Top Ten

June 15, 2009

CAUT, York U law faculty criticize SSHRC president for "bowing to political pressure"

In separate open letters sent to Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council president Chad Gaffield, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and faculty members at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School express dismay in his response to Science and Technology Minister Gary Goodyear's request for the agency to review its grant for an Israel/Palestine conference taking place next week at York. SSHRC will examine whether or not there have been major changes to the conference since the funding application was submitted last November. Both CAUT and York law faculty write that SSHRC appears to be bowing to political pressure, and the 2 parties urge the granting agency to defend its awarding procedures. SSHRC News | CAUT Open Letter

CAUT's call for Goodyear's resignation gives PSE "bad name"

In a guest column published in Saturday's Guelph Mercury, Andrew Hunt, a University of Waterloo history professor, writes that Goodyear did not do anything wrong when he asked SSHRC to review its grant decision because of concerns about the conference, which Hunt says is "destined to be, by its very nature, controversial." Rather than an insult to the council, Hunt argues, Goodyear's request is a "reasonable reaction" to the demands of those who raised concerns with the minister about the conference. Hunt says CAUT's call for Goodyear's resignation "makes academics look insular and arrogant." Meanwhile, in response to criticism the conference is generating, York is reiterating its view that the principles of academic freedom must prevail when it comes to university activities, including the forthcoming conference. Guelph Mercury | York News Release

Donations to uManitoba top $44 million

In its 2008-09 fiscal year, which ended in March, the University of Manitoba raised $44.1 million -- the third-highest total of private money raised in the university's history. Notable gifts include $20 million from Marcel Desautels for the new music faculty, and a $7-million bequest -- the largest uManitoba has ever received -- from the late William and Margaret Stobie, who both taught English literature at uManitoba, for the university's library to establish an endowment fund to purchase books in the couple's name. Bequests promised to uManitoba currently are worth $46 million. Winnipeg Free Press | $7-M gift one for the books

uRegina receives $3-million endowment for police studies

The University of Regina received a $2.5-million endowment yesterday for its police studies program from the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan to establish a research chair. The Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair in Police Studies will conduct research with a focus in understanding concerns of the Aboriginal community in terms of social and justice issues in Saskatchewan. uRegina will also continue to strengthen its ties to surrounding First Nations communities, recruit Aboriginal students, and prepare these students for positions with the RCMP or municipal police services in the province. uRegina News Release

"Difficult budget situation" at uLethbridge

With the Alberta government poised to freeze PSE operating grants between 2010 and 2012, the University of Lethbridge is projecting an $11-million budget shortfall between those 2 years. Any non-essential positions left vacant will go unfilled during that time. All departments are being asked to reduce their budgets, and if those budgets cannot be balanced, unit heads will have to cut programs, jobs, and non-essential services. uLethbridge's president says that if the situation does not substantially improve by 2012, the university may have to resort to staff layoffs for the 2012-13 budget year. Lethbridge Herald

Winners announced in CAUBO Quality and Productivity Awards

The Université de Sherbrooke is the national winner in the 2009 Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) Quality and Productivity Awards, taking the top prize for its sustainable development policy. Rounding out second and third place are MUN (for its Distance Education and Learning Technologies program) and uToronto (for its social marketing campaign to encourage students, faculty, and students to reduce energy consumption). Regional winners include uCalgary, UWO, Concordia, and uPEI. McGill and Mount Allison earned honourable mentions. List of 2009 CAUBO Quality and Productivity Awards winners | MUN News Release

Mount Allison students approve levy to cut carbon emissions in Sackville

In a recent student union referendum, almost 80% of Mount Allison University voted in favour of a $10 "green" fee aimed at reducing carbon emissions both on and off campus. The new SAC Green Investment Fund will support community initiatives in Sackville NB such as tree nurseries and the use of solar power technology to offset carbon emissions. The increased students fees will generate between $20,000 and $24,000 annually, and the fund will be governed by a student-run environmental affairs committee. Sackville Tribune Post

uAlberta med school grads receive top marks on national exam

The Class of 2007 of the University of Alberta's medical school earned the highest grades on a national qualifying exam, making it the first time a uAlberta class scored top marks on the test, administered by the Medical Council of Canada. The 2-part test involves a written exam delivered at the end of student's fourth year, followed by a practical clinical test 18 months later during graduates' residency periods. While uAlberta classes had scored well on the written portion in the past, the Class of 2007 was the first to earn top grades in both parts of the exam. Edmonton Journal

Fired McGill prof subject of documentary

Norman Cornett, a untenured McGill University professor who was dismissed from the university 2 years ago without explanation or compensation, is profiled in a new National Film Board production. Titled "Professor Norman Cornett," the film highlights the former professor's "open learning" concept and his style of encouraging honesty. Students interviewed for the film share a passion for Cornett, and express anger at his dismissal, now a matter in legal hands. An online petition demanding Cornett's reinstatement has yield 742 signatures so far. Montreal Gazette

Majority of provinces receive poor grades in teaching Canadian history

According to a new report from the Dominion Institute ranking Canadian history curricula in high schools, Quebec earned the highest score with a "B+," mostly because it is the only region in which 2 years of Canadian history is mandatory for students. BC, Ontario, Manitoba, and the Yukon received B-level grades, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick earned C-level marks. Nunavut got a "D," and the 5 remaining regions (Alberta, NWT, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and PEI) were each given an "F." The Dominion Institute proposes 7 policy recommendations to improve Canadian history curricula, which includes ensuring all Canadian students have a core knowledge of 10 events and themes, including both World Wars and Aboriginal history. Dominion Institute News Release | Canadian Press | Read the full report