- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Nov 1932, p. 274-285
- Cody, Dr. H.J., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Information on some of the activities of the University of Toronto. The University meant to be a great servant of the people, training for leadership, training in the pursuit of truth, training in the possession of that informed and vigorous mind with which the citizen can ever make ultimate right choices. The university as the oldest institution in Western civilization after the Christian Church and Roman Law. Characteristics of the original universities of the Middle Ages. What the University of Toronto is now doing, in illustration of the great functions that a university has to discharge. A detailed description of the University of Toronto, its buildings, purpose, function, aims. The nature of the staff of the university. Registration at the University. The general attitude of the students towards a university career. The need for a medical examination prior to admission. Gratitude to the Government that supports the University. The University as the natural centre and the culmination of the educational system of the Province, reflecting the ambition and the ideals of the heads of the nation. The University as the great testing field for personality and intellectual power. The University as the outward and visible sign of the homage paid by the whole community to the things of the mind and of the spirit. Four main functions of the University: teaching, conserving knowledge, research, outreach programmes. Some details of specific research projects. Supporting the University.
- Date of Original
- 3 Nov 1932
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- TORONTO UNIVERSITY AND THE PUBLIC
AN ADDRESS BY DR. H. J. CODY, M.A., D.D., LL.D.
Thursday, November 3, 1932
LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, President, introduced the speaker.
HON. DR. CODY: In speaking to you today I labour perhaps under two disadvantages; first, as I am always with you there is no element of surprise in my appearance; secondly, I am speaking on a subject that is quite familiar to you, the University of Toronto, an institution of which you have every reason to be proud. However, in spite of these drawbacks, I shall take advantage of every opportunity to offer to my fellow-citizens, as best I may, information of some of the activities of the University, because I profoundly believe that no University was ever meant to be self-centred as a seat of culture,, far removed from the common people. Rather, it was meant to be a great servant of the people, training for leadership, training in the pursuit of truth, training in the possession of that informed and vigorous mind with which the citizen can, ever make ultimate right choices.
So the University of Toronto belongs to the whole class of universities. It is our nearest example of this great group of educational institutions that for many a century have borne the name of University. After the Christian Church and Roman Law the university is the oldest institution in Western civilization. As your President has reminded you, the very name sets forth certain aspects of the original University. There were two characteristics of the original universities that came into existence in the Middle Ages; the first was that the range of study was supposed to be universal-all knowledge then possessed was taught in; the university; and secondly, the university was cosmopolitan. The original universities were not confined to citizens of a particular country. In Europe, universities drew students from every country in the land; every university had a world outlook. I confess to believe that in spite of the many changes that have passed over the face of universities, the chief need should never be neglected, but through its various faculties and its many courses the university should be one of those institutions for the permanent training of the international mind. All students should have a world outlook. A university is none the less patriotic and national because it has the world mind, but it cannot teach or exhibit the finest type of patriotism unless it has the world outlook. Universality of knowledge and cosmopolitanism of membership were the characteristics of the original university and still are, but I wish to speak specially of what the University of Toronto is now doing, in illustration of the great functions that a university has to discharge.
Toronto University is a great deal mare than a collection of buildings. It is even more than a collection of books in libraries and of equipment in laboratories. It is a great human ideal. It represents men associated in the pursuit of truth, scholars in association bent upon finding the meaning of things, the reasons for things, rewarded partly by the very joy of the search, partly by the joy of discovery, whether that discovery may have practical bearings at the moment or not, partly that through the services and through the application of their knowledge they may rear a monument.
Now, our own university is, to begin with, a collection of buildings. When I was an undergraduate we had in the University of Toronto two buildings, that which was then and is now called University College, the old main building in sturdy Corinthian architecture that is one of the architectural glories of this city and continent; then there was an old, shabby, quite simple building across the little stream, that bore the honoured name of Sir Thomas Moss, one of the most brilliant students and graduates in days gone by; the main hall called Moss Hall, where we held our meetings of what we called, I suppose by way of challenge, The Literary and Scientific Society. Here also were the quarters of our paper, The Varsity, published once a week, which afforded a vehicle of expression for many literary men who have since gained high distinction in the field of letters. The Superintendent of Buildings gave me a memorandum the other day showing that apart from the federated universities-Victoria" St. Michael's and Trinity-the buildings numbered about 60; and if you add the buildings in connection with the federated institutions of the affiliated colleges you have a group well over 70; and those material structures are the ho-me of the University. Some years ago, an eminent Cambridge University Professor, visiting Toronto, was much interested in these buildings, which he called "Noble Educational Palaces," and he wondered if intellectual giants would live in these palaces.
What is the nature of the staff of the university? No university can long remain in the front rank unless it has some intellectual giant on its staff. I would far rather have on the staff a smaller number of instructors, and pay them much more, if they were of first rate rank, than have a vastly larger staff which contained a smaller number of the first rank. I am convinced, after a long personal knowledge of the staff, that our University has one of the finest academic staffs to be found on the continent. (Applause.) We may well be proud of our staff of the University. One proof of that estimate is that every year numbers of members of our staff are approached by one of the great universities on the other side of the line, which can offer salaries that fairly stagger ours. Now, I may say this in the presence of my friend here who supplies the sinews of war for that University (Hon. Premier Henry) that, comparing our University for administration and teaching with any University on the continent, there is no University on the continent more economically run. In Harvard the budget is vastly larger than ours. In Johns Hopkins Medical School, where they have half our registered numbers, the expenditure is practically three and a half times larger. I really believe we are giving the fullest measure of value for the money that is being spent on the University.
We have every reason to be proud of our academic staff. Where all are so satisfactory it would be invidious to pick out and mention single names, for I might omit some who ought to be mentioned. But not only does the University consist of staff; it consists of under-graduates, and they are, in a sense, the most important part of the University, for the libraries and laboratories and all the staff and Board of Governors exist for the sake of giving the best possible education to these under-graduates.
What is the registration of the University? With the restriction in the business world today we should have a decided drop in registration; but that is not the case, and I believe our conditions are paralleled in most of the other universities. It would seem that many who cannot find immediate jobs in the business world feel that they are well advised to take educational courses, or perhaps go one with a university course; or, if they are graduates, to come back and take a post-graduate course, so that they may be better fitted when times do change. Up to the day before yesterday, quite apart from occasional students, the actual registration was 7,486, and before the registration is completed, leaving out occasional students and not taking in the students in Pharmacy, or Agriculture" or Veterinary Science, etc., we shall go considerably above 8,000, and we are at the moment 127 in advance of our registration of a year ago. In Arts, there are 3,750; in Medicine, 846; Applied Science and Engineering, 915; in the College of Education, 586; and it is one of the most important features that in the school of Graduate Studies, which is entered only by those who have their degrees already from some university, there are 619.
I would like to speak at this time about the general attitude of .the students towards a university career. Sometimes, in days gone by, it was customary for those who came to the University for the first time to spend the year simply having a good time, and they indulged liberally in the social opportunities presented to them to dilly-dally, and take small part in general education for life as compared with social amenities. But you can have too much even of a good thing. After all, the main purpose for which under-graduates come to a university is to study, if not really for some definite pursuit-perhaps at a considerable distance-yet really to study, which is the main matter. The number of books issued to students from the library desk was 65 per cent, greater this year than in the first few weeks of last year. In the second week, when they were settled down a little more, it was still 63 per cent, and in, the third week it was 20 per cent., showing that the trend of under-graduate opinion this year was to settle down to the main business from the beginning of the .term.
I wish to mention one item that will be of interest. For some years past there has been a medical examination of the men amid women respectively, to see that every student who comes is in good health. Nearly every student took the examination to see whether they were taking too violent exercise, either outside or in the gymnasium. Before any student can take the exercise prescribed, or play in any game, there must be a medical examination. It is a splendid method for insuring general health, because many small difficulties are detected and corrected by this means. Otherwise a student will be handicapped all his life. Dr. Porter, Medical Director for the men, has already examined 2,025 men, of whom 955 are in their first year, and the general report on the health of those men is admirable. Sometimes people are a bit alarmed about the decadence of youth, but I wish to say that so far as physical evidence goes you could not have a finer cross-section of Ontario life than that which you will find in the virile and energetic and clean and decent young men in our Provincial University. (Applause.)
How are the under-graduates divided as to sex? Out of 8,000, a little over 5,000 will be men, and something under 3,000 will be women. Those are distributed practically through all the faculties and all the colleges.
As the University renders certain services to the whole of the community, it owes a debt of gratitude to the Government that supports it; and, speaking for the University of Toronto, I would like to say that our University can never sufficiently express its real gratitude to the Governments of the Province of Ontario for the generosity and the wisdom and the far-sightedness with which the Governments have ever supported the institution. (Applause.) As the University is to be tested by the men who make it and the men whom it makes, the Government will feel that the investment has been worthwhile.
First of all, the University is the natural centre and the culmination of the educational system of the Province; it reflects the ambition and the ideals of the heads of the nation. One point I would here emphasize; the University does not stand apart from the schools. If I can do anything in my term of office to bring into closer cooperation the different branches of our educational system I shall be thankful. Through my work as Minister of Education I think I have some idea of, and the deepest sympathy with, the problems in our separate schools, the elementary schools, and the secondary schools in all their variety, and the universities, as parts of one well integrated and linked-together system. The closer the University keeps to the schools the better for it, and the better for the schools. We are part of one educational system, and the University is the culmination of the educational effort of the Province.
Secondly, the University is the great testing field for personality and intellectual power. There, men discover themselves. Sometimes the process of discovery is fraught with unpleasant surroundings; a man may in a sense feel that he is not as able as he thought he was, or he may be invited to fill a position of unsuspected power. Do not imagine that in the process of this testing of the physical, the moral and spiritual sides are forgotten. Not for a moment. In the State University you do -not directly teach religion, but religion can be lived. Some one has well said it can be caught, even if it is not directly taught; and I would like to bear testimony to the men throughout the staff-one can never be absolute in a statement of this kind, for no one knows one's self, even that the influence of the professors mainly is not only for intellectual stimulus, but for moral decency.
Third the University is the outward and visible sign of the homage paid by the whole community to the things of the mind and of the spirit. We are reminded how much life there is that lies far beyond material measurement. Here you are dealing with those things that really make men. The University is a symbol of all that lies beyond material achievement. It is more than a collection of material buildings; it represents the ideal.
The University exercises four main functions which I shall briefly illustrate. First of all, the University teaches the youth. Speaking mainly, this is an essential statement, though obvious; the university is the great teaching body, and the methods of teaching are manifold. There is teaching in the lecture-room, as now we have it in small groups, where there can be discussion, with question and answer; teaching by means of essays; teaching out in the field; teaching by observation; teaching by the impact of students, mind with mind, and the mind of the professor with the students; and teaching through all the personal contacts 'and surroundings that are met with in the University. The teaching is broad in the extreme, and I might say that there will always be on the staff of every university a place for the great teacher. A man does not necessarily need to be a great master in the field of research; some great teachers have not been great research men, and. some great research men have never been able to express clearly what they have discovered; but there will always be a place for the great teacher. Looking back on my college days, f remember that we had one great teacher, Professor George Paxton Young (Applause)--one of the most inspiring and stimulating teaches, I believe, in the world in modern times, or, I believe, in any day. He left his mark on the higher life of the whole Dominion of Canada.
The second function is that of conserving knowledge. It is a fact that knowledge is conserved in our libraries, in the heads and the hearts of the staff, and in the minds of the students in the class. But there must be in every university a recognition of the fact that it is a great conservatorium where you can conserve the standards of the state, and the knowledge of the state, and the ideals and instruction of the past.
Then we are perhaps more familiar with the other function of the university today, that is, research. Both the staff and students may be engaged in this work, for we are trying to widen the boundaries of knowledge in every university today throughout the world, which is more or less being tested by the contributions to knowledge made by members of the staff. One can conceive of nothing more stimulating to the individual or to his friends than that he should be set upon finding out for himself something worth while to the world, either in the realm of pure science or applied science. Coming to the University of Toronto, we have been happy in the achievements that have been ours through the work of members of our staff. I suppose it is not invidious to say that in the staff there is one man who has done a thing that has gripped the masses of the people in palaces and in hovels the world over. The people have been liberated, and have picked up their work, and have been able to carry on because of the discovery of Insulin. (Applause.) Let us never forget the debt under which humanity is placed to Frederick Grant Banting by his labours. That discovery, more than anything else, has written the name of the University of Toronto on the page of worldwide fame. (Applause.)
There are others, but I can only mention one or two in the Research Division. I suppose one of the most eminent physicists in the world was our former head of the Department of Physics, Prof. J. C. McLennan. (Applause.) He was the first to liquefy that rare gas, Helium. I asked Prof. Burton, the present head of that Department, to give me an outline of what is being done in the Department since, by way of original research that will be of practical application at the present moment. Now, there is one group of workers following in Dr. McLennan's footsteps. They hope to maker contributions to our knowledge of the structure of the atom. Prof. Burton says:
1. Two phases of the work have to do with experiments which contribute to our knowledge of (1) the structure of the atom, and (2) the part electrons play in the conduction of electricity through metals. The first of these involves very elaborate spectroscopic work, while the latter constitutes the experiments at the lowest obtainable temperatures, namely, those of liquid helium. In this regard our laboratory is one of three in the world where such work is in progress, the others are Leyden and Berlin.
2. Experiments are in progress on, the effect of strong beams of cathode rays (i.e. electrons) on colloidal solutions. It is found that colloidal solutions having positively charged particles are coagulated and, destroyed, whereas colloidal solutions with negatively-charged particles are not coagulated, and may even be made more stable. As the human body contains almost innumerable colloidal solutions, a whole vista of work is opened up on the action of radiations on the human body.
Gentlemen, I believe that through this new era of investigation we are going to have many valuable results in relation to the treatment of disease. Now, at the moment, who knows what X-rays and radium rays do in regard to cancer cells? We know they are broken; we know they are destroyed; but cancer process is not known by anyone. The strength of the ray necessary to do that work is not known by anyone, and I am glad that the Government of Ontario intends to set up a physical laboratory in the University, and the emanation of probably half a gram of radium cells will be put in solution 'for providing emanations of radon, and most valuable extra emanations will be carried on this fall, with a view to experimentation with those colloidal solutions in the human body. A whole vista of knowledge is opening up.
The next point in Prof. Burton's memorandum is practical at once in its bearing. It goes on:
3. Improvements on the electrical set-up used for determining the amount of moisture in wheat will make it possible to determine the moisture in hayor grain-mows or hay-stacks or in carloads of wheat without the removal of a sample of any of these materials.
The next paragraph deals with geological prospecting:
4. Work is in progress on the application of magnetic and electrical methods to geological prospecting. This whole problem is still in an experimental state, but Dr. Gilchrist is developing new methods of attack.
Up in our north country, in the pre-Cambrian rock, the minerals are not deposited in regular rotation at all. Thus mining is extremely speculative in the north. There is plenty of metal, but nobody knows exactly where it is by the old method. Here is a method that will be practiced in the not distant future-a method by which we can find out where the metals are.
The University goes out to the people. Eleven years ago, the University was serving 200 people outside of its regular day classes. today, it is serving 2,500 people in occupations, who in the winter season attend night classes., all of which are of University standard. These are not doing the work that is carried on by the secondary schools, and the 2,500 people throughout the Province are in addition to the 8,000 attending the University in Toronto.
Gentlemen, I do crave your united and increased interest in the work of your own University. Education, from bottom to top, is in no case a charity, but the soundest national investment that can be made. In days to come-though perhaps most of us will not get into much sterner times than the present-we will need every bit of brain power and energy we have to make the best of our opportunities. We will need an application of knowledge, high intelligence, and disciplined minds to discover and develop and conserve our natural resources. The University is the natural focus for such knowledge. The University ought to supply experts to lead in the original applications of such knowledge.
The University is yours" and it is worth while to support it. Your sons and daughters go there. Back to the Province of Ontario go men and women with some love for things as they are; for truth; for some purpose of sanity in mind and judgment, and some for leadership. I do not lay too much stress upon the latter, for we cannot all be leaders, and there is a great need of trustworthy followers. I was rather struck by the remark of the Dean of Princeton, that this craze for leadership may be overdone, and that the 30,000 leaders of those groups that move in different directions cannot well operate.
The other day I was looking at the Latin inscription up in the tower that commemorates the building and opening of the old University College. I was interested to see that even in those days the University was not a Godless institution, for there were the word in Latin, "With the help of God", and below were the Latin words--"Velut arbor aero (creseat)"meaning, May she grow like a tree, as its roots go down in the depth of conviction" as it grows out in symmetry and achievement, and grows up in aspiration for the things that are highest and best. (Loud applause.)
PRESIDENT DREW voiced the thanks of the Club to the speaker for his informing and inspiring address.