time than now.