University of Calgary

Monumental move

UToday HomeJanuary 14, 2013

The Building on the Vision monument has historical significance for campus. Photo by Riley BrandtThe Building on the Vision monument has historical significance for campus. Photo by Riley BrandtA monument that marks the university’s first national fundraising campaign has been relocated on the university campus, a move donor Ann McCaig is pleased to see.

The simple, elegant Building on the Vision structure now resides between the Administration and Science A buildings, in the historic centre of the main campus in the central mall. The monument was removed from the Taylor Quadrangle in 2008 during construction of the Taylor Family Digital Library and placed in storage.

The monument’s new location symbolizes the ongoing positive changes at the university, says McCaig, who donated it to the university. She was vice-chair of the Building on the Vision campaign in 1992 — the university’s first national fundraiser. That pivotal campaign raised more than $45 million and made the first major expansion at the university possible.

McCaig, a tireless advocate and longtime university supporter, served on the board of governors from 1984 to 1994. She later served as the university’s eighth chancellor.

The simple white structure with pillars and benches is inscribed with the Scottish Gaelic motto Mo Shuile Togam Suas, which translates as “I will lift up mine eyes.” The language was chosen as a tribute to the founders of the university. Beneath that are plaques engraved with names of some key figures in the university’s development, such as the late Murray Fraser, president and vice-chancellor from 1988 to 1996.

“The people whose names are on that wall had a strong vision,” said McCaig, and it is continuing with President Elizabeth Cannon.

“Dr. Cannon continues to build on that vision of a great university in a great city, and that’s what we were looking for — something that symbolized confidence and strength,” said McCaig.

“It should be a focal point because “Building on the Vision” was the first significant fundraiser for the University of Calgary; it was even more successful than we had projected — a wonderful campaign with very committed people to work with.”

Since its original placement on the campus, the structure has been a gathering place for students, faculty and staff, or a place to have a coffee or just read, said McCaig. She hopes that tradition will continue in its new home.

In the two decades since the monument arrived, it has served “to remind people of what was done by those who have gone before,” says McCaig. “Universities are built on their heritage. They are places for all time.”