Walter C. Murray (1909-1937) - Report of the President

Report of the President

To the Chancellor
And Members of Convocation

The University Act requires the Board of Governors to submit a financial report each year to the Legislature. It seems fitting that this University should follow the practice of the older Universities, and require its President to report each year upon the educational work of the University. Such reports should contain more than bare records of facts. They should, from year to year, present to the public discussions of questions of educational policy, suggestions for the enlargement of the sphere of the University and plans for increasing its usefulness.


The Constitution of this University is unique. Universities supported by private endowments are usually governed by Boards recuited by co-option, or by co-option and election by benefactors, Alumni or interests of different kinds. State Universities are controlled either directly by the Government of the day, or by a body of men chosen by the Government or directly by the people. The private University is in danger of becoming unresponsive to the needs of the community which it serves except when it is compelled to solicit aid. The State University is exposed to the rapacity of the party spoilsman. Many State Universities in their early years suffered from this cause; but the good sense of the people ultimately asserted itself and the State University was placed beyond the reach of the dispenser of political patronage.

In giving to Convocation, or the University graduates in the province, the right of electing the Senate, or supreme governing body of the University, the University Act has placed the control of the University in the hands of a body which is non-political and yet democratic. The Senate controls the educational policy of the University and through its five representatives on the Board of Governors it exercises a dominating influence in the management of its financial affairs. The Government of the Province, however, retains a control of the financial demands of the University. For through the three members appointed to the Board by the Governor-in-Council it has a voice in the deliberations of the Board, and through the exercise of its right to veto objectionable capital expenditures and of its right to approve or disapprove of all loans and of the annual estimates it has an effective check not only upon extravagance but upon undesired expenditures.

Undoubtedly the Senate will become more and more a legislative body with a veto, while the administration of educational matters will be left in the hands of the Council. The Council is at present a Committee of the Senate. But at the last annual meeting the Senate agreed to ask that the University Act be so amended that the administration of educational matters be placed in the hands of the University Professors and Assistant Professors, subject of course to the approval of the Senate. If such an amendment be adopted the constitution of this University will become more like that of Queen's, McGill and Dalhousie, which have followed the Scottish Universities, where the Senatus Academicus or the staff controls educational affairs and the University Court has charge of appointments and the finances of the University. If the members of the staff are fit for their positions they surely are competent to draft courses of study, to examine and to discipline students and to recommend candidates for degrees, subject to the approval of the supreme governing body.

The Two Problems.

The organization of the machinery of University government was completed when the President was appointed in August last. The Board of Governors immediately addressed itself to two problems of great difficulty – the location of the University and the determination of the scope of its work. A committee was instructed to study the leading State Universities in the West and report upon the best way in which this University could serve the province.

The Claims of Agriculture.

The Committee returned from its tour of inspection firmly convinced that this University should keep in the forefront the great needs of a prairie province. In Wisconsin they saw an admirable example of a University whose watchword is service of the State. In the University of that State there is a happy blending of the best of the old and the new – a harmonious combination of the Liberal Arts and Pure Sciences with the Sciences applied to Agriculture and the Professions. Culture and Utility receive equal emphasis; both inspire Research and are in turn strengthened by it.

In a province, destined for many years to be predominantly agricultural, the Provincial University should place the interests of agriculture in the forefront, or renounce its title to provincial service. At the same time the Provincial University should be as broad and as varied as the many-sided interests of its people. It should not neglect those studies, those instruments of culture which make for the growth of character, the cultivation of sentiment, the awakening of intelligence and the enrichment of life.

An Undivided University.

The Committee reported strongly against dividing the work of higher education among separate institutions. They found that in those States where the College of Agriculture or of Mining or of Medicine or of Law is separated from the University, not only do jealousy, unseemly rivalry and disgraceful waste embitter and paralyze, but the separate interests also become narrow and in not a few cases unprogressive. Agriculture loses by being cut off from the other currents of public life; in like manner the professions and the literary and scientific interests in their isolation become self-centred and indifferent to the great practical interests of the people. As examples of the benefits of union may be cited the Universities of Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota. They are strong, efficient and progressive. In each the College of Agriculture has been an agency of inestimable value in keeping the University in close touch with the needs of the people; and in each the University has given to the College of Agriculture a scientific spirit and an assistance in scientific research that has placed the farmer on an equality with the most skilful engineer or professional practitioner.

It is true, that many of the older Colleges of Agriculture in Canada and the United States have but a nominal connection with the State University. Fifteen years ago the opinions of those interested in agricultural education were fairly unanimous in favour of separation. To-day conditions have changed. The Committee of the Governors found that in every University, where the College of Agriculture is an integral part of the University, both the reading men in the University and in the College of Agriculture were emphatic in believing that the two should be together. The Committee also found that in those provinces and states where the two are separated many of the leading men in the Colleges of Agriculture no less than those in the Universities were of the opinion that in a new country they should be together if the spirit of the University is sympathetic. Dean Davenport of the College of Agriculture in the University of Illinois, once a strong advocate of separate institutions, believes that conditions have so changed that union is to-day far better. President Snyder of the Michigan Agricultural College ( the oldest Agricultural College in the United States), a life long champion of a separate College in his State, believes that the changed conditions and the economic advantages recommend union in new countries. Professor Day of Guelph judiciously states the conditions of successful co-operation. "If the men in the Agricultural department are strong, if the spirit of the University is sympathetic and if the President is unbiased, there is no reason why the two should not work well together."

Ample safeguards have been adopted to secure successful co-operation. The approval of the Governor-in-Council is required of all estimates of expenditure, and the Dean of the College of Agriculture will have ample opportunities to present the claims of the Agricultural College. The Governors expressly undertake to provide the instruction necessary to enable the farmers' sons to come direct from the public schools to the Short Courses in the College. Further through an Advisory Committee the farming community will be enabled to keep the instruction in the College in close touch with the needs of agriculture in this province.

Of the sympathy of the governing bodies of the University with the needs of Agriculture there can be no doubt. The Chancellor, Chief Justice Wetmore, was one of the first in public utterances to declare that the University should put the interests of agriculture in the front. The Senate and the Governors were unanimous and emphatic in their approval. The President urged the establishment of a College of Agriculture in the University in his letter of acceptance.

The staff already selected for the College of Agriculture is a sufficient proof of the determination of the University Governors to secure strong men only and to give them generous support.

The greatest safeguard, however, is the temper of the representatives of the people. In their addresses to the people the leaders of both parties have declared emphatically in favor of the establishment of a College of Agriculture. In the Legislature they reaffirmed their declarations and warmly approved of the decision of the University to make Agricultural Education one of its earliest charges. The Governor-in-Council in approving the purchase of an ample site for the College Farm indicated the scope of the Government's plans for Agricultural Education. This has been confirmed by the declarations of the members of the Government that the equipment shall be worthy of the great interests involved and equal to the task of providing a College equal in efficiency to the best.

The Hon. Mr. Motherwell, Minister of Agriculture, has displayed great generosity and magnanimity in transferring the educational work of his Department to the University. The transference carried with it some of the most efficient members of his staff, yet the Minister consistently subordinated his personal convenience to what was best for the cause of Agriculture and the University in this province.

Extracts from the report of the Committee to the Board of Governors are given below; and following these is a copy of the resolution adopted by the Governors:

"We strongly recommend that the College of Agriculture in this Province be united with the University and that all departments of University work be placed in the same locality.

"We believe that union will prevent both the waste due to separate institutions and the demoralizing rivalry which too frequently appears between them. Union will also secure for the teachers trained in the University the advantages of courses in Agriculture and Domestic Science and will in this way greatly facilitate the introduction of the teaching of Agriculture into our Public and High Schools. While union will place at the disposal of the students of Agriculture the literary, scientific and social advantages of the University, it will also bring the University students into closer touch with Agriculture and quicken their interest in the great industry of the Province.

"Our own observation of the Colleges of Agriculture in the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri and the opinions of those interviewed in these institutions and elsewhere warrant us in holding that the interests of Agricultural Education, no less than those of the University, will be better promoted in this Province by union than by separation."

Extract from Resolutions re College of Agriculture:

"That in establishing a College of Agriculture the Governors agree (1) to make such provision for instruction in the Elementary Sciences, English and Mathematics as may be required to enable the students in Agriculture who are insufficiently prepared to take their courses with profit; (2) to give the Dean of the College as opportunity to present the needs of the College when the estimates are being prepared or appropriations are being divided among the different Colleges and departments; and (3) to appoint one of the five members of an Advisory Committee on Agriculture whose duty it shall be to inspect from time to time the work of the Agricultural College and the College Farm."

The principle of union, the Committee of the Governors placed at the very basis of the University. Their opinion was approved by the University Council, was adopted without a dissenting voice by the Senate and was accepted as basal by the Governors. Everybody recommended "that all departments of the University be placed in the same locality."

The first step in carrying out this recommendation was taken when it was decided to establish in the University both a College of Arts and Science and a College of Agriculture. Many steps remain to be taken, but I believe every true friend of higher education will forget personal and local interests and in a spirit of magnanimity and unselfish devotion to the province will spare no effort to preserve the Provincial University undivided.


For two years or more the question of the location of the University has distracted the people of the province. The very intensity of the struggles for the honor was an indication of the high estimate which the people of the province placed upon a University. Time was when cities and towns were glad rather than sorry to see the turbulent tide of student life flow through other gates.

It would be unwise to re-open the strife by a discussion of the question. The location is settled and an excellent site has been purchased. The faces of the authorities should be turned to the future, not to the past. It is out of keeping with the spirit of the West to waste time in threshing old straw.

The location of the University, important as it is, is after all of slight importance compared with the success of the University. It is incumbent, therefore, on every true friend of the province to give loyal support, and to spare no effort to make the University of powerful instrument for the advancement of the well-being of the people.

A Great State University

Sixty years ago the University of Wisconsin was founded. For twenty years it was hampered by poverty and crippled by criticism. To-day it has over 350 instructors on its staff; it embraces Colleges of Letters and Science, of Agriculture and Engineering, of Medicine and Law; and it includes within its scope, phases of educational work as diverse as the highest grade of Research in the Graduate School and the supervision of Farmer's Debating Clubs, as diverse as the criticism of poetry and the curing of cheese; its annual income exceeds $1,000,000; its buildings and equipment cost nearly $4,000,000; it gathers within its halls over 4,000 students; through its extension work last year it came into direct contact with fully 100,000 people in the State; its discoveries have saved the people of the State more than a $1,500,000 annually; its professors through their services as experts have enabled the political leaders to give to the State, laws and an administration of public affairs that are the equal of the best. It has not only contributed much to the wealth and prosperity of the State, but by its devotion to high educational ideals and by its interest in the home life of the people it has placed within the reach of the lonely and struggling settler the means of happiness and opened up opportunities of a better and richer life.

And yet the State is neither old nor rich. Its people do not exceed 2,500,000; its area is but 56,066 square miles. In 1850 its people numbered 305,391; in 1860, 775,881, and thereafter it added about 300,000 each decade. Saskatchewan had 91,279 people in 1901, 257,763 in 1906, and 349,645 in 1909; and within its boundaries are 250,650 square miles.

If Wisconsin accomplished so much in forty years is it madness to expect that not a few will live to see in this Province a University as strong and as efficient, as abundant in service and as potent in influence as the great University of that State? I think no one in this optimistic land will cast ridicule upon the vision. We believe in our University because we have faith in our Province.

The Site.

The Governors have large expectations and are planning on a large scale. Already they have purchased a site containing 1,333 acres, and they are setting aside nearly 300 acres for a campus. In doing this, they heeded the warning of every University authority consulted. Nearly every University has suffered because short views were taken in the beginning. It is true that fifty years ago it was well-nigh impossible to forecast the extent of the growth of a progressive University. McGill, Toronto, Queen's, Dalhousie and Manitoba are notorious examples of overcrowding. The venerable President of the oldest State University, Dr. Angell of Michigan, agrees with the Head of the largest of the younger Universities, President Judson of Chicago, in advising liberal provision for a site..

President Angell says: "All the history of American Colleges shows that the old ones made the mistake of failing to foresee what dimensions the institution would take on, and nothing is clearer than that the variety of the kinds of work, that are to fall to the Colleges and Universities on this continent is destined to increase rapidly. We are all coming to see that one of our principal functions is to serve the state and the people by furnishing them preparation for a great variety of pursuits, for all of those in which advanced knowledge is required and for all of those whose prosperity independent research can contribute." Briefly he expressed his advice in these words, "Get all you can. No one can foresee the future needs."

In answer to an inquiry as to how many acres as a minimum a University without an Agricultural College should have President Judson replied, "It depends so much on local conditions that I can hardly answer. In general I should say this: When you are sure you have enough get more."

President Schurman of Cornell says: "The Cornell Campus, exclusive of the University Farms, now contains about 350 acres, while the University Estate, including the lands devoted to the College of Agriculture and the College of Veterinary Medicine, covers an area of over 1,100 acres. For our present needs this seems adequate, but experience in the past has demonstrated, so far at least as we are concerned, the wisdom of making proper provision for the future growth and expansion of the University, and the University will doubtless continue the policy of acquiring new lands as they can be secured at reasonable and satisfactory figures."

Building Plans.

No better indication of the scope of the plans for future growth can be given than the recommendation approved by the Council and Senate and adopted by the Governors.

It was recommended that the University in its plans make ample provision for the establishment of –

1. A College of the Liberal Arts and Sciences with Schools of Music, Art and Commerce.

2. A College of Agriculture with Schools of Forestry, Domestic Science and Veterinary Science.

3. A College of Education with Practical Schools.

4. A College of Law.

5. A College of Medicine with School of Pharmacy and adjacent Hospitals.

6. A College of Dentistry.

7. A College of Engineering with Workshops and Laboratories.

8. An Extension Department making provision for local Technical Schools, Correspondence Classes, Lecture Courses, and Farmers Clubs in local centres.

In addition to the provision to be made for lecture rooms, laboratories and opportunities for research by professors and students, there should be buildings for general purposes, such as a Library, Convocation Hall, Administration Hall, Museum, Union, Chapel, Association Halls, Power House and Gymnasium, adjacent to a large Athletic Field.

A system of College Residences for men and women modelled after the English Colleges, and a group of Official Residences should form an integral part of the University plan.

Around the University there will be gathered in time a group of Colleges and Institutions closely allied to the University such as the Theological Colleges. Sites of from three to five acres are to be set apart for these.

The College Farm is to be well equipped with stock and machinery and is intended to exemplify the best methods of cultivation and is to be utilized in the solution of some of the difficult problems which confront western agriculture.

In the erection of buildings the Governors propose the follow as far as possible a definite plan which will enable them to convert to other uses the older buildings as they become too small. Consequently the first buildings will not be excessively large, but of moderate size, well constructed, of durable material and so arranged that important internal modifications may be made without impairing the strength of the buildings. In these and other ways it is hoped to avoid waste. The systems of heating, lighting, power, sewerage and water to be installed will be such that with the expansion of the University it will not be necessary to tear down and remove but at moderate cost to make additions ample for the growing needs.

The foregoing is but a meagre sketch of the scope of the plans for the future growth of our University. They are large, but not impossible. States much smaller in area and less richly endowed, notwithstanding the bitter opposition from sectarian colleges and the indifference of an unenlightened public, have done more. From these Saskatchewan is happily free. Here Sectarianism appears only to promote the best interests of the University; and public opinion recalls the great services of the Universities and Agriculture Colleges of Eastern Canada and the Western States and demand similar service for Western Canada.

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The Things Worth While

The efficiency of a university depends more upon the character of its staff and their ideals, than upon the extent of its site or the magnificence of its equipment. What these ideals will be it is impossible to forecast until the staff has met, and after full discussion has outlined a policy. In the determination of an educational policy two tendencies usually struggle for the ascendency. The Traditionalist seeks to preserve the best of the past, in the belief that it is through education that the heir of all the ages enters upon his inheritance. In so far as the youth is loyal to the teaching of the experience of his ancestors his days are long upon the land. In literature and history, in philosophy and theology is preserved the best that has been thought and done in other times and other lands. The Utilitarian believes that the secret of life is adaptation to new conditions. Through the investigations and applications of science man learns of the new conditions and how to meet them. Man, the minister and interpreter of nature, through knowledge acquires power over nature.

In a sense both are right. If it be true that the business of education is to prepare for life, to prepare not merely for acquiring the means of a livelihood, but also for appreciating the meaning and manner of living, it is necessary both to study's nature's ways and how to induce her to yield her fruits and her friendship, and also to go to the wise of other ages and other lands, and learn of them how to use and enjoy the gifts and the opportunities which are within reach.

In the older universities the Traditionalist, whether he passed under the name of Humanist, Scholar, or Man of Letters, held undisputed sway until the nineteenth century. But with the startling discoveries and inventions of that century and man's amazing progress in the mastery of nature, a new type of university arose, – the Technological Institute, the School of Science applied to the industries. Its watchword was Mastery through Science. In the first flush of victory the Utilitarian was contemptuous both of the warnings and the taunts of the lover of the times that are gone. But as time passed, a saner attitude was adopted. No fair minded man can deny that Oxford, "the home of lost causes, forsaken beliefs and impossible loyalties," has been of inestimable service to Britain in building up a race of great statesmen in the eternal principles of liberty, justice and humanity. To her public schools and her ancient universities Britain owes her ascendency in the councils of the nations. At the same time, the most reverent worshipper at the shrine of the past must admit that the schools of technology have not only increased the span of human life and added to its happiness, but have place within man's power the means of living a better and a worthier life.

Naturally in a new country, where the struggle for the means of living is keen, the schools of practical science are regarded as the necessaries of higher education, and the schools of the liberal arts or humanities, as the luxuries. In time, however, men will come to emphasize not so much the means of living as the manner of life. The farmer, "who grows more corn to feed more hogs to buy more land to grow more corn to feed more hogs to buy more land," will find that this is not the end of life. He may be slow to recognize this, not so are his wife and children, whose happiness and comfort are being sacrificed to his greed. In this province where the struggle between man and nature for wheat is intense, the aid of science is eagerly sought, but no less intense should be man's anxiety for the comfort and happiness of his family. If our University is to serve the province in the things that abide, it should provide both the schools of science, where mastery over nature is taught, and the school of the humanities where men learn the purpose of life and the art of living. It should conserve the best of the past, and meet the needs of the future.

The Sphere of the University.

What is the sphere of the university? Its watchword is service – service of the state in the things that make for happiness and virtue as well as in the things that make for wealth. No form of that service is too mean or too exalted for the university. It is as fitting for the university, through correspondence classes, extension courses, supervision of farmers' clubs, travelling libraries, women's institutes or musical tests to place within the reach of the solitary student, the distant townsman, the farmer in his hours of leisure or the mothers and daughters in the home the opportunities for adding to their stores of knowledge and enjoyment, as it is that the university should foster researches into the properties of radium or the causes and cure of swamp fever; provided, of course, that it is better fitted than any other existing agency for carrying on that particular work.

It is, however, necessary that the tree should be firmly rooted before it begins to branch out widely. The university must become firmly established in the peculiar work of a university before it attempts to branch out into different forms of extension work. When strength is assured in these, it can afford to dissipate its energies in the wider diffusion of knowledge. But whether the work of the University be conducted within the boundaries of the college campus, or throughout the length and breadth of the province, there should be ever present the consciousness that this is the University of the people, established by the people, and devoted by the people to the advancement of learning and the promotion of happiness and virtue.

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Within two years we expect that the staff will be completed, courses of study arranged, methods of instruction determined, plans for future development perfected, buildings erected and all the machinery of an efficient university set in motion. Mistakes will doubtless be made, but it is to be hoped that they will not be due to indifference to the experience of others or to self-complacency. May we hope that there will pervade the University, from Senate to students, a spirit, self-reliant and steadfast, yet ready to perceive and acknowledge excellence abroad and to detect and remove defects at home.

June, 1909