Every year, the University hosts an event called the “Residential Colleges Professorial Lecture”. The lecture is a night in which the Residential College students come together in the Allison Dickson Theatre to hear a lecture given by a high-profile member of University Faculty. For many college students, this is an opportunity to come together as a group, excitedly dress in “Harry Potter” robes, and have a few wines and cheeses on the university’s dime.
For those questioning how legitimate the alleged excitement over the “Harry Potter” robes is, it is worth noting that many if not most students choose to spend the afternoon preceding the event finding sticks from gardens around the university to use as make-shift wands for the evening, only to insist that indeed:
“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Lyons”
Further, the most overheard phrase of the entire evening 3 years running goes to:
“It’s Wingardium Levi-O-sa, not Levi-o-SAHHHHH”
College Student Shenanigans aside, these lectures tend to have a much stronger impact on the students than we sometimes appreciate. This year, the lecture was presented by Dr. Ken Udas, on the topic of Liberalizing the Corporate University. Purely based on the title, I expected something akin to that one chapter of the History Textbook, which no one managed to finish in High School, much to the dismay of the year nine Social Sciences Teacher. However, despite the use of big words like “Liberalizing”, “Corporate” and “the”, even I, a Creative Arts Student with an unfortunate migraine as a result of the flu, which I was battling at the time, managed to be gripped by the content of Dr. Udas’ lecture.
The long and the short of the lecture is, that Dr. Udas, who has lectured and worked at many universities all over the world, has a lot to say about the purpose to which we run our Universities. He discusses that the purpose of the University, which should be the pursuit of truth beyond all other things, has become a desperate desire to better ourselves in the tangible statistics, employment rates, guaranteed pay for our graduates and similar.
As an aspiring actor, who will have a harder time finding employment than a tortoise that can do a backflip (which would be awesome, by the way), remembering to not always see the world in this light is really important. As young people, we’re often told things like “It’s about the Journey, not the destination”, only to realize that we can, in fact, pass a 3rd year University course by doing the assignments the night before and cramming the week of the exam. Our world, as it would seem, is about the destination. We measure our success by the tangible, the job that we will get, the money we will make and the grades that we got. What Dr. Udas took great pains to remind us is that University is about the pursuit of truth, and that first things first, we need to remember what we’re here to do, Learn.