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September 8, 2008

Still Getting it Wrong: From Polytechnics to Political Dependence

SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK (Sept. 8/08) — The Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT) is pleased to announce that Jim Turk, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), will be visiting the Saint John Campus of the University of New Brunswick on Friday, September 12, and invites the public to attend.

Dr. Turk’s visit marks the anniversary of the release of the report of the government-appointed Commission on Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick, colloquially known as the Miner/L’Écuyer report after its two authors, former UNBSJ VP Rick Miner, and Jacques L’Écuyer. The recommendation in that report that three university campuses be decommissioned and amalgamated with local New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) campuses met with widespread opposition, particularly in Saint John, Edmundston, and Shippagan, the homes of the threatened campuses. Thousands of people across the province wrote letters and emails, signed petitions, participated in a post-card campaign, went to public meetings, and marched in demonstrations.

Dr. Turk visited UNB Saint John on September 25, 2007 and addressed a demonstration in the campus quad. He held aloft a tee-shirt with the UNBSJ logo, put it on over his shirt, and declared that he would be back, and that he was certain there would still be a UNBSJ to come back to. And a year later, he is returning.

Dr. Turk will be speaking at a public meeting on campus to mark this important anniversary. The title of his talk is, “Still Getting it Wrong: From Polytechnics to Political Dependence.” He will discuss the events of the past year in higher education in New Brunswick, address the ongoing threat to university autonomy in the provincial government’s “Action Plan,” and offer a broader picture of national trends.

“We are delighted that Dr. Turk has agreed to reprise his visit to UNBSJ,” said Professor David Bell, president of AUNBT. “He is an international authority on the commercialization of post-secondary education, and his thoughts will be particularly welcome at this juncture in our history. Not just in New Brunswick, but nationally, university education is under siege. The threat in New Brunswick continues to be very real. Until we have some sort of assurance from the provincial government that they are not going to meddle in university matters, what is to stop a crisis like last year’s from happening again? Until the government demonstrates a commitment to post-secondary education by funding it accordingly, without political strings attached, the threat is still hanging over our heads.

“The community spoke out last fall in emphatic support of the UNB campus in Saint John. We hope that this event will play a part in continuing that conversation, and we invite the public to come out to celebrate what we accomplished together last year, and to look forward to the future.”

Dr. Barry Beckett, Registrar Emeritus of UNBSJ, will introduce Dr. Turk.

The talk will be followed by a public reception.

Location: 107 Irving Hall, UNBSJ
Time: 1:30 – 3 pm
Reception afterwards: Whitebone Lounge, UNBSJ, 3 – 4 pm

Both events are free and open to the public.

Dr. Turk will be available to meet with the media during the morning of Friday, Sept. 12.


For further information, contact:
Miriam Jones, AUNBT VP-Saint John

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