Press Round-Up: Lowrey and Welchman in Journal

Over the last few days, two members of the Faculty have made Journal contributions to the defense of postsecondary education and academic research in Alberta. Professor Kathleen Lowrey’s (Anthropology) OpEd, “Behind the Pretence of the Alberta Budget,” appeared in Saturday’s paper. On Twitter, the piece has been referred to as “putting a human face” on the savage cuts to postsecondary education, which Lowrey characterizes as part of the Government’s cynical game of “let’s pretend” — Let’s pretend that people all around us aren’t going to bear the burden of these cuts — and someone has tweeted one of its most memorable lines: “You can’t skimp on infrastructure the way you can skimp on people.”

Today brings a letter from Jennifer Welchman (Philosophy). Professor Welchman’s letter responds to the Minister of Enterprise & Advanced Education’s claim that, having cut $147 million from the budgets of Alberta’s 26 postsecondary institutions, the province now plans to spend $160 million on a research institute that will purportedly be like that of MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Here is Professor Welchman’s letter in full:

Lukaszuk wrong about MIT

Re: “Wealth from research a priority; New institute to help academics commercialize work: Lukaszuk,” the Journal, May 6.

It is disturbing to see yet again how ill-informed Thomas Lukaszuk is about advanced education.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is not, as Lukaszuk seems to believe, an institute specializing in the commercialization of research to enhance that state’s economy. It is a world-class private research university, with more than 4,000 undergrads and 6,000 graduate students, offering humanities and science and technology programs.

If it is world-class post-secondary education you want, cutting Alberta’s funding isn’t the way to achieve it. If it is technology transfer you want, please note: MIT has no “institute” for this; it just provides better funding to its technology transfer-licensing offices.

Jennifer Welchman, Edmonton

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