Summer 2014
Letters to the Editor

Applause from readers for U of T’s “Step Forward” plan and a caution about invisibility

Applause for Career Planning
When I was studying to become a chemical engineer in the 1950s, I was required to work for a number of hours in the chemical industry in order to receive my degree. That on-the-job experience coupled with what I was learning in the classroom provided terrific career preparation.

A good university education is a key ingredient in helping a person achieve
a rewarding and successful life, but the rising cost of a university degree has called into question whether its value, measured in better lifetime earnings, still exceeds its cost.

The “Step Forward” program, as outlined by President Meric Gertler (“Job Ready,” Spring 2014), sounds like a very good idea. Carrying that further, perhaps it’s time for U of T to offer courses on career planning. Students would gain access to data regarding what new jobs can be found (and where), as well as the talents and skills necessary to rank among the best-qualified candidates for these jobs.

I applaud President Gertler’s leadership in developing programs that will help students succeed after graduation. This could very well become one of the most important competitive values that U of T offers to its students and, as he stated, to our society.

Richard M. Clarke
BASc 1954,
Westport, Connecticut

We Need More PhDs
In his recent column, President Meric Gertler affirms the value of a university education, noting that the competencies and knowledge U of T students gain “will help prepare them for a lifetime of success.” Graduate education, particularly at the PhD level, focuses on research, which imparts high-level skills. In the biochemistry department, only 15 per cent of PhD graduates now end up in academia, so the department created a graduate course in professional development, intended to help students develop a broader skill set while expanding their professional network. These students are more prepared to take advantage of today’s diverse career opportunities. We need more PhDs in industry, in business, in the charitable sector and in government. PhDs are the thinkers, communicators, problem-solvers, innovators and leaders that Canada and the world need now and tomorrow.

Reinhart Reithmeier
Professor, Department of Biochemistry,
University of Toronto

Dangerous Knights
The “Time Capsule” photo in the spring issue (“Game of Kings and Queens”) caught my attention. As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to participate in two simultaneous chess matches at Hart House. The first, held in the Debates Room in the fall of 1953, was a 50-board test with the grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky, considered by many (including Bobby Fischer) to be one of the finest chess minds of that decade. A few months later, I found myself, with 99 others, seated in the Great Hall for an exhibition with Frank Anderson, then Canadian champion. No need to dwell on the outcomes: Reshevsky, working his two knights into my ranks, carved me up with surgical precision; the latter contest, although taking much longer, had the same result. Nonetheless, they remain treasured memories from my five years at the University of Toronto.

Paul Van Loan
BA 1957 Victoria, MSc 1958
Santa Cruz, California

The Uses of Invisibility
The technology developed at the University of Toronto to make objects invisible to radar will no doubt please the military (“A Real Life Cloaking Device,” Spring 2014). The article’s last sentence, however, suggests implications that might not be entirely beneficial: “A more advanced version of the technology might one day work with light waves, making objects invisible to the human eye.” This would be good for bank robbers and home burglars, but not so good for bank managers and home owners. On the other hand, it would be ideal for teens sneaking into the house after curfew!

Geoff Rytell
BEd 1975 OISE

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