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Office of the President fonds (Original Files): Home

Office of the President fonds (Original Files)

Call Number: Ua 20

Title: Office of the President fonds (Original Files).

Dates: 1911-2008.

Extent: 27 m of textual records.

Administrative history: The Royal Commission on University Government in 1909 recommended the creation of a presidential position to serve as the University's administrative head. The University Act was amended in 1911 and the first President, James MacLean, was hired on January 1, 1913. The act did not, however, provide an adequate definition of the duties and responsibilities for the President. As a result, MacLean operated largely on behalf of the University Council and Board of Governors and dealt primarily with students' concerns.  The position remained unchanged until 1932 when the Royal Commission on the Impairment of Endowment Funds attributed the lack of presidential authority as one reason for the disfunction and lack of communication between the Board of Governors and the University Council. MacLean resigned in 1934 and was succeeded by Sydney Smith.

Smith assumed power in the aftermath of the "Machray scandal". His primary concern was to make the new administrative order functional. He presided over the creation of Senate and acted as an intermediary between the University's administrative and academic bodies. He also dealt with the drastic decrease in endowment funds, low faculty morale and public disgrace. Smith's ten years of service brought the University out of crisis and into an extended period of growth. He was succeeded in 1944 by interim President H.P. Armes, who served until 1945, when Albert Trueman was appointed the University's fourth President.  Trueman presided for three years and was succeeded by Albert Gillson. Gillson also had a short term but was responsible for many initiatives, such as integrating veterans into post-secondary education and bringing St. John's and St. Paul's Colleges onto the Fort Garry site. In 1954, he retired and was succeeded by Hugh Saunderson.

Saunderson presided over an incredible period of growth. Enrolments increased dramatically and the number of faculty members followed suit. An ambitious physical development plan was also undertaken with the aid of federal funding. The Saunderson years also saw the creation of the first vice-presidential positions to help the President with academic, administrative, and planning duties. Student activism during Saunderson's term of office led to student representation on the Senate and the Board of Governors for the first time. Saunderson was replaced after sixteen years in office by Ernest Sirluck in 1970. Through Sirluck's six year presidency, faculty unionization caused a shift in the power structure of the University away from Senate to the Faculty Association. A bitter strike by University support staff clouded the 1975 semester and was followed by Sirluck's retirement in 1976.

Ralph Campbell was appointed eighth President of the University in 1976. Throughout his term, Campbell sought to avoid acrimony between students and the University administration by advocating an "open door" policy. He created new senior administrative posts to redistribute duties while assuming responsibility for student's concerns. The financial boom of the late-1960s and early-1970s drew to a close by the end of Campbell's term. Physical expansion in the early-1980s included a new building for Administrative Studies and Earth Sciences, but the pace slowed considerably.  In 1981, Dr. Campbell was succeeded by Arnold Naimark, former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Naimark, like his predecessor, altered the administrative framework to govern the institution more effectively. Throughout his term, Naimark has had to deal with increasing maintenance costs, falling revenues, rising enrollments, and growing demands for University services.

Scope and content: The fonds, dating primarily from 1940 to 1967, contains correspondence, reports, submissions, evaluations, studies and other records dealing with virtually every aspect of the University of Manitoba. Included also are historical notes, biographical information on prominent faculty members, faculty files, as well as records documenting the University's role in dealing with other universities and with provincial and national organizations and governments.

Restrictions: Confidential material is restricted.

Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available in the Archives reading room.