Ways to Earn an Athabasca University Degree Athabasca University was created by the Alberta government in 1970 as part of an expansion of higher education to cope with rising enrolment at the time. In the late 1960s, the University of Alberta (U of A) had long been established, the University of Calgary was created through new legislation, and an Order in Council had created the University of Lethbridge. In 1967, the Manning government announced its intention to establish a fourth public university, but this would be delayed by three years as the government considered different proposals. The U of A wanted to expand rather than see another university open in Edmonton to compete with it. One proposal favoured establishing a Christian university instead of a secular one. Another early suggestion was an “Alberta academy” that would take credits students had earned at multiple universities, evaluate them for transfer, and perhaps award degrees. A Department of Education ad hoc group favoured the establishment of a fourth public university. Ways to Earn an Athabasca University Degree
A group of U of A graduates including Preston Manning influenced the development of an independent fourth university. In 1970, Grant MacEwan, then the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, established AU by an Order in Council. The name for the new university was a challenge, as it was not desired to associate the new university in a primarily rural province with a city (Edmonton) that already had a university (the U of A). Athabasca Hall, a student residence at the U of A, was scheduled for demolition, so the name was appropriated for the new Athabasca University.
In 1984, AU moved its main campus in Edmonton 145 kilometres north to Athabasca. Today the main campus remains in Athabasca, and there are satellite locations in Calgary, Edmonton and St. Albert.
In 1994, AU’s Centre for Innovative Management introduced the world’s first online MBA program.The program had 65 students in its first year, and to date there have been almost 4,000 graduates from the online MBA program. Under the leadership of university president Dominique Abrioux (1995–2005), Athabasca expanded programs in all faculties, including graduate studies, with a new MA in Integrated Studies called MA-IS.