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Eugene Carlisle LeBel

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Eugene Carlisle LeBel

The Reverend Eugene Carlisle LeBel, C.S.B., C.D., LL.D[1]., was born in Sarnia, Ontario on July 27, 1899[2] to Eugene Albert LeBel and Catherine Mahoney.[3] LeBel spent much of his life in Catholic schools both studying and teaching. He is best known for his “...steadfast efforts... to achieve greater academic changes” that led to Assumption College becoming Assumption University of Windsor and later the non-denominational University of Windsor”.[4] LeBel was not just an academic. He also was a skilled athlete, being named “Captain and Star” of his championship winning football team at St. Michael’s and was Chaplain of the Essex Scottish Regiment in Windsor for fourteen years, including all of World War II.[5]

In 1917 he entered St. Basil’s Novitiate in Toronto, Ontario[6] thus beginning a life of academic involvement. A religious man, LeBel took first vows on August 10, 1918[5] and a year later attended the Catholic-run Assumption College (1919–20) in Windsor, Ontario. LeBel then moved back to Toronto where he studied at St. Michael's College for four years (1920–24) and the University of Toronto (1924) where he received his B.A. In 1925, LeBel was ordained a priest and in 1931 he received his M.A. from the University of Chicago and was ready to begin his career. LeBel immediately became a professor of English at the University of Saskatoon (1931–39), and later held the same post at both the University of Toronto (1939–41) and Assumption College (1941–47). Following six years of teaching at Assumption College, the school named LeBel its Dean (1947–52), a title he would hold until Assumption College was no more.[6] During his tenure as Dean of the College, LeBel and his administration pushed for a more open based community school of higher learning.[5] After winning affiliation with Essex College and Canterbury College the Ontario legislature renamed Assumption College to Assumption University of Windsor[7] making it an official school of the community, though it was still Catholic-oriented. Reverend LeBel was named the first President of Assumption University (1952–63).[6] The new U grew so rapidly that government largesse was necessary for survival, “Assumption would have to give way to the University of Windsor.[5]” This marked the official switch from a Catholic university to a public university in 1963.[8] Again, Reverend LeBel was named the first President, this time of the University of Windsor. He would only hold the post for one year before retiring in 1964.[9] The famous John Francis Leddy succeeded him as President of the University of Windsor.[10] The Reverend Eugene Carlisle LeBel died on August 11, 1986.[11]

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