It was an idea copied from the Departments, arising indirectly from the great demographic changes of the twentieth century.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, there was a massive wave of retirements at McGill. The retiring professors had been hired thirty to forty years earlier to teach the similarly massive influx of students in the 1960s who were born shortly after the second-world war, the baby-boomers. But after these students moved through our system, Universities found they had more professors than they needed. Exacerbating this in Québec was the establishment of CEGEPs at the end of the 1960s, our junior college system. CEGEPs teach the equivalent of grade 12 and first-year University – after the CEGEPS were established, McGill taught a three-year program to Québec students, rather than a four-year program. Hence, going into the 1970s, McGill had way more professors than necessary. In my Department, Physics, as a characteristic example, no professor was hired between 1970 and 1985. (more…)