Fresh ideas ensure 25 lively years on campus

by Bruce Mason
Staff writer

The 36 faculty and a librarian being inducted into the Quarter Century Club, which honours 25 or more years of service at UBC, share other things in common besides finding work on campus in 1974. They have participated in enormous change and are involved in new projects which make life as exciting and challenging as the day they started.

Jim and Jane Gaskell were a young married couple with doctoral degrees from Harvard when they arrived at UBC. Neither knew how long they would stay or what lay ahead.

"Two major changes come to mind -- both positive," says Education Prof. Jane Gaskell, associate dean of Graduate Programs and Research in the faculty. "UBC has made progress in equity issues and places greater emphasis on research."

"The university is much more friendly to women -- in my job interview I was told the faculty didn't want anyone who did women's studies," she explains. "That's changed fundamentally and our faculty is also more interdisciplinary and more responsive in community outreach and graduate programs."

She cites her involvement in the Western Research Network on Education and Training as an example. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, it brings together Education faculty, economists and representatives of the community to research policy and case studies and links between education and work.

Curriculum Studies Prof. Jim Gaskell is also involved in the research network. His focus is on applied academics.

"One of the problems I am looking at is how to integrate academic and vocational training to benefit both."

He says the university is more interesting intellectually because of the greater diversity of people and perspectives.

On the other hand, funding constraints have significantly reduced the size of the community of scholars, he says.

"In the mid-'70s there were some 250 tenure track faculty in Education," he recalls. "Today there are about 125. In science education alone, the number has dropped from 20 to five."

Computer Sciences Prof. Alan Mackworth recalls when his discipline was in its infancy. Now director of the Laboratory for Computational Intelligence, he arrived at UBC with a master's degree in Computer Science and Psychology from Harvard and a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University of Sussex.

"There was a great deal of excitement about new ways of studying intelligence systems and perception," he remembers. "Some of us were also aware of the economic importance of applications such as computer vision."

He now works with a team of eight researchers who are building sensor-based robotic systems.

"Over the years we have built up a critical mass of resources and infrastructure at UBC which now enable us to construct new systems and experiments. It's exciting work, which is attracting widespread attention and interest."

Others who will be honoured at the fourth annual Quarter Century Club dinner Oct. 20 in the Leon and Thea Koerner University Centre include: Agricultural Sciences: Richard Barichello, Agricultural Economics; Applied Science: Colin Oloman, Chemical and Bio-Resource Engineering; Peter Lawrence, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Donald McAdam, Mechanical Engineering; Ann Hilton, Alison Rice, Nursing; Arts: Kenneth Bryant, Asian Studies; Marc Pessin, Fine Arts; Derek Carr, Robert Flores, French, Hispanic and Italian Studies; Karl Zaenker, Germanic Studies; Peter Busch, Kenneth Carty, Political Science; Mary Russell, Roop Seebaran, Social Work and Family Studies; Commerce and Business Administration: Izak Benbasat, Daniel Gardiner, Robert Goldstein, Maurice Levi, Donald Wehrung; Dentistry: Ravindra Shah, Oral Biological and Medical Sciences; Marcia Ann Boyd, Oral Health Sciences; Education: Marshall Arlin, Leroy Travis, Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education; Roger Boshier, Educational Studies; Bernard Mohan, Language Education; Forestry: Peter Murtha, Forest Resources Management; Law: Joseph Weiler; Library: George Brandak; Medicine: Aubrey Tingle, Wah-Jun Tze, Pediatrics; Donald Brooks, Pathology; Raymond Pederson, Physiology; Science: Lee Gass, Zoology.