By Dale Miller
Dr. Rowland Smith brings experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the table as the University of Calgary Faculty of Humanities’ newest Dean.
Formerly the Vice-President Academic at Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Smith also spent almost 30 years at Dalhousie University in a variety of roles, including English chair and dean of Arts and Social Sciences.
Dr. Smith replaced Dr. Pierre-Yves Mocquais as Dean on August 1, so he doesn’t have any concrete plans yet. However, he has a firm grasp on what he needs to do in his five-year term.
“The primary function of a dean is making sure the faculty feel respected, important and well-liked on campus,” said Dr. Smith. “It’s also important to be conscious of the need to change with the needs of students and society. We teach Greek and Latin now very differently than we did in 1550, but the languages haven’t changed.”
In addition to being the champion of the humanities on campus, Dr. Smith is quick to emphasize the humanities importance in the real world.
“It’s always important to point out how crucial the humanities are in most walks of life, giving us the ability to analyze, investigate and understand the world,” said the former Rhodes Scholar. “The better educated our public officials and politicians are in the way you get educated in the humanities, the better off we all are.”
Although the humanities have taken a back seat to professional training in terms of funding and support at most universities around the globe, Smith argues that their importance has not been diminished.
“The competitive nature of excellence is not a bad feature,” said Dr. Smith referring to different faculties competing for funds at the university. “The humanities don’t need nuclear accelerators, but the more money you put into the humanities the better. [Other faculties] and the humanities are equally important in different ways.”