H.M. Tory, U of A (on the mission of higher education)


“The modern state university has sprung from a demand on the part of the people themselves for intellectual recognition, a recognition which only a century ago was denied them. The result is that such institutions must be conducted in such a way as to relate them as closely as possible to the life of the people. The people demand that knowledge shall not alone be the concern of scholars. The uplifting of the whole people shall be its final goal.”

Dr. Henry Marshall Tory was the founding President of the University of Alberta, and this was part of his address at the infant school’s first Convocation on October 6, 1908. Alberta had been a province for three years at this point. I’ve had a soft spot for the U of A for decades, as my big sister Leanna graduated from there and taught there for many years. It was only last summer, though, thanks to a T-shirt gift from our professor friend Kyle, that we knew of this quote from Dr. Tory. 

This quote helped me conclude a recent piece on environmentalism and the front lines of sustainable community living. How many modern universities (including the U of A) act as if they subscribe to this grassroots view of higher education?