History of Athabasca University
The origins of Athabasca University lie in the 1960s' rapid increase in university enrolments, which argued strongly for a fourth Alberta university. In response to these pressures, Athabasca University was created in 1970 by an order in council of the Government of Alberta.
Soon after, though, the growth in enrolments slowed, giving second thoughts about the development of another campus-based university. Instead, a pilot project was initiated to study new teaching and learning strategies for post-secondary students that would enable students to pursue their educational goals without leaving their homes, jobs or families.
The result was Athabasca University, a distance learning centre that would specialize in the delivery of distance education courses and programs. Six hundred and fifty students enrolled in the pilot project between 1972 and 1975. Athabasca University held our first convocation ceremony for two graduates in 1977.
Athabasca University's future was ensured in 1978, when a revision of the Alberta Universities Act granted the University permanent, self-governing status (approval in principle was given in 1975).
In 1984 Athabasca University moved our location from Edmonton to the town of Athabasca, 160 kilometres north. We established satellite learning centres in Calgary, Edmonton, and Fort McMurray (the Fort McMurray location was closed May 2000). The centres provided another educational link to students by offering many services, including advising.
In 1985, we adopted a mission statement to reflect the University's commitment to innovation, flexibility, excellence in teaching, research and scholarship, and service in the community. We placed emphasis on international development, and building a base for public trust and private support. This mission was amended in 1999, to emphasize the fact that the University has a national and international remit, in addition to our role within Campus Alberta.
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