The Faculty of Health Sciences has chosen former dean Dr. Chris Hosgood as this year’s recipient of the Friend of Health Sciences Award, an award that he instituted during his time as dean. 

“We are so pleased to honour Chris with the Friend of Health Sciences award,” says Dr. Jon Doan, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “His hard work, dedication and leadership skills enabled the growth of Health Sciences and the development of unique programming. He has left a significant and invaluable legacy that deserves to be celebrated.”  

“I was a little embarrassed when I learned I was to be named this year’s recipient because I was the person who started the award,” says Hosgood. “But I have to be honest — it felt really good because being Dean of Health Sciences was something that meant a great deal to me.”

Hosgood, who was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada as a child, joined ULethbridge’s history department in 1988 with a specialty in British history. Sometime around the turn of the century, then-president Howard Tennant tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was interested in applying for the position of dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. Hosgood considered it was too early in his career to become a dean and Chris Nicol was hired. When Arts & Science was looking for an associate dean, Hosgood thought it would be a better fit. He enjoyed working alongside Nicol and fulfilling his duties as associate dean. Then Hosgood was asked to step in as interim dean in the School of Health Sciences, as it was known then. 

“I was a bit taken aback because I didn’t really know anything about health sciences,” says Hosgood. “In any event, I think I was a good candidate as I came from a well-structured faculty.” 

In 2005 when the search for a dean began, Hosgood threw his name in and was appointed. At that time, the School of Health Sciences was focused on the nursing program, which had recently partnered with Lethbridge College on the delivery of the Bachelor of Nursing. The addictions counselling program had only recently been added. It was a tight-knit group, and their goal was to expand programming and eventually become a faculty. 

“They worked very hard to achieve that, partly by developing stronger research capacity, but also by developing programs, including graduate programming,” says Hosgood. “For the first few years when I was dean, there were funding opportunities. We were in a position where there was a window when we were able to request funding for programming; we were fortunate in that sense.”

Programming expanded to include a Bachelor of Nursing after-degree program, a Master of Nursing, Public Health, Aboriginal Health, Master of Science, Master of Health Services Management and a PhD in Population Studies in Health. Student enrolment more than doubled and the need for additional faculty members along with it. More recently, the Therapeutic Recreation program was added. The program has proven to be popular and high demand led the Faculty to double the number of online seats in 2023.

“There are all sorts of different ways to be a dean, but for me, it was about talking to people,” he says. “We always had healthy discussions at Faculty Council, which helped bring people together. In Health Sciences, we tried to create a kind of culture where everyone had a say. I think there was an environment where people felt able to speak their minds in a respectful way. I believe very strongly in collegial governance.”

The role of dean comes with responsibilities to the faculty, University administration and community partners. 

“Aside from being a great leader, he wore the dean’s hat very well,” says Pam Smith, administrative manager in the Faculty. “He built very trusting and genuine relationships with University administrators. That garnered him a lot of respect. He is just a lovely human being and people adored him.”

“A great dean stands out as a colleague through a blend of interpersonal skills, collaboration, and positive workplace culture contributions,” says Debra Bardock, Dean, Centre for Health and Wellness at Lethbridge College. “Essential qualities include being respectful and approachable, and fostering an environment conducive to open sharing and advice seeking. They embody supportive mentorship, offer guidance and celebrate colleagues' achievements. A collaborative spirit and effective communication, marked by active listening and openness, are pivotal. Their dependability, integrity, empathy and compassion towards colleagues' challenges, alongside innovative thinking, adaptability and leadership by example, underline their role. Advocacy, a commitment to equity and inclusion, and humility highlight their dedication to learning and mutual respect. ​Dr. Chris Hosgood — thank you for being this great dean!”

While there were many highlights, what stands out for Hosgood are the people he worked with for so many years — and the holiday parties.

“Health Sciences is known for its Christmas parties,” he says. “In the early days — I don’t remember what year it was, but we were still in Turcotte Hall — we ended up doing a conga line through the halls of Turcotte Hall.”