Top Ten

November 29, 2006

UBC May Become Its Own Municipality

The largest North American university without a municipal structure will either amalgamate with Vancouver, or become its own city, in the near future, reports the campus paper. UBC, with a student population of 43,000, is part of an unincorporated rural area. The addition of a municipal structure would allow UBC to implement noise bylaws, anti-smoking laws, or heritage laws. Critics hope that an alternate governance structure will make UBC more accountable about future developments, such as the controversial student residences overlooking a nudist beach, Wreck Beach. UBC Ubyssey

uOttawa Prof Wins $200,000 Prize for Book on War and Peace

Yesterday, the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order was announced. Roland Paris, associate professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, won the award for his book, At War's End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict (Cambridge UP, 2004). Paris argues that US-led forces in Afghanistan should "either do what it really takes to help Afghanistan stay free of the Taliban, or get out of the country." NATO should focus on training police in the country, rooting out official corruption, building a competent Afghan army and stemming the flow of Taliban fighters from Pakistan. If the alliance cannot do these things, it should withdraw, Paris said. Grawemeyer Awards

uGuelph VP Argues for Public Funding of Research

Yesterday's Toronto Star included an opinion article by Alan Wildeman, VP Research at the University of Guelph, called "The Case for Publicly Funded Research in Canada." He argues that research contributes to health, drives innovative technologies, helps us understand society and train the future workforce. Research funding can be legitimized by its contribution to competitiveness and workforce training, but also by its "crisis legitimization," which may be essential for the survival of our society or our species. The idea that the Canada Foundation for Innovation could be running out of funding is alarming, he says. Toronto Star

UBC to Launch Mining Program to Attract Chinese Students

The University of British Columbia will launch its first Global Mining Program, focused on bringing talented Chinese students to study in Canada to earn a master's degree or professional certificate in mining. Mining is BC's second-largest industry, and is growing steadily, but has a hard time attracting young talent in Canada -- a 2003 study estimates there were 6,000 job vacancies in the Canadian mining industry, averaging $94,500 in salary. Mining is unpopular in China because of the risks -- last year, 6,000 miners were killed in China by gas blasts, floods and other accidents. UBC Ubyssey

uAlberta Announces New Academic Plan

The University of Alberta's new academic plan, Dare to Deliver, has received final approval and promises to deliver hundreds of new professors, graduate students and teaching strategies. The new Killam fund for social sciences and humanities research, and the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, have already made a difference. UofA anticipates fewer large classes, while the new Special Initiatives Fund will support changes in teaching and learning. uAlberta ExpressNews

Algoma UC Announces Big Enrolment Increase

Yesterday, Algoma University College, in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, released its projected enrolment figures. Algoma UC reports 8.4% FTE growth in 2006/07, bringing total enrolment to 940 -- far more than the 3% growth originally forecast.

Concordia Prof Laments MBA Mediocrity

The Vancouver Province quoted Concordia University finance professor Alan Hochstein, who claims that an increasing number of Canada's business schools are literally selling MBAs to generate revenue. The self-proclaimed whistle-blower says the result is "sub-standard education for enormous fees." Hochstein, who has been director of all four MBA programs at Concordia's John Molson School of Business over the past 27 years, says "I've seen the dramatic decline into mediocrity." He distrusts any MBA program that offers a degree in less than two years, or fails less than 10% of students, and is critical of Canadian schools that partner with US schools, such as Queen's and York. The Vancouver Province

uLethbridge Astrophysicist Jailed on Child Porn Charges

A British astrophysicist with the University of Lethbridge, in southern Alberta, has been sentenced to 15 months in an English jail after he was caught taking indecent photos of children in Trafalgar Square. Robin Phillips was caught by plainsclothes police taking photographs up the skirts of young girls, and had downloaded half a million indecent images of children. uLethbridge has suspended Phillips, and launched an internal investigation to determine if any of its computers were linked to his activities. The suspension means Phillips is unlikely to obtain a Canadian work permit again. Maclean's

Big Man (and Woman) on Campus

Yesterday's New York Times reports that fat studies is emerging as a new interdisciplinary area of study on campuses across the US, and is gaining interest in Australia and Britain. Nestled within the humanities and social sciences fields, fat studies explores the social and political consequences of being fat, and is often linked to women's studies, queer studies, disability studies and ethnic studies. Fat studies is still a fringe area of scholarship, but it is gaining traction, with national conferences, academic book titles, and courses on weightism, fat politics and acceptance. New York Times

Growing Trend Toward Residential Colleges

A recent article on cites Acadia University as just one example of universities that are establishing, planning, or expanding a system of residential colleges, "permanent, cross-sectional, faculty-led societies that bring the educational advantages of a small college into the environment of a large university." The model, like the 4 houses in Harry Potter's famous Hogwarts, "is one of the most substantive structural reform movements in higher education today, and it promises to repair a half-century of destructive bureaucratic centralization." "No matter how many slogans campus public relations people may invent about being 'student-centered' and 'caring,' a university with high-rise dormitory towers, vast impersonal dining halls, and central advising offices that students report to for 15 minutes each term to have their schedules checked cannot possibly offer the sustained, local, personal contact that is fundamental to real education. The slogans are phony, and the students know it." Student life and housing should be treated as academic functions of a university, not as business functions. InsideHigherEd