Klatt: Wanted: A connaisseur or connaisseuse of student experience

On Sep. 11, Western News ‘erroneously’ published an earlier draft of an advertisement (“Western invites applications and nominations for two senior administrative positions,” Western News, Sept. 11 advertisement) which was replaced by its final version. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience, hurt feelings or loss of self-esteem it may have caused.

After all, we care about everybody and want everyone to have good experiences at Western.

How could learning, research and growing up even compete with ‘experience’ in importance?

Below is the advertisement that, after extensive research and debate by the Committee on Student Experience and Leisure Studies, was approved and that should have been published.

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Associate Vice-President (Student Experience)

The university has two seemingly paradoxical problems – it simultaneously has too much money, but still wants more of the shining lucre. Both will be remedied by the appointment of an Associate Vice-President (Student Experience), who will be well remunerated because he (she, it) will be a “key member of the university’s senior leadership team.”

The generous remuneration, together with office expenses, is justified by the appointee being a “strong collaborator and communicator” like Demosthenes. Most importantly, the appointee will be “an evidence-based decision maker,” of course, not somebody with an ideology, opinion or bias. We care too much about the well-being of our kids to be so inclusive as to become self-destructive and lead the fragile students astray.

The candidate, of course, will “possess significant leadership experience,” since we really do not know ourselves what a Vice-President for Student Experience could do. The candidate should be a familiar at our existing bars and know the washrooms and bedrooms of our kids, where perhaps the most important student experiences are made.

Since Western is a “complex and intellectually charged environment,” the appointee shall be able “to thrive in” this electrified world, like an amoeba in his (her, its) soup, and help the kids become charged as well. After all, what counts is that the kids feel comfortable with their experiences and rank Western highly on national surveys.

That is the reputation we are particularly proud of, and one we are determined to keep.

We would not know how to spend the quarter million dollars annually for the position on academic matters, anyway. All our labs are fancifully equipped and richly staffed; most classrooms have fewer than 500 students; our part-time lecturers are no dummies in that they are grateful for the alms they are given; the tuition is a pittance; and Alumni Hall is decorated just as it should be, i. e., without too many esthetic focal points to distract the listener attending a concert. Sapienti sat est.


Heinz Klatt
Professor emeritus (Psychology)
King’s University College