Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2001

Vigilance Key to Keeping Universities Relevant

The thoughtful commentary by Jeremy Richards (Bulletin, March 2001) will undoubtedly strike a responsive chord among many of us.

Mutual trust between universities and government can be nurtured by placing increasing numbers of the best graduates into the political arena. We must teach our students well and make their university experience meaningful, so that they champion education throughout their lives. Congratulations upon graduation may be by e-mail and no longer be handwritten. But the principle of individual attention needs to be upheld on a daily basis to assure students maintain positive views of the educational process.

We must encourage administrators who value education and research and preach to them constantly. The slippery slope to commercialization is not a must if determined positions of administrators, resulting from consulting with faculty, are supported by boards and alumni.

Yes, we are attacked from all sides with lucrative research proposals and yes, we must fight to reaffirm that universities are where fundamental work is done. Astute directors of research and managers, with the proviso that they have scientific training, know their companies will deteriorate if the "cutting-edge" university research well dries up.

Bombardment by publishing companies to use multimedia need not have a negative impact on teaching. The experienced teacher will adapt what is best and pitch the hype. A CD with animation or a professionally prepared transparency can have a major impact on the current student trained by TV to take in information at nanosecond speed.

Since governments control the birth of universities-for-profit, it is a matter of urgency that the message of Richards and similar commentaries are in daily newspapers across the country and not only nodded to by us.

There are more interesting things to read than Macleans' evaluation of us. But since our students do read this, it is our duty to teach them to read critically. We must also invite the editors of Macleans to our campuses more often to convince them to highlight brain power and social interaction without GAP and Coca-Cola glossies.

Victor Snieckus
Chemistry, Queen's University