Critical Remarks

3.1. Successes

Statistical data regarding SMD activities can only give a limited view of its successes. Yet, it is noteworthy that in just the first three years of existence its printed output amounted to six SM Studies, one hundred SM Papers and fourteen SM Reports. During the same period it organized four major symposia and lecture series, and established a bi-weekly seminar series as a permanent forum for scholarly presentation and discussion. These accomplishments were multiplied within the next two decades of rather fragile survival, as shown by Appendices 1 to 6.

Beyond statistical facts, major successes must be credited to A. N. Sherbourne’s initiative of integrating individual strengths into a cross-departmental focused entity, and to SMD’s founding members for shaping it so that the division could represent more than the sum of its individual components. Indeed, in a short time span, the collective formal unit that embodied the members’ confidence, dedication and pride produced a noticeable rise in the level and dissemination of research results.

The principal SMD achievement consisted of living up to an uncompromising commitment to excellence, marked by a constant promotion of new young talent, individual growth, group development and international cooperation. The SMD reputation can be measured by the calibre of people associated with the wide range and high quality of its activities.

These were distinctive not only in substance, but also in a style expressed by the graphic standards and formats of its publications, as well as by the sense of occasion, attention to detail and meticulous organization of conferences. Not to be forgotten are the musical themes used as inspirational motifs, calls to order for working sessions or relaxing interludes.

What were the means that made possible the above successes? The essential factor was the rich reservoir of individual talent. But existing potential might not have materialized without the financial support of NRC Grant D-10.This award confirmed the viability of the SMD visionary program, energized its members and stimulated their creativity. Although relatively modest even by 1970s standards, the award funds were sufficient for initiating a large number of projects in a short time. However, we believe that, even with proper funding, SMD program could not have been implemented had it not been animated by the concepts of personal autonomy and responsibility, along with collective involvement and transparent leadership.

The establishment of the SMD Centre in 1972 in the E-4 (Pollock) Building had a very positive impact on the efficiency of its operation. Conceived, designed and furnished with active SMD participation, the Centre provided adequate space for SM faculty and graduate students, secretariat offices, library, lounge and a fully equipped seminar room. These facilities ensured precious proximity and improved the interaction among faculty, students and staff, as well as with laboratories and computer rooms.