Academic journal article Manitoba History

W. J. Waines, the IUN Crisis of 1978, and the Development of Post-Secondary Education in Northern Manitoba

Academic journal article Manitoba History

W. J. Waines, the IUN Crisis of 1978, and the Development of Post-Secondary Education in Northern Manitoba

Article excerpt

"A final answer to the question--Why I.U.N.? The North will raise 'hell' if it is discontinued." (1)

W. J. Waines

Beginning in 1971, Inter-Universities North (hereafter IUN), now subsumed under the aegis of University College of the North, emerged as a collaborative effort among the three Manitoba universities to deliver university credit and non-credit courses and programs to serve the people of northern Manitoba. (2) By 1978, the universities of Manitoba, Winnipeg and Brandon were delivering courses in 40 subjects, to 450 students living in 13 northern centres. (3) However, as part of a broad curtailment of government programs in 1978, the newly elected Progressive Conservative government of Sterling Lyon dramatically reduced funding for post-secondary education and the Universities Grants Commission (hereafter UGC) announced the end of funding for Inter-Universities North.

Northerners immediately reacted in disbelief and anger: IUN courses, one Northerner argued, met an "urgent academic and cultural need in the north," and the end of IUN would only "increase the wall that seems to be dividing northern and southern Manitoba." (4) Kay Campbell, a former northern regional director for the Manitoba Association of School Trustees, accused the UGC of making the north the "whipping boy" in its austerity program. The Commission's decision was "grossly unfair." "If they'd limited us to the three-per-cent increase they gave the three southern universities we could have made do. But they cut us out completely and made the north their whipping boy." (5) In the midst of the crisis, the UGC asked veteran academic administrator W. J. Waines to prepare a report on IUN for the guidance of the Commission. The Waines Report that resulted secured the future of IUN and laid the foundation for the evolution of post-secondary education in Northern Manitoba. (6)

Origins and Development

Prior to the inception of IUN in 1971, few opportunities existed for people living north of the 53rd parallel to take university credit courses. Administrative and delivery challenges, including the cost of running such courses, undermined the few initiatives taken by southern universities to respond to northern requests for courses. Northern initiatives were also undermined by the dramatic expansion of traditional university registration: growing demands for post-secondary education in southern Manitoba remained the principal concern of Manitoba's publicly funded universities.

This changed in March 1970 when Lionel Orlikow, in his capacity of Human Development Assistant to the Planning and Priorities Committee of the new Schreyer government, submitted a series of Special Project proposals to the Committee. These were designed to reduce financial, geographic, motivational and academic barriers to post-secondary education in Manitoba. Orlikow's Special Project for the North involved the creation of an educational extension unit for the North, initially termed the Tri-University Committee, with a field office in The Pas to deliver university courses offered by the southern universities. Courses were to be taken to "where the people are." (7) Orlikow's plan was amended in March 1971 when Dr. Lloyd Dulmage, President of Brandon University, proposed a merging of university efforts under one umbrella rather than a simple co-ordination of efforts through a liaison office in The Pas. IUN, defined by the University Grants Commission as "a joint endeavor of all three universities to provide a series of university credit courses at centres in Northern Manitoba," was born. (8)

It was an immediate success. Newspaper reports shouted IUN's positive reception by Northerners: "U Courses Draw Wide Interest in North-Areas," "Manitoba's Three Universities Offer Credit Courses to Northern Residents," "Co-operative Program Almost Manitoba's fourth University." (9) By January 1974, fifteen university credit courses were being taught to 307 students in The Pas, Cranberry Portage, Lynn Lake, Snow Lake, Thompson, Gillam and Churchill. …

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