Kris Bulcroft is committed to change, but Cap instructors are not?

To the North Shore News from Crawford Kilian

If Cap U President Kris Bulcroft really wants Cap to be a "top-tier teaching university," here's a tip: Don't insult the teachers.

In your December 15 single-sourced infomercial, Bulcroft presents herself as understanding change in education, while faculty are old stick-in-the-muds: "The old model of a professor just blathering on and lecturing at people, it does not resonate with this generation," you quote her as saying.

As one who taught at Cap from its opening day in 1968 to my retirement in 2008, I can confidently say that Cap faculty have experienced change in their classrooms from day one. They have known what resonates with students for almost half a century. Historically, Cap's teachers have driven change, often over administration foot-dragging.

We were the ones who saw the changes in our students and in society, and developed courses and programs to meet their needs. We went through several pedagogical and technological revolutions in my own time there, and alerted our administrators about what was going on.

That's why faculty were developing their own departmental web pages, while administrators wondered about this whole Internet thing. We were calling for more international students thirty years ago, but it took years before the administrators caught on.

As for "blathering on and lecturing at people," Cap's teachers from the very start were concerned about teaching skills that would reach everyone, from single mothers returning to work, to adult basic education students, to persons with disabilities. One reason I loved Cap was that we had to respond to new challenges constantly to meet those students' needs.

Historically, constructive change at Cap has come from the faculty up, not from the administration down. Our best administrators had Cap teaching experience; they knew what we could do. They saw their job as encouraging and channeling our innovations, and then finding the money for them. They did not see their job as cutting whole programs and departments on the pretext of change.

And they certainly didn't see their job as insulting and degrading the very teachers their own success depended on.

Crawford Kilian
Faculty Emeritus
North Vancouver BC

To the North Shore News from Ted Bentley

How to reconcile the president's stated "commitment to change" and her "top tier teaching university" vision against Cap's decision to cancel the Computing Science Program? Seems like the "blathering" is coming more from the current president than the faculty of old she unfortunately slights in the article.

Is there any area of intellectual endeavour that has more impact on society today than the ever changing world of computing? Further, computing and related technologies consistently rank in the top ten of virtually every forecast for jobs of the future. So how to reconcile the cancellation? Sure computing is a costly program but without computing it is laughable and lamentable for Cap to consider itself a "top tier teaching university." Lamentable, because since its inception, Cap has been a top tier teaching institution and the pending cancellation of computing certainly puts that at risk.

For 31 years (1974 to 2005) until retirement I proudly taught mathematics at Cap and as Coordinator of the Department I frequently represented the discipline in the community at large. Perhaps I blathered at times but I was deeply committed to building a highly respected and comprehensive mathematics program at Capilano. Of course back in the early days of Cap there was no Computing Department - in the 70s we taught selected computing courses as part of the Mathematics Department - but as the importance of the discipline grew we recognized by the mid-80s that it was essential to create a new Computing Science Department. Consistent with the collegial model that defined Cap back then, we supported some of the lower enrolled and higher cost computing classes with oversubscribed mathematics classes. Not only was computing important for students who might eventually specialize in the area, it was also critically important for the well functioning of a comprehensive science and mathematics program.

While the Cap president stresses the importance of moving forward with a model that emphasizes interdisciplinary programs, it is ironic that computing plays an important role in virtually all such programs. So why cancel it?

Time for Cap to recognize that a strong computing department is an essential component of every university - top tier or otherwise - and find a way to reinstate computing even with the current fiscal challenges.

Ted Bentley, PhD
Madeira Park, BC