Volume 91, Issue 64

Thursday, January 22, 1998



European opportunities for leadership in learning

By Professor Roger L. Emerson
Department of History

Always fascinated by the doings of my betters, I was immensely gratified to find in Western News on Dec. 11 a picture of President Davenport signing an agreement with a man called the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Principality of Andorra.

I am glad that Andorra's foreign relations are no longer conducted by the Republic of France, which, with the Bishop of Urgel, (so well known at Western) exercises co-suzerainty over the Principality. It is comforting to learn that leadership in learning has been extended to all of the seven parishes of the Principality. The president has clearly seen a need and has acted to meet it. He should be applauded for his efforts. Andorra's 3,547 children in schools above the primary level (1990) need a relation with a university and our students of Catalan need a place to go for summer training. Both they and the president and Mrs. Davenport will contribute to the Principality's major industry, tourism, when they go to further the relationship between Western and Andorra. I do hope, however, that President Davenport does not go there in the winter; the country has only 120 km of paved roads. But then, were he to do so, the president might be able to open a market for Bombardier since many of the resorts are served by Ski-Doos. That might also benefit the university in its search for new sources of income.

I fervently hope and expect the president will continue his diplomatic work and find it possible to expand further our enrollments among underprivileged Europeans. Because Andorra is served by the airports in Barcelona, Perpignan and Toulouse, it would be possible for him to land at the first, go to Andorra and then proceed to the Principality of Monaco. This has a population only about half the size of North Bay but in 1990 it had proportionately more students in high schools than did Andorra. They are also packed into a nice little enclave with a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Our students learning Monegasque would certainly benefit from the chance to travel there if they could also avoid the Casino. If the fact that these places are governed relatively democratically is off-putting to the president, as many here seem to suspect it is, then he could go directly to Stato Citta del Vaticano. This has the distinction of being happily governed by an absolute monarch elected for life and endowed on some occasions with infallibility. He is, thus, a sort of administrator's ideal. Perhaps one ought not to recommend Vatican City as a possible ground for the recruitment of Western students but I personally feel the president would not pick up bad habits there since he is already a sure administrator. And, Vatican City does have a record in education. Western might hope also to borrow from its fine art collections and receive from its innovative bankers advice about further investments.

On his way back, the president might like to stop at San Marino. This democratically governed republic is unlikely to send us as many students as the Pyraneean principality of innkeepers and shepherds but it is more accessible and served by better roads which lead to nice vacation areas. It might be a bit too warm for summer visits. However, further north, President Davenport could find one more place to exercise leadership in learning the Principality of Liechtenstein. Vaduz, its capital, would make an ideal place to wind up a trip which included Italy in the summer time. After working for Western in the heat of an Italian summer, the president would deserve the pleasures of Vaduz, even if its population would not likely send us as many students as does Brantford.

The pursuit of student exchange agreements with these countries would be very worthwhile. Their people speak Spanish, Catalan, French, Monagasque, Italian, Latin and German. While they can send us fewer students than Hamilton, their various languages offer many opportunities for our linguists to benefit from instruction, which might be given in their local grammar schools since there are no universities within their territories. They also have one other asset from which Western might derive financial benefits. They are notable issuers of stamps which are in wide demand. I would like to urge the president and trustees to seek to become the North American agent for the sale of their postage stamps. A Western Philatelic Institute could be comfortably lodged in the Research Park. Stamp sales might offset some of the expenses which are likely to be incurred by those who will go to these places to further our relations as they exercise leadership in learning. Profits from sales would considerably help in the financing of Western's increasing business interests. Finally, all this would make us more certainly a notable world class university. Were agreements of this sort to be made, they would surely be worth more than the meagre third of a page which Western News devoted to the important Andorra story.

To Contact The Opinions Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998