are the same 20 years in which these attrition
rates have apparently been on the rise. Thus, making graduate work “easier” may not be the best
way to help students to complete their degrees.
Further, some of the proposed means of easing
graduate students’ workload, such as slashing the
expected page length of a doctoral thesis, undermines those same students’ chances of future
employment, if they are competing against candidates who have written comprehensive exams
and a full-length dissertation. Better funding
and smaller graduate cohorts are proven ways of
improving students’ experience of graduate school.
I agree that universities and graduate programs should engage in meaningful, periodic
reassessment of the work expected of their
graduate students. I disagree, however, with the
implication that the reality of scarce employment gives administrators the right to radically
re-imagine graduate studies, especially if that
re-imagining is in the service of growth policies
rather than students’ potential future careers.
Dr. Hammond is associate professor in the department of art
history at Concordia University.
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the article “Tell me a different story on
Alzheimer’s” in the March issue was an excellent
curtain raiser to the challenges of a terrorizing
disease that puts all family members in a constant state of dis-ease. I think Sharon Hunt captured the essence of Alzheimer’s – the sheer
“unreality” of it, where the loved one often demonstrates unbelievable behaviour. Many of us
have great expectations from Professor Marlene
Goldman’s group. Literature certainly is throwing light on the disease, and as more narratives
come to light, hopefully we will begin to accept
and perhaps even to understand it a little.
My mother, 92, and a brilliant anesthesiologist, was diagnosed with AD five years ago. Our
“perfect” family was completely savaged, and my
obstetrician father bore the brunt of her violent
and unexpected behaviour for five years before
he passed away. She was his med-school sweetheart, best friend, partner at the operating theatre, wife, mother of his two children, financial
adviser, his everything – for all of 63 years. But
all that changed on an ordinary afternoon, when
I had gone from Canada to Kolkata, India, to
spend her birthday in our childhood home.
“Who is this man?” she whispered, while
cutting her birthday cake, half-pointing to my
father. Never known for a sense of humour, her
persistent questioning of my father’s iden-
tity made the floor heave under my feet. It
was the beginning of an indescribably
bumpy ride that I still take, calling the care-
givers thousands of miles away to enquire
about the woman who was always the
healer, now the patient.
Dr. Mehta is a lecturer in the Canadian studies program
and department of English at University College, University
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