Students returning from the holidays can expect some significant changes at the University of Calgary in the new year, according to university president Liz Luger. Among the first big changes? The renaming of the University of Calgary to Calgary Polytechnic.
“The rechristening of the academy to Polytechnic is long in coming,” Luger explained December 31, 2013 at an Inbridge-sponsored New Year’s townhall meeting at her palatial estate for her cadre of university executives, to which students, faculty and staff were not invited.
“Like our recent executive office upgrade, the name change will help better reflect our institution’s true status,” Luger insisted.
Luger also explained that changes in society coupled with soon-to-be-implemented provincial laws forbidding citizens to think logically or challenge their government, corporations and employers have rendered universities “obsolete institutions.”
“Basically, no one needs to think,” Luger said. “We don’t need an educated citizenry. Good citizens just need to be trained for jobs to work cheaply without complaining. Other than that, it’s all about image. That’s mainly what our I Sigh campaign is all about: image. Think Lululemon and Abercrombie & Fitch. That’s the kind of student we at the new Calgary Polytechnic want to produce. We’ll be the fifth best in Canada at that, hopefully, by 2016.”
The Polytechnic’s provost and vice-president (unacademic) Lou Sheriff received a standing ovation from executives following her speech in which she echoed the president’s negative sentiments about universities, calling them a “throwback to the Middle Ages.”
“While feudalism was good and we need more of that today,” Sheriff explained, “students did things back then like read books and debate subjects. In short, they received a completely useless education. We’ve got to overcome such backward ways and innovate. Our first innovation is to change our name. That’s pretty innovative, I think.”
Ralph Lackey, Students’ Union president, not allowed to attend the meeting but permitted to view the proceedings from his parents’ basement via Skype, was asked his thoughts after the speeches. Like Sheriff, he hailed the name change as “innovative.” He added that it was also a “game changer” for post-secondary education in Alberta.
“There is talk of building a private staircase at MacHall for SU leaders like myself and giving me a bigger oak desk,” Lackey said. “Innovations like these are reasons I favour renaming our institution.”
Lance St. Francis, founder and president of the Calgary Non-thinking Student Society, on an internship serving cake and coffee at the gathering for executives, was also in favour of the renaming.
“It will cost about $3 million to change stationery, cups, T-shirts and so on with the old U of C logo to the new polytechnic logo,” St. Francis said. “The switchover will require the help of hundreds of unpaid student interns. By graduation, these interns will be fully prepared to become CEOs of major multinational corporations in which they will rake in millions, maybe even billions. I see nothing but dollar signs, so yeah, I’m all for it,” he said as he poured a coffee for an executive with an approving expression on his face.
When asked about other upcoming plans at Calgary Polytechnic in 2014, Luger mentioned two crucial undertakings. The first is a $147 million project to install large boulders on the campus that will be sculpted by 223 artists flown in from Spain into likenesses of Luger and other Polytechnic executives “for posterity.” The second is a $2.1 billion gated community for executives, their families, “and their descendents,” that she expects to be completed by 2016. “The project should be finished in time for our I Sigh celebrations that year and our rise to the status of the fifth most- image-conscious higher education institution in Canada,” Luger said.
However, Luger admits that all these extravagant plans are not without their costs.
“This will all entail some belt-tightening on campus, layoffs, fewer courses and higher tuition and non-instructional fees,” admitted Luger over caviar and wine during the post-speech New Year’s party for executives. “But, as we are all in this together, and student leaders approve of everything we are doing, we are optimistic we can reach our goals. It’s an exciting time to be at Calgary Polytechnic … I Sigh!”