In 1908, Henry Marshall Tory, the University of Alberta's first president, challenged the university community, the Province of Alberta, and future generations to remember that:
"The modern state university has sprung from a demand on the part of the people themselves….The people demand that knowledge shall not be the concern of scholars alone. The uplifting of the whole people shall be its final goal. This should never be forgotten."
One hundred years later, as we celebrated our Centenary in 2008, our university community spent a year reflecting on our history of graduates and achievements and on our growth over the years into a formidable institution close to 40,000 students strong, into one of the top research universities in North America and one of top 100 public universities in the world.
We searched long and hard to find a contemporary phrase that would capture the experience—the spirit—of the University of Alberta today. In the end, we discovered that the time-honoured words of Henry Marshall Tory continue to express what centers our daily work—students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni alike—as we pursue "whatsoever things are true."
As the University of Alberta enters the second decade of the 21st century, world events continue to present us with an unfolding sequence of challenges, opportunities, and threats—just as it has in every decade past. Remembering daily that "uplifting the whole people" is the University of Alberta's raison d'etre binds our community in a united desire to improve livability, sustainability, and hope for all citizens of our local and global community.