Since starting as editor about a year ago, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: “How do you choose which stories to print?”
In a university as large as U of T, we could create entire issues devoted to articles about successful alumni – many of whom are well known to Canadians. We could focus solely on promising research discoveries, fascinating moments from the university’s past, entertaining tales of student and campus life, how the university is involved with communities in Canada and around the world, or plans being made for U of T’s future. But none would truly capture the breadth of what is going on at Canada’s largest university.
So we try to present a mixture of all of these things. In this issue, for example, is a story about Hossein Derakhshan, a former U of T sociology student who’s using the Internet to lobby for political change in his native Iran. Derakhshan, 30, is one day hoping to use his profile as a well-known blogger (a kind of Internet diarist) to gain a seat on Tehran’s city council and push for reform.
There’s also an article about the particular conditions that lead to research breakthroughs, and a feature about how Google, the popular Internet search engine, is influencing academic libraries. You’ll also find an in-depth interview with U of T’s president-designate David Naylor.
When I met with Professor Naylor in June, we covered a lot of territory – his own experiences at U of T and Oxford and his priorities as president, but also tuition fees, corporate involvement in research, and student life. I asked him how he thought U of T should go about engaging alumni with the university. He responded that he thinks the university does a good of job of communicating to its grads, but needs to find more ways for alumni to have their responses heard. “We need more of a dialogue,” he said.
We at the magazine would also like to engage alumni in dialogue more often. What do you think about the articles in this issue? Do you think Weblogs can prompt political reforms in Iran? What should the university do to foster more “eureka” moments among its researchers? Are there subjects you’d like to see us tackle in future issues of the magazine? We welcome letters to the editor and also invite you to send short reminiscences about your time at U of T. (The theme for the next issue is posted on our Web site under “Campus Stories.”) Because we typically receive far more letters and submissions than we can print, many are published exclusively online.
Besides my questions to Prof. Naylor and his answers, you’ll also find questions from fellow alumni – about the university’s donations policy, the planned new Varsity Centre, and non-monetary ways for alumni to contribute to U of T. We encourage you to send other questions for the president to the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Prof. Naylor directly at email@example.com.