Welcome to the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic at the University of Windsor.
The 19th-century French poet Rimbaud said: “La vraie vie est ailleurs.” Often translated simply as life is elsewhere, the saying has been adapted by filmmakers and artists and novelists, including the Czech writer Milan Kundera, who used it as the title of his 1969 novel Život je jinde.
The idea that life is elsewhere, not wherever you are, unsettles both our sense of place and our sense of identity, and opens up possibilities for what the poet Wordsworth called “worlds not realized.”
There is nowhere better to find elsewhere for a while, to steep yourself in worlds that are bigger or older or fundamentally different than you are, than through a university education.
Last September, 132,000 prospective students and parents attended the Ontario Universities’ Fair in Toronto. Many of the students had a Rimbaud look on their face, feeling the gravitational pull of the GTA, but desiring a life elsewhere, an educational experience to liberate them and confirm for them that there was life beyond the fall radius of the CN Tower.
The University of Windsor is elsewhere. Let me tell you why.
First, no other university in Canada can boast a location that is 600 metres away from a foreign country, an international neighbour, and a city with a French name: Detroit. Put a compass in the middle of the Ambassador Bridge, describe a circle, and you have a greater metropolitan area of more than 5 million people in two different countries, with exponential social and cultural opportunities that are definitely not the GTA. We are in that part of Canada once known as la nouvelle France, which explains our rich heritage of French place-names. Our campus is situated on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations. We are the fourth most culturally and ethnically diverse city in all of Canada.
What also makes us elsewhere is the special mix of programs we have – Engineering, Law, Nursing, Education, Business, Human Kinetics, Science, and Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences – in addition to signature programs in Great Lakes research, visual arts and the built environment, and dual degrees in Law on both sides of the Windsor-Detroit border. In fact, it is unusual, and a decided advantage, for a university of our size – about 15,350 this coming September – to have such a rich mix of programs – professional, applied, experiential, and theoretical. Our students have opportunities, both curricular and co-curricular, that you simply can’t get at other universities three or four times our size.
But finally, I think what makes us so brilliantly, refreshingly elsewhere is that we are a personalized, individualized campus, where you’re not a number, you are a daughter or son of the University of Windsor, wherever you’re from. Since 1857, the historical origin of the present-day University of Windsor, we have been a progressive and inclusive community that comes together to study, to learn, to teach, and to serve. Our symbol is the bridge; our vista is cross-border; our commitment is local; and our impact is global.
There are a thousand reasons why students should choose the University of Windsor as a study destination, as a gateway destination for all their worlds not yet realized.
“La vraie vie est ailleurs.” Whether that “elsewhere” is literally somewhere, or whether it is figuratively a place in the mind or the heart, a university education should make room for it.
For me, elsewhere is here, at the University of Windsor. I invite you to join us.
Dr. Douglas Kneale
Provost and Vice-President, Academic