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Leadership program to honour Peter Lougheed

On Sept. 13, 2013, the first anniversary of Peter Lougheed’s death, the University of Alberta and The Banff Centre rolled out a joint program to reflect his legacy of economic development, commitment to community, and leadership.

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

Peter Lougheed, the grandfather of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives, had a passion for two prominent institutions in his home province: the University of Alberta and The Banff Centre.

Folks at both organizations admired him, too. About two years ago, officials at the U of A and The Banff Centre were independently mulling ways to honour Mr. Lougheed, Alberta's premier between 1971 and 1985.

And on Friday, the first anniversary of Mr. Lougheed's death, the two institutions rolled out a joint program called The Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative to reflect his legacy of economic development, commitment to community, and leadership.

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The details are still fuzzy, but the concept is clear: Undergraduates will have a chance to chase leadership certificates, drawing on the guidance of the international experts The Banff Centre attracts; and The Banff Centre will have access to academics from the university, as well as the minds of future leaders.

"We need many, many more young leaders who take initiative and [this] is equipping people to figure out how to lead in a public, interconnected world that is rapidly emerging with some major challenges," said Indira Samarasekera, president and vice-chancellor at the U of A. "Leadership is no walk in the park."

Students from across the university's faculties will be eligible to apply. The details, such as when and where coursework would take place, are still being ironed out.

But the school knows what it wants – motivated students with an aptitude for leadership. Those who want into the leadership classes to focus on their own growth, however, will be met with resistance.

Successful candidates will be "thinking beyond their own need for success, their own career outcomes, or their own immediate goals," Ms. Samarasekera said. "They are looking for ways in which they can become something larger than themselves."

Stephen Lougheed, the former premier's son, connected the two organizations – uniting his father's passions.

The Banff Centre will lean on the students for expertise, too. Students may help organize summits and bring smarts ingrained in a generation that grew up digitally connected.

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"There's going to be lots of ideas generated by the 19,- 20-, 21-year-olds that we'll scale up and explore," Jeff Melanson, The Banff Centre's president, said. "We talk about digital media and technology and generational change. We're seeing that. So, for us, having access to undergraduate students is really important as we look at the evolving sense of how to build a nation, how to build economies, how to build societies."

The Banff Centre's focus remains on post-graduates and professionals. This will continue under the Lougheed effort, too. The program will have six key areas: indigenous leadership, creative education, creative industries, not-for-profits, business entrepreneurs, and public service.

John Ferguson, a former chancellor at the U of A and Suncor Energy Inc.'s current chairman, will serve as founding chairman of The Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative's board. The university is running its own leadership pilot program, giving Mr. Ferguson a glimpse of the talent he expects to find for the Lougheed program. The joint venture hopes to put the first batch of undergraduates into the program around 2016.

"They will blow you away. It is just amazing how good they are," he said. "I tell you, I was nothing like that at that stage."

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