On Becoming a University (Part I)

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’ve had an interest in Mount Royal for some years. When I was teaching at the U of Calgary I found MRU’s transfer students to be hard-working and quite capable. Last year I even taught there as a ‘temp’ (I had a one year contract). I applied for various positions, as part of MRU’s transition from a college into a university involves the addition of quite a number of new faculty. Mount Royal is a great place to teach, and a great place to learn. They genuinely care about their students and treat their faculty and staff with decency and respect. Mount Royal is very well-positioned to turn into a top-rate undergraduate university.


Change is HARD.

Mount Royal was a very GOOD community college. It needs to retain its caring, respectful way with people, but it also needs to add to that. It needs to evolve from a corporate culture into an academic culture. What does that mean? That means shifting from a parochial, small-town perspective where people act like employees to a more global and self-assured one where people act like a community of peers.

Note: I make a distinction between being a “teacher” and being a “professor”. I am not trying to denigrate real teachers (i.e. those who are trained as teachers and have made that their profession). I have tremendous respect for real teachers, if they’re dedicated to their profession. What I don’t have a lot of respect for is faculty in Higher Ed who treat their positions as a job and do little more than teach their classes, manage their students, and put in some committee time. Most of these people have no real training in teaching and should have NO right to call themselves professors. Come to think of it, they should have no right to call themselves teachers either. They’re little more than college employees.

What is needed to make that happen? Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

Community service is important and it is part of scholarship, but  if you want to be a university, community service is NOT enough. Scholarship also involves doing something new AND sharing that with the larger academic community. That’s what publications are supposed to be for. Each unit should be encouraged to keep track of conferences and make their faculty aware of them. SoTL does an excellent job, but their focus does not include discipline specific events. When I was teaching last year I passed along several calls for papers to various colleagues who had done various things in their classes that could have been written up and submitted for publication, but no-one was interested. This lack of interest is fine for teachers, but NOT for people who want to call themselves professors.

Stay tuned for part 2…

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