Working with the President: Extension and Continuing Education at UBC, 1935-1983

Scott McLean


Leaders of university continuing education units frequently dedicate significant energy to managing relationships between their units and senior university administrators. Many CJUCE readers know of cases where a particularly sympathetic (or unsympathetic) university president or provost has substantially changed the trajectory of a continuing education unit. Using historical documents from the University of British Columbia, the author of this article constructs a case study of the influence of presidential support on the philosophy and practice of university extension and continuing education. In short, UBC‚ Extension department emerged and flourished under the leadership of two long-serving presidents who expressed significant support for its function as a primary role of the university. In the 1960s, following the appointment of a president who considered research and degree credit teaching to be the university‚ distinctive mission, the department experienced a crisis. However, the period following 1975 brought renewed executive support when a new president with an expansive vision of the contribution that the university should make to society was appointed. This article not only presents an interesting historical case study but also provokes reflection on how contemporary leaders in continuing education can nurture support from senior administrators.

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