Reason #34 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

MacEwan University

By Emil Tiedemann

Although Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan (1902-2000) was born in Manitoba, raised in Saskatchewan, and studied in Ontario, his heart belongs to Alberta. The former Calgary Mayor (1963-65) and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta (1966-74) left behind a legacy of sustainability and environmental advocacy, well before “being green” became a societal standard. 

An educator and author for most of his lengthy career, MacEwan proudly became the namesake of the Grant MacEwan Community College (Scona Campus) when it was founded in 1971. Back then, the college primarily offered one and two-year certificate and diploma programs, focusing on fields like nursing, social work, child care, and psychotechnics. 



Just two years later, in 1973, MacEwan established a second campus at Jasper Place, and then a third in 1976 in the Mill Woods region. By 1988, the college was approved to offer university transfer programs, just as the provincial government committed $100 million to the construction of the now landmark City Centre Campus, which opened in 1993 along 104th Avenue in downtown Edmonton. 

MacEwan officially dropped the “Community” from their name in 1999, and then integrated with the downtown Alberta College - their fourth campus - a few years later. MacEwan’s credibility and enrollment continued to flourish, and further expansion seemed only necessary. 

It became an accredited degree-granting institution in 2004, and introduced brick & mortar development in a Student Residence (2005) and the Robbins Health Learning Centre (2007), both at City Centre. In 2009, Grant MacEwan became the province’s sixth university, re-branding simply as MacEwan University a few years later. 

The stunning Centre for Arts and Culture opened in 2017 at the downtown campus.

A far cry from its humble beginnings, MacEwan now offers diplomas, certificates, applied degrees, and four-year degrees in dozens of part-time, full-time, online, and distance-learning programs in commerce, science, nursing, child and youth care, communications, music, and the arts for more than 30,000 students every single year. 

And the school has no plans on slowing down anytime soon, as construction is already underway on the Centre for the Arts and Culture at City Centre Campus, scheduled to open in the autumn of 2017. MacEwan himself would be proud of what the school named in his honour has evolved into, becoming a vital resource for Edmonton’s and Alberta’s growth and sustainability, a place where young minds are given the tools, the skills, and the knowledge to make the world around them a better place to live. #macewanu

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