Beginnings of years are usually defined by two things: assessing what you have and looking forward to what might be. In these pages [of volume 52 issue 7], Arthur has tried to do something similar for Trent, where events of the past few years have left us with much to ponder. As Donald Trump prepares his own (probably barmy) State of the Union, here is our own. There is much to suggest that Trent should consider what it has been so far, and what it will be in the future.
The university was born as a small, liberal arts university. It was intended to be intimate and foster a strong sense of community: the university experience should be meaningful, not merely a place where you get a degree. While Trent still looks to these core values, its recent success and expansion is challenging this identity.
Over the last few years we have seen a rapid increase in student enrolment; increased course offerings; the building of the Student Centre; and the library renovated. Alongside this, Trent has been ranked by Macleans as the best primarily undergraduate university in Ontario. This small school is making big steps.
And that, in a way, is the problem. While Trent remains an innovative and forward-thinking place, this expansion on all fronts questions its central appeal to intimacy. Obviously, stuff changes over time and it would be daft to expect that students today would have the same experience as those of the 70s. But, this experience might soon be radically different.
Looking ahead to the new, evolving Trent, it is worth pondering – particularly for the administration – whether Trent still appeals to its historic identity, or whether it should go ahead and forge a new one. Either is good, but as the same amount of colleges house many more students, and as the university offers a broader range of degrees, maintaining its identity will be trickier.