REFLECTIONS ON TWENTY YEARS' ABSENCE
Fenton Isenor graduated with a B.Sc. degree in 1974, and currently teaches at the University College of Cape Breton in the Mineral Technology program. This fall, he has returned to Acadia to begin work on a M.Sc. degree. He seemed like a good person to give a perspective on Acadia from the 70's to the 90's.
I was asked by Dr. Raeside to comment on some of the changes in the Geology Department as seen by a 1974 B.Sc. graduate who returned in 1995 as a M.Sc. student. I will not mention student names because I will surely forget some but those who were my classmates then will remember these stories.
Returning to Acadia in 1995 was like entering a new school. The only professor who spans those years is Dr. Colwell (Doc), although he is currently on sabbatical in the Pacific Rim. Dr. Moore still has lab space in the basement but the students today do not know who he is. The move of the Geology Department from Patterson Hall had taken place prior to my first arrival, so the location of the department was the same for me this time. Two flights of stairs were still required to reach the 3rd floor door which still reads "Open to the Public between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm". However the door is generally open beyond those hours now as it was then, indicating that at any time there is someone peering down a microscope or identifying fossils or minerals, the night before a test. This time I had an elevator key, but the need for exercise encouraged me to use it only when I was on the basement level. There are many more exhibits on the walls in 1995; the seminar room has been enlarged; but much of the furniture is the same - the green benches at the corner windows, the orange chairs in the seminar room and offices. There seems to be more space used by professors for their research. I had expected to meet many more Masters students, perhaps eight like the early 70's when "soft rock" theses dominated. Now "hard rock" topics seem to be the norm, with only three students presently in residence working on their degree.
The coffee room of the Fletcher Geology Club is in the same southeast corner but in 1995 there are no games of Hearts being played and certainly no roars of someone missing control by one heart. The club room still has a coffee pot but the card table has been replaced by a computer, where last minute papers are hastily processed the night before the due date. While Dr. Nathan frowned on card-playing which kept us from our "books", it provided a venue for interesting discussions on geology and other topics which I missed this time on campus.
The Fletcher Geology Club is more active now than I remember it being in my final year. This year the club-sponsored co-ed soccer team was generally in winning form (mostly by default because the other teams could not field the required number of females). In 1971-74, the club sport was hockey. The 1972-73 team were the first team in intramurals to outfit themselves with team sweaters. No one ever missed a game that year; maybe the home brew (bottled in the geochemistry lab) was responsible. There was always fan support in the old cold rink (now a theatre complex) and this included several professors. The support is missing now, but the enthusiasm remains. The intercollegiate sport today is Axemen hockey, while the only game in town in the 1970's was basketball. In the old days one could sneak a wineskin to a game but that is more difficult today. Baseball caps are common today but back then the Greb Kodiaks were the sign of the geology student.
There were more social events in 1995 and while I was there this fall they included a bowling night and all the pizza you could eat, a corn boil and a Christmas pot-luck party at the Faculty Club. The club also has T shirts and caps made up for sale. In the early 70's, it was not so easy to arrange the production of these items. However, in the former years I think we all knew who the Fletcher Geology Club was named for. This was not the case in 1995. That detail does not seem to have been passed down!
Possibly the most telling comparison is the financial one. In 1973, tuition was $555 a year and an assistantship was half tuition. In 1995, tuition is almost $3500 a year and a full assistantship is not much more than it was in 1974. In the 1970's there was a flood of interview notices when exploration jobs were plentiful. PetroCan was the only company interviewing in 1995, but it seems that many students still find worthwhile summer employment. Perhaps they are more resourceful in tougher times!