WALTER MURRAY once joked that the coat of arms of the University of Saskatchewan should include "a shook of wheat supported Dexter Gopher rampant Sinister Gopher rampant surmounted by a Prairie Chicken." 1 It is a shame that he did not take his joke seriously. Had he followed through he would have provided a symbol -- a gopher rampant -- that would shock people into an awareness of the unique nature of the University of Saskatchewan.
A university is seen differently by different people. The University of Saskatchewan is no exception. A member of the board of governors may see it through a balance sheet; a member of the senate, in the light of the needs of the farmers of his district or the members of her organization. A professor often sees it as a place to be a biologist or historian or engineer. A student may sometimes see it as a fountain of learning and a source of knowledge, but more often, perhaps, as a place of unrelenting work and, occasionally, as a place for fun. An administrator's vision is often blurred by flow charts and constant meetings. Politicians are liable to see the university as a large and growing budget item, a nuisance or a means to an end. The University of Saskatchewan, in one way or another, at one time or another, is or has been all of these things. But its essence is something else. It is traditional to quote Cardinal Newman when trying to define a university. In this case it is more to the point to quote an alumnus of the University of Saskatchewan: