In his new position as vice-principal of special initiatives, Professor Ulrich Krull plans on moving UTM towards the vision of a more comprehensive university, complete with cross-disciplinary professional programs that will creatively change the quality of life for citizens of the Region of Peel.

According to Krull, who is also UTM’s VP research until next June, the name “special initiatives” means the initiatives aren’t bound by the conventions of normal academic processes. Instead, they would be projects that challenge the assumptions of traditional education, like UTM’s recently launched master of management of innovation program does.

The approach is about looking from the outside in, said Krull. It’s about changing what the university can offer students and what the university can offer the outside world through the implementation of professional programs. Our university has often had governmental support, but the question, according to Krull, is what would change the nature of the quality of life for the people in our community.

Krull’s vision is to expand the university’s opportunities, offerings, and research in the specific areas of engineering, business, and medicine.

“That’s really where this campus has been trying to position itself,” said Krull. He said that not only should UTM support the U of T mission, but it should do so “in the context of the value that we have in our local community”.

Krull wants to know what can be done to expand what UTM means for its students and supporters. Having fostered a relationship with the city of Mississauga for over 15 years, UTM—which Krull says is known as the “research arm” of Mississauga—needs to graduate not just creative thinkers, but innovators.

“The university has more than the ability to teach. It has the ability to actually serve the population and serve the community in a much greater context,” said Krull. “If you can encourage students to put some of their creativity in the city, will that not change the quality of life for the citizens of Mississauga?”

The position of VP special initiatives was created in June by the provost as part of what Krull calls the maturation of the UTM administrative structure. Krull took up his new position on October 1.

“Ask yourself this: are you an innovator or are you a creator? A creator can dream up new things, has new ideas, has aspirations, but for the most part, the world doesn’t care about your ideas. They care what you can bring to practice,” said Krull. “That’s what’s called ‘innovation’. What we want to do is educate so that all these individuals that are creative learn how to move their ideas forward.”

  • Phillip N

    Yes thank you, let’s start with addressing academic freedom, maybe? How does this school expect to serve citizens when philosophy teachers engage in bell curve distribution, when the Toronto Affair hangs over this university like a dark cloud, and when I hear students complain EVERYDAY about the quality of education of this school?

    • Luke

      There’s a definitely a lot to fix :p

      I remember him saying one of his top priorities is incorporating work experience (and a simulation of the work environment) more into the average degree in order to at least address the issue of degrees failing to get anyone a job…

      • Did he talk about any other examples of projects he wants to start with?

        • Luke

          Not in great detail. After he talked about being equipped for work, for which he gave a great detailed example of chemistry students working in labs, he started talking more theoretically and with more of a focus on goals than means (if I remember right). He struck me as very articulate, though.

          • Phillip

            Let’s make sure he doesn’t articulate his way into a half-assed Brave New World. I’m a chemistry major and I’m personally very concerned about what it means to be directly supporting the pharmaceutical companies that are a cancer on this society.

          • Phillip

            What you’re describing is nothing short of corporate indoctrination. I also heard they want to specialize the way people talk about their own fields of study, so that a chemistry student will develop the grammar and vocabulary to do.. what? justify his or her shameful excisence? Evidently there’s something wrong with the present language, does anyone know what it is? I have a good idea

          • Luke

            I dunno, his plans didn’t really seem like the Brave New World type; he seemed to me like he had a good deal of common sense, but also university loyalty.

            I think he described one of his ideas as something like this (please forgive my ignorance of how chemistry education works, which may make my memory foggy). Rather than having a lab like in high school, where students are told they must perform a specific experiment and are given the tools and steps to do it, instead they can choose a project of their own (perhaps from a predefined list) and are given access to the lab equipment. There are two conditions on this to make it a better simulation of how the average chemistry-related position is done in the real world: (1) There’s a mock economy, where they have a budget and can only afford so much in terms of supplies and equipment, but can make deals with other groups for their product and equipment, etc. (2) They must follow a manual of standard operating procedures, which he said most companies—and especially the kind they hope to find themselves at—require their employees to know. By carrying out an independent project with budgeting and practising what he called “soft skills” (?), they were ideally much better prepared to work in the real world.

            Again, as someone who will probably never do that kind of thing or work in that kind of company, I don’t know if that sounds like a good thing or a bad thing, or if I’m even representing the important details or just the ones that stick out to a layman. :p

          • Phillip

            I’m a chemistry major and this directly applies to me. Given the history of the pharmaceutical industry I find his initiative frankly quite dangerous because this university has a serious problem with academic freedom and any further integration with private industry is terrifying while these problems are ignored. Thanks for the detail. What I see in it is a conscious effort to instill a misguided independence and the delusion of freedom. At bottom, nothing more than a sophisticated advancement of a policy of Bread and Circus (which formerly means to be bribed with a salary).