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Monday, June 27, 2011

  • WLU centennial is Waterloo's to share
  • How Hagey built university from college
  • Lutheran college becomes today's Laurier
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[WLU centennial mug]WLU centennial is Waterloo's to share

Wilfrid Laurier University — Waterloo’s neighbour, rival in sports, and partner in many academic ventures — is marking its centennial this year. And in a sense, that means happy 100th anniversary for this university as well.

The University of Waterloo counts its history from July 1, 1957 (and celebrated its 50th anniversary with a year of special events in 2007), but it’s quite possible to trace its story to the founding of the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, WLU’s ancestor, on October 30, 1911. It wasn’t until 1959, in fact, that the two institutions went their separate ways.

So the “100 years inspiring lives of leadership and purpose” of which WLU boasts on its centennial web site include 48 years, more or less, that are our heritage too.

Here’s how WLU tells the story: “Laurier’s roots were established in 1911, when the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada met in Toronto for a convention. One of the most important items on the agenda was the establishment of a theological seminary in partnership with the newly assembled Synod of Central Canada. The seminary was initially to be located in Toronto but at a joint meeting in March of 1911, the town of Waterloo won the bid by offering a gift of five acres of land to the Lutheran Synod of Canada. Waterloo had a large Lutheran population and the citizens were anxious to have such an establishment located in their small but developing town.

“On October 30, 1911, the people of Waterloo were thrilled to be invited to the opening of the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.” That’s the event immortalized in the photo below, showing crowds on an Albert Street lawn on dedication day, 100 years ago this fall.

[Mob on lawn and street, all wearing hats]

The WLU narrative continues: “The Seminary grew in popularity, and as enrolment increased, the Seminary expanded. In 1915, a new building opened known as Old Main (later renamed Willison Hall after the Seminary’s first graduate), which contained accommodations for the students, a dining hall, classrooms and other facilities. In 1924, the Board announced that a Faculty of Arts would be established and Waterloo College was born, separate from the Seminary’s teachings.

“The 1920s were an interesting decade in Wilfrid Laurier University’s history. A partnership between the University of Western Ontario and Waterloo College had formed, an economic crisis regarding the rising costs of tuition and enrolment numbers had ensued, and the College began admitting female students in undergraduate studies. Times were changing and so was Waterloo College.

“Over the next thirty years, Waterloo College would flourish with larger enrolment numbers, a new Arts building and new additions to existing buildings.” And that brings the story to the arrival of Joseph Gerald Hagey.

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How Hagey built university from college

[Hagey with campus plan]Born in Hamilton, Hagey (left) had graduated from Waterloo College and entered a business career. He was working as head of public relations for B. F. Goodrich Canada, one of the largest industries in Kitchener, when he was asked to join the college’s board of governors. He made an immediate impression through his committee work, leading to a decision that the college would expand on its Waterloo property rather than moving to a more urban site in Kitchener.

In the summer of 1953, Hagey was invited to serve as president of the college himself, in spite of his lack of academic background. He became the first Waterloo College president who was not a Lutheran clergyman.

Says Ken McLaughlin, the University of Waterloo historian, in his 1997 book Waterloo: “By 1955 President Hagey realized that neither the needs of the college nor those of the community could be met without the addition of a science curriculum. He began seriously to consider ways of making Waterloo College eligible for provincial funding.”

Hagey spoke at first of a “Waterloo College of Science and Commerce”, but the name changed as he met with a number of local business leaders, including Ira G. Needles, who had been a mentor to Hagey as president of B. F. Goodrich. In December 1955, 17 business and professional met met in the boardroom of Waterloo College, near the corner of Dearborn Street (not yet called University Avenue) and Albert Street. Needles was the chairman.

There were "numerous questions", according to the three-page typewritten minutes of that afternoon's meeting. (Hagey's own copy is now in the university archives.) Then it was moved by Carl A. Pollock (president of Dominion Electrohome Industries), seconded by A. M. Snider (president of Sunshine Waterloo Co. Ltd., a furniture manufacturer), and carried, that "Those present agree that they will serve as charter members of a Board of Governors for a Faculty of Science to be affiliated with Waterloo College.”

More meetings would follow. By the time the first students registered, in July 1957, the new entity included engineering as well as science, and was called Waterloo College Associate Faculties. The first classes held by the Associate Faculties are now considered the beginning of the University of Waterloo. In early 1959, the Associate Faculties applied for a provincial charter under the name “University of Waterloo”.

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Lutheran college becomes today's Laurier

Waterloo College developed as well. Here’s how the WLU web site tells the next part of the story: “Within months, the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada applied for a revision of its charter, which changed the corporate title to Waterloo Lutheran University, and gave degree-granting rights to its two education units, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and Waterloo University College. After 35 years of being affiliated with the University of Western Ontario, Waterloo College terminated the partnership on June 30, 1960. The very next day, Waterloo Lutheran University began its first year of operation as a degree-granting institution.

“With a new name came a new campus. During the sixties and seventies, 17 new buildings were erected. In 1973, Waterloo Lutheran University officially became a provincially supported university and was renamed Wilfrid Laurier University. The new name reflected a strong political leader from Canada’s past, and also maintained the WLU acronym.”

Over the years, the suspicion that had grown out of the 1959 divorce began to fade. Waterloo and Laurier have cooperated on a host of academic and research activities, including a joint graduate program in geography and undergraduate programs that link Waterloo math with Laurier’s business school. Hundreds of students from the two universities are registered in each other’s courses, and organizations from the university libraries to student clubs cooperate closely up and down University Avenue.

Says the WLU narrative: “As Laurier embarked on international endeavors and continued to grow as a popular small-sized university, the University began considering expansion beyond its land-locked city block in Waterloo. In 1999, Laurier opened a Brantford campus with only 39 students and 2 faculty members. Seven years after that, Laurier expanded to downtown Kitchener, where the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work is housed. Currently, Laurier is studying the feasibility of opening another campus in the Town of Milton.

“Today, Laurier is one of Canada’s top medium-sized universities. It is home to more than 15,000 students, who come from cities across Canada and around the world. It is a place to conduct research and teach to 516 full-time faculty and hundreds of part-time faculty. It is a fond memory to more than 70,000 alumni located in 88 countries.”

And later this year, it’ll be a centenarian. A history of WLU is to be published, and a heritage plaque unveiled, early this fall, as part of the institution’s birthday celebrations. A centennial reunion is scheduled for October 2, a commissioned statue of Wilfrid Laurier will be unveiled on October 18, and a final round of events is scheduled for the October 28-30 weekend leading up to the exact 100th anniversary of that dedication day in 1911.


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New poles coming to ring road

Work should start today to install new light poles and lamps around the ring road, on the concrete bases that were put in place a few months ago. Work will start on the residence roadway at the northwest corner of campus, says Gary Kosar of plant operations, “and then progress around the ring road in an orderly fashion. A flagman will be on location at all times to direct traffic around the truck installing the poles.

“Work will also continue on installation of concrete bases from the Carl Pollock Hall overpass to the corner of the ring road opposite parking and police services. Weather permitting, the work will last approximately six weeks from start to finish.”

Link of the day

Discovery Day

When and where

Bright Starts Daycare Fun Fair to raise funds for equipment, 5:00 to 7:30, Paintin Place day care, UW Place complex, includes barbecue.

WatRISQ presents Sebastian Ferrando, Ryerson University, “Arbitrage and Hedging in a Non-Probabilistic Framework” Tuesday 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Math Society carnival Wednesday 11:30 to 3:00, Davis Centre quad. Volunteers wanted, e-mail jessicajanssen09@

‘Yoga in the Village’ free yoga and relaxation class sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday 12:05, Village I great hall, reservations e-mail sandra.gibson@

Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Wednesday at BMO Field, Toronto, bus sponsored by Waterloo athletics department leaves 4:45 p.m., tickets $65. Details.

Canada Day in San Francisco reception welcoming Waterloo alumni, Wednesday 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Quadrus Conference Centre, Menlo Park. Details.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

[Canadian flag waving]

Canada Day, Friday, July 1, university closed. North campus celebrations 2 to 11 p.m. Details.

Drop, penalty 1 period for spring term courses ends July 8.

Digital Media Project: new arcade games created by English department students, sponsored by the department’s Critical Media Lab and Libro Financial, opening July 9, 2:00 to 4:00, TheMuseum, 10 King Street West, Kitchener.

African Lion Safari “family day” for alumni, July 10, gates open 9 a.m., barbecue lunch from 12:30, registration 519-888-4973 (tickets sold out).

Engineering alumni golf tournament July 10, Grey Silo Golf Club, tee time 10:00, $85 (students $75), reservations at Engineering Society office or e-mail djbirnba@

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Staff association golf social July 12, 4:00, Brookfield Country Club, $45 basic fee. Details.

Student Life 101 visits for future first-year students, July 14-15, 18-19, 22-23, 5-26, 28-29, August 2-3, 5-6, 8-9.  Details.

Calgary Stampede alumni event at Wild Card Saturday Rodeo, Stampede grandstand, July 16, 1:30. Details.

Last day of classes for spring term, July 26.

Civic Holiday, Monday, August 1, university closed.

Examinations for spring term courses, August 2-13. Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest August 15; grades become official September 19.

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