A Sept 28th public forum was told the U of S has strayed from the vision of its founders, but it’s not too late for faculty to get involved and help to change that direction.
Michael Hayden, Professor Emeritus of History, and Gavin Gardiner, President of the U of S Students’ Union, told 60 people at the forum that a new emphasis on research, graduate studies and attracting outside students is a departure from the early vision of “the people’s university” that focused on undergraduate education, low cost for Saskatchewan students, and a wide range of community involvement.
The critique came at the first of a planned series of public meetings on University goals, to be sponsored by the U of S Faculty Association.
Hayden said while the U of S has always been a ‘science’ university, there’s now a focus on research over teaching and service, driven by a political agenda to gain funding to rebuild the University’s “decaying infrastructure”.
But Hayden says he sees hope in Provost Michael Atkinson’s recent calls for a balance between teaching and research and for more faculty involvement in planning. Hayden urged faculty to get involved in planning activities, such as the current foundational document on Outreach & Engagement.
Gardiner agreed the U of S administration is turning away from the “Saskatchewan focus” espoused by the University’s first president, Walter Murray.
He said students face national-norm tuition levels but educational services that are lower than many other places. “We’re supposed to pay more, get less and shut up.”