Today I’m celebrating a rather special day for me. It is weird to write this but as of today I’ve been involved in higher education continuously, in one form or another, for the past 40 years. First as an undergraduate (Guelph), then an graduate student (UNB and Toronto), then as a staff/faculty member (Guelph, McMaster, Waterloo, Guelph), and now again as a grad student (Toronto).
Never during this time have I not been directly connected to a university in some capacity. So, is this deep experience or shallow exposure? Too much ivory tower, too little real world?
I’m not a good judge of this. All I can say is despite the challenges and frustrations of higher education, I could not imagine a more exciting, fulfilling and rewarding experience. Every day for me is a privilege. Sorry if that sounds sappy, it’s true.
After 40 years I’m still fascinated by how crazy and weird and extraordinary universities are. And in Canada we are fortunate to have a large number of very high quality universities. Don’t let the popular tirades fool you. Sure there are changes needed, sure some of our faculty live in a previous century, and sure some of our students don’t belong here. But on balance these places are remarkable.
I’m still interested in making higher education in Canada better. I want it to be more accessible and more rigorous; I want it to be a place for understanding and a place to challenge orthodoxies. Sometimes we should shake our heads in disbelief at what happens at universities and other times we should be wide-eyed with amazement at the accomplishments. Universities are those sorts of places.
I’m proud of what the higher education system in Canada has become, and somewhat immodestly, chuffed to have been a contributor to it for the past four decades.