Top Ten

January 8, 2009

CAUT investigates dispute between uOttawa and suspended professor

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is investigating the University of Ottawa's suspension of senior tenured physics professor Denis Rancourt over a grading dispute. Rancourt believes he was suspended and barred from campus because of his history of criticizing administrative decisions and university governance. Rancourt advocates strongly for pedagogical reform and "greater democracy in the institution." CAUT will also look at whether the professor's academic freedom was violated. uOttawa is not commenting on a recommendation to the board of governors to fire Rancourt, citing privacy issues. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

President of illegal private college employee of Ontario MTCU

In its investigation of Bestech Academy Inc, a now-defunct private college located in Stoney Creek Ontario, the Hamilton Spectator learned that the school's president, June Ballegeer, was working as a program co-ordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, which had found her in violation of a government order to cease the school's operation. A ministry spokesperson would not say if Ballegeer was still employed by the MTCU, and the matter is under review. Hamilton Spectator | Student awaits $2,578.80 tuition refund

Fired FNUC VP questions university operation

A former vice-president of academics at the First Nations University of Canada, dismissed from her position on Wednesday, describes a long-standing "tension" between her office and that of the vice-president of administration. Shauneen Pete says administration would sometimes interfere with her decision-making, and that she was left out of some key meetings, including one with provincial officials on additional funding for FNUC. In late November, CAUT censured FNUC over ongoing failure to resolve governance issues. Regina Leader-Post

Harassing uWaterloo student barred from campus

A 21-year-old University of Waterloo student has been ordered to stay away from campus after repeatedly harassing a female classmate. Zhi Huang, a third-year engineering student, has been put on a one-year peace bond and cannot contact the female student during that time. A charge of criminal harassment has been dropped in exchange for the informal resolution reached at uWaterloo. Huang cannot go to the university without a written permission from the engineering dean, and will be able to resume his studies after a year. Kitchener-Waterloo Record

Economic downturn spells $31-million budget cut at WLU

Due to the "unprecedented financial challenges" affecting Canada's university sector as a result of the global economic downturn, Wilfrid Laurier University announced yesterday it must reduce its operating budget by nearly 16% -- about $31 million -- over the next 3 years. WLU's pension fund has dropped 20% in value in the last year. Because salaries and benefits represent the bulk of the university's operating expenses, job cuts are a possibility. WLU News Release

Ontario colleges see 10% jump in winter applications

Colleges Ontario reports a 10% increase in applications in programs beginning in January at the province's 24 public colleges compared to last year. This year's rise is almost double the 5.1% increase seen last year over 2007. Colleges Ontario president Linda Franklin anticipates more people will take advantage of training and retraining provided by the institutions as the province copes with the economic downturn. Colleges Ontario News Release

Update on Balsillie School of International Affairs

The "functional but not fancy" design of the Waterloo-based Balsillie School of International Affairs was revealed at a packed open house Wednesday evening. The graduate school, to be housed on land once belonging to the Seagram distillery, will be a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined campus featuring understated brick building, living roofs, a central courtyard, and a public auditorium. Ground preparation for the campus will begin by the end of the year. Waterloo city council will be asked to approve the site's master plan late next month. Kitchener-Waterloo Record

CFHSS urges federal government to boost investment in research, innovation

The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is asking Ottawa to consider increasing its investment in research and innovation as part of the next budget. Investment in "Canada's intellectual infrastructure" will allow the country to establish a more competitive and productive economy, as well as a stronger society. The president of CFHSS says the government's response should also "capitalize on the tremendous potential of youth," as graduates with training in social sciences and humanities produce a highly skilled workforce essential to the global economy. CFHSS Budget Letter

Alberta creates interactive CD-ROM on PSE options

On Wednesday, the Alberta government announced a new interactive CD-ROM that serves as a PSE preparation resource for students. The CD-ROM offers a virtual tour of Campus Alberta, the province's system of post-secondary institutions. The CD-ROM includes 20 interviews with current PSE students on topics such as finance, student life, and expectations. The CD-ROM complements the province's Learning Clicks program, which provides free presentations to youth and adults to motivate and prepare them for higher education. Alberta News Release | Learning Clicks

Teachers should rethink attitude about skilled-trade option

Educator Robert Smol wonders why teachers put such a premium on university as the key to success. If teachers are meant to provide youth with the skills to succeed, then a more positive focus on practical career paths -- primarily skilled trades -- is needed in schools and homes. The non-particularly academic, university-bound student should be directed to the skilled-trade option, which Smol says is often viewed as a "dumping ground" for students with behaviour problems or learning disabilities. CBC