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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 2, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Thursday, December 2, Wl Thursday, December 1, 1971 f Sam Smith: back to the classroom.. .sort ot I rinn't (Ilk til cast. 35- I WOllld like to By ItON Slilff Writer Ilorulil What H the job you are going I" Hawaii? Smith -My ti'li' will prevent o! Hi'' -Maunuloa campus cif tho I'niled Stales States International t'niver- Bity. I'rovost means I will he the chief executive on leer of that campus, hut there arc several campus's within tho USU1 systi'ir.. 1 will report to a president rather than a board of governors. Herald Why would you jive up 'he president's post at the University of Lclh- bridgc tn take up a post nt a smaller university? Smith The question career and moving up Ihn ladder and that conception of sum s is me tl it I hut never been terriblv impress- ed with. While I don't deny that I have ambi'icn and sta- tus needs. I don't consider my merits my concept of adequacy for myself as based on moving up some sort of traditional ladder. So I didn't ieel that 1 had to be let-king lor a bigger, more prestigious university presidency as the next step in my academic career. There are both positive and negative reasons for the mo ,-e. A tlu'rd reason, and this Isn't a negative reason, is that 1 really believe organi- zations grow more effect- ively, and in proper direc- tions, if there is a regular change in senior-level leader- ship. I'd rather risk leaving when I could still he useful, ond I think I could have con. tinned to be useful around here for another year or two or maybe longer. In my judgment, tiie insti- tution will move forward net. only faster in terms of growth, although we are slowing down now, but also move forward in terms of im- proving its quality, under the leadership of Bill Beckel, than it would have under me. Nov.' that's no false mod- esty. I think I've done an ef- fective job here and I was, in some sense, the right man for this job when I arrived. Herald What attracted you to Maunaloa? Smith It is a private in- stitution, funded by private dollars, which means there is a little more flexibility and freedom to do a little more experimental, innovative and what some people might con- sider weird things than is the case when you are dealing with the taxpayer's dollar. So I was attracted to the possibility of being in an at- mosphere where you could move without quite so much constant contact with the government to see whether you are doing the right thing. USIU is such a university. It is a small, private univer- sity with about studenls spread out over eight cam- puses throughout the world. The central campuses are in Colorado, Mexico. England, Africa and just recently, this one in Hawaii. The second major thing thai attracted me to USIU was its international perspec- tive. I really think that one of the major missions of higher a provost next decade has got to be to think in "one- world" terms. I'm thinking particularly of social demands. Although we didn't do a hell of a" lot of it, 1 feel that we should have, and so t wasted a lot of energy feel- ing guilty about not doing it. That's a negative reason. Another reason is that I four.d mvself getting increas This is why I've been reluc- tant to get engaged in this current wave of concern for Canadian nationalism or Ca- nadian identity, I would much prefer that we were expanding our to- ward breaking down national barriers than in building them up. Herald Could you out- line some of the innovative projects you expect to he in- volved with in your new posi- tion? Smith The campus I'm going to has a brand new ex- periment that they call the "middle college and they are taking selected students in their final two years of high school and combining them with the first two years of university on the grounds that this is a more natural packaging of years than is the current 18 to 21 age group. New campus has "middle college combin- ing high school and univer- sity studies ingly removed from the place the action is wlxiro learning is going on. I haven't been in a class- room in over five years. I'm not sure that's wliere tho learning goes on, but, that's where it is supposed tn hap- P'li. And, I wanted to get n little bit closer to learning. The guess is that the rea- sons for the high drop-out rate in high school these days is because we are not chal- lenging the students, we are just not giving tbem enough it is a meaningless experi- ence. So we think if we bring them into a more adult kind of context earlier and com- bine that with an almost to- tally individualized approach to instruction, we are going to have a better learning sit- uation. By i n d i v i d ti a lized ap- proach, I mean we arc going to wipe out the class con- cept, the course construct, the traditional role of the pro- fessor as the communicator of knowledge and we are going to make every person a facilitator of learning. We'll assign each staff member about 10 to 1.1 stu- dents, and he will work out a program of study for each quarter session with each stu- dent. That program may in- volve getting together with five or six ether students who happen to have similar inter- ests, or it may involve to- tally independent study. Or it may mean travel to one of the other campuses, if there are enough dollars. It may involve going down into the community for a month and not even being on the campus at all. This is permissible as long as yon have one person ahlo to co-ordinate it. The goal is that the student; will come out as an indepen- dent learner, able to go on and learn throughout tile rest of his life, not with some kind of erammed-in series of credits that cud up with a BA or B.Sc. and are really dated within six months. Herald Was there any dissatisfaction with your job here? Smith Yes, there was some unrest. Some aspects of the social demands of the presidency were maybe 10 to 15 per cent of it. Secondly, I found myseif increasingly isolated from the classroom, where the action is in edu- cation, where the real learn- ing is going on. A third tiling, which was maybe less than 10 per cent, was this business of national- ism. I really felt that 1 ought to join in the fray here or move back to where' I started, and so (hat was part o! my unrest. It wasn't really unhappi- ness with job here. I wasn't driven out and I wasn't primarily unhappy. I just felt it was time for a change. We have a new building and we're starting In on a new phase of development. I think I'm better at getting things started than I am at keeping them running smoothly once they are un- derway. Herald Was there any- thing that frustrated you about the direction the Uni- versity of Lethbridge was taking? Smith Yes, I'm frus- trated with the entire aca- demy of education. I'm not honestly sure that I believe deeply enough in the impor- tance' of th3 mission of the university any university to devote my life to it. I really do feel strongly about this 'business of the indivi- dual's growth, and in the creation cf what I like to call "gocd and I'm not sure the university has to be saddled with that task. But I still think it is a cri- tically important task and I want to get on with being a part of it. The job I'm going to, while it is a demotion in status, prestige and money, will enable me to get more actively involved in the lives of people. I suppose you could say I'm turning my back on the traditional role of the aca- demy. Now, what about the Uni- versity of Letlibridge? What would I like to have seen done that it did not do? 1 would like to have seen It offer a much greater di- versity of programs. We talk about flexibility of choice, and I think it is a time for us to be moving out into more diverse programs. We have liad to be concerned about any diversifying be- cause cf fight money. Well I think this is the wrong stance. 1 think we should have taken the opposite stance that this is pre- cisely the time when we should be thinking about di- versification. per and say, "because ha has lione that, I have a better dunce of getting a good em- ployee." I would like to see us pro- vide more non-credit courses, mere short courses, more of a come-in, come-out, supcr- marketish sort of thing. 1 really think that the uni- versity of the next century is going to be of that kind. There will always IK a residence experience that will be valuable and people "I found myself getting in- creasingly removed, from the place where learning is going on." will come together for maybe a year at a time and live in a community like the Univer- sity of Lethbridge. But, I dc-r.'t think we will see in the 21st Century the exclusive use of a univer- sity's facilities by a particu- lar age group. I think that is a passing phase. Lock at the kid's who aren't coming now when they get out of high school. I predict that, pretty soon, formal schooling will be broken up. This business of starting at age six and stop- ping at age 17 or 18 when yoii get out of high school is going to disappear. I guess final thing I'm disappointed about is that we do have a very fragile sense of community. We seem to spook awfully easily _ we get uptight real quick. I would have hoped that hy this time we could have de- veloped a little more com- fortable and trusting a family relationship that allows us to live through, some of these critical periods without quite as much anxiety and panic. Herald Could you give me an example of what you mean? I think I would like to have seen us more involved in the community. I do feel frus- strated, even a sense of fail- ure, that we are not more in- volved. We came in with gigantic community support and we still have it, but we haven't begun to pay off like we should. I'm thinking now of the so- called life-learning model for the university, where we get rid cf the idea that univer- sity education is something that happens to people be- tiveeii the ages of 18 and 22 that they do this inten- sively for four years, then we gush them out after we count credits and give them a de- gree and use a phony Idral of letter-grading sys- tem to mark their achieve- ment with. All these tilings, I think, arc vestiges of the past that we arc just too slowly fight- ing our way out from under. 1 feel I haven't been ag- gressive enough in leading this imivcrsily out of this stance as a traditional institu- tion. I think it I had pushed: a little harder, we might be furflicr along in getting rid of the course concept, of get- ting rid of the degree as the thing you're after when you come here. In shorl, we are getting rid of the notion that univer- sity is primarily a credential- ing agency where employers tend to look at a piece of pa- Smilli We are pretty ex- cited over here with refer- ence to our enrolment and the decision to cut budgets, and the worry that we are over-staffed and that some people are going to have to go. These are things that arc important and potentially bnrtal. I think we over-reacted to this urgency. The attempt was made by those of us in the administra- tion to get the community thinking about tho-se things together. You see, we have always been a community university that did things col- lectively. This has been the name of my administrative style, that we work together on making decisions. Up until now, it has been a nice pleasant kind of decision-making for the most part, mostly making de- cisions on how we cut up a pretty big sized pie. But now we have to think about the possibility of de- ciding together how we come to grips with reducing the size of that pie. and that means reducing people. It seemed this fall, that everybody said, "No, no baby, we will work with you and help you decide when we are talking about how to get rid of the largess. But when it's punishment time, you do it. We don't want to be party to it but we want to be critical of it after the fact." Well, I'm overstating but that was the kind of thing f found going on to a limited extent this fall. I now think it: has a 1 m o s t entirely disap- peared. It disturbs me that we have lived together almost five years and we are still not sure enough of ourselves to trust one another to get this job done. Because of the changes, with me leaving, it is too had we had to have this financial crisis when we badly needed a period of stability. But we've weathered it and may- be we will come out of it a more mature instil ution more quickly. Herald llo yon have any doubts that the university will come out of it? Smith I am very op- timistic about the future of the University of Lethbridge. I don't think one could say that the future is rosy, but I don't think there is any question in the world but that we can take pride in the uni- versity and that is going to be here for all of our life- times and probably those of our children too. I don't think we are facing a period of expansion as uni- versities have been for the past two decades, and for my money that is a good tiling. I think we have grown too fast and taken on too many roles that we haven't been able to fulfill. I consider this slowdown in growth, as long as it is realistic, as a healthy thing. I think the provincial gov- ernment has a real commit- ment to this place, and I think they'll see us through our lean years. Herald In light of the problems facing the Univer- sity of Lethhritlgc. economic ond otherwise, would it he a fair statement say you arc gelling mil while the go- ing is good? Smith f think that is a fail- statement although I would prefer that it be phrased that I have a tre- mendously sensitive and deli- cate sense of timing in that I saw it was the proper mo- ment to withdraw my particu- lar kind of leadership. That is saying in a lot of words ex- actly what you said. I am leaving Bill Beckel in a time when tough decisions have got to be made, deci- sions that nobody can be liked for having made. So in mat sense, I am getting out while the going is good. In defence of my own moral stature and ethics, I'll point out that I made the de- cision to leave last April, well before we were aware we had a financial crisis. you achieved all the things you wanted to when you assumed the presi- dency of the U of L? Smith Let me answer thnt in the positive first, I wanted a participatory government structure at the university. I felt that this could happen here. I've been at big universi- ties anil at small ones, and I really felt we had the oppor- tunity to create a university llsat "cared for Uie individual. And I think the U of L, more than any other institution I know about, for all its faults, we have done that. That is my biggest sense of accomplishment. You talk to who conic on our campus from other universities and they say, "You've got something here. I can't describe it but there is an aura of aliveness, of community, of concern." The second thing is, I think we have built here a rather traditional, straight kind of academic institution that, for all its room for improvement, owes no one any apologies. I haven't been able to cre- ate the kind of a context for broadly-defined personal growth and c x p a n s io n beyond the scholar thnt I had hoped to create. I'm not dead sure whether I have the right to insist that that is the role for the uni- versity. I thought it could be done in a university, but now I wonder whether to do that sort of thing, we don't need a totally new social institu- tion that wouldn't have edu- cation as its primary goal. Rather, where its purpose would be to provide a place where people can find them- selves, find out who they are, learn but not be concerned with the mode of learning, where experimental learning can be as important as book learning. Herald Then you arc not certain, in your own educa- tional that the university is headed in the right dircrlion? absolutely cer- tain that the University of Lelhbridge is headed in the right directions in that they are true and respected direc- tions for academic institu- tions. But you are right, I am not sure. In terms of my educational philosophy, I'm not sure it is doing the sort of things I want to devote my life to. But I'm also not sure that there is any university or college that is doing this. However, the one I am going to offers some evidence that it has the same kinds of concerns. Herald What have you done here at the University that you would do differently if you liad another chance? without nam- ing names, there are people here, who in my judgment, have not made a major con- tribution to the. growth of the institution, and I'd like a chance to rethink some of the personnel decisions I've been involved in. I think if I had another run at it, I'd like to have a chance to start from scratch with regard to recruitment of fac- ulty. I don't say this to cast as- persions (in the good people that are lierc, but if I had the chance to start from scratch, I'd take a more ac- tive role. 1 think I've del- egated to o much author- ity with regard to the selec- tion of people. The second thing I would do differently is that I would "I am very optimistic about the future of the Uni- versity Lethbridge." not establish a department structure in the faculty of arts and science. I wouldn't have organized us according io the traditional disciplines. I would have chosen a much more flexible way of organizing our affairs, prob- ably in a divisional arranse- ment. I think the department structure has perpetuated the old insularity that means peo- ple don't talk to people be- cause they are not in the same department. I know you can't legislate togetherness, but I think it could be stimulated by the absence of departments. I also would have gotten rid of the admissions regula- tions if I had had the free- dom to do it. For all the risks, for all ths irresponsibility it seems to imply, I do believe in open admissions no grade re- quirements or and the privilege of a per- son to come in and, if ne- cessary, get his bead chop- ped off. I think it bespeaks a faith in the dignity of people that we ought to honor. Herald What abont the cost of education to the stu- dent, do you see it going up or down? Smith My reading of the current economic climate is such that I don't think it is going to get le.ss. I think, be- cause of tight money, there will be a demand that the so- called free ride some people think students are getting be ended, and that students will have to pay a bigger share of their education costs. Now, that is what I predict. What T would like to see happen is almost the opposite, I would like to see it much more individualized. I would like to give every qualified potential student funds to see him through the educational program of his choice any- where in the world. We ought to support the student to go where he wants to go, literally on a free ride. Herald Some idealists say education should he com- pletely without cost. How do you feel abont that? Smith I'm a little bit caught up on that one. I think there is some advant- age to digging down a little deep into that back pocket, even if you haven't got any- thing in that back- pocket, to be responsible for your own, education. Yet, I don't see that as tied directly to dollars. I think if it can be dem- onstrated that a potential stu- dent literally doesn't the resources, we should give him a free ride. But, during their education they ought to be involved in some sort of activity that is going to generate a payback. I don't believe in reward- ing con-artists, because I think that can happen. So, I guess I'm not quite as idealis- tic as I sound at times. Herald What do you think this institution needs to be 3 complete university? I'm thinking of gradnatn studies, how do you feel about that? Smith Well, those are two questions, one is very general and one is a specific illustration. I think it has got all tha potential for a complete in- stitution in terms of one mis- sion right now. If its mission is to be a good, undergrad- uate, liberal-arts-oriented in- stitution that focuses maSIy on scholarship and concerns itself mainly with the acquisi- tion and preservation knowledge, then I think it has got enough going for it right now and it is complete. If you are asking me what are the needs of the area and how tills institution might ba- come more complete in terms of those needs, then I think it ought to have, within 10 years, some sort of post- graduate programs and per- haps more faculties. I've already said I favor a new faculty that focuses on how people deal with people in their organized lives. I also feel there is a possible place for graduate studies. But I feel a premature in- troduction of graduate studies will cause a dilution in our undergraduate pro- gram. I think it would be a tragedy if we were to go that way in Letlibridge. But it can be done right, and I think it probably will be done right. Cash.There's a store for it You know where to shop for food or medicine or hardware. But if you've got bigger spending plans in mind, better get to know the cash store. That's us. Niagara. We're the largest all-Canadian consumer loan company. Personal loans to and more. Mortgages up to Callus. store 424 7th STREET SOUTH IETHBRIDGE TEL: 327-8545 ;