June 23rd, 2024

U of L honours former board chair with honorary degree


By Justin Sibbet - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on June 1, 2024.

Herald photo by Justin Sibbet Kurt Schlachter received an honorary degree from the University of Lethbridge on Friday following six years on the board of governors.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDjsibbet@lethbridgeherald.com

Following years of dedication and hard work, one man who helped shape the present and future of the University of Lethbridge has been rewarded.

Kurt Schlachter sat on the board of governors with the U of L for six years. Having left in 2022, Schlachter has remained a prominent member of the community, both with the university and beyond.

Originally graduating from the university in 2000, Schlachter eventually attended law school and now works as the CEO for Stringham LLP, juggling his career with his dedication to the U of L in the meantime.

“It means a tremendous amount to me, it’s a huge honour,” said Schlachter in an interview just prior to the convocation ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary degree from the U of L. “It means more, I think, to me because of the connection I have with the place.”

While he sat as the chair of the board of governors, he says he dealt with significant challenges, but always managed to overcome them.

“That was a very intense, amazing, transformational experience where it was very demanding but also really rewarding.”

As indicated, his time with the board of governors was riddled with outside challenges, such as the COVID pandemic, as well as more internal problem solving, such as a labour dispute toward the end of his tenure.

“Just getting the experience of dealing with that is pretty transformational,” said Schlachter. “I’m proud of what myself and my board colleagues and the administration at the time were able to navigate.”

He says, “half-jokingly”, that the challenges were popping up faster than a carnival game.

“I would describe it as playing a three-dimensional game of whack-a-mole, where the moles were existential crises. We just went from one thing to another.”

Despite the hurdles to traverse, he says the University of Lethbridge has come out looking stronger than ever.

“The university hasn’t lost its spirit,” said Schlachter. “It’s gained more offerings and been able to reach more students and create a destination concept for itself where we have, (been able to) not just draw (from the) local communities and surrounding communities but students from all over Alberta and beyond.”

With his life having been intertwined within the history and halls of the U of L, Schlachter says he will never lose that connection.

“It’ll never be behind me, I’ll always be interested, but not as actively involved.”

He says his future is exciting and he is eager to see where life takes him.

“Currently I’m just enjoying my new role with our firm – the business that my spouse and I operate together,” said Schlachter.

While there are plenty of other things on his plate, from volunteer work to philanthropic activities, he says he is taking a small step back for right now.

“I’ve given myself some space to focus on those key responsibilities for the foreseeable future and then from there, who knows?

Despite his academic days being over, in both a student and executive capacity, Schlachter says he his simply honoured for the many opportunities provided and for his honorary degree.

“I want to thank the university for this great honour and I’m excited to be here today.”

Schlachter received his degree during the fourth and final convocation ceremony hosted this spring by the University of Lethbridge.

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