Top Ten

July 17, 2009

Canadian universities prepare H1N1 response plans

Like their American counterparts, universities in Canada are spending the quieter summer term revising emergency plans to prepare for whatever impact the H1N1 virus may have when the fall semester begins. Discussions at McGill are focusing on how to keep classes running -- perhaps electronically -- should professors or students come down with swine flu. UBC is considering restricting or cancelling public gatherings if the flu spreads. UWO officials are examining which facilities are best suited to quarantine infected individuals. Dal has compiled lists of backup staff so the institution can operate should a quarter of its faculty become ill with the flu. Globe and Mail

Students, politicians fear deep impact by job cuts at uCalgary

While he's not happy about some 200 job cuts expected by the fall, University of Calgary president Harvey Weingarten does not believe the cuts will have a negative impact on the school's reputation or on student education. The president of uCalgary's student union thinks otherwise, stating that part of the problem is how the Alberta government funds PSE; a 0% increase in operating grants is anticipated for 2010. A Liberal MLA says the province needs to provide institutions with more stable funding, and expects the effect of the job cuts will be passed on to students. Alberta's advanced education minister says student space and the quality level of education will be maintained. Calgary Herald | The Gauntlet (student newspaper)

Dal med program faces 2-year probation

Dalhousie University's medical school is appealing a finding by the US-based Liaison Committee for Medical Education calling for a review of the accreditation of school's undergraduate medical education program over a 24-month probationary period. Although the school would be accredited while on probation, it's something Dal wishes to avoid. The pending probation would not affect the school's accreditation in Canada. Dal News | Canadian Press

Postscript: Oct 15, 2009
The US-based Liaison Committee for Medical Education's appeal committee has upheld its preliminary ruling to assign "accreditation on probation" to Dalhousie University's undergraduate medical education program, resulting in the program being placed on a 2-year probation effective today. Despite the probationary status, the program remains accredited and the ruling will not affect students' ability to qualify as doctors or to obtain residency training. Dal Faculty of Medicine News Release | Canadian Press

Parking fines resume at UBC until appeal heard

Today the University of British Columbia will resume issuing fines for parking violations after it filed an appeal earlier this month of a BC Supreme Court decision that found that the university was unlawfully issuing fines. A court-ordered stay will mean UBC can issue parking tickets until the BC Court of Appeal hears the case. When the Supreme Court ruling came down, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University suspended fines. uVic will also resume issuing parking fines today, while SFU has yet to decide how to move on the stay. UBC Bulletins | uVic News Release | Vancouver Sun | Victoria Times-Colonist

uAlberta heart institute welcomes first patients

Although the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, based at the University of Alberta Hospital, officially opened in May 2008, the facility first admitted in-patients last Thursday, while operating rooms should start running before the end of the month. Safety issues were cited as the primary reasons behind the delay of patients and staff moving into the building. Documents obtained by the Edmonton Journal in January stated that the ongoing delays put in danger the hospital's reputation, staff recruitment, and patient safety. Edmonton Journal | CBC

Construction begins soon at uWaterloo research park

Work is set to start shortly on Phase 2 of the Research Advancement Centre at the University of Waterloo's Research and Technology Park. The second phase will be the temporary home of the university's Institute for Quantum Computing and nanotechnology institute. The long-term plan is to have the 2 departments move into the $160-million Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, currently under construction at uWaterloo's main campus. The $11-million facility at the research park will feature offices on the perimeter and laboratory space in the core, including a 2,000-square-foot, 2-storey lab. Waterloo Region Record

Athletics complex expansion underway at Trent

Shovels are now in the ground for the renewal and expansion of Trent University's sports complex. Once completed in fall 2010, the new Trent Community Sport & Recreation Centre will feature an indoor rowing and paddling tank, a warm therapy pool, and a cardio loft. The university has a page on its website dedicated to the project. Trent Daily News | Trent Athletics Campaign: Sport, Recreation & Wellness for All

uVic to acquire world's most precise microscope

Exclusively for the University of Victoria, Hitachi High-Technologies is building a $20-million scanning transmission electron holography microscope, a one-of-a-kind instrument that will be the most precise microscope in the world. Capable of viewing the subatomic universe, the instrument will allow scientists to see quasiparticles and materials well beyond the ability of the human eye. The microscope, to be built in Japan, will be installed at uVic in late 2010, and is expected to be operational by early 2011. uVic News Release | Victoria Times-Colonist

University presidents should always be visible in hard times, says Davenport

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, outgoing University of Western Ontario president Paul Davenport says a university's top executive should always maintain visibility in times of funding cuts. Presidents, as well as senior staff, need to demonstrate they believe they are able to manage difficult budgets and maintain what is really important. Drawing from his experience, Davenport suggests the best way to deal with cuts is to have a strong strategic plan in place that is widely understood and relate budget decisions to that plan. Given current research funding cuts, presidents must speak continuously about the importance of research, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, and make that case to provincial and federal governments. Globe and Mail

How Facebook plans to dominate the Internet

Facebook is developing a long-term strategy to surpass Google as the world's #1 choice for online search. The social network envisions a "social graph" -- a personalized, humanized Web in which our network of friends, family, and colleagues will be used to retrieve information, rather than tapping the "cold mathematics" of a Google query. With Facebook users sharing every month an estimated 4 billion pieces of information that are saved on the site's servers, the social network is almost a "second Internet." Facebook is also trying to woo big-budget brand advertisers, which Google has courted to no avail. Facebook's plan for online domination includes selling targeted ads everywhere, but the challenge is not to upset its users, as has happened before with the failed Beacon project and proposed changes to the site's terms of service. Wired Magazine