Put the “human” in “University”

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As a callow, impecunious first-year Arts student, I arrived on Dean Gage’s office doorstep one rainy September day in the early ’50s seeking funds to tide me over till Christmas. The dean was in charge of funds for needy students, but what were my chances as an unknown, untried, uninfluential frosh? I believed them to be minimal.

To my amazement, the good dean welcomed me warmly, addressed me by my first name, although I had met him only briefly along with thousands of other students at registration. Even more astounding, the good dean enquired as to the health and welfare of my two brothers who had passed through UBC several years earlier. How, he enquired, were William Thomas and Louis David progressing in the outside world? How he could have recalled both given names of my brothers, who had passed through UBC several years earlier with the massive influx of post-World War Two veterans, mystified me.

After a pleasant exchange I left the office pockets a-jingle, financially secure for another term and convinced that Dean Gage put the “human” in “University.” At least he put it in mine.

Kenneth Burke
BA LLB 1958