Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 1, 1999
Changing of the guard at St. Mary's College
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
St. Mary's Catholic College is getting a new president.
Dr. Terrance Downey, chair of the political science department at the University of Waterloo, will take over as president in July.
He replaces Dr. David Lawless, who has led St. Mary's since 1996 and is widely credited with getting the college off the ground.
"I'm excited about it. It's a wonderful opportunity to make a contribution to Catholic education and to people in the Calgary area," Downey said of his appointment.
Downey plans to move to Calgary with his wife Margaret and most of his 11 children on July 1.
"We are looking forward to it. It's exciting to be there; it's a vibrant province, it's a vibrant city and we are there as part of building this college that's going to be very important in the community in the years to come."
Downey has taught at the University of Waterloo for 21 years. This is his fifth year as chair of the political science department.
A gifted writer whose articles have been published by dailies such as The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, Downey has received the University of Waterloo Distinguished Teacher Award and has been nominated by the university for several external teaching awards.
He has been heavily involved in the Catholic community. In 1990 he and his wife received the Father Norm Choate Distinguished Graduate Award in recognition of their contributions to the community, the Church and St. Jerome's College at the University of Waterloo.
Lawless is retiring for the third time. He took over the reins of the college in 1996 following his retirement as president of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. In 1990, he retired as rector of St. Paul College at the University of Manitoba.
"I said I would come but only for three years and my three years are up," he said. "It's time for a younger person to come in now."
In his retirement in Calgary, Lawless plans to complete several unfinished manuscripts on organizational psychology.
Lawless successfully took the college from a good idea to a tangible reality. "I was instrumental in putting together the regulations for the academic programs, for the faculty, for the staff, for the students.
"And then we, having designed the academic programs, went on to find a location for the college, recruit the students and raise the essential funds."
Currently St. Mary's is affiliated with St. Francis Xavier University for transfer of credits and students are eligible to transfer to other provincial universities and colleges. Recently the college applied to the Alberta government for the right to offer a three-year liberal arts degree.
During the summer St. Mary's moves to permanent headquarters at the Father Lacombe property at Bannister Road and 146th Avenue South.
The college will be housed in some of the existing buildings, which will be renovated over the next few months. Currently St. Mary's is housed at St. Anthony's Catholic School.
Enrollment has tripled to 230 students since 1997, when St. Mary's opened to full-time students. That year it began offering a first year undergraduate university program with a full slate of liberal arts courses.
If the government approves its application for accreditation, the college will become a degree-granting institution.
"I think that things are going well. We are financially viable, we have no deficit.
"I feel that I've done what I set out to do" noted Lawless. "When I leave we'll have a balanced budget, a permanent facility, and we'll have a vibrant student body and some excellent faculty. So I feel good about it."
What needs to be done at St. Mary's now? "I think that from now on it's largely a question of consolidation and growth," Lawless said.
"I think if we can stay on course, the course that we've set, we are going to be a real asset to the Catholic community in Alberta and in Western Canada."