Former U of S President Leo Kristjanson dies at 73
Leo F. Kristjanson, president of the University of Saskatchewan from 1980-89, passed away at his home in Gimli, Man. on Aug. 21.
Kristjanson was born in Gimli in 1932 of Icelandic parents. He took his early schooling there, then went to Winnipeg for higher education. He obtained his BA from United College in Winnipeg, his MA in history from the University of Manitoba, and his PhD in economics and history from the University of Wisconsin.
He moved to Saskatoon in 1959 as a research economist at the U of S Centre of Community Studies. In 1960 he became a sessional lecturer in the Department of Economics and an associate professor in 1965. In 1969 he became head of the Department of Economics and Political Science.
From 1975-80 Kristjanson was the University’s Vice-President of Planning, and in 1980 he was appointed president. He asked the Board of Governors to shorten his second five-year term as president by one year because of the progress of Parkinson’s Disease, and he left the president’s office in 1989. After retirement he and his wife, Jean, returned to Gimli.
When he retired, Kristjanson said he was pleased with a number of improvements at the University during his term, including: a new Saskatoon Cancer Clinic building; additional College of Medicine laboratories; completion of the Geology Building and the Innovation Place research park; founding of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives; establishment of a labour studies program in the College of Commerce; a new natural sciences museum; the growth of art, music and drama programs; satellite delivery of some courses; and increased University access for Aboriginal people.
One of Kristjanson’s most notable achievements was his effective work in raising money for the University’s share of the cost of building and equipping the new College of Agriculture Building. As president, he helped turn the sod for the building.
Kristjanson was involved with establishment of the Meewasin Valley Authority, was appointment a member of the Order of Canada, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Winnipeg, and was installed in the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame.