Top Ten

November 22, 2006

Carleton President Resigns Suddenly

David Atkinson, president of Carleton University, resigned late Monday afternoon without notice, after little more than a year on the job. The Board of Governors accepted Dr. Atkinson’s resignation "in the best interests of the University." Dr. Atkinson told the campus paper that "it is important that the Board and the president are marching to the same drummer... I think any further comment at this point would be purely gratuitous." Student council leaders were "shocked" by the resignation, which comes on the heels of a near-strike by faculty, controversy over the Maclean's rankings and the Ottawa Citizen's headline about "Last Chance U." Samy Mahmoud, acting Provost and VP Academic, has been appointed interim President, and an emergency in-camera board of governors meeting was to occur yesterday. The Charlatan | Globe & Mail  

Gunpoint Sexual Assault of York Student

At 6:00pm Saturday, just outside the south entrance to York University's Keele campus, a student alleges she was sexually assaulted at gunpoint. Police and school officials are warning women to take precautions when out near the campus, particularly at night. Additional guards are patrolling the campus, and free shuttle buses are making more trips across campus. Globe & Mail  

UBC Appoints Aboriginal Affairs Senior Advisor

The University of British Columbia has appointed Prof. Richard Vedan as Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs, the first such position in a Canadian university. Vedan, a member of the Neskonlith Band of the Shuswap First Nation, has been Director of the UBC First Nations House of Learning since 2001 and an associate professor in the School of Social Work and Family Studies since 1995. "This new position is an indication of the importance UBC places on its relations with First Nations students and their communities." There are currently 500-600 Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate students at UBC. Increasing recruitment of Aboriginal students and faculty is part of Trek 2010, the university’s strategic plan. UBC media release 

First Nations Students can be Social Outcasts

At a time when drop-out rates, poverty, suicide and incarceration are major problems for Canada’s Aboriginal population, many Aboriginal students face racism, a sense of isolation on campus, and ironically also when they return home. On close-knit reserves, those with higher education are a minority who don't quite fit in -- "apples among oranges," accused of having "sold out" or being "red on the outside, white on the inside." Since the 1960s, education levels among Canada's Aboriginals have increased significantly, and Aboriginals comprise a significant proportion of the student body at uRegina, uManitoba and uSaskatchewan in particular. By 2050, 50% of the population of Saskatchewan is projected to be Aboriginal. The Ubyssey (page 5 of PDF)

Rick Mercer Reports from Western

Yesterday, comedian Rick Mercer was on campus at the University of Western Ontario shooting material for CBC's Rick Mercer Report. Apparently, Rick wore a fat suit while being blown down the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel, spent time at the Dental Clinic, and joined in with the championship-winning Mustang Cheerleaders, being thrown about by the squad. "I'm not big on being flipped," says Mercer. "You just have to trust people, which is a little ridiculous. This coach certainly knows what he's doing. But you know when someone says 'don't worry, stand there, we're going to flip you', you kind of go 'I don't know these people, I just met them 30 seconds ago'." Western News 

Hollywood Goes to College

A Carleton University professor writes in the current edition of OCUFA's Academic Matters that Hollywood portrayals of campus life bear little resemblance to reality. In fact, academic pursuits have always been peripheral to the university experience in movies: in World War II, universities were a battleground between Nazism and the free world; in the McCarthy period, "cold-war fears about threats to society were projected onto academics." In the 1960s, the sexual revolution and opposition to the Vietnam War made film universities "test beds for new mores." From The Paper Chase to National Lampoon's Animal House, the article is an amusing look at a powerful source of expectations for potential students. Academic Matters (PDF)

Chronicling 40 Years of Higher Ed

The US Chronicle of Higher Education is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week, with a five-decade retrospective timeline on its website. The 1960s and early 70s were dominated by student unrest over the Vietnam War, the draft, civil rights, and other issues. In the 1980s, the debate over political correctness led to what became known as the "culture wars" on campuses. In the 1990s, higher education benefited from the Internet boom and saw the beginnings of a technological revolution that continues to affect academe today. And since 9/11, a national preoccupation with homeland security has brought big changes, both good and bad, to America's campuses. The publication has tracked the expansion of US PSE from 2,329 colleges and universities in 1966, to 4,216 now, enrolling 17.6 million students. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

"Yale Shmale" Revisited

Daniel Golden's 2006 book, The Price of Admission, names names and alleges that America's richest and most powerful families receive unacceptable access to the country's elite colleges and universities. "Legacy" admission policies that favour children of alumni often mean that Development offices are overturning merit-based admissions decisions. Some believe Golden's book prompted Harvard to eliminate early admissions, one week after it was published. Golden would like to see alumni and donors lobby elite colleges for more egalitarian admissions practices. University Business 

US Public Colleges and the Disadvantaged

A report released Monday by the Education Trust argues that America's flagship public universities have regressed, rather than making progress, on enrolling and graduating minority and low-income students since 1995. Only 4 of 50 universities received a B grade, and none received an A. In particular, merit-based aid directed 406% more scholarship money to families with six-figure incomes, while need-based aid to the poorest families actually declined. Administrators defend the quest for academic excellence, while critics suggest merit-based aid has more to do with input-based rankings like US News & World Report. "In the relentless pursuit not of expanded opportunity but of increased selectivity, many of these flagship institutions have become more and more enclaves for the most privileged of their state’s young people." InsideHigherEd 

Kaplan Plans UK's First For-Profit University

American education company Kaplan, which built its reputation through SAT coaching and now has 75 campuses across the US, has revenues of more than $1 billion US and has joint ventures with two established English universities. Last year, Kaplan bought Holborn College, a private business college in London England with 1,900 students. Kaplan's CEO told the Financial Times that only with private PSE institutions could the UK government achieve its goal of 50% PSE participation. The Guardian