Top Ten

January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to Academica Group's daily Top Ten newsbrief service, returning from its first holiday hiatus. Since our last edition on December 21, relevant news has been (thankfully) just right to sum up in today's Top Ten...

CFI and NSERC Commit $88 Million to HPC Network

On December 21, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council announced $88 million in funding for 7 high-performance computing (HPC) consortia that will create a pan-Canadian network to benefit more than 6,000 researchers at over 60 universities across the country. The network will provide 66,000 times the memory and 100,000 times the storage of conventional personal computers, and applications will include aerospace design, genomic modelling and weather forecasting. UofT media release | CFI media release

SFX Controversy Continues Over Iran Conference

Throughout the holidays, the controversy over St Francis Xavier prof Shiraz Dossa's attendance at an Iranian Holocast conference was revived repeatedly. In a slow news period, the national media eagerly documented the "shock and regret" of SFX's president, two meetings between Dossa and the VP Academic, a public letter from 105 fellow profs indicating their "profound" embarrassment, an editorial defending Dossa in the Halifax newspaper, and finally an email from Dossa to SFX faculty, "to express my disappointment in my university for its failure to defend my academic freedom." SFX's president has indicated that no decision will be made about disciplinary action until after the holidays. Maclean's

Eastern Universities Target Alberta Students

Saturday's Globe & Mail reports that, with the end of Ontario's double-cohort boom, east coast schools like UNB, Mount Allison, Acadia and Memorial are aggressively recruiting undergraduates from Alberta. Acadia has opened an office in Calgary. UNB will offer on-the-spot admissions in Calgary, along with single rooms in residence, and a tuition rebate draw. Ontario's Lakehead U has launched a transit ad campaign in Calgary in Edmonton. uAlberta's VP Academic says "the Alberta postsecondary system is hard pressed to keep up with the growth, so having the schools from Atlantic Canada provide options to people who live in Alberta is a good thing." Globe & Mail

UBC Agreement with Musqueam Indian Band Council

Last month, the University of British Columbia and the Musqueam Indian Band Council signed a "historic Memorandum of Affiliation," outlining a process to develop joint programs to encourage PSE participation amongst Aboriginal youth and adults. "This agreement cements our commitment to working as partners with UBC on a variety of mentoring, sports and academic programs that encourage, inspire and empower not only Musqueam but all First Nations students to expect and strive for the best." UBC's Vancouver campus is located on Musqueam traditional territory. A similar agreement has been established at UBC Okanagan with the Okanagan Nation Alliance. There are currently 500-600 Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate students at UBC. UBC media release

SFU Removes Crosses from Coat of Arms

The Vancouver Province reports an "uproar" over changes to the 40-year-old Simon Fraser University coat of arms. The board of governors have approved changes that will remove two crosses and replace them with two open books. Warren Gill, VP University Relations, denies the crosses are being removed "because of anti-Christian bias or political correctness," but that the crosses, combined with the name of explorer Simon Fraser, has led international students to mistakenly conclude the university is ''a private religious university, as opposed to a provincial institution.'' Vancouver Province

George Brown "Ontario's Best College"

An Environics omnibus poll of 1,000 Toronto area residents conducted in late October found that college students and college-bound residents in the GTA were most likely to name George Brown College the province's "best" -- a 7% increase from last year, when GBC came in second. Respondents rated GBC highest for "equipping its graduates to get a job they want," "strong relationships with industry," "best balance between theoretical and practical learning," and graduates "likely to become the leaders of tomorrow." GBC media release

Security and Intelligence Studies "Hottest PSE field"

USA Today recently reported that more than 300 US colleges now offer homeland security majors, from middle-eastern studies and cyber-security to earthquake disaster relief, supported by $50 million US in new federal funding. Yesterday's Globe & Mail reports that at least 10 Canadian universities are now offering courses dealing with security and intelligence issues, but that faculty and funding are not keeping pace with student demand. uToronto says they could double enrollment in intelligence history if they had more profs. uCalgary says there are more aspiring grad students than faculty can handle. Carleton is overwhelmed by government research proposals but can't hire the postgrad research associates it would take. While the US pumped billions into intelligence and security after 9/11, not one of the 1,600 Canada Research Chairs financed by Ottawa was in security or intelligence studies. USA Today | Globe & Mail

Shakespeare Festival at uGuelph

For 5 months starting January 11, the University of Guelph, the City of Guelph, the Stratford Festival and other arts associations are holding a "Shakespeare -- Made in Canada" festival in honour of the "Sanders portrait", on display until June at the campus gallery, and believed by many to be the only image of William Shakespeare painted while he was alive. The festival will include performances, a speakers' series, and children's educational programs. Sleeman's Brewery is bottling a special beer just for the festival. uGuelph media release

For-Profit Universities Face Increasing Competition

Newsweek reports that for-profit education companies faced increasing competition in 2006 from traditional non-profit universities, offering a growing number of online degree programs, often at lower tuition rates. In February 2006, president Bush eliminated the 50% rule limiting the number of internet courses non-profit universities could offer. Increasing competition is expected to hurt the share value of Apollo Group, parent of the University of Phoenix. Businessweek