A little more than a century ago, a young man arrived in Calgary looking for an opportunity for himself and his future family. He found work in the meat-packing industry, a tough start for any young person, but he wasn’t deterred. He worked hard. He kept his goal in sight. And, eventually, he forged a life as a rancher in southeastern Alberta.
That young man was my great-grandfather and, while he wasn’t short on vision, I doubt he imagined his great-grandson would lead the University of Alberta — an institution that, in his day, was also young and filled with possibility.
I thought of my grandfather as I read about Michael Bullock. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Bullock was told to shelve his dreams because the family didn’t have enough money. So he made his own way in the world: he worked hard, focused on his goals and let nothing stand in the way of becoming a doctor. He didn’t stop once he achieved his dream, though — he and his wife, Cathy, resolved to make the road easier for future doctors.
This issue is filled with such stories of possibility. In the past year, my wife, Suromitra, and I have come to know more about UAlberta’s philanthropic community. I’ve learned that our university’s champions are people who believe opportunity doesn’t just knock at the door. It must be sought out. Potential is fulfilled through hard work and adaptability, the same characteristics that transformed the young province of my great-grandfather’s time into a thriving powerhouse. Sometimes, though, potential can only be fulfilled when a caring community clears a path.
Universities are great equalizers. Here students unearth hidden talents; the seed of an idea can blossom into a transformative discovery. Universities are engines of social, cultural and economic prosperity — but they do not stand alone. After all, it takes a community of committed people to transform possibility into opportunity.
David H. Turpin, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta