By Dale Miller
University of Calgary President Dr. Harvey Weingarten gave his report to campus at the Annual General Meeting, June 3.
The report was to be a discussion of this year’s progress and achievements and the university’s goals for the 2004-2005 academic year and the years to come. Throughout his speech Dr. Weingarten was mindful of the needs and challenges facing students as well as the university community’s frustrations.
“Students are carrying a larger share of the true cost of their education,” he said. “They are paying higher tuition, graduating with increasing debt loads and, perhaps consequently, being very clear what they want from us–a quality academic experience, accountability, and–whether we like to hear it or not–preparation for well-paying jobs.
“We are supposed to cherish our role as a place of contemplation and higher learning but also embrace our role as an economic driver,” he added.
To solve these problems to the satisfaction of all involved parties, Dr. Weingarten feels the university should continue on its present path of change.
“I think it is fair to say that the last little while has been a time of change at the U of C,” admitted Dr. Weingarten. “We have many initiatives moving forward and I think that, given what we have accomplished so far, that we should be optimistic about the future.”
Laura Schultz, Students’ Union Vice-President Academic feels that the report was similar to what she has heard in the past.
“It was definitely a continuation of the message that Dr. Wiengarten has been promoting with the academic plan and recognizing the difficult budgetary concerns that we have and still wanting to push this university into the upper echelons of universities in Canada,” she said.
Schultz had some concerns about the report. The first of these being that it put too much emphasis on issues that didn’t have much concern with students.
“They talk about expansion, they talk about budgets, they talk about research, they talk about graduate students and bringing on high quality research chairs–but where do we fit in?” Schultz asked.
She was also concerned with the nature of the meeting, feeling the report and question period was dominated by Dr. Weingarten and didn’t foster the dialogue she expected.
“I was hoping for more of a dialogue, I felt that it was more of a one sided address than a discussion,” she said. “I asked him a question about quality at the U of C and what he was prepared to do in the future. He gave me a rhetorical response and said that he didn’t agree with some of my ascertains.”
The U of C will be publishing its Annual Report to the community later this month.