Fred Jorgenson, whose career at SAIT progressed from instructor in the late 1950’s, to SAIT’s First president in 1969, died Wednesday, June 8. He was 93.
SAIT underwent tremendous growth under Jorgenson’s leadership, including the construction of the E. H. Crandell and Senator Burns buildings. He recognized the advantages of integrating academics with sports and was president of SAIT when the first athletics coordinator was hired and during the construction of Campus Centre — home to SAIT’s Wellness Centre.
Jorgenson is credited for supporting the purchase of campus’ first computer in 1970 and for expanding opportunities for students living outside of Calgary by fostering SAIT’s quality correspondence offerings. He also led the expansion of apprenticeship programming and applied arts classes.
“Fred Jorgenson was a strong advocate of action-based learning. He dedicated his career to ensuring students received the know-how and skills they need to be job ready,” says David Ross, SAIT President and CEO. “He personified SAIT’s brand; Fred Jorgenson was a new true original and a shaper of post-secondary excellence.”
Jorgenson strongly believed the student experience should be fun. He endorsed the opening of SAIT’s first pub in 1974 and advanced campus life by building Owasina Hall, SAIT’s first student residence.
While SAIT’s growth provided more opportunity for students, Jorgenson — who took pride in knowing every student and staff member by name — believed that expansion came at a cost.
“It became less intimate,” Jorgenson said recently during an interview for SAIT’s centennial history book. “It became difficult to know people across campus anymore – even for those who tried hard … SAIT grew from something like a small family business to something more resembling a large corporation.”
Jorgensen joined SAIT in 1956 as an instructor. He was promoted quickly and often, serving as head of the English department and later working as SAIT’s media liaison. He served as vice principal for one year before assuming the role of principal from 1962 to 1966.
The provincial government appointed him as SAIT’s president in 1969, a role he held until 1984. From 1966 to 1969, Jorgenson served as principal and president of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. One of Ryerson’s main buildings in downtown Toronto — Jorgenson Hall – is named in his honour.
In recognition of his contributions to education, Jorgenson received the Medal of Service of the Order of Canada in 1967 and a Canadian Silver Jubilee Medal commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s 25th Anniversary in 1977.
In lieu of flowers, the Jorgenson family is asking for donations to the SAIT’s ALIVE Centennial Scholarship fund.