Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 2, 2003
College modernizes facilities
$1 M will refurbish St. Joseph's 76-year-old building, furniture, computers
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta, one of the province's oldest buildings, will soon get its biggest fix-up ever. College officials are currently planning an ambitious renovation project, which includes rewiring sections, replacing windows and making the college wheelchair accessible.
Built in 1926, St. Joe's was one of the first buildings on the University of Alberta campus. And it's showing its age. But Catholic officials are determined to keep the college up to date and are currently raising the $1 million they say is needed to do it.
"It's a college with a distinguished past, and we are now working to ensure it has a bright future," says Randall Yatscoff, chair of the board of governors' development committee. "After 76 years, we need to get out the hammers and paint brushes and ensure it is up to date."
Archbishop Thomas Collins joined college officials in the May 8 launch of the $1 million campaign, which will run until November 2004. The strategies will include direct appeals to college supporters, fundraising dinners and appeals to Catholics throughout the archdiocese.
One fourth of the campaign goal, $250,000, had been collected as of May 26, noted Rae Beaumont, director of development for St. Joe's.
She said the money will be used to rewire parts of the building along with wall and ceiling restoration, replace all 237 windows with energy efficient ones, fix the roof, make the college wheelchair accessible, replace some furniture and upgrade computer facilities to enable St. Joe's to teach courses over the Internet. So far the floor in the dining room has been refurbished and the deck behind the building has been repaired.
Located in the heart of the university campus, St Joseph's College is a Catholic arts college owned by the Archdiocese of Edmonton. The college's history dates back to 1924, when Archbishop Henry O'Leary enlisted the services of the Christian Brothers from Toronto to administer a Catholic college at the University of Alberta.
The order sent Brother Alfred to Edmonton to oversee a fundraising effort for the college and by 1926 he had raised $100,000. With that and a matching grant from the Carnegie Foundation of New York, work began on the college's building, which opened its doors in 1927.
Campaign spokesperson Warren Michaels said the four-storey building, found at the corner of 114th Street and 89th Avenue, was built at a cost of $212,000.
To survive during its early years, the college grew vegetables on land now occupied by the Education Parkade, he said.
The Christian Brothers directed the affairs of the college until 1963, when they turned the college over to the Basilian Fathers. Since then, the Basilians have striven to promote excellence in the teaching of theology and philosophy at the university level, Michaels said.
Today, St. Joe's has a student body of over 1,700, a quantum leap from the 54 who studied within its walls in 1963. The academic scope has enlarged greatly too: While only two courses were offered in 1963, 60 are available now, including courses in science and religion, medical and business ethics, Scripture, philosophy and religious education. These courses are approved by the University of Alberta faculty of arts and are open to all students attending the university.
In addition to its role in the academic field, St. Joe's serves as a residence for 60 male students during the winter months. Over its 77-year history, 4,000 men have lived in the college's residence while attending the U of A, Michaels said. During the war, the Canadian Navy and Air Force took over the residence and crammed in 140 recruits.
St. Joseph's is the centre for Catholic campus ministry at the University of Alberta. "Through its liturgical life, student retreats and socials, prayer groups and social service outreach, the college makes a significant impact on the spiritual lives of our Catholic young people at the university," reads a pamphlet on the college.
"It's the only academic place that people can go to reflect upon their faith," said Basilian Father Tim Scott, president of St. Joe's.
"The college teaches from a perspective of faith."