Top Ten

June 25, 2007

Record-breaking "transformational philanthropy" at universities

Saturday's Globe & Mail observes that "it's been a banner year for giving to Canadian universities." Donations to uCalgary hit a record $101 million this year, and UBC $111 million. Top Ten readers know that in the past week alone, Tim Horton's co-founder Ron Joyce donated $10 million to McMaster, Bob Wright donated $11 million to uVictoria, and Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor donated $15 million to uToronto. Some things we haven't yet heard: Ann Dowsett Johnston, formerly editor of the Maclean's university rankings, will be leading a major fundraising effort at McGill beginning this fall. And later today, Blackberry-maker Research in Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie is scheduled to make a new multi-million-dollar announcement to support a social science research facility in Waterloo. Globe & Mail 

Former "Constitutioneer" protests mandatory retirement at uRegina

Howard Leeson is a former deputy minister and a participant in 1982’s constitutional negotiations, and is also one of two professors at uRegina who are turning 65 this month and are being asked to retire by the university.  Both profs have taken legal action against the policy on the grounds of age discrimination.  uRegina will no longer enforce mandatory retirement as of November 2007, but shows no sign of making an early exception for Leeson or any other.  Maclean’s | Canadian Press

CCL launches learning models for First Nations students

The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) has released 2 new learning models for First Nations and Metis people in Canada, in partnership with members of both communities.  The models are meant to lead to a new framework toward measuring success for this group of students.  “Western ways of thinking about learning do not adequately address how First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in Canada learn and think about learning.” The First Nations and Metis Holistic Lifelong Learning Models will be joined by an Inuit model later in the summer.  CCL News Release

Canadian online learning on the right track

The Canadian Business Journal proposes that e-learning technologies accelerated so quickly that no one ever quite learned how to use them.  It goes on to suggest however, that Canadian PSE use of online learning is headed in the right direction.  Hybrid learning, which combines in-person and online components, has become the standard model at most universities: as of 2003, only 53% of faculty taught exclusively in person.  In 2006, this number dropped to 31%.  uSask has doubled the number of courses that offer online content (to 9,758). York increased its use of WebCT to 1,321 courses (from 684).  In 2005, more than 161,000 students registered for courses offered by the Canadian Virtual University, which has offered completely online degrees since 2001. Canadian Business Journal

uVic first to "come out of the ivory tower"

uVictoria has announced plans for a community-based research office that will build partnerships between academics and community groups, to collaborate on developing “evidence-based” policy recommendations towards community needs. “Great things can be achieved when universities and communities work together.”  According to the press release, the community-based research office is a first-of-kind in Canada.  “It’s going to take a brave university to come out of the ivory tower.  The old ways and the old budgets and old powers will call you back to the way you used to be.”  Victoria News


"Architectural renaissance" for uToronto Law School

Last month, York University's Osgoode Hall law school unveiled a $25-million expansion. Can it be a coincidence that the uToronto Faculty of Law has just issued an international request for proposals to "create a landmark institutional precinct" to augment its historic buildings, inspire members of the community, reflect a commitment to environmental sustainability and "play an important part in the architectural renaissance of the city"? The RFP deadline is June 27. uToronto RFP 

Why Trent alone didn't boost athletic scholarships

Trent is the only university in Ontario that has elected not to increase its athletic scholarships to $3,500 this year.  An editorial in the Peterborough Examiner wonders if the school is missing a chance to spread its name and earn a reputation for itself in athletics with this decision. Trent has explained that “elite athlete” scholarships would contradict its “Sports for All” approach to athletics, and would focus attention on a narrower selection of varsity teams.  The Peterborough Examiner

Japanese universities offer spas to win applicants

Japan’s post-secondary system is one of the longest-running and most established in Asia, but population shifts are seeing increasing numbers of empty seats in classrooms.  To compete for students, Japan’s universities are offering residences with private karaoke rooms, swimming pools and spas.  Hundreds of elementary and secondary schools have already fallen victim to an aging population and have been forced to shut their doors.  So far, 3 universities have declared bankruptcy due to lack of students.  “We are entering an era of survival of the fittest.”  The New York Times

"Physics for Presidents" offered by Berkeley

UC-Berkeley's course, “Physics for Future Presidents,” has raised a great deal of public interest and is available in video format online for future public leaders to access.  It is available on iTunes as well, and is searchable on Google Video as “physics 10 Berkeley.”  The course aims to cover the areas of physics that are essential for world leaders to know.  The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Youth now use web more than TV

Overall, internet users spend equal time watching TV, but those under age 35 spend more time on the web.  Use of both media has increased over the last 5 years, and seems to have reached a plateau just recently.  Young users report that they spend more than 10 times as much time with TV and internet than with print media. Advertisers continue to spend “disproportionately on print,” spending 3 times as much on newspaper campaigns than on web strategies. (And TV remains the biggest user of advertising dollars.)  Advertisers -- particularly those aiming for the youth market -- would do well to invest more online. (Watch for more exciting announcements on this front from Academica in September!)  Jupiter Research News Release