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Vol 40  No 2
August 30, 2007


Frontpage

Classifieds

In Brief

Letter to the Editor

News & Notes

Obituaries

Out and About

Papers & Presentations

Research

Student View
- Getting a fresh start
- Dollars and common sense




Next issue:
Sept. 20, 2007

Questions? Comments?
E-mail our editor.

Calling for consultation

Dear Editor,

I have read the Davies-Kelly Report and some of the various announcements and statements that have been issued since April. Being relatively new to MUN, I do not have the expertise to give an informed opinion on the feasibility of separate university status for Grenfell College, which includes a separate Senate, budget, and president (option 1(a) in the report).

However, I was surprised by the pace at which the decision was moving forward. I do not question the government’s right to make important administrative decisions about MUN, but I would feel more comfortable if there were more extensive and formal consultation about the commissioners’ recommendation. Such consultation should take place during the academic year, when the greatest number of students and faculty are on campus. While undertaking their study, the commissioners did make considerable efforts to solicit the opinions of administrators, faculty, staff, and students on both campuses, but I think now that we know what is being proposed, another layer of discussion should take place. How would option 1(a) affect each program unit? How would current and prospective students perceive Grenfell as a separate university? This last question is certainly critical; declining population statistics in this province have given a greater importance to MUN’s recruiting efforts.

There are elements in the report that require further discussion. Can we use as models small independent universities existing in areas of high demographic growth? Why did one former senior administrator in the University of New Brunswick system recommend option 1(b), and not option 1(a)? What about the costs involved in separation that the financial accountancy firm was unable to assess in its report? What kind of committees would have to be established to ensure that common academic standards and practices are maintained between the two campuses, and would these committees work?

I do believe that Grenfell College, to make decisions quickly in its very distinct campus environment, needs increased autonomy or at least a reformed university Senate. I hope that increased autonomy would not jeopardize the benefits that come with our connections to the St. John’s campus. There is a strong support infrastructure at the St. John’s campus, one that has helped me immensely in establishing myself here, in acquiring research funding, and in quickly assessing library materials. Moreover, MUN can offer its students something that most universities cannot: not only the choice between a small-campus and a large-campus environment, but also much lower tuition fees. Option 1(a) would involve substantial additional costs, and I would prefer to see a more detailed assurance that these costs would not result in higher tuition.

Dr. Edwin Bezzina
Historical Studies
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College

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