Top Ten

July 6, 2009

YFS accuses Conservative politicians of student-election interference

York University's student union claims that 2 Conservative politicians -- one an MP, the other an Ontario MPP -- are trying to interfere with the latest student council election, based on e-mail exchanges between the politicians' assistants and York administrators obtained by the York Federation of Students in a Freedom of Information request. In the e-mails, the assistants repeatedly question university executives about the election results, following complaints of voting irregularities from the losing side -- a more conservative, pro-Israeli roster of candidates. The 2 politicians insist they were seeking updates on behalf of their constituents, many of whom are Jewish students with concerns about anti-Semitism on campus. The university will not re-open the vote, although it has asked YFS to join in seeking a review of York's election process by an external accounting firm. YFS News Release | Toronto Star

VANOC accused of restricting free speech of UBC students

The BC Civil Liberties Association is criticizing VANOC and the University of British Columbia for a clause in a new UBC residency agreement that forbids students from posting signage on dorm buildings and in dorm windows that "create a false or unauthorized commercial association with the Olympics" if signs are visible from the university's Thunderbird Arena, a 2010 Winter Games venue. The BBCLA says it will work with students in the fall to "overturn this prohibition on speech." A UBC spokesman says the university is not trying to suppress free expression of personal or political views, and the clause is "strictly limited to predatory commercial marketing practices." BBCLA News Release | Globe and Mail | CBC

$42 million for Manitoba campus infrastructure

The federal and Manitoba governments announced yesterday $42 million in funding for post-secondary infrastructure in the province. The funding is part of the second round of investments under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program for Manitoba schools, adding to the $159-million announced in May. The funds will be used to improve campus infrastructure, including enhancements to the University of Manitoba's Biological Science Building, Health Sciences Library, and two science labs. Industry Canada News Release

Mount Royal faculty members now professors

Under a contract change, Mount Royal College faculty members can adopt the university-style titles of assistant professor, associate professor, and "full-fledged" professor. Beforehand, faculty were formally instructors to emphasize the college's teaching focus. Nobody at the school is a full professor yet, as faculty and administration are negotiating conditions for that title. The move marks a milestone in Mount Royal's transition into a university, to be completed this fall or next year. Calgary Herald

International recruitment, income diversification priorities for uWaterloo

In a recent memo sent to University of Waterloo faculty and staff, president David Johnston outlines his priorities for the university in the coming year, which include systematically raising admissions standards in all faculties and boosting enrolment of international and out-of-province students. Johnston states that uWaterloo will strive to sustain annual private giving at $100 million per year, and enhance research income by at least 15% annually over the next 5 years. Also of importance are strategic resource allocation, student housing, and the collegial culture at the university. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

uRegina considers scholarship for children of fallen soldiers

The University of Regina is considering taking part in Project Hero, a program in which children of Canadian Forces personnel killed in the line of duty are eligible for 4-year scholarships to participating universities, which so far include Memorial University and the Universities of Calgary, Ottawa, and Windsor. Last week, uOttawa formally announced its participation in the program. Regina Leader-Post | uOttawa News Release

Construction at UTM will create parking shortage

Parking will be tight at the University of Toronto at Mississauga in 2009-10 as the construction of the Instructional Centre and Health Sciences Complex, which received infrastructure funding in May, will eliminate 400 parking spots. Next summer, UTM administration will explore options to alleviate the parking shortage, which may entail a parking structure of some sort that does not pave over green space. Meanwhile, community members and visitors are being cautioned that they may need to walk further to get to their destination or take more time for find a spot. UTM News

McMaster bookstore named best campus bookstore in Canada

Members of the Canadian Booksellers Association have named McMaster University's bookstore, Titles, the best campus bookstore in the country. The store, which serves students, academics and general adult readers from the campus and broader community, reports more than $24 million in annual sales, and stocks about 40,000 titles. McMaster edged out several nominees, including the Universities of Alberta and Victoria, to win the title. Hamilton Spectator

Trend in US colleges experimenting with "local" online courses

To compete with for-profit online colleges, a number of commuter-serving urban institutions in the US are "going local" with online or blended programs targeting working adults in their own regions. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is helping such schools through so-called "localness" grants, awarded on the condition that at least 50% of classroom time be pushed online. At the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, one of the grantees, the idea is to deliver programs so flexible and so aligned with local labour market needs that students living 90 miles away might enrol, as they would not have to visit the campus that often. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

International institutions adopt open-source financial systems

Last week, Colorado State University and San Joaquin Delta College both went live with installations of financial systems produced by Kuali Foundation, a group of colleges in the US and abroad who have pooled resources to develop an open-source system that will allow them to compete with corporate offerings. The participating colleges state that the systems offer them the potential to save millions as well as have more control over the technology. It is expected that a number of other institutions, including UBC, will be adopting Kuali products soon. Inside Higher Ed