FASS: Munro remarked that the Faculty of Arts in 1977 was the largest faculty at SFU. The same is true today. While the Peak’s questions about possible departmental reorganization suggest a lot of anxiety around the value, survival, and future of “the Arts,” it seems to me departments and disciplines have always had to adapt and evolve. Can you comment on these concerns from a contemporary administrator’s point of view?
I find it very striking that the question of anxiety around the Arts was posed in the late 70s. Amidst my colleagues in History, there was concern in the early 80s over low enrolment. Perhaps that was just the beginning of the softening of enrolments in disciplines like History, English, or Philosophy. FASS has been watching this with interest and it’s true that we remain one of the largest Faculties, even among the creation of other faculties and disciplines, or with the removal of units that used to be a part of us. Things change at the University. It’s instructive. Contemporary Arts (for example) was never originally a part of the faculty of Arts, many people don’t realize that it was actually a part of the faculty of Education. That’s where it originated.
At the time that Munro was answering these questions, departments such as the Department of Humanities didn’t exist yet, and other departments, like English and Philosophy, had been a part of the university since its beginning.