2008 Winner: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community
Creating An Environment Where Public Policy And Public Funds Support Research And Technology
Dr. Howard E. Tennant is adamant that he is not a scientist. “I graduated out of the School of Business. I have done work in science, but I am anything but a scientist,” he protests.
It is an understatement to say Dr. Tennant, a member of the Order of Canada, has “done work in science.”
Supporting Scientific Pursuits
Over his 30-plus-year career as academic, leader, policy maker and volunteer, this modest man has made a huge difference in promoting and advancing the science and technology sector in Alberta and Canada, and arguably, the world. He has never wavered from his mission to create an environment where public policy and public funds support innovation and research.
“My area of interest is in policy and strategy as it relates to science and technology,” Dr. Tennant says. “I worry about how to build buildings, put the right faculties in place and produce the best students in the world.”
During his tenure as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Lethbridge, over $100 million of capital expansion took place and enrolment grew from just over 2,000 to over 7,000 students. The university established masters and PhD programs and became a centre for research and scholarly work.
Despite his impressive track record in building facilities and creating world-class faculties, Dr. Tennant acknowledges that he is only one piece of the puzzle.
“Some people’s job is to build universities and colleges, but we also need someone to think about what Alberta needs. And sometimes there’s a trade-off,” he admits.
Dr. Tennant has spent the last dozen years with the Alberta Science and Research Authority (ASRA) taking care of Alberta’s interests. He is the longest serving member on the ASRA board, testimony to the high value his colleagues place on his contributions.
His depth of understanding of macroeconomics, combined with his extensive provincial, national and international experience has been instrumental in creating important public policy initiatives that have increased funding for science and technology projects and improved commercialization prospects for Alberta’s technology sector.
“In my policy work, I try to focus on the future of research and technology,” he says. “We are nothing in the world unless we produce highly qualified people.”
Dr. Tennant is well aware that Alberta’s oil and gas fields are only a means to create wealth and not an end in itself.
“Yes, we have energy, but now we have to work on how to get value out of it while maintaining a decent world and a good quality of living,” he explains. “Science and technology are the critical ingredients in that and the only way we can earn our bread.”