Top Ten

April 8, 2008

NAIT raises record-breaking $50 million for buildings

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has exceeded the $50-million goal of its Building on Demand campaign.  The total amount raised, which has set a new institutional record, will be announced tomorrow at a campus event.  NAIT Newsroom

Postscript: April 11 2008

In fact, NAIT raised $80 million with its Building on Demand campaign, launched in 2005.  "It is not hard to sell a solution to the need for more skilled workers and to improving the skills of those already out there."  Many facilities have already been built with funds raised by the campaign, including the NAIT Waiward Centre for Steel Technologies, the NAIT Spartan Centre for Instrumentation Technology, the NAIT Petro-Canada Centre for Millwright Technology, the NAIT Shell Manufacturing Centre, the NAIT Sandvik Coroman Centre for Machinist Technology and the Centre for Power Engineering.  NAIT News Release

Manitoba tuition freeze to last until 2009

As predicted, the Manitoba government announced Monday it will lift its tuition freeze, though students will benefit from one more year of stationary tuition levels. To balance the tuition freeze extension, operating grants to Manitoba universities and colleges will increase to 7% instead of 5% -- equating to a 6% increase in tuition, while Manitoba's student bursary program will be doubled to $16 million next year. Since the freeze took effect in 2000, university enrolment in Manitoba has increased by 35%. News Release |        

Staggering increase in cheating at Ottawa schools

A recent survey by the Ottawa Citizen has found that cheating and plagiarism rates at Ottawa's universities have risen sharply over the last 10 years.  The highest rates were found among arts, social science and engineering majors.  A UoGuelph researcher behind the first national survey of Canadian undergraduates' attitudes towards cheating says that the survey does not necessarily mean that these students are more likely to cheat, but rather that their professors may be taking cheating more seriously.  uOttawa's number of reported cases of  cheating jumped from 22 in 1998 to 180 in 2004.  Carleton University did not start tracking school-wide cheating until last year.  The Ottawa Citizen     

UOIT professor wins TVOntario's Best Lecturer

Christopher diCarlo, professor of health sciences and criminology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, has taken first place in TVOntario's Best Lecturer competition.  The University of Windsor, which had 2 faculty in the top 10, reports no disappointment in not winning the top prize, since its two candidates earned significant recognition even as runners-up.  All of the final 10 lectures can be viewed onlineuWindsor News Release | View Lectures Online

McGill TAs on strike

McGill University's 2,000 unionized teaching assistants went on strike yesterday after failed negotiations over a new collective agreement in two final bargaining sessions on Saturday and Monday. Members of the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) have worked with an expired collective agreement since last summer.  AGSEM is fighting for better training, a cap on discussion group sizes, private spaces in which to meet students, and a wage hike that would bring TA salaries to the average of pay at comparable universities in Canada. Newswire   

Winners of Memorial's "Rant Like Rick" video contest

3 winners and 4 honourable mentions have been selected from 25 entrants in Memorial University's "Rant Like Rick" applicant video contest.  The rants can be watched on Memorial's website, including Stuart Simpson's passionate rant against Facebook, and Jana Gillis' plea for us all to get off the internet and explore the real world.  The three winners each receive a tuition voucher for two semesters (currently $2,550).  Rant Like Rick

Ontario tax break to help spin-off companies

A 10-year tax exemption for new corporations developed from Canadian universities, colleges or research institutes was announced in last week’s Ontario provincial budget.  The Ontario Tax Exemption for Commercialization (OTEC) program helps to boost the commercialization of intellectual property, providing incentives for toward university company creation and enabling start-ups a time period to become profitable -- particularly for software, environmental technologies, and medical devices with lower risk profiles.  The exemption is open to any spin-off company launched between now and March 2012.  Western News     

York's eco-friendly course packs to be carbon-neutral

York University is leading the way with a new eco-friendly initiative that is a first-of-its-kind in Canada: York will pay about 10 cents per kit for carbon offsets from Zerofootprint, a non-profit organization, to purchase local renewable energy and support other projects such as tree planting. There will be no added cost to students, although York is also surveying students to ascertain their openness to paying more to purchase offsets for various university services.  York University News Release

Dal, Memorial partner on new B.Ed.

Memorial University and Dalhousie University have announced an important partnership that will see Memorial’s Bachelor of Education degree offered at Dalhousie University beginning this spring.  Admitting up to 60 students in the first year, students will study in teachable areas such as science, mathematics, and social studies.  Graduates from the program will be eligible for teacher certification in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.  Dalhousie News     

Holland College offers a home for high school musicians

Holland College may be the first Canadian 2-year institution with its own concert band, according to a school representative.  The Holland College Concert Band will start in September, and is open to students, alumni, staff, faculty and anyone else in the community.  The band offers a home for high-school band musicians who have no place to play after graduation.  Holland College News Release

McMaster's Waterloo med campus opens

The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine's Waterloo Regional Campus opened last week with an open house at its new Kitchener home.  The facility includes meeting rooms, tutorial rooms, offices as well as a clinical learning room and a student lounge.  Professors and students in Waterloo will be able to see and hear peers in Hamilton.  The school is expected to move to a new building in the Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus of the University of Waterloo, in about 2 years.  McMaster News Release      

Lakehead students vote to foot bill for pool upgrades

Students at Lakehead University have voted in favour of a new $15-per-term fee towards rehabilitating an on-campus swimming pool.  77% of students who took part in the vote supported the new fee.  Construction will start in the summer, to minimize inconvenience to students.  Lakehead News Release

Sault College Ojibway program goes part-time

Declining enrolments have caused Sault College, in Sault Ste Marie Ontario, to decrease the full-time offering of its Ojibway language immersion program in favor of a part-time offering for the 2008-2009 academic year.  While the language program drew 20 to 30 students in its first two years, fewer than 10 are enrolled during 2007-2008 -- leading administrators to believe that they might have “moved through all of the people who wanted to take it full-time.” The only one of its kind in Ontario, about 100 students have graduated from the one-year Anishinaabemowin certificate program since its introduction in 2004. Sault Star   

Wired magazine predicts "the Upside of the Downturn"

The April 2008 edition of Wired magazine includes 9 major trends. Number one: Open source. Wal-Mart is deploying open source applications, and open-source companies like MySQL and Mozilla will be sold for billions. Number two: Social networks will figure out a way to monetize their offerings, probably by incorporating social advertising something like Facebook's ill-fated Beacon. Other trends include affordable environmentalism, "invisible" internet-connected gadgets, full-motion video internet advertising, and more R&D innovation from China. Our favourite trend here at Academica's Top Ten: intelligent digests of must-read news, filtered by people, not algorithms.(Guess we were a bit ahead of our time!) Wired magazine

Increasing public release of data by US schools

In just a few months, 75 more schools have opened their vaults to USA Today "as part of an effort to help families evaluate how actively involved their students are in academic and campus life."  A total of 332 schools are now listed in USA Today's public consumer information database.  The push for accountability is becoming ever stronger with rising tuitions.  As many as 200 schools will also participate in a new website that will make public results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which have traditionally been kept under wraps by most institutions.  600 community colleges have also pushed out information through  USA Today      

Facebook Chat launches in beta test

Facebook Chat launched yesterday in "a few networks."  Chat is meant to supplement the Wall and Message Inbox with the ability for real-time back-and-forth between users.  Many users are accustomed to IM, and have been using Facebook's wall-to-wall and inbox features to approximate chatting. Users will likely take well to Facebook's new offering.  Would your institution benefit from real-time chat on its Facebook page?  Unlike the wall and inbox, which are asynchronous, Chat will raise the bar of student expectations for immediate response from school representatives.  Facebook Blog | Inside Facebook

Profile the social media habits of US audiences

Forrester Research has released a neat little online tool that provides a profile of the social technographics of your target audiences.  The tool is part of the microsite to promote Groundswell, a new book focusing on strategy in the social media age.  The tool lets you plug in age range, country and gender and then see a breakdown of your audience in terms of creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and inactives.  Unfortunately, Canada is not an available region -- keep in mind there are well-reported differences between Canadian and US social media habits!  Free data tool | Groundswell     

Applying randomized trials to understand donor motivations

An interesting article in the New York Times summarizes a number of insightful studies into philanthropy. A pair of economics profs at Yale and uChicago set out to answer the paradoxical question, "what makes people give their money away?" They set up a field experiment with an unnamed charity, testing matching gifts for their impact on donor behaviour. They discovered that the existence of matching gifts bumped donations 20%, but a 1:1 match was just as effective as 3:1. Another field study found that seed money is critical to successful appeals. And another found that hearing about a previous $600 donation can increase giving, while a $1,000 donation seems irrelevant. The "warm glow" theory holds that people give not just to save the whales, but "to feel the glow that comes with being the kind of person who’s helping to save the whales." New York Times (Free registration required) (Thanks to Janine Foster for pointing this out!) 

Philosophy departments see application surge in US

American students are increasingly drawn to Philosophy programs in an effort to make sense of their world -- from the war in Iraq to economic instability.  In the past 5 years, Philosophy enrolment has doubled at Rutgers, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, uPittsburgh, and uMass Amherst.  Many schools are playing up contemporary issues more than the "armchair" study of classical texts, and Philosophy clubs debate the Metaphysics of the movie, The Matrix"All of these things make the world a smaller place and force us to look beyond the bubble we grow up in," says one student, while another observes, "That whole deep existential torment... It's good for getting girlfriends." The New York Times (Free registration required)

Facebook to reach settlement

Prepared to settle the case on undisclosed terms, a 2004 lawsuit against Facebook is expected to be dismissed within weeks.  The lawsuit, originated by former Harvard students, claims that the idea for the social networking site was originally theirs, and that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea after working as a programmer for ConnectU during his undergraduate years. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Globe & Mail