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Someone to Teach Them

Someone to Teach Them: York and the Great University Explosion, 1960 -1973

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Someone to Teach Them
    Book Description:

    From the early 1960s to the 1970s, the province of Ontario witnessed an explosion in university enrolment. So dramatic was the increase that there were neither the institutions nor the faculty in place to meet the demand. In response, a dozen new universities from Trent in the southeast to Lakehead in the northwest were established, and faculty had to be recruited wherever they could be found. It was the events and developments of this decade, many argue, that created the university system that exists in Ontario today.

    Someone to Teach Themis an insider's account of this period as told by historian John T. Saywell. As Dean of Arts at York University from 1963 to 1973, Saywell witnessed the expansion of the university from 500 students in 1963 to 7000 by 1970, and the many changes it took to accommodate such a change. York managed to recruit the necessary faculty, he writes, but the large number of American instructors led to a radical attack on the so-called Americanization of the universities. Saywell also elucidates the adverse effect that the reduction of government funding and enrolment had on the administration of the university in the 1970s.

    Featuring many of the elements of personal memoir, this is also a thoroughly researched account of a critical decade for the history of education in Ontario.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8917-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Apologia
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. 1 A Fork in the Road: The Move to York University
    (pp. 3-9)

    Late in the fall of 1962 I received a call from Murray Ross, the president of York University, inviting me to lunch at the York Club, Toronto’s finest, at St George and Bloor. I had never met Ross, although he had been a vice-president at the University of Toronto, where I was teaching, before going to York. He was a warm and jovial Scot who had not completely distanced himself from his Cape Breton background. As the sun was over the yardarm – Murray’s sole criterion – he ordered his customary sweet manhattan, while I had a dry vodka martini. After some...

  5. 2 From Illusions to Realities, 1959–1963
    (pp. 10-30)

    The late 1950s and the 1960s marked the great era of university expansion in Ontario. The university-age population exploded and the participation rate increased. If demographers had predicted the future, no one had listened until it was too late for rational planning. York University was one of the new creations in response to the student explosion, and its history for a few years after its inception was a remarkable and sometimes painful transition from illusions to reality. For Murray Ross and the board of governors, rapid growth, while undesirable in itself, was a necessary response to public imperatives. Others at...

  6. 3 The ‘College System’: A Sacred Myth
    (pp. 31-48)

    The transition from Glendon to the York campus began in 1965, when the first main campus college opened and the first students arrived. The York campus was to be organized on the non-faculty ‘college system’ but no one knew what that was or would be, and opinion on its merits ranged from enthusiasm to scepticism to disbelief. Like many other founders of new universities in the 1960s, Murray Ross unhesitatingly pronounced that the college system would break down the inhumanity of a large organization, provide a sense of community, avoid the kind of student revolution that had begun at Berkeley...

  7. 4 ‘General Education’: Flawed Design, Rich Legacy
    (pp. 49-64)

    As I look back on the establishment and growth of the Faculty of Arts at York, I am surprised and somewhat dismayed at the conventionality of the departments. Although freed from the many constraints in established universities, the faculty seemed governed by the boundaries and content of their disciplines and seldom embarked on their own unique intellectual or pedagogical adventures. There were, of course, the expected ideological and methodological arguments in most departments, which seemed desperately important and were divisive at the time, but they differed little from debates in older institutions. The significant or lasting innovations at York were...

  8. 5 ‘Someone Will Have to Teach Them’
    (pp. 65-90)

    The failure to anticipate and prepare for the unprecedented expansion of the university population in the 1960s was inexplicable and inexcusable. The government had been warned in 1955 that the university population would double by 1965. Moreover, though no one knew at the time, the proportion of secondary school graduates proceeding to university would increase from 4 to 24 per cent during the 1960s. With projections increasing at an alarming rate, the government asked the Committee of Presidents to study and recommend a solution to the emerging crisis. Armed with figures more disturbing than any yet published, a subcommittee under...

  9. 6 ‘The Imperialists’: ‘It’s Good to Know They’re in Town’
    (pp. 91-111)

    In December 1968 in the Carleton University Faculty Council, Robin Mathews and James Steele introduced a motion deploring the increasing numbers of American faculty in Canadian universities. They estimated that 58 per cent of the Carleton faculty were American-born and that the percentage was increasing. Their motion demanded that the faculty become two-thirds Canadian, that only Canadians could hold administrative positions from chair to chancellor, fair competition for all appointments, and departmental justification for the hiring of a non-Canadian. They also demanded that the Canadian Association of University Teachers obtain faculty citizenship data from all universities.

    Soon afterwards, Mathews wrote...

  10. 7 Students: Prisoners, Clients, or Partners?
    (pp. 112-128)

    One reason, but by no means a major one, why I did not go to Berkeley in 1958 was the strange feeling that it was on the verge of some kind of upheaval. The departmental secretary there whispered that my practice of working in my office with the door open and a welcome mat out for students was the subject of some concern: students might expect others to follow my open-door practice. But students, particularly graduate students, welcomed the informal opportunity to come in and talk. A more compelling reason was that the McCarthy-era witch hunts were very much alive...

  11. 8 Questions of Quality
    (pp. 129-146)

    Until 1970 York had been driven by the necessity of absorbing 7,000 undergraduates and finding the faculty to teach them. This necessity inevitably limited our freedom in the recruitment of students and the appointment of faculty. By 1970, however, we had more than fulfilled the mandate accepted by York in 1962. Although it was impossible to turn the clock back, it was possible to direct our energy to an examination of the quality of our students and an evaluation of the teaching and scholarly performance of the faculty. As every member of the academy knows, the study of either student...

  12. 9 The Politics of the Presidency, 1969–1970
    (pp. 147-168)

    On 19 February 1969 the board of governors announced that Murray Ross was resigning, effective 30 June 1970. The news did not come as a surprise. Ross had informed Pete Scott, the board chair, of his intention in December, and it was public knowledge on campus. In fact, on 19 February the senate executive committee and the joint senate–board committee were discussing the selection procedure to be followed for his replacement. They had agreed on a search committee of three senators and three board members, one of whom would be chair. The search committee would recommend from three to...

  13. 10 You Win Some, You Lose Some: Creating the Faculty of Education
    (pp. 169-190)

    One of the attractions of York was the opportunity to establish a unique and high-quality program in teacher education. By the 1960s an increasing number of teachers, educators, parents, and members of school boards were criticizing the quality of existing teacher-training programs in Ontario and across Canada. They complained about inadequate and uninspired courses, instructors, and students. Whether delivered in a consecutive one-year program after graduating from university (largely for secondary school teachers) or a consecutive one-year program in a teachers’ college after high school graduation (for elementary teachers), such training inspired similar derogatory comments. The consecutive programs were too...

  14. 11 Other New Faculties
    (pp. 191-210)

    By October 1960 the early dreams of an Ivy League York had evaporated, although the illusion persisted in the rhetoric and in the minds of Murray Ross and some of his early appointees. York was to be composed of a small liberal arts college, a college for evening and part-time students, and a large multi-faculty university. Today the university houses eleven faculties, ten of which had come into existence by the time I retired as dean in 1973. The exception is the Faculty of Health, established in 2006 largely by combining programs at Atkinson and in the Faculties of Arts...

  15. 12 The Dean’s Chair
    (pp. 211-228)

    I would never be dean of a faculty today, for the same reasons I gave to Claude Bissell in 1962 in not aspiring to such an office at the University of Toronto. There is little room for creative administration, for helping to shape a faculty or even a university. There are a few exceptions such as deans of professional schools or of new or emerging faculties or those fortunate enough to secure massive inputs of external funding. A dean for the most part is a pusher of paper, buffeted, on one side, by determined centralists in the president’s office who...

  16. 13 The Party Is Over, 1972
    (pp. 229-247)

    The years from 1963 to 1970 had been expansive ones for York and the university system. Undergraduate enrolment in Ontario had more than tripled from 29,500 in 1960 to 106,000 in 1970. The number of graduate students had more than quintupled from 2,600 to 14,800. Nine new universities were established and the six older ones expanded rapidly. None grew more rapidly than York. Although funding never seemed to be adequate for all our plans, it was always sufficient to enable us to recruit new faculty and to provide reasonable, and at times generous, salary increases. Staff support services in the...

  17. 14 An Unnecessary Tragedy, 1972–1973
    (pp. 248-276)

    The four months after the creation of the Joint Committee on Alternatives (JCOA) in October 1972 were as tumultuous as any in York’s early history, indeed, in all its history. The work was all consuming, with subcommittees and the committee as a whole meeting daily and often into the early morning hours. On the whole, the JCOA was disposed to try to work through the financial crisis, although several members, probably influenced by Harry Crowe, were quarrelsome and obstructive. The president was splendidly cooperative, but he did keep bombarding us with his yellow sheets of paper littered with figures and...

  18. Reflections: Then and Now
    (pp. 277-286)

    The Faculty of Arts had accomplished a great deal in the ten years after 1963. We had taken more than our share of York’s mandated target of 7,000 undergraduates. We had designed and implemented an entire undergraduate curriculum. We created the Faculty of Education and played a key role in the establishment of the Faculty of Fine Arts. We had been able to recruit enough ‘someones’ to maintain an acceptable faculty–student ratio. At the same time, we had begun graduate programs that in a number of disciplines had already earned a national reputation. By 1970 we had been able...

  19. A Note on Sources
    (pp. 287-292)
  20. Index
    (pp. 293-296)