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John Randall Hofley

Fellowship in United College


John Hofley knows that education can change lives.

“Education is about transformation,” says Hofley, who has witnessed generations of students grow, change, and take on productive roles in their communities. He also knows it to be true in his own life.

The son of working class parents, Hofley was the first of his family to attend university—neither his parents nor his siblings pursued an education past the highschool level. “But I had wonderful teachers in high school who had a positive influence on me, they encouraged me to go on to University,” recalls Hofley, who graduated from The University of Winnipeg (then United College) in 1960 with a double major in English and Philosophy. He went on to complete both a master’s degree and a PhD in Sociology, and began his career at UWinnipeg in 1971.

In addition to teaching Sociology, Hofley served in a number of administrative posts, culminating in a term as Dean of Arts and Science. But no matter what his role, Hofley has strived to live out the University’s mandate of both excellence and access.

Hofley has been the champion of student access on a variety of fronts, instituting groundbreaking policies including the forgiveness clause, providing students who experience a rocky transition to University with a clean slate on their academic record following a five-year break in their studies. He also launched “Conditional Status,” under which students who underperform in highschool may enter University despite marginal grades. “There are a lot of students who may not do well in highschool, but are very capable,” says Hofley. “They come to University and thrive—I’m very proud of that.”

Hofley has also been a supporter of the College and University Bound program (CUB) for more than a decade. CUB is a program designed to introduce students to postsecondary education who may never have considered it an option, whether for reasons of money, culture, or circumstance. “Last year, more than 75 per cent of those kids went on to postsecondary education,” reports Hofley.

He has also made significant contributions to the University on other fronts, including serving on The University of Winnipeg Faculty Association, President of the UWinnipeg Retirees Association, and member of the Pension Committee. Following his retirement, Hofley was asked to chair the Physics department, and later took over as coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program, of which he has long been a supporter. He continues to teach courses and participate in University affairs, and is a government appointee on the establishment of the University College of the North.

“After he retired, he did just as much or more than before,” says Neil Besner, Dean of Humanities. “John personifies devotion to the University and service in every imaginable sector.”