Top Ten

July 10, 2009

StFX re-evaluates investment practice following 43% endowment devaluation

St. Francis Xavier University is rethinking its practice of investing 90% of its endowment in the Canadian stock market after the fund devalued by 43% in 2008, making it the worst performance for a university fund in the country last year. In response to a study by external consultants, StFX has trimmed stock investments by 15% and plans to reduce them even further. The university is also searching for new members for the volunteer committee that oversees its investments. Should the search be unsuccessful, StFX may hire professional managers. On its website the Globe and Mail has posted results for the 50 largest university endowments in Canada. Globe and Mail | Read the results

FSIN chief candidate promises fewer politicians on FNUC board

Guy Lonechild, a candidate for chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in an election this fall, says he would downsize the First Nations University of Canada's board of governors. He also wants to implement recommendations from the all-chiefs task force set up in 2005 to review FNUC's governance issues. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, which censured FNUC late last year, feels the institution has done little to free itself from political influence. MBC Radio

Edmonton airport closure signals potential NAIT expansion

Edmonton city council's recent decision to close the City Centre Airport in stages has been met with excitement from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology's president over expansion possibilities for the school's main campus, although NAIT may not have use for the land for 20 to 50 years. While NAIT's first priority is to build an applied technologies centre on existing campus land, the president says in the long term the institution needs to consolidate its facilities. NAIT will speak with the Alberta government about eventually using the airport lands for a $517-million campus on the city's southern edge. Edmonton Journal

Baccalaureate graduates of 6 BC universities highly satisfied with programs

According to BC's latest University Baccalaureate Graduates survey, 95% of respondents who graduated from UBC, UNBC, uVic, SFU, TRU, and Royal Roads U in 2006 reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their program. Graduates of Thompson Rivers University's Open Learning program indicated 100% satisfaction with their programs. 95% of graduates from the 6 universities rated the quality of instruction as good or very good. 89% of respondents said the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired while at university were very or somewhat useful. 96% reported being employed 2 years after graduation. TRU News Release

McMaster engineering faculty launches new strategic plan

McMaster University's engineering faculty has released a new 5-year strategic plan. One priority is to place more emphasis on teaching and research in sustainable engineering, while another is to boost the number of female professors in the faculty in order to attract more young women to the profession. The goals and objectives outlined in the plan revolve around the theme areas of undergraduate and graduate studies, research, internationalization, and outreach. McMaster Daily News | Strategic Plan 2009-2014: Engineering a Sustainable Society

Carleton, uOttawa students deem OC Transpo age limit discriminatory

University students in Ottawa are criticizing the city over a new OC Transpo policy stipulating that full-time students over 27 cannot buy a student transit pass, which is nearly $20 cheaper than the regular adult pass. Along with a failed U-Pass pilot project, the president of uOttawa's student federation says the age limit sends a bad message to students. "We never see solid effort to make transit better and more accessible to students." OC Transpo's marketing manager says the new age limit is based on years required to complete a PhD, and the transit service found that students over 25 had more capacity to handle a fare increase. Metro Ottawa

Postscript:  Sep 3, 2009
On Tuesday, Ottawa city council's transit committee unanimously passed a resolution asking the city to reverse the age cap it placed on discounted student bus passes, a rule that has drawn criticism fromstudents and campus administrators. The issue will be debated at a council meeting next Wednesday. Ottawa Citizen | Maclean's OnCampus | CBC

Postscript: Sep 11, 2009
On Wednesday, Ottawa city council unanimously voted to lift the age requirement it placed on discounted bus passes for post-secondary students. In July, a new rule came into effect stipulating that students over the age of 27 could not qualify for the cheaper passes, which drew criticism from students and campus administrators. City of Ottawa News Release | Ottawa Citizen

Students, staff at Georgian College Orillia campus call for extended bus service

Students and staff at Georgian College's Orillia campus are petitioning the municipality to extend bus service until 10 pm. With the last bus arriving at the college at 6:30 pm, students without access to vehicles are often forced to miss the last half-hour of their evening courses in order to catch the bus. Lakehead University also favours the proposal, as many of its students will need access to evening bus service at its permanent campus in Orillia. Orillia Today

uAlberta, IIT--Bombay form energy and health research partnership

The University of Alberta has signed a 3-year agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology--Bombay focusing mainly on research collaborations in energy and health. The partnership marks the first time that IIT--Bombay has invested money in a memorandum of understanding. The agreement will strengthen existing ties between both institutions' engineering and science faculties. There is also opportunity for student and faculty changes. The deal is part of a plan to attract more Indian students and scholars. uAlberta News Release | Edmonton Journal

uWaterloo Dubai campus to welcome first students in fall

Classes at the University of Waterloo's new campus in Dubai United Arab Emirates will begin this September, states a memo sent to the university community. As of July 2, 21 accepted students have confirmed their attendance, and it is very likely that enrolment will increase between now and September. The memo points out that the curriculum offered at the Dubai campus is identical to that offered at the Waterloo campus, instructors will be regular faculty from the main campus, and the admissions process is managed by the main campus. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

Rising trend in campus mergers in the US

A number of American colleges and universities -- whether private or public, for-profit or non-profit, religious or secular -- are considering or have completed recent mergers. While the common thread among proposed or actual mergers is costs savings, the ramifications of such moves are not just financial, but also legal and academic, observes a new policy brief from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Unlike most businesses, schools undergoing a merger have to deal with legal ramifications posed by endowments, wills, and special collections. In terms of public-sector mergers, one particular problem is merging 2 parts of a state system without severely affecting the different missions and populations served by the system's components. AASCU Policy Matters