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UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 4 | Apr. 5, 2007

Letter to the Editor

What is the heart and soul of UBC?

In his article Celebrating Research (UBC Reports, March issue), Vice President of Research John Hepburn states “Research is the heart and soul of a great university.” Colloquially, heart refers to courage or bravery while soul is the centre of our moral/ethical being. For those involved in human and animal research, the ethical review boards provide these services. Specifically, they ensure the experiments are ethical and are not too courageous or perhaps foolhardy. For those involved in more traditional research such as the analysis of history or literature, the creative task is to provide a more insightful understanding that is consistent with the known facts.

However, Vice President Hepburn inadvertently poses a good question, namely, what is the heart and soul of a university? Answers to this question would provide a valuable insight to the administration for developing a truly great university. For example, one might argue that the library system which stores and retrieves the knowledge base of our civilization allows the student and faculty to achieve their educational and research goals. If one takes this position, then the library system would be a resource that is strongly supported. Similarly, the achievements of undergraduates after graduation, reflects, in part, the success of our educational programs. For example, President Petch of the University of Victoria once argued that the undergraduate students are the true raison d’ etre of a university. Clearly, the number of potential answers is large and as elusive as the soul, but suggesting one area of university activity is the heart and soul is at best presumptive. Perhaps we would all benefit from broader view of our community.

Campbell Clark
Professor, Department of Psychiatry

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Last reviewed 05-Apr-2007

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