Top Ten

November 16, 2006

48th Edition of Academica's Newsbriefs

Over the past ten weeks, we've distributed 440 newsbrief items to a group that has now reached 165 subscribers at universities and colleges across Canada -- and we know you're passing copies around to non-subscribers too! Common topics have included recruitment and enrolment (12%), rankings and media coverage (10%), government announcements and politics (9%), finance or administration (7%), web trends and technology (7%), new faculties or construction (6%), youth culture (6%), institutional brands or ad campaigns (5%), funding or donations (5%), and crime, crisis or violence (5%). Other recurrent themes have included student cheating or rowdiness, tuition fees, labour action, international recruitment and community involvement. Since the beginning of September, we've missed only two days, through the Dawson College shootings, homecomings, dozens of rankings, Gallaudet's student uprising, Mount Allison's bout of Norwalk virus, and the Baghdad mass kidnappings. (Just so you know, only about 1% of the content has promoted Academica Group's own news.) Your feedback is welcome -- please encourage others to subscribe!

Carleton Narrowly Avoids Faculty Strike

At midnight yesterday, the Carleton University Staff Association was poised to start the first faculty strike in the history of Carleton University. Shortly before midnight, the union extended the deadline as negotiations continued until 4:30am. A tentative agreement was reached, although it must still be ratified by union members. Negotiations had been stalled on class size, workload and career development increment. Carleton Charlatan 

Engineer Donates $12 Million to McGill

Yesterday, on National Philanthropy Day, Lorne Trottier, a 58-year-old engineer and co-founder of Matrox Electronics, donated $12 million to McGill University to fund research chairs in Astrophysics and Cosmology. Six years ago, Trottier also donated $10 million toward construction of the Lorne M. Trottier building at McGill, which houses the electrical and computer engineering and computer science departments. Montreal Gazette

UBC Clean Energy Research Centre Opens

On November 1, the $9 million CERC opened at the University of British Columbia. It is a leading edge, multi-disciplinary centre that will bring faculty together to create and discover new sustainable uses of clean energy technology, from cleaner-burning engines and high temperature materials to renewable energy, new hydrogen production methods and natural gas hydrate technology. The CERC is also expected to attract more graduate students to UBC. UBC Ubyssey 

Canadian Students Worry About Security

Several campus newspapers across Canada have been running articles about the vulnerability of US-based data servers under the Patriot Act -- specifically where anti-plagiarism website is concerned. Student essays are uploaded and encrypted on the site, and hypothetically American officials could cross-check the database for essays using words linked to terrorism. Although several Canadian universities have expressed concerns about RefWorks on these grounds, only Mount St. Vincent University has banned use of Turnitin because of its security vulnerabilities. UBC Ubyssey 

Internet a "Virtual University for Terrorists"

The eighth annual report of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, released yesterday, documents over 6,000 terror and hate websites, newsgroups, blogs and chatrooms on the internet -- a 20% increase over last year. "Online activities have undergone a qualitative shift that present existential threats to society. The Internet has become a 'virtual university' for terrorists with manuals from how to build a 'dirty bomb' and make poisons, to tutorials on how to use global positioning devices or attack a motorcade." Copies of Digital Terrorism and Hate 2006 are available free of charge to law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and the news media. Media Release | Friends of the Simon Weisenthal Centre 

College Fairs Vital Recruitment Venue

Despite the overwhelming importance of the internet in PSE recruitment, college fairs survive and multiply across the US every year at this time, says yesterday's New York Times. Liaison officials say that students who visit a fair are more likely to visit the campus, and the personal touch is reassuring for parents. uTexas at Austin attended more than 800 college fairs last year, and reports the number has been steadily increasing. LeHigh University reports being invited to more than 1,000 fairs a year. Many institutions depend on their alumni to represent them, because they have insufficient staff to attend all the events. New York Times (requires free registration)

Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace

6 Ontario universities (Ryerson, Western, Trent, Ottawa, Toronto, and York) , 2 colleges (Humber and Seneca), and 1 school board (Toronto DSB) have created the OECM, a not-for-profit corporation to establish an e-procurement marketplace for many goods and services purchased by its members, from faculties and departments to individual instructors, through an easy-to-use web front end. Over the next 5 years, OECM is expected to grow to encompass 45 Ontario institutions with aggregate annual spending of $2 billion. OECM 

College Students Consider Cell Phones "An Extension of Themselves"

A recent US survey found that 34% of college students agree their cell phone is "a reflection of their self-image." Half of those felt it is "an extension of their fashion sense and personal style," while the other half felt it makes "a statement about their practicality." Students choose their cell phones primarily for look, style, and size -- second-tier considerations include text messaging, camera, and price. Media Release 

Asian Students Face Higher Admissions Bar

Although only about 4.5% of the general population, as much as 30% of the student population at elite US colleges is Asian-American -- and a growing body of evidence suggests their enrolment should be much higher. Federal civil-rights officials are investigating charges by a top Chinese-American student that he was rejected by Princeton last spring because of his race and national origin. Voter attacks on affirmative action admissions programs may soon force US schools to boost Asian enrolment. University Business