Back to History

Back to the 70's
Installation Address
by M.O. Morgan

I am grateful to you, Mr. Chancellor, for your warm and generous words of introduction. l am honoured to have been invited to accept the Presidency of this University; but it is, perhaps, no secret that the appointment had, in many respects, little appeal for me. The lot of a University President today, in a period of financial stringency, of public apathy, and of participatory democracy, is not easy, and his term is often of short duration. But my commitment to this Province, and more particularly to this University, left me no choice. I was a student of J.L. Paton, the first President of the Memorial University College, and I became one of his proteges. I was a student of A.G. Hatcher, the second President of the College, and later his colleague when he became the first President of the University. I was a close associate to the third President, R. Gushue, and of the fourth, Stephen Taylor, during a period of hectic growth. The well-being of this University means a great deal to me.

I am deeply encouraged by the support for my appointment within the University, and I am humbled by it. It imposes upon us all, a heavy responsibility - that of ensuring that the broad objectives of the University are attained.

Mr. Chancellor, the year 1974 is the Jubilee Year not only of the Confederation of Newfoundland with Canada, but of this University, For it was in 1949 that Memorial, by an Act of the first Provincial Legislature, became a University. The year 1975 will be the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Memorial University College. Thus, during a period spanning 1974 and 1975, this University will be celebrating both its Silver and its Golden Jubilee. It is, consequently, appropriate at this time to reflect upon what this University has achieved, to examine what it is today, and to ponder where it should be heading. My theme, therefore, is yesterday-today-and tomorrow, or more colloquially, where did we come from-where are we at-and where are we going to.

Founding Fathers

Looking back over the uneven history of this Province, one can but marvel at the vision of the founding fathers of the University College, Drs. Blackall, Burke, and Curtis. In a country in which denominational discord was not unknown, and where a jealously guarded denominational system of education prevailed, they succeeded in establishing a non-denominational institution of higher learning. Moreover, they persuaded a remarkable teacher and scholar, J.L. Paton, to come out of retirement and become the first President of the new College. The stamp of J.L. Paton remains with us to this day, though somewhat dimmed by the pressures of social change. He was determined to create an institution of high academic standards, that would develop students in body, mind and spirit, and instill in them an ideal of service, especially to this Province. This tradition of high academic standards, of scholarship, and of service to the community, carried on by his successor, Dr. A.G. Hatcher, was the priceless endowment they bequeathed to this University.

History of Memorial

The history of the University falls into two parts. The first part, from 1949 to 1961, was spent on the old campus on Parade Street. It was a period of orphanage. A new child had been born, but judging by the neglect of its sponsors, it soon appeared to become unwanted. Financial support was meager, barely enough to maintain sustenance. And yet, as one looks back, it was a memorable period, rich in personal relationships, and now evocative of nostalgic memories. During this period, baccalaureate degree programmes in arts, commerce, education and science, and Master's degree programmes in arts and science were developed, and research was nurtured.

The second period, from 1961 to the present, began with the move to the new campus and its official opening with great pomp and ceremony. The orphan was clasped fondly in the arms of its parents, at least for a few years, as funds began to flow bountifully from provincial and federal sources. New buildings were added for academic and residential purposes. New degree programmes were developed in education, physical education, nursing, social work, engineering and in medicine. An Extension Service, unique in its programmes and in its methods, was established to serve the needs of people throughout the Province. Graduate work was developed in many areas at the Master's level, and some at the doctorate level. Research was promoted throughout the University, and it acquired an international reputation.

Assessment of our Achievement

Any assessment of what has been achieved by this University during the past twenty-five years must be made in the light of the target set, the obstacles that emerged and the economic and social conditions peculiar to Newfoundland. During a relatively short space of time, we had to create what most of our sister institutions developed over decades. As the only University in the Province, we had alone to attempt to meet its growing needs. We had to contend with the constant problem of developing a University in a society which had no university tradition. We had to cope with a flood of increasing but fluctuating enrolments.

Above all, we had to keep in sight the objectives of the University, which were clear from the beginning. They were to develop in this Province an institution of higher learning which would gain respect for the quality of its academic standards and of its research; to establish new programmes to meet the expanding needs of the Province; and to provide the means whereby the University would reach out to all the people.

Before I leave the past twenty-five years, I must acknowledge the value to the University of the quiet, diplomatic, but firm leadership and wise counsels of Dr. Raymond Gushue, particularly during the last five years of his tenure, when the student population began to increase almost at an explosive rate. The impact of my predecessor, Lord Taylor, cannot yet be easily seen in its proper perspective, for his tenure of office was recent and relatively short. He developed a genuine fondness for the Province and its people. His exuberant vitality created an atmosphere of expectation and excitement, in spite of the financial restraints during his tenure. Many Canadians appear concerned today regarding the national origin of university faculties. I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the debt we owe to those who came to Newfoundland from many lands - from the United Kingdom to South Korea, from New Zealand to the United States of America - to participate in the development of this University. They helped to lay the academic foundations of the University College, and without their dedicated service during the past twenty years, when faculty were in short supply, this University would have died stillborn.

The Needs - by Memorial and Province

As we look at the present, I wonder more than ever why I am standing before you today. The Provincial Treasury by all reports is hard-pressed to meet the growing demands on its resources, and our costs are mounting annually. The public disenchantment with universities that has swept across the continent has reached even our shores. The expectations of students for well-paying jobs at the end of the academic line, nurtured by society during the post-war period, have now proven to be as false, as they were unrelated to the real purposes of the University from the beginning. We lack accommodation even for our present enrolment. There is a shortage of student facilities, and of facilities for the Library, Physical Education, and for the Life Sciences. The Faculty of Arts is scattered throughout several buildings, some so temporary that their projected life span has expired.

There remain the ever-expanding needs in this Province which we have not met, and which we have no other university to share with us. A School of Music in a province with a rich musical tradition, as a prelude to the introduction of a School of Fine Arts, is long overdue. Food science, particularly in the field of nutrition, has been neglected. There are those who claim that we should have a School of Law and a School of Dentistry, since students from this Province experience increasing difficulty in gaining entry into mainland universities for these professions. Other needs, particularly in the paramedical field, are emerging and the University is being looked to for a solution.

The outlook on the surface appears bleak. But this University has existed, and at times thrived, on hope, and it is with hope that we look forward to the future. For we have confidence in the future of this Province, and as the Province prospers, so will the University grow in strength and stature. The fortunes of the two are intertwined, for it is my conviction that the real development of this Province will take place only if the intellectual capacity of the people is nurtured through the University.

The recent relief from pressure of expanding student population has given time to assess the price that had to be paid for rapid growth, to consider remedial action, and to determine what now must be done for the attainment of our goals.

The three priorities for the immediate future will be: increased attention to the needs and welfare of students; greater service to the community, large and small; and improvement in the quality of what we do, at the academic centre of the institution.

The students have been, apart from a short aberration last year, the most patient members of the University community. They lack space for recreation, for study, for eating, for meeting, and even for just sitting when they are not in class.

The problem of the impersonality of relations within the University is more complex. No university in Canada has made an effort as determined as Memorial to help first-year students adjust to university life. The Junior Division was established as a separate administrative unit specifically for this purpose. A Senate Committee is at present assessing the value of this experiment. But there remains the problem of second-year students who enter the Faculty of Arts and Science without knowing in which specific subject they wish to major. We hope that we may develop fresh approaches to the problems of this group of students. There are also many students who enter University seeking a general education, but without any desire to specialize in any specific field. It may be that we need a modern equivalent of the old medieval studium generale for such students. The Faculty of Arts is giving active consideration to this problem by evolving academic programmes, rigourous in their intellectual demands, but oriented towards roles in society. I say nothing about those other students who have little desire to subject themselves to any intellectual discipline, who want to know what to think, without the necessity of learning how to think. They frequently complain that the University is not relevant to their needs. The fact is, they are not relevant to the University and should not be here.

Newfoundland Studies and Problems

The importance we place on Newfoundland studies and Newfoundland problems stems from our long-standing interest in taking advantage of the social, cultural and physical environment of Newfoundland and Labrador, to undertake research that can best be done here. The historical inheritance of Newfoundland society presents fruitful areas of investigation. Its unique social and physical environment provides a natural laboratory for many disciplines. Many scholars, in fact, have already seized these opportunities to probe the secrets of our physical environment, to delve into our social and cultural heritage, and to record our past. Research institutes have been established to promote investigations in these areas, and many academic departments have well organized groups of scholars active in research. There are those outside the University who dismiss these studies as mere academic pursuits, unrelated to the real problems of the world. The University dismisses with equal disdain these criticisms and their materialistic and anti-intellectual source. For it is our decision to place new and added emphasis upon Newfoundland studies across the whole spectrum of the University. Further specialized centres will be established in several of our faculties to focus this research on Newfoundland areas of study. The results of the research of these centres will have significance beyond our shores.

The University has a deep and abiding interest not only in investigating the Newfoundland way of life and the fabric that holds it together, but of enriching it. Our heritage, endangered by the modern rush for material well-being, requires protection. We are very proud therefore, Mr. Chancellor, to have the privilege today of honouring representatives of men who have created that heritage. The contribution of our fishermen and our teachers to Newfoundland life, to the very fabric of our society, is beyond praise. Their presence here is symbolic of our determined interest in the affairs of this Province, and is indicative of the decision of the University Senate to seek out and to honour those in Newfoundland who, whatever their walk of life, have attained excellence in their field of endeavour.

There will also be a practical aspect to our increased emphasis on Newfoundland studies. Like other universities, we have a large concentration of talent that can be brought to bear upon the problems of our society, with a degree of objectivity and from a broader perspective than can be found in any other sector of society. We have the capability, which will be reinforced, of creating new knowledge to bear upon these problems and which can become the basis of their rational solution.

Memorial 'No Ivory Tower'

Memorial is not, nor ever has been, an ivory tower, remote and isolated from the world around it. It has spent too long at the marketplace for that charge to be true. But it is not, nor will it be permitted to become, simply a manpower training centre, notwithstanding its professional schools and its contribution to the education of high level manpower. It is not, nor can it simply become, an academic service station, dispensing intellectual expertise, whether to the solution of contemporary problems or to participation in mission-oriented research. The fundamental concern of a University if it is to be true to itself, is knowledge - its preservation, its extension, and its dissemination. This concern is also of vital importance to society, for the possession of knowledge and its continuous expansion is essential to any vibrant society. Equally important is the development to the full of the intellectual capacity of its people. Research within the University must not be limited to provincial or national needs, nor to economic and social priorities. For these needs change over time, as does the order of their priority. Provision must be made to give free rein to enquiry and to enable good ideas to be pursued wherever they may lead. For who knows what benefits will ultimately accrue, or what enlightenment will follow from the free play of intellectual enquiry.

Education - Training: There is a Differenre

The development of the intellectual capacity of its citizens requires of the Government that efforts be made to equalize opportunities so that each may seek the maximum development of his talents. A distinction must be drawn between education and training. The role of the University is one of educating - of drawing out the powers of thought and imagination, of developing the ability to think analytically and critically, and to make rational judgements. It makes a student aware of his own ignorance, and from this awareness comes the confidence to face the world. For the student will learn how to think, and how to learn, rather than what to think and how to apply. Consequently, he is not locked into a specific job, but provided with the capacity to adapt himself to a variety of occupations. It is because of this essential role of preserving, expanding and passing on knowledge, that the humanities and the sciences and the social sciences are the core of the University. For upon their standards and their quality depend the standards and quality of the other components of the University, and the value of the contribution that the University can make to society. It will be one of our immediate priorities to strengthen the quality of this central academic and intellectual core.

Teamwork at Memorial

Mr. Chancellor, you are today installing more than a President. You are, in effect, installing a team which will have varying dimensions depending upon the task at hand. For we have changed the administrative structure of the University to reflect our three major priorities, and to ensure the more effective discharge of the responsibilities of the University. The changes mean that at the operational level the power of decision will move outwards in an extending pattern. Faculty and students will be brought closer to the centre where decisions are made, and the time involved in seeking answers will be shortened.

Let me end on a nautical note. This University is about to embark upon a five-year voyage. The three ports of call have been designated. The crew has been mustered. Our motto, "Launch out into the Deep", is painted on our bow. As we strive for excellence in our academic pursuits, service to the community, large and small, and efficiency in all our operations, the course is charted. My last instruction is for everyone to look to their compasses and may a fair wind fill our sails.


History | The 70's | 1974