In response to Thomas Lukaszuk’s declarations earlier in the week that Alberta’s universities must focus on applied research and “learn to earn,” President Samarasekera declares in today’s Journal that the University of Alberta will “imagine some form of reallocation” and “strengthen some areas where we have a chance to be excellent.” The Journal headline puts the matter more bluntly: the University of Alberta is declaring that it will, in the face of what President Samarasekera refers to as “new financial realities,” “pick and choose programs.” Samarasekera: “There’s no question we can’t continue to do everything we’ve been doing.”
No? We know what parts of the University, and which programs, will suffer if we do not stand up for the University as a place where we teach the next generation how to think as a good in and of itself. Thankfully, today’s Journal also carries a letter from Richard Rachubinski, Chair, Cell Biology:
I did not realize it was the role of public educational institutions to remedy the economic shortcomings of private business.
Universities should not be blamed for the failure of private business to invest in the research and technology that will improve its competitiveness and diversify its markets.
It is the role of universities to develop critical thinkers in a variety of disciplines, to discover new knowledge and to disseminate that knowledge to the world at large for the greater good. Universities are not extensions of government or business, or tools for their use in achieving their immediate economic goals.
Thank you, Professor Rachubinski, for this succinct defense of universities as a public good. Full letter at: