Top Ten

April 19, 2007

Inside the minds of mass shooters

Close friends and family have a unique window into a violent individual’s behaviours, and have an obligation to report suspicions of mass violence to medical and security authorities.  There is no sure way to identify an individual who may react to a situation with violence.  Dr. Elliot Leyton, a Canadian expert on multiple murderers and a professor emeritus in forensic anthropology at Memorial University, answers Globe & Mail readers’ questions in an online forum.  Globe & Mail

The pressure cooker of crisis PR

College PR staff experience a different level of attention when their school is thrust into the media’s greedy eye by violence or crisis.  Duke’s VP Public Affairs found himself sending exhausted staff home at 3:00am during the peak of the lacrosse scandal last year.  An anonymous PR rep from a school that recently handled a scandal describes looking at a media sheet with 1,500 messages: “many [universities] do not have crisis plans at all.  You don’t get run over by these sorts of things very often.” The answer is a solid but flexible crisis-communications plan, developed internally or with the help of consultants (like Academica).  Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

First Nations University recommended for probation

An AUCC committee reporting on political interference and academic freedom at First Nations University of Canada has recommended that the institution be put on probation by the Association.  The committee was commissioned by AUCC in Fall 2006.  The suggested probation would last 12 months, to allow the institution to remove politicians from its board, and put measures into place that will guarantee academic freedom in the future.  A series of controversies at the University in 2005 motivated the AUCC to investigate the situation.  Further complaints from faculty might see the school removed from the AUCC entirely.  CBC

Record-breaking deficit at uGuelph despite tuition increase

  uGuelph is looking at a $19.7 million deficit in 2007-08, the largest in its history. The school’s president proposed a tuition increase to faculty members and students at a Tuesday evening meeting. Increased pension costs, deferred maintenance expenses, and an $11 million increase in salary and benefit expenses are cited as the main causes of the deficit.  Depending on the amount of funding received from the province, cost saving measures such as restructuring the curriculum and employee compensation packages may have to be considered.  The projected deficit takes into account an already proposed 4.5% tuition increase for first-year undergrads.  Guelph Mercury   

uWaterloo celebrates 50 with history book

uWaterloo’s Ken McLaughlin has released his new book, Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: Waterloo @ 50.  The book includes archive resources, more than 300 oral history interviews, and vivid images of the campus.  Out of the Shadow is particularly relevant as the institution celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year.  McLaughlin has been at the university since 1961, first as a student and later as a faculty member.  He is currently the school’s official historian and the chair of St. Jerome’s history department.  uWaterloo News Release

Rotman steps up with Toronto's most advanced Finance program

uToronto’s Rotman School of Management has announced a new graduate degree for Finance professionals.  The 20-month program will combine theoretical and applied finance at the highest academic levels for professionals currently working in the industry.  The first class starts in September 2007, and is expected to be in high demand.  While there are similar programs established in other world-centres such as London and New York, there are currently no other specialized advance finance programs available in Toronto.  Rotman News Release

Future doctors want jobs in the public sector

Canada’s med students are split on the issue of two-tiered health care.  Philip Brost, of the Canadian Federation of Medical students, identifies the issue as “probably the most important debate affecting medical students today.”  CFMS released a report earlier this week summarizing opinions on the topic from across the country.  Memorial’s med students are strongly opposed to two-tier, as are students at uToronto (although 33% of UofT students say they would choose to work in a mixed system if given the choice.)  The majority of Canadian students say they want to work in a public, non-profit system.  CFMS News Release

Ottawa PSE to collaborate on engineering programs

The Ontario provincial government has provided funding to improve student transfers between colleges and universities in the Ottawa area.  Inspired by the rising need for skilled engineers, uOttawa proposed a partnership between itself, Algonquin College, Carleton University and La Cité collégiale.  The $240,000 partnership project was announced yesterday at the School of Information Technology and Engineering.  The final transfer agreements are expected by September 2008. uOttawa News Release 

More global university rankings ahead

Always popular in North America, rankings such as those published in Maclean’s and US News & World Report are popping up worldwide.  Not every region ranks institutions by the same criteria or even in the same manner, according to a report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.  The report also recommends global collaboration on rankings, and research on how they affect “quality improvement in higher education.”  Maclean’s and US News & World Report have been at odds with Canadian and US schools respectively over the past year, rather than working to create measures that are useful to both the public and the schools.  The report “College and University Ranking Systems: Global Perspectives and American Challenges” is available online. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required) | Read the report  

Academics watch their backs more than ever

W.A. Pannapacker’s column in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the over-emphasis on reputation in academia, and the incredible damage that can be done to an academic’s career by “trivial” slipups.  With camera phones, students can capture professors in their Saturday worst and post the images to Facebook in an instant, right from their phone. RateMyProfessors is a much more visible expose than a typo in a seldom-read academic journal.  In a profession where your reputation is synonymous with your worth, such technologies should be of concern. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)