Top Ten

December 15, 2006

Media Firestorm Over SFX Prof at Holocaust Conference

Yesterday's Globe & Mail included five letters to the editor, a half-page article and a column by John Ibbitson criticizing St. Francis Xavier University professor Shiraz Dossa for attending an Iranian conference on the holocaust. SFX president Sean Riley was quoted saying "it's just an embarrassment for the university... I want to make it very clear... that the university is not lending any credibility, not an ounce of credibility, to the exercise that occurred in Tehran." Ibbitson argues (somewhat unconvincingly) that attending the conference may be grounds for dismissal, and sums up: "There are only two possibilities: Either Prof. Dossa is lying, or he's an idiot." Globe & Mail story | Ibbitson column (subscription required)

McMaster Projects $20 Million Deficit, Anticipates Cuts

Yesterday the McMaster University Board of Governors received a budget update that projected a $20 million "structural deficit" on a total operating budget of $329 million in 2007/08, "a significant and growing problem that must be addressed." McMaster projects undergraduate enrolment will remain flat at 2,500 full-time students through 2009, but hopes to increase international enrolments, and grow graduate student enrolment from 2,500 to 3,000 by 2009. To address the projected deficit, McMaster will implement across-the-board cuts to all 2007/8 budget envelopes as a first step, and conduct program reviews across the university. Early retirement incentives will also be strengthened to encourage faculty renewal. McMaster Daily News

Nursing One of Canada's "Sickest Professions"

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada published the new "National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses," revealing that 29% of nurses were physically assaulted in the past year, 44% subjected to emotional abuse by patients or their relatives, 37% were so badly injured they had to take time off work, one-third routinely worked paid overtime, and 9% suffered from depression (about double the rate in the general population). "The report shows not only that nurses work in difficult conditions, but that they work a lot." Globe & Mail 

Work Visas for International Students at Private Institutions

Yesterday, Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced that he will begin discussions with interested provinces and territories to expand the off-campus work permit program to include as many as 75 private degree-granting institutions on a pilot basis. The program is currently available only to students at publicly funded universities and colleges. Over 8,300 international students have benefited from the program since April 2006. Media release

24-year-old uManitoba Math Prof

Yesterday's Globe & Mail featured a two-page spread on Gabor Lukacs, the youngest professor at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches an introductory math course. Lukacs began his undergraduate studies in Israel at age 12, enrolled in a PhD program at York University at age 16, and started teaching at uManitoba this fall at age 23. His father, an engineering PhD, says simply, "Gabi was born an adult. From an early age, he was an intellectually equal partner." Globe & Mail

UTSC Prof Launches Website on Religion and Life

University of Toronto Scarborough humanities professor Robert Campbell has launched a "unique new multimedia website that examines religion and life." Featuring testimonials and interviews with 6 UTSC students representing different faiths, the documentary is believed to be the first to showcase how faith affects people in their daily lives. "The point is to break down barriers of intolerance," says Campbell. "It is a broad teaching tool that is not just academic, but experiential." Media release | Religion & Life website

Ontario Funds Neighbourhood Youth Programs

Yesterday, Toronto's Youth Challenge Fund announced $3.5 million in new investments for youth-based projects led by 19 organizations in 13 priority neighbourhoods across Toronto. Ontario established the YCF in February to counter youth violence and gang involvement in Toronto. Media release

US Researchers Protest Political Interference

The American Union of Concerned Scientists has gathered signatures from 10,000 US researchers, including 52 Nobel Laureates, demanding the "restoration of scientific integrity in government policy." UCS claims that scientists working for federal agencies have been asked to change data to fit policy initiatives, on issues ranging from global warming to sex education. The White House has allegedly censored the work of the EPA and FDA. BBC

Top Priorities of US University Leaders

Facing a dauntingly competitive market for both recruiting and keeping high-caliber students, leaders of higher education institutions identified increasing rates of student retention and delivering the highest quality learning experience as their most critical strategic priorities, says a recent EduVentures survey. In addition to student retention, learning outcomes, faculty recruitment and fundraising, they also indicate a commitment to move toward more quantitative, data-driven decision-making. Media release

Seattle America's Most Literate City

The Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University has recently made public the 2006 ranking of America's Most Literate Cities. The study ranks the largest 70 US cities on basic indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources. Seattle is the most literate city in the US, followed by Minneapolis, Atlanta, Washington, St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Denver, San Francisco, and Portland. The study also found that cities that voted for democrat John Kerry in 2004 were significantly more literate than those that voted for President Bush. AMLC 2006 Study