I came to Queen’s in 1969, and the atmosphere was very different. On the one hand, it was white male, so there was a lot of homogeneity. On the other hand, there was a sense of community and the university seemed (to me) inspired by those great rational 19th century thinkers, Mill, Newman, Carlyle. There was a lot of emphasis on teaching, on liberal education. Faculty Board DID make decisions. There was an atmosphere of discussing until consensus was reached. Senate was not as prominent then (at least it seemed remote to me). If Faculty Board decided something, probably it would be ratified by Senate and the Board of Trustees.
There was a sense of frugality, even in the late 60’s, early 70’s, but there was a sense that the university would support core programs—including English, Classics, languages even if they weren’t commercially viable—there wasn’t really a question of programs needing to be commercially viable, although some classes were cancelled if there wasn’t a minimum enrollment of 5. The Principal, Vices, and Deans were not career administrators—they were colleagues, and you could resolve situations by calling them up and discussing. There was a lot of concern for students.
I hope this is a start. I could probably plumb my memory further, if need be.
As a young single woman, I did feel a bit marginalized and I did feel that when I spoke in department meetings, no one listened to me—and if they did, they attributed my points to male colleagues. So I wasn’t entirely comfortable even then.
But I did feel that we were all part of a community educating students, that there was an interest in making good decisions (not just expedient decisions), that there were people minding the store. In a way, Queen’s is a microcosm of what has happened generally since the 80’s. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.
(Anonymous retired professor, 17 April 2012)