Top Ten

October 12, 2006

Fighting for Academic Freedom at UBC

On Wednesday, the Canadian Association of University Teachers presented the UBC Faculty Association with $100,000 from the CAUT Academic Freedom Fund "to ensure that it will be able to keep up its fight for academic freedom and faculty rights in the face of unprecedented actions by the UBC administration." CAUT claims that the UBC administration has lost every appeal on three cases involving either recommendations for promotion that were rejected by the UBC president, or attempts to require a faculty member to sign away her intellectual property rights to a course she developed. (CAUT media release at )

CUPE PSE Conference in Montreal

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents nearly 70,000 PSE workers across Canada, is hosting a three-day conference for "200 post-secondary activists" in Montreal starting Thursday. The agenda includes PSE funding and bargaining strategies for PSE workers. (Media release at )

Science & Technology Week

Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), officially launched National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on Wednesday at the Centre of the Universe, located at the National Research Council's Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics, in Victoria. NSTW is a Canada-wide event from October 13-22 that celebrates the importance of science and technology in our lives. Events across the country include interactive forest fire exhibits in Ontario, the science behind rocks and fossils in Alberta, and blogs from New Brunswick scientists and researchers. More information on specific regional activities can be found by visiting the Web site at (Media release at )

York Subway Still on Track

Although the federal government still hasn't committed to help fund the $2.1 billion Spadina subway extension that will service the York University campus, Ontario's Public Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan said yesterday that tax-increment financing would be an alternative - basically, borrowing against the anticipated increase in property taxes caused by the subway line extension. (See )

The End of Ontario's Double Cohort

Impacting Ontario universities since 2001, the double cohort will graduate next spring. The University of Western Ontario has examined the academic performance of the two cohorts, and found no significant difference in their grade averages. Most of the double cohort had "an almost blinkered focus on schoolwork." The biggest challenge facing most universities was the influx of first-year students under the legal drinking age. So-called "helicopter parents" may also have found it hard to let go of 17-year-old kids. (See the Western News story at )

Mi'kmaq Computer Camp at Dal

In August, 50 secondary students from Nova Scotia's African and Mi'kmaq communities participated in "Connecting Communities," a ten-day summer institute in information and communication technology held at Dalhousie University. "With residence replacing the cabin in the woods, and computer lessons in lieu of arts and crafts, these young students were given a unique opportunity to explore the latest technology and to learn more about their culture and history." Students also looked ahead to their own futures with practical sessions in career planning and academic advising. (See )

First "Carbon-Neutral" College

The College of the Atlantic, a small US college in Bar Harbor, Maine, is committed to fully mitigate its future effect on climate change by reducing use of fossil fuels and offsetting any carbon emissions with investments in renewable energy. COA consumes 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, and will pay $30,000 a year for windmills that are generating electricity in South Dakota. All of COA's students major in human ecology. (For more details, see )

Stanford Seeks $4.3 Billion US

Weeks ago, Columbia University set a record by launching a $4 billion capital campaign. On Tuesday, Stanford upped the ante by launching its own $4.3 billion campaign -- a goal "equivalent to the annual gross domestic product of Bermuda." 27 US universities have recently undertaken capital campaigns of $1 billion or more. Harvard, whose 2000 campaign raised a paltry $2.6 billion, is expected to announce an even bigger campaign once they hire a new permanent president. (See article from the San Jose Mercury News at )

Scoring High on Google

With 49% of online searches done at Google, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry has sprung up to help websites outsmart the Google algorithm and rank higher in selected searches. There are legitimate ways to optimize pages of your site for high priority searches, but there are also shady practices such as link farms, cloaking, link buying and keyword spamming. Google's algorithms continue to evolve to counter these new practices. "Google has more PhDs than NASA. It's not a game you can win." (See the feature article from the Globe & Mail at    )