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Bridge Built Halfway

Bridge Built Halfway: A History of Memorial University College, 1925-1950

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Bridge Built Halfway
    Book Description:

    Malcolm MacLeod begins his history of Memorial University College by describing the forces that promoted the creation of Newfoundland's own higher-education institution and the conditions that frustrated its advancement, such as the uneasy development of educational co-operation between religious denominations. MacLeod goes on to analyse different aspects of institutional life to 1950, such as the institution's governance and patterns of staffing, the students' social backgrounds, and the college's curriculum. He also outlines Memorial's links with other aspects of society and provides the historical and social framework for its development, leading us through the optimism of the twenties and the depression of the thirties to the abandonment of self-government and the overwhelming changes that came with and after the war. He concludes by contrasting Memorial's slow and uncertain progress before 1950 with its achievements since, and by placing Memorial in the context of the development of higher education in Canada and the modernization of Newfoundland.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6249-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Newfoundland and Higher Education, 1890–1925
    (pp. 3-34)

    The 1925 opening of Memorial University College (MUC) ended a process that had begun thirty years earlier. It was in the 1890s that the Newfoundland government first established a bureaucracy for coping with higher education. During the period of the First World War plans for general university studies to the sophomore level foundered, but more limited projects in household science, navigation, and teacher training bore fruit. Several factors then interrelated to make the university college a practical proposition: a more cooperative attitude on the part of Roman Catholic authorities, the national movement for a suitable war memorial, the generosity of...

  7. CHAPTER 2 A Student Profile
    (pp. 35-59)

    Of major universities in the Atlantic region, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) is the youngest. Students were first admitted to the non-degree-granting program of Memorial University College in 1925. The next quarter-century makes a natural period in institutional history. Its unity derives from the fact that this was the time of junior college immaturity, before the institution was elevated to degree-granting status just as Newfoundland confederated with Canada. The general affairs of Newfoundland went through several phases during those two and a half decades. The late 1920s and early 1930s saw the last blossoming of Newfoundland independence, before pride and...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Studies
    (pp. 60-82)

    The initial curriculum of studies at Memorial University College was set in 1914, when the plan for sophomore-level lectures adopted the subjects prescribed by universities in the Maritimes. The educators who made this choice still remained wedded for some time to British standards. Memorial, when young, thus taught a Canadian curriculum but sent all its first-year final examinations to England to be graded by the University of London. This paradox represented a near-final stage in the transition of Newfoundland from the British to the Canadian cultural empire.

    During the 1930s the transition continued. Standards for matriculation were now set by...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Staffing
    (pp. 83-104)

    The structures which governed the college, and most of the key policies those structures produced, are described in chapter 9. One particular set of administrative policies, however, needs prior discussion. Problematic situations with which committees and governors came to grapple did not appear in a vacuum. They were brought into existence by the institution’s on-going operation. The essential equation for a working college comprises three elements: students, curriculum, and a staff of instructors. We have seen how students were available from across Newfoundland, and how the curriculum was borrowed from Canada. For the teachers the significant policies were those concerning...

  10. CHAPTER 5 College Life
    (pp. 105-125)

    The interactions of staff and students constituted from 1925 on a new feature in Newfoundland society: the academic community devoted to advanced learning. The setting for this important project was a twenty-acre site at the southeast corner of Parade Street and Merrymeeting Road in downtown St John’s. At one time the area had been a military training ground, by the 1920s it was just “the Barrens.” Almost at the top of the first hill coming up from the harbour, the campus had no shelter: “The college was a big bare structure with its back to open country. In winter, spindrift...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Spirit
    (pp. 126-147)

    Lacking graduate students and even senior undergraduates, Memorial very rarely admitted students to the role of apprentice. Instead, it treated them as wards to be protected and moulded. The spirit of the institution was therefore quite restrictive. Despite the many rules, however, there were few occasions when students were punished for infractions. The idea of a corporate experience shared by all, a paternalism which was not resisted, an emphasis on instruction or indoctrination, with little regard for research, these were the outstanding features of the pre-1950 college.

    College life was highly regimented. Regulations abounded and were enforced among students as...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Socioeconomic Background, 1925–50
    (pp. 148-165)

    The quarter-century 1925–50 was one of the most difficult, most unstable periods in Newfoundland’s history. Affairs went through several well-defined stages. There was first a slide into bankruptcy and dictatorship, followed by a series of attempts, mostly ineffectual, to redress serious faults and injustices. Then came the exhilaration of returning prosperity and renewed optimism. The fact that this happiest third stage was triggered by the calamity of global war underscores how dismal the time really was. The postwar period saw the acquisition by MUC of additional facilities after a time of severe overcrowding had come and gone. Long-range planning...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Gown and Town(s): Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada and Memorial College
    (pp. 166-187)

    Through a tangle of economic uncertainties and constitutional experimentation, the college interrelated with three distinct societies: St John’s, Newfoundland, and eastern Canada. The links were weaker in proportion as the distance was greater. Beyond those three overlapping circles lay the two larger English-speaking countries of the United States and Britain. Their institutions also had an impact, though it was very much less. For London or Boston the Newfoundland college was decidedly peripheral. But in Twillingate, Truro, or even Toronto, by the 1930s it periodically entered into the normal awareness of well-informed people. Memorial’s impact at home was strengthened by deliberate...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Governance
    (pp. 188-216)

    The governing body appointed by the Newfoundland administration, while facilitating the college’s existence and guiding developments, was far removed from the daily life of the college. Originally the “Board of Trustees,” it was reorganized and enlarged after 1936 as the “Board of Governors.” The president was the intermediary through whom Board decisions took effect. Boards depended upon the president’s advice; the relationship was almost always one of mutual regard. Besides the important personnel policies outlined in chapter 4, other key issues which the Board handled through the period concerned finances and status.

    The “trustees” were in the first place stewards...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Affiliations at Home and Abroad
    (pp. 217-239)

    Memorial College had three different types of affiliation with other academic institutions. Its links with the Newfoundland Normal School (1921—32) and with the Department of Education teachers’ summer schools (1926-46) were the most intimate and important of the three. While the university college had a higher status, the other operations were usually larger in numbers of students served. Memorial therefore often appeared to be the tail wagging a Normal or summer school dog. Both operations were fully absorbed into Memorial during the college period. The second type of affiliation - looser but essential as Memorial found its place in...

  16. CHAPTER 11 After MUC
    (pp. 240-253)

    Graduates from Memorial constituted the main interface between the college and the various societies with which it interacted. One, two, or, in cases of an interrupted program, perhaps a dozen years after entering the Newfoundland college students ended their studies there. They were more mature, more knowledgeable, less prone to religious bigotry — but still short of a university degree. Many entered the workforce directly. Of those who had gained the full junior college diploma, a great majority went abroad for further study. Where did they go? What does this reveal concerning social-intellectual links between preconfederation Newfoundland and other countries?


  17. CHAPTER 12 An Overview – Past and Present
    (pp. 254-264)

    The 1925—50 record of Memorial University College relates to three important themes. It is, first of all, the opening chapter in an institutional success story. Memorial University has eclipsed many older institutions while growing into the Atlantic region’s largest university.¹ The second theme is the Canadian connection. Memorial always enjoyed the closest of contacts and cooperation with the network of colleges and universities in the eastern provinces of the dominion next door. In matters concerning higher education in Newfoundland, the preconfederation decades were not pre-Canadian. This fact does not diminish the importance of the third theme — Memorial as a...

  18. Appendixes
    (pp. 265-308)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 309-352)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 353-364)
  21. Index
    (pp. 365-376)