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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Heather came to the University in 1976. She began working in the Faculty of Education, moving later to the Vice President (Finance) office. Currently, she is the Director of Integrated Planning, and has worked on many projects including the Recruitment and Retention, Support for our Students and the revitalization of Liberal Education.
Heather speaks about the efforts to revitalize liberal education at the University.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
That is a really big project and a really exciting one. Andy Hakin did his Fiat Lux address in the theater in 2012 asking about, all of us in this university community, mainly faculty, 'What about Lib. Ed.? What do we want to happen with Lib. Ed.? How do we understand it more? How do the students understand it more?' And what had happened, going back now again to my early days, most of the faculty here, the founding members were here when I started. And they were all based on liberal education, the philosophy of the institution which is, you know, being a good citizen, it boils down to being a good citizen. And, I never realized until fast forward so many decades, we lost the way, and some of the things ... our culture was changing. And some of the things coming up that people had to deal with was really at odds to the early culture that I started working in, here.
Back then, having the liberal ed. philosophy, you were truly working together, everyone was seen as a cog in the wheel. Later on, not so much. It started to be tiers of power I guess you would say, layers. Which I thought was odd because it just wasn’t at all what we used to have in the beginning and I realize it was small back then, but still there was a shift you could tell in the culture happening and I think that’s why Andy grabbed that. And, how do we get back to our roots? You know, people are not understanding what Lib Ed. is. Faculty members would come, because we grew, new faculty and staff would come on board and they did not have that as their background.
We would use liberal education, we would say our philosophy, our teaching education was liberal education ... blah, blah, blah ... and it was a buzz word. So with a fantastic group of people on this team, and when we started going out and doing these focus groups, and asking people. No, not one person could tell us what liberal education meant. So that told us that there was a definite culture shift to the point now that no one could describe it ... you know even have an idea of what it is.
The students that we interviewed all thought that it was GLER. Many faculty said well that’s GLER: the General Liberal Education Requirement. So that, just that one small part of Lib. Ed. as the GLER became the defining factor of Lib. Ed. which is not at all what it is.
And then we went on to just say, 'What are the outcomes for students?' When we interviewed the alumni, they could tell you what the outcomes were and how they benefited but current students couldn’t even see it. So what we’ve done is build these things now, try to get as many faculty as we could to build it into their course outlines.
Our team has worked very hard to get that developed and into our calendar so that now people looking at it will see that is how we stand out against other institutions. This is our niche. This is our competitive advantage. And it really suits the world today, the millennials and everything and how you get involved globally and help the world and people succeed. And that is getting back to our roots. We have had it all along, we just maybe didn’t realize we may have lost it for a while. Now we are getting back to our roots and I just think it is fabulous. It really will change our culture, or ingrain our culture even more.
(Interviewed by Diane McKenzie)