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Claude Bissell fonds
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University of Toronto

During his presidency of the University of Toronto (1958-1971), Dr. Bissell was much preoccupied with issues of governance and the shift in attitudes towards and perceptions about higher education that marked the 1960s. Another preoccupation was the expansion of his university, both in its physical plant and in its academic programs.

This series begins with an examination of the issues through the development of policies by the provincial government, by the University itself and the role that an invigorated faculty played in the process, along with the attempts by the president to develop a coherent approach to issues in conjunction with other universities in the province. In so doing, he made certain he was thoroughly familiar with his own institution’s past; this is reflected in a file of excerpts from the president’s reports, beginning in 1902. He received many reports and memoranda on a broad range of issues relating to university governance in Canada, United States and Britain; a selection of these have been retained. There are also files on the provincial Advisory Committee on University Affairs, which played a major role in developing government policy; the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Duff-Berdhal report, University government in Canada; and on the Committee of Presidents of the Universities of Ontario, which Dr. Bissell chaired and which was asked to help formulate a system of provincial priorities in higher education. Two developments in the late 1960s that arose, in part, out of these deliberations are also represented here: the Commission on University Government (CUG) which reorganized the administrative structure of the University from a bicameral to a unicameral one and which lead to the University of Toronto Act, 1971, and the Commission on Post-Secondary Education in Ontario (chaired by Douglas T. Wright) which reported in 1972. The ongoing discussion of the role of the teaching staff in university governance was the subject of the deliberations of a working group that reported its findings in January 1976.

The remainder of the series documents a number of activities and events at the University: the work of the University’s Committee on Canadian Studies (1981-1982), the Department of English’s ad hoc committee on Canadian literature (1974-1975), and honours bestowed on individuals, including a conference in honour of Hugh MacLennan (1982). Most of the files relate, however, to Massey College and to Hart House. Dr. Bissell was based at Massey after 1971 and was active on its library committee and its search committee for a master to replace Robertson Davies. The files on Hart House consist of the transcripts of a protracted interview by Ian Montagnes of Burgon Bickersteth, its second warden (1921-1947), and extracts of letters from Bickersteth to his parents between 1921 and 1946. The interview, which took place in 1962, was commissioned by the Massey Foundation, at Montagnes’ suggestion, to commit Bickersteth’s memories to permanent record. The interview and the letters formed the basis of Montagnes’ An uncommon fellowship: the story of Hart House (1969). Dr. Bissell carefully proofread the 723-page transcript.

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