Letter: Scherf Elitist

Re: “Ralph Klein begins new career as Mount Royal College instructor,” Katy Anderson, Nov. 2, 2006.

For someone so enamoured with research, dean Kathleen Scherf should have considered doing some before commenting on the newest endowed chair at Mount Royal.

“Mount Royal serves a different clientele than we do,” she sniffed upon hearing of the appointment. “We hire scholars, people who do research and have PhDs”

Well, so does Mount Royal. But not for all positions. Klein’s appointment is not a faculty position, but a practitioner-in-residence position, as the college has been very clear in pointing out. This is not so alien to the best post-secondary institution off Crowchild Trail North, either. A quick glance at the U of C faculty directory, or one out dean Scherf’s window, would have shown three such positions currently filled at the Haskayne School of Business. And, of course, the English department sponsors the Markin Flanagan Writer-in-Residence program.

Such programs are invaluable for students, who can benefit greatly from the real-world experience of the chair holders. These folks typically hold seminars, keep student office hours, and host public lectures. Dean Scherf, with her stellar reputation as a student advocate, surely would not want to let a certain academic elitism deny her students these kinds of experiences.

Personally, I found these programs enriching during my undergraduate days at the U of C and even more when I went to grad school. There, I took classes with and attended seminars by all kinds of luminaries from the world of politics, policy and media–former U.S. senators and ambassadors, heads of international NGOs, even Connie Chung. Those formal lectures and informal lunches were amongst the most unforgettable moments of my student career.

But, as dean Scherf points out, maybe that school’s mandate was different. It seems she’s happy to let both Mount Royal and Harvard “serve a different clientele” than the U of C.

Naheed Nenshi

instructor, nonprofit studies

Bissett School of Business

Mount Royal College

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