Society, Culture, and Environment (formerly Contemporary Studies)
Looking back on 10 years with the faculty that began it all – Dr. Gary Warrick and Dr. Peter Farrugia
Recruitment & Admissions Office - Brantford Campus
When the doors opened for the first time in 1999, there were two people who found their way to the front of the classroom as the first faculty hired at Laurier Brantford. Dr. Gary Warrick and Dr. Peter Farrugia fondly remember the early days, and continue to be strong members of the faculty at Laurier Brantford. As we look back on 10 years, Dr. Warrick and Dr. Farrugia share their memories.
Q) What is your memory of that first class, back in September 1999?
Dr. Warrick - The first lecture at Laurier Brantford is one that I will always remember. I was teaching the original "
Dr. Farrugia - I remember being struck by
the small size of our inaugural class and by its heterogeneity. There were
students just out of highschool with middle aged people and some retirees. I
remember thinking how strange it was lecturing on WWII when I had two veterans
sitting in the front row of my class! I also recall being impressed with the
fact that there were 40 people willing to be pioneers and launch into their
academic careers at a completely new institution and in a unique program.
Q) Were you optimistic about the future that first year?
- Laurier Brantford's first year was considered an experiment. After the first
semester, the majority of the 39 students were considering transferring to the
Farrugia - I think that there was a point at
which we were both worried about the viability of the
Q) When did the growth of the campus
- The growth of the campus doubled in 2000-2001, and then doubled again in the
following two years. I remember Leo Groarke (then Dean, currently
Vice-President/Principal of the Brantford Campus) remarking to donors in the third year that if
Laurier Brantford continued to double, in 2020 the entire population of
Farrugia - I am not sure that I would say
that the growth of
Q) Do you keep in touch with any of the
Warrick - Occasionally, original alumni email or drop by my office. I have not been in touch with any of the original 39 for the past two years.
Farrugia - Jessica Rypma (nee Stephenson) is
now teaching full time at
Q) Favourite memory of the past 10 years?
- One of my favourite but also most unforgettable memories is on September 11,
2001. In the afternoon, we held an open forum meeting in the downstairs of the
Farrugia - I have a couple that stand out. One is the re-enactments of student protest in 1968 that I have staged most years in CT100*/CT121. One year a group of students portraying situationist intellectuals came to the front of the class and delivered an impassioned speech, after which the ringleader broke the paper chains they had created to symbolise the obstacles to real freedom.
The other is Guerilla Music. In the Spring
of 2001 we organized a drumming event, the leadup to which included
clandestinely placed posters with gorilla heads on them. Nobody knew exactly
what was going on. On the night of the event, Dr. Groarke, Dr. Haller, Dr.
Warrick and I, as well as student Gord Ross dressed up in gorilla costume and
drummed for 3 hrs. The audience was free to join in as they pleased as we had
buckets of sticks. I can still see Dr. Groarke playing various pieces of
furniture with great enthusiasm!
Q) Your vision for the next 10 years?
- My vision for Laurier Brantford is that we will become known for our
innovation in interdisciplinarity, both in the classroom and in research. I
also see Laurier Brantford expanding to a campus of 3,500 students, adding two
or three more buildings, including a library of our own.