At her State of the University address last Thursday, President Indira Samarasekera asked everyone present to admire the building in which we were sitting, and to be sure to take a look around afterwards. Along with the Centennial Centre for the Interdisciplinary Science, the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy provides us with “physical manifestations of the values and ideals that underpin the university as a whole,” with the ECHA “designed to encourage and facilitate connection and collaboration across our health sciences disciplines.” It’s certainly a cheerful building, with some art in it.
The Faculty of Arts was, however, mentioned only once in the speech, when President Samarasekera thanked the Dean, Lesley Cormack, along with the Faculty, “for the open and transparent review process they’ve undertaken over the last several months.” Perhaps it is time for us to ask President Samarasekera to come visit us in the Humanities Centre, and observe the state of the building, and let us know what she feels it manifests about the State of the University as a whole.
Perhaps we could also ask that future addresses about the State of the University are held at a time when more members of the University can attend, and in a space that can accommodate them. President Samarasekera reports that attendance was “at capacity, which left many people standing.” In fact, some people were left sitting on the floor. Others, seeing the state of affairs, showed up at the door only to walk away again.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the State of University address were an occasion for far more members of the University community to come together than can possibly occur in a room whose capacity appeared to be less than 300? The University comprises over 38,000 full-time students, and thousands of faculty and staff. Shouldn’t the State of the University address be held in a space that accommodates more than 1% of the community? How about the Jubilee Auditorium?
There is, of course, a great deal more that could be said about the State of the University address, and what it did or did not presage for the Faculty of Arts and the University as a whole. Thoughts?
For those not able to attend, or to find space in the room, the video is available here: http://www.president.ualberta.ca/MessageFromThePresident/2012/03/2012StateoftheUniversityAddress.aspx.