Reviewed by Hannah Gay (Department of History, Simon Fraser University; and Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Imperial College London)
Published on H-Canada (February, 2003)
This history of the University of Toronto was commissioned to mark the university's one hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary. It is the first major treatment since that by William S. Wallace, published for the one-hundredth anniversary in 1927. A single volume work was requested, presumably with a view to sales to alumni and others with close attachments to the university. But, writing a comprehensive history of a major institution with so many different schools, centers and departments is no easy task and, from a scholarly point of view, a two-volume work would have been justified. The major inconvenience of having all the notes and scholarly apparatus for the book available only on the press website could then have been avoided. Even with a volume this weighty, Friedland must have found it difficult to balance the demands of scholarship, comprehensiveness, and accessibility. Despite the odds, he has succeeded in writing a lucid, balanced and representative volume which should appeal to both constituencies that the Press may have in mind, the larger university community and those with scholarly interests in higher education, the University of Toronto, or the city of Toronto.
Already in the late eighteenth century, when the European population of Upper Canada was only about 25,000 there were demands that a university be established at York, the site of present-day Toronto. By the 1820s plans were afoot for an Anglican university college along the lines of ones already founded in other British colonies. McGill University (with no religious tests) received a royal charter in 1821 and the British government thought it might serve the needs of both Upper and Lower Canada. But there was concern that too many young men were leaving Upper Canada for study in the United States where, according to the chief booster for the new university, Bishop John Strachan, the books "breathe hatred to everything English" (p. 6). Concern over Americanization, and the possible loss of young men to the United States, led the authorities in London to support the founding of a university in the colony. King's College, chartered in 1827, was to be run by Anglican clergymen, a major, albeit indirect, reason for its subsequent failure. The elite families of the colony may have been largely Anglican but, overall, Anglicans were in a minority. Methodists, who formed the largest minority, understandably objected to the terms of the new college and, in 1837, were successful in getting a bill passed in London removing Anglican religious tests from the original charter. But entrants still had to declare their belief in the "authenticity and divine inspiration" of the Old and New Testaments (p. 19). The university was, in essence, to be both a place where clergymen could be trained and a finishing school for Christian gentlemen. Most of the early entrants were graduates of Upper Canada College, an elite school where Latin and other subjects needed for matriculation were taught. But the 1837 Rebellion, and a number of financial problems, delayed construction. By the time the cornerstone was laid in 1842, the Methodists had founded Victoria College in Cobourg and the Presbyterians, Queen's College in Kingston (both in 1841). The Roman Catholic St Michael's College was founded in Toronto in 1852 by French Basilians. Later, in the 1920s, Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain came to St. Michael's and built up the Institute of Medieval Studies (renamed Pontifical Institute in 1939), a major center in its field.
Bishop Strachan tried to hold out for only English staff at the new King's College. But recruiting from England was not easy; few talented young men wished to work in the colonies. Among those who did apply for positions in the early years, the scientists John Tyndall and Thomas Henry Huxley, and the mathematician J. J. Sylvester stand out. They were all rejected; Huxley, because the Rev. William Hincks, brother of the then premier of Canada, was given the chair of natural history; Sylvester because he was a Jew, though it is only fair to point out that he had just been thrown out of University College in London (Gower Street's 'godless institution') and was to have a rather odd career trajectory before becoming Savilian professor in Oxford. Tyndall, later infamous for his materialist Belfast address to the British Association, may have let his materialist bias show--though his being Irish might have counted against him. The early hiring ethos, in which the English and Scots were favoured, and in which nepotism and anti-semitism were practised, faded away only slowly. Friedland appears to have some sympathy for the claim, made by A. B. Macallum the professor of physiology in the late nineteenth century, that had these scientists been hired the university would have early been able to rival some leading US institutions. But this is surely false. Huxley and Tyndall needed the London environment with its new openings free of Oxbridge tradition and religious restrictions, in which to operate. Toronto would not have given them the same opportunities; though, had they gone, they would have made the best of it--as did other scientists, such as Henry Croft the first professor of chemistry, hired on the recommendation of Michael Faraday.
Strachan was unhappy that Charles Bagot, the Governor General, hired an Irishman, John McCaul, principal of Upper Canada College and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, as his vice-principal and professor of classics. Far worse, in 1849 an act was introduced in the parliament of Canada to convert King's College into the University of Toronto which was to become a secular institution. There was to be no public funding for the chair of divinity, and no religious test for students or professors. The idea was that the Victoria and Queen's colleges should affiliate with the university while retaining powers to grant degrees in certain subjects. Strachan and his followers labelled this act "entirely infidel" (p. 28). It prompted them to found yet another college, the strictly Anglican Trinity College which opened its doors to students in 1852, two years after the act inaugurating the new university. Those King's College professors who did not move to Trinity became professors at the University of Toronto. John McCaul became the first president and professor of classics. The Rev. James Beaven ceased being a professor of divinity and became professor of metaphysics and ethics. Victoria and Queen's did not wish to affiliate at this time. A little later St. Michael's bid to affiliate was turned down.
Perhaps appropriately, the old King's College site became the University Lunatic Asylum. Clearly sectarian tensions had clouded people's minds in the planning of tertiary education for the colony, and the university has had to live with the consequences of its early history. By the 1850s the new university took about fifty students a year, but the denominational colleges were holding their own so that the government had to rethink yet again. In 1853 royal assent was given to a bill redefining the university. It was renamed University College and a new University of Toronto, intended to be an examining body for all the colleges, was founded. This arrangement bore some resemblance to the one at the University of London, though not to the extent that Friedland, or some of the contemporary observers that he quotes, imply. Under the new legislation the fledgling faculties of law and medicine were abandoned. This is understandable given the existing climate of opinion on professional education, not just in British North America but also in Britain. The question of whether future lawyers, doctors, surgeons and engineers should be educated in colleges or universities, or on the job by tutelage, articling, working in hospital settings, or as apprentices, was highly debated. Egerton Ryerson, the power behind Victoria College, still believed in a gentlemanly tertiary education of the Oxbridge type in which classics and mathematics were stressed. Later he recommended that normal schools and schools of engineering be kept apart from the rest. But there were those attached to the university who wanted an expanded and more modern curriculum. In Britain, as in Upper Canada, professional education was still largely private and only later in the century did the state begin to play a serious role in funding medical and engineering programs. In Toronto the medical faculty was reestablished in 1887. The Law Society, which had a monopoly on legal education, set up the Osgoode Hall Law School in 1889 and the University only won the right to fully train lawyers in 1957. A School of Practical Science was opened in 1878. These professional schools came into being after Confederation when responsibility for education passed to the new provincial governments. I would like to have read a little more about engineering education than Friedland provides. Ontario saw itself as a province with great potential, but one in need of development--roads and railways to be built, mineral deposits to be exploited, timber to be harvested, land to be farmed, manufacturing to be promoted and, later in the century, electricity to be generated and distributed. Well-trained technical people were needed. The first professor of engineering, John Galbraith, was a railway engineer. Like Galbraith, most of the science and engineering professors of the 1870s appear to have had Scottish training. The School of Practical science did train some mining and civil engineers; but we are not told how far this new school went in providing the talent used in developing the infrastructure of the province.
Friedland details the history of the university's buildings well. University College was housed in an impressive new building by the 1860s and other buildings followed. But the new university still had to survive the attacks of sectarian interests. According to Daniel Wilson it narrowly avoided extinction after a Royal Commission, appointed by John A. Macdonald, and designed to be friendly to the denominational colleges, filed its report in 1863. The report recommended endowment monies be taken from the university and shared with the colleges. But, in the end, after university supporters came out in force to oppose the report, the colleges received higher grants without any loss to the university. Wilson, a Scot, was a major force in the university from his appointment, in 1853, as professor of English history and literature--an appointment that marks a modern curricular turn from classics. By the late 1860s University College had a credible group of professors and about 250 full-time students, including a few from visible minorities and First Nations. James Ross, grandson of an Okanagan chief and later chief justice in Louis Riel's provisional government at Red River, was one. Even though there was nothing in the University of Toronto Act to exclude women, President McCaul was against their admission. Until he retired in 1880, and was succeeded by Wilson, few women were admitted. Women entered by painfully slow degrees from the 1870s, despite the fact that the need for women teachers in high schools was widely recognized. The first women to be admitted were not allowed to attend lectures with men and had to be separately tutored - though Henry Croft, the chemist, was an exception in allowing a few women to attend his classes. Only one of the twenty-three women admitted in the 1870s graduated. Wilson, who was opposed to co-education, would have preferred a separate women's college along the lines then being attempted by Trinity College (St. Hilda's never became a true college; it became a residence for Anglican women students). But women students did not want to be denied the facilities of University College and, in 1884, legislation gave them the right to attend lectures. A Lady Superintendent, Letitia Salter, was hired to ensure the smooth and proper integration of women students and there were strict rules of conduct. Five women graduated in 1885, the first women's residence opened in 1905, but not until the late twentieth century was anything close to parity in access to university facilities achieved. Hart House, the major student social centre, which opened after the First World War, excluded women students from most of its facilities, not admitting women on equal terms with men until 1972. Even women faculty members, only a handful before the 1960s, were denied access to the faculty club while it was located in Hart House.
It would appear that government investment in expensive practical science laboratories was the most important factor in encouraging integration of the denominational colleges. Keeping up with the new was expensive and the separate colleges could not easily afford to do so. Queen's, in the end, rejected federation because the government was not prepared to pay for it to move to Toronto. Victoria College was in debt by the 1880s and did not wish to wither into a strictly theological college. The government encouraged federation but Daniel Wilson was concerned that this was part of some plot by Methodists to take control of University College. In the event, Victoria College moved from Cobourg, and with two smaller theological colleges, Wycliffe (low-church Anglican) and Knox (Presbyterian) joined the University of Toronto in 1885. Victoria College's new building was opened in 1892. St. Michael's federated in 1890 and Trinity did so in 1903, moving into its present building in 1925. The Baptist College refused to join; with a bequest from William McMaster it was able to become an independent university and move to Hamilton in 1930.
Under the new legislation the Ontario government had greater control of university affairs, and it allowed the university to slowly expand. However, by 1904, University College and Victoria College between them only graduated about 400 students each year. By the late century local feeling was beginning to turn against professors imported from Britain. The first Canadian to be hired was James Loudon in 1875. As professor of mathematics and physics he introduced practical physics instruction in Toronto and later became president of the university. But, as a Canadian faculty member, he remained part of a tiny minority. In this connection, a dispute arose in 1888 around the hiring of the first professor of political science. William Houston, a graduate of the university, promoter of women's access, and founder of the political science club, had local support. But Wilson, who referred to Houston as "the gorilla" and "devoid of the elements that go to the making of a gentleman," hired William Ashley an Oxford graduate (p. 116). Ashley, a left-winger, and an excellent scholar, was lured to Harvard in 1892. He virtually hand-picked his successor, James Mavor, a University of Glasgow graduate with similar political leanings. Mavor, a highly accomplished scholar of Russian affairs, and one of the more colourful characters in the history of the university, remained head of the department until 1924. Nepotism rather than nativism was a factor in the dispute over the 1894 hiring of George Wrong, son-in-law of the chancellor, as professor of history. Students were opposed to the hiring and, led by the future prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, held a strike in which a number of other grievances were also aired. The strike raised questions of student power and freedom of the student press. It also prompted the creation of a student union to represent the entire student body. Another aspect of student life at this time was the growth of a fraternity culture. Only in the 1960s when a black woman student was denied entry into a fraternity house did the university formally dissociate itself from fraternities--though they still exist in diminished form. Friedland gives some account of student affairs, notably of sporting activities. Sports were more dominant, and contributed more to the corporate life of the university, from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, than either earlier or later. While universities still support teams of athletes, the pattern shown in Toronto is typical. University identity in more recent years has been less bound up with sports and athletics, despite the achievement of increasingly high standards, than it was in the first half of the twentieth century.
While Wrong did well as professor of history, William Dale, the professor of Latin who sided with the students and criticized Wrong's appointment, was fired. Academic freedom was not yet well defined. Mavor and Wrong continued to favour hiring academics from Britain, as did the future president, Robert Falconer, who had talent scouts on the ground in England and made frequent hiring trips across the Atlantic. Despite the advice of the scouts, Falconer did not hire Lewis Namier, later to become the leading historian of his generation, because he was Jewish. The first Jewish faculty member was hired only in 1930. Presidents up to, and including, Claude Bissell (1958-70) took a personal interest in all major faculty appointments. It would appear that this generated a certain loyalty towards the administration. The democratisation of the 1970s and 80s, while giving more power to departments in hiring and other matters, has also had the negative consequence of an increasing gap between the interests of the various university constituencies. It is not surprising that the 1970s and 80s saw considerable growth in the number of staff unions, and in the activity of the faculty association. These bodies became vocal advocates for their memberships and, in the mid 1970s, there were legitimate fears among university administrators that the faculty association, too, would unionize. The enormous growth in the university bureaucracy since the 1970s has only increased the problem of alienation of faculty and staff from the administration--alienation characteristic of today's universities more generally.
Interestingly, English studies was a field more open to Americans and American-trained faculty than many others. It was put on a good footing with the appointment, in 1889, of William John Alexander. A Canadian with a batchelor's degree from the University of London and a Johns Hopkins PhD, Alexander taught at the university for thirty-seven years. His student, Pelham Edgar, who later taught at Victoria College, was professor and mentor to Northrop Frye, one of the university's most distinguished scholars. Also American trained, James Baldwin, a Princeton graduate, was appointed professor of philosophy. He opened one of the earliest (the first in the British Empire) psychology laboratories at the university. But when, in 1893, the university refused to pay for a laboratory demonstrator, Baldwin returned to Princeton.
The reinstituting of a medical faculty at the university in 1887 laid the foundation for what, today, is arguably the university's greatest strength. At the time there were three medical schools, one attached to Trinity College, Women's Medical College, and the privately run Toronto School of Medicine. Women were not admitted to the university medical school until 1906 but it was the medical school facilities that helped draw Trinity College into the university in 1903. Most of the early staff, including the first dean, William Aikins, came from the Toronto School of Medicine and its buildings were used by the university until a new medical building was opened in 1903. From the start there was good training in surgery and research was encouraged. Biological sciences expanded alongside medicine. Physics, too, progressed well under John McLennan the second person to receive a PhD from the university, and one of the best scientists in its history. He set up a good research school in low temperature physics after the First World War. It was not, however, as large as the research school in chemistry under William Lash Miller.
The Alumni Association was founded in 1900, arguably the most important event of James Loudon's tenure as president. The university was running serious deficits and the graduates, when organized, helped both with lobbying the government for more funds and in raising money privately. They also played a role in the Royal Commission of 1906. The Commission's report envisioned Toronto as the center of higher education not just for the province of Ontario but for the entire Dominion. It also recommended an end to direct government control, and the creation of an independent governing board and a senate. A new university act put the board in place and many of the businessmen members of the commission became governors. Robert Falconer, a Presbyterian clergyman and New Testament scholar, was appointed president in the following year and was expected to give the university a new direction. He held the post until 1932, promoted a service ethos (more along social service lines than along technical ones) and encouraged missionary activity among students. It is not clear that the culture of the university changed much under his direction, or under that of his successors, Canon Henry Cody and Sidney Smith. The university grew in size and diversity but culturally it remained a gentlemanly enclave. University College was secular, but the denominational colleges continued to have a major influence on university life. While the largest university in Canada from about 1910, the university's aim of becoming a national institution did not materialize. The statistics for the year 1987 are surprising to an outsider: about 66 percent of the undergraduate body came from the Toronto area, 29 percent from elsewhere in Ontario, 3 percent from other provinces and 2 percent from outside Canada; only 15 percent of graduate students were from outside Ontario. McGill University had far greater diversity in both its student and faculty bodies at that time; in Toronto the university remained largely parochial.
In the period leading up to the First World War, the university grew to about 4000 students. Friedland describes well how the university responded to the events of two world wars. In 1914 the university's main contribution was in manpower. Over 6000 people associated with the university joined the armed services and about 10% of them died in active service. Unlike institutions of similar size in Britain, the university was unable to contribute much to the scientific or technical war effort. Recognition of this inadequacy led to the foundation of an Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in 1916, forerunner of the National Research Council. However, the Professor of Hygiene, John Fitzgerald, did produce vaccines for rabies and diphtheria on a commercial scale leading, after the war, to the founding of the Connaught Laboratory which has provided Canada with vaccines and anti-toxins for a number of different diseases. Income from this laboratory has been used to support research across the university. In a separate development, insulin was isolated and first used successfully at the University of Toronto in 1922. The work, described in a 1982 book by University of Toronto historian Michael Bliss, was carried out by Frederick Banting and Charles Best in the physiology department headed by J. J. Macleod. It resulted in a Nobel prize for Banting and Macleod. While approximately 10,000 university people served in the Second World War, this represented a smaller percentage of personnel than in the first war. Photographs taken during the second war show the campus looking rather like an army camp with many students in uniform. More than half the 557 fatal casualties of the second war were among members of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Not surprisingly, aeronautical engineering was introduced at the university shortly after the war ended. The university's contribution to the scientific and technical war effort was far greater than in the first war and included work on radar and munitions. The Connaught Laboratory received many blood donations and prepared large quantities of blood serum. It also began the manufacture of the new wonder drug penicillin.
A few refugees were admitted before and during the war; ten academics found refuge from the Nazis but, overall, the numbers were small. Walter Kohn who was sent from England as an enemy alien was admitted as a student and later won the Nobel Prize for chemistry (1995). Because of attrition the continuation of the faculty of arts was questioned, but concerted action by its supporters led to the formation of the Humanities Research Council in 1943 and success in keeping the faculty alive. The war also saw the numbers applying to medical school exceed the number of available places for the first time. There was some discrimination against the entry of women and Jews. But in other faculties the war allowed some women to replace men in teaching positions and a few stayed on after 1945.
Immediately after the war the development of computer science followed a path that is seen also in many other centres. Toronto was not alone in wanting to build a large computer. The distinction between software and hardware expertise was not yet clear and the university devoted scarce resources into building its own computer from scratch--perhaps hoping to hit the jackpot. Only after the government purchased a Ferranti machine for the university did the hardware enthusiasts leave computer construction to private enterprise. The University of Toronto Electronic Computer (UTEC) then faded away. With hindsight one can say that it was not the only misuse of funds on computer related projects over the years.
The inter-war years had seen considerable growth with 8,000 students by the mid 1930s when women made up about 40% of the student body. A School of Nursing was established in 1933 with money from the Rockefeller Foundation and a Fine Arts Department with help from the Carnegie Foundation. Both these foundations helped fund a major program in Chinese Studies under William White who brought his large collection of artifacts (some questionably acquired) to the Royal Ontario Museum. An extension was needed to house this and the George Crofts collection. Art, music and drama flourished in this period. Oratorio and other musical performances under the direction of Ernest MacMillan and Healey Willan, added much to campus life. After the war the university continued to expand, though the percentage of women students declined to 27.5 percent by 1951. The Cold War saw a number of left-wing scholars arrive from the United States, including mathematician Chandler Davis and historian Natalie Zemon Davis. Staff salaries which had been sliding relative to other professionals were beginning to rise and student admission standards were raised. In planning for the expected baby boom, the university opened several new colleges, including two satellite campuses in suburban Toronto. It built new residences though the number of residences remains small for a university that sees itself as a national and international institution.
In seeking a more international profile the university began to think seriously about graduate studies. In this connection the history of the library is interesting. After a fire at University College in 1890 many of the holdings were lost but a plea for replacement was successful; 20,000 volumes were sent from England and more from elsewhere. The new library had about 55,000 volumes, small by the standards of the day. While the main library, and others in the system, expanded slowly it was only in the 1960s that a major campaign to increase holdings and bring the library up to international standards took place. When the Robarts Library (Fort Book) opened in 1973 the library held close to eight million volumes, and was the third largest university library in North America. It houses the impressive Thomas Fisher Library (the rare book collection), and has space for 4,000 readers at a time. A graduate college, Massey College, was opened in 1963, perhaps a decade too soon to match the ideals of the modern graduate school. A small bastion of privilege, it provided rooms for only sixty students, a tiny fraction of what was needed (The college has some non-resident students and senior fellows). But the college met some of the older Oxbridge ideals of the university chancellor, Vincent Massey, who was closely involved in its funding and planning. To this reader, and visitor, the college seems a somewhat anachronistic product of the 1960s. Like McCaul much earlier at University College, Robertson Davies, the first Master, kept Massey a male preserve for the first eleven years of his tenure. But, among the senior fellows of the college, there have been several distinguished scholars; among them, metallurgist Ursula Franklin, renowned also as a peace activist and commentator on science and engineering, John Polanyi, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for chemistry, and Ann Saddlemeyer, an Anglo-Irish literature scholar who also served as Master of the college.
The last forty years have seen the growth of the graduate school over -one could argue, at the expense of - the undergraduate school. This is the price of competition at the world level for institutions which do not have the kind of endowments of Oxbridge colleges or Harvard College. President Claude Bissell persuaded Milton scholar Ernest Sirluck to return from the University of Chicago and become Dean of the Graduate School in 1963. A strong internal committee, chaired by Bora Laskin, looked into the future direction of graduate studies and handed down a report that Sirluck was able to use in overseeing the growth of research. The graduate school won control, highly contested, over who could teach at the graduate level and who could be hired. Centralism won over departmentalism and was further enhanced by the growth of many interdisciplinary units. Robertson Davies helped create the Drama Centre and other centres followed; for example, in criminology, industrial relations, urban and community studies, Russian and East European studies and, perhaps most famously in the 1960s, the Centre for Culture and Technology under the directorship of Marshall McLuhan. This centre continued also some of the work begun by the economist Harold Innis, one of the university's most distinguished scholars of the 1940s and 50s. The engineering and medical faculties reinvented themselves as research engines. But old Toronto was slow to keep up. The York Club, traditionally the meeting place for private lunch and dinner meetings at which important university decisions were taken, refused membership both to Sirluck and to Charles Hollenberg, appointed in 1970 as chair of the department of medicine and chief of medicine at the Toronto General Hospital, because they were Jewish.
But times were changing. Student activism of the 1960s is mentioned by Friedland and it is interesting to read the names of some of some of those who were highly engaged: Irving Abella, Rosalie Silverman Abella, Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Stephen Langdon among them. It was clear to Bissell that students and faculty wanted more say in decision making and that some restructuring was needed. The Duff-Berdahl Commission set up under the auspices of the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada was asked to look into the question of governance. The co-chairs were Sir James Duff, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Durham, and Robert Berdahl, a political scientist from San Francisco State College. Among the 107 recommendations of the 1969 report was one for a unicameral governing structure. Friedland was chair of a committee struck to determine the university's views on the report; the issues were debated in a large assembly with representatives from a range of university constituencies. The final decision went to the Ontario legislature and a unicameral system was adopted, though one more along lines favoured by Bissell than those suggested by the commission.
But Bissell resigned in 1970 and it was his successor John Evans who had to make the new system work. He arrived at a bad time, not just for Toronto but for universities throughout the world. A major downturn in the world economy, exacerbated by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) crisis of the early 1970s, forced universities to examine their activities and make painful choices in how to allocate their shrinking budgets. In Ontario, scarce education monies now had to be shared also with several new universities founded during the 1960s. The new governing council, into which the senate and old governing body had been collapsed, was an elective council with only a few designated ex officio positions, not enough for all the senior administrators. Evans began by creating a smaller group of executive positions, vice presidencies to be filled by people with whom he could work. These included a vice-president of internal affairs, to which he appointed historian Jill Kerr Conway--a good choice, given her sensitivity to student and faculty problems and to the need to improve the situation for women at the university. When she left to take the presidency of Smith College the position went to Frank Iacobucci, the future Supreme Court justice. This new system, adopted also elsewhere, had (and still has) some major drawbacks. While the university president was able to surround himself with loyal appointees, the deans and other administrators not elected to the council were left very much on the outside of major decision making. Departmental heads had little say in anything important. Weekly meetings with senior administrators didn't really solve this problem of over centralization. The new council was reviewed after five years by John B. Macdonald, a former president of the University of British Columbia. He recommended that the council be less activist. This may have led to greater efficiency but it also led to the concentration of yet more power in the president and other senior officials in Simcoe Hall, the site of the administrative unit. This, despite the fact that Macdonald also recommended some delegation of power to the divisions, and that deans and department chairs be elected by their constituencies. Indeed, it could be argued that throwing out this crumb of democracy increased the interests gap between the higher administration and the faculty, and led to yet further alienation.
These problems were compounded as the poor economic climate of the 1970s extended into the 1980s. Faculty salaries declined in real terms and demands were made for increases. But the government could count on the mood of a general public also suffering under the economic downturn. Among the public, large numbers traditionally inclined to see the universities as bastions of privilege, supported budgetary freezes. While John Evans saw the situation as "sliding down Parnassus," politicians such as John White, a later minister of education, wanted 'more scholar for the dollar" (p. 561). Indeed, academics everywhere were being asked to do more with less; it was the mantra of the 1980s. Efficiency and accountability became watchwords as Toronto, and universities everywhere, saw the pendulum swing from a gentlemanly to a business ethos. James Ham spent much of his five years as president (1978-83) in budget cutting. While many in the university would have liked to cut enrollments, formula funding prevented this happening. Student to faculty ratios increased and the university scrambled to find new financial resources. Formula funding, based on student enrollment, has major drawbacks. From the point of view of a large research university, such as the University of Toronto, it discourages the use of resources to build graduate programs with high staff to student ratios. And, for universities that want to improve undergraduate education, it discourages innovative programs, or tutorial systems which require similar ratios.
The faculty finally received an 18 percent salary raise in 1981 but this came only at the expense of a major hiring freeze. The 1980s saw a few new facilities such as an athletics centre and an earth sciences centre, but when George Connell took over the presidency in 1984, the university was demoralized. Student life was in decline; there was a lack of space, and student services, including the important food services, were poor. These problems were, of course, not unique to Toronto, but Connell set his mind to sorting out the budget, finding new sources of revenue, faculty renewal, rewarding good teaching, persuading the governments of David Peterson and Brian Mulroney to support "excellence", and diversification of the student body. His plans, detailed in his document Renewal 1987 were a good blueprint for his successor, Robert Prichard, but they also demanded yet further changes in university governance. Faculty had to be given a greater say in the running of the institution and Connell supported the introduction of a large Academic Board which was to have a majority of academics and academic administrators as members. In 1987 students were more apathetic than they had been earlier and did not demand parity; only sixteen of this new 114 member body were to be students. According to Friedland the new board has worked well with the Governing Council, and governance is now effective.
Robert Prichard benefited from Connell's planning and was highly effective in bringing new monies to the university. In the 1990s Toronto slowly began to take on the character of a national and international centre of higher education, something it had been prematurely claiming for itself for many years. But older patterns had to be broken. Issues of racism and the inclusion of women and visible minorities in decision-making processes had to be dealt with. These new issues of access and governance, not peculiar to Toronto, have been among the major concerns of universities in the past quarter century and it would have been good to see them receive a fuller treatment than Friedland provides. The election of the Harris government in 1995 with its idea of a "common sense revolution" could have been a serious problem had not the major fund raising campaign been under way. During Prichard's tenure (1990-2000) large sums were raised in the private sector and the aim of reaching one billion dollars by 2004 will likely be met. The federal and provincial governments have also been active. The federal government is funding 250 of the 2000 new Canadian research chairs at the University of Toronto (only 15 percent of these to humanities and social sciences); and the Canada Foundation for Innovation is supporting work in biomolecular research and related areas. It is clear that some of the new private funding came with business strings attached. Friedland acknowledges this, but has little to say about the most public example of the university's problems in this connection, the Apotex/Nancy Olivieri affair. But it is not only pharmaceutical companies that make demands that could compromise academic honesty. Peter Munk, for example, wanted a say in the hiring of staff at the new Munk Centre for International Affairs as did Nortel in its Nortel Institute for Telecommunications. Universities, especially those heavily dependent on private sector monies for their international reputations, need to think clearly about how to maintain their independence. They should not have to depend on the integrity of individuals like Olivieri to keep things honest.
Today the university has about 50,000 full and part-time students and a faculty of about 3000. Friedland has recounted its history well. He has focussed rather more on governance and the various presidencies, than on academic and student life--though these are by no means ignored. He mentions many of the important academics and some of the more successful graduates to have been associated with the university. Understandably, given that the book was commissioned, it contains little criticism. As befits a former dean of the law faculty, Friedland is judicious. He has shown how the university has come a long way from a group of small colleges founded by men with strong British ties who saw education as inherently connected to the Christian religion. The major narrative is one of gradually increasing access, of decline in the importance of denominationalism, of the rise of professional education other than for the clergy, of a partial turn from Britain to the United States as model, and of increasing curricular diversity as the world has demanded more specialized workers. It is also a story of the enormous rise in the importance of graduate education, the importance of research, especially in science, medicine and engineering, and the attempt by one university to keep up with the new. Friedland's final chapter recounts a walk he took around the campus on the eve of the new millennium. The chapter has a romantic edge in that the author recalls, as he walks, the ever-changing history of the campus. If the university press wants to attract a few extra readers it should consider selling the chapter separately. With minor editorial changes it would make an excellent guide to a university walking tour. It is a beautifully written piece by someone who clearly loves the university and knows it well.
Friedland could, perhaps, have sat back and considered the consequences of some of the longer term trends that he has uncovered. What do they imply for higher education? Should we simply accept the fact that older gentlemanly elites have been replaced by newer business ones; and that one set of ideals with its associated problems of exclusion and a gentlemanly curriculum has simply been replaced by another set of ideals with new problems? Do we have to live with new ideas of efficiency, and of what is important; with the squeezing out of an undergraduate education, focussed on preparing young people for a socially responsible life, and its replacement with a task oriented education suited to a vocational regime? With the buying of academic research time by those who can most afford to pay for it? (A free market in education might perhaps be more democratic than anything attempted to date, but that is something both old and new elites would resist.) I have more sympathy than Friedland shows for Ursula Franklin's statement "industry can jolly well do their own research and employ our graduates" (p. 642). It is surely absurd that many industries (and law firms for that matter) can afford to hire university graduates at salaries that, so soon after graduation, soar far above those paid to the academics who taught them. While the clock on greater industrial, business and university integration cannot be turned back, I agree with Franklin that the private sector should pay more towards the enormous benefits that accrue to it via state-funded education. Universities are now competing not only nationally but also internationally for students and for funds. If we have moved into a business era, then we should acknowledge that universities are selling a product. But, they need to sell it at its true value; and do so while maintaining access on the basis of merit. However, the future is uncertain. The role of the internet in university education, and of information technology more generally, is not yet clear. Further, in the post September 11 world, it may well be that geopolitics will trump business in defining what nations demand of their universities.
I have been thinking about these problems in connection with my own research on a very different institution, Imperial College London. But Friedland can not be expected to engage with all the themes that his book implicitly raises. He has written a book that is rich in content and one that will be of interest to many.
. Notes available at University of Toronto Press website (www.utpublishing.com); hard copy of notes available at extra cost of (Canada) $25.65.
. Acknowledgment: I would like to thank John Stubbs for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this review essay.
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Hannah Gay. Review of Friedland, Martin L., The University of Toronto: A History.
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