Issue 2: 8 February 2008

Professor Horace Belshaw, appointed to the foundation chair in Economics at Auckland University College in 1927 (photo taken from Keith Sinclair, A History of the University of Auckland 1883 - 1983, Auckland University Press, 1983).

Second Retrospective column published in the University News February 8th, 2008.

Extracts from Auckland University College, "A Message to the Public of the Auckland Province", 1927, pp. 30-34, University of Auckland, History Series. Papers. MSS & Archives E-8, box 5, folder 4. Special Collections, University of Auckland Library.

The subject of Economics has grown rapidly in popularity as a University subject of recent years. This is accounted for partly by the establishment of Commerce Degrees, in which Economics, is one of the several subjects of professional importance - i.e., of importance in increasing the earning capacity of the student - partly by the fact that economic conditions have forced the realization that a knowledge of the technique of particular businesses should be supplemented by an understanding of the broader and more fundamental principles governing industry and trade. Side by side with the change in the more personal (or selfish) attitude towards the study of Economics as a factor in industrial efficiency has come a growing appreciation of the social importance of a knowledge of economic principles on the part of those who direct and administer public affairs.

Unfortunately, while the utility of a training in Economics in becoming increasingly recognised, there has been but little appreciation of the manner in which this training should be given. The public tends to be satisfied if a stipulated number of lectures per week is delivered and a reasonable number of students pass examinations.

But the adoption of proper university methods of preparing students necessitates adequate staffing and library facilities. It should be stressed also, that the science of Economics is advancing rapidly and a voluminous literature of a high standard of excellence is being turned out annually.

It is hoped that in the future, the Department may be able to investigate economic problems and prepare reports, as part of its normal duties, in conjunction with commercial, agricultural, or other organisations. This is important, not only because of the practical results which may be achieved, but also as a means of effecting a link with such organisations, and interesting them in the work of the Department and the University.

As far as my own department is concerned, I am convinced that it will not be playing its part in the life of the community if it remains entirely a lecturing institution. That the work I have outlined should be regarded as part of the normal functions of a University admits of no argument.