Top Ten

February 16, 2010

Quebec demands explanation of Gatineau CÉGEP head's expenses

Quebec education minister Michelle Courchesne has written to Cégep de l'Outaouais's board of directors asking them to justify the director general's spending following allegations of excessive travel expenses. The Ottawa Citizen reports that since 2005, Marielle Poirier has claimed $65,000 in travel, hotel, and incidental expenses. According to a school news release, the director's travel to recruit international students and find practical work experience for students outside Canada was part of a plan to "internationalize" the college. The board's president says it will consider changing its travel expense policies, but notes that Poirier produced receipts to justify her expenses and the trips were part of her mandate as the college's leader. Ottawa Citizen

uMontréal lecturers hold half-day strike

Unionized instructions at the Université de Montréal, who have been without a contract since last August, staged a four-hour walkout Monday afternoon. The union's president says the deal being offered to lecturers is a step back. The union is threatening to increase pressure tactics and has not ruled out a general strike. The main issues are class sizes, salaries, and retirement. uMontréal remained open Monday with most services offered as usual. CTV | uMontréal News (in French)

Job cuts feared at uManitoba

"Morale at the university in all levels is at an all-time low," says the president of the union representing several support service positions at the University of Manitoba. His comments follow the release of a report suggesting uManitoba could save up to $30 million by trimming non-teaching expenses. The union president is concerned about widespread job losses for members in physical plant, maintenance, and custodial jobs. The president of uManitoba's faculty association says the report does not divulge how projected savings could be realized, and he presumes any changes in research would affect his members. He adds that the report could affect faculty if its findings lead to fewer support staff. "Somebody's got to pick up that work." Winnipeg Free Press | Read the report

Ontario MTCU closes Niagara chef school

Following a raid last Friday, officials with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities shut down Niagara-on-the-Lake Culinary School, a private college alleged to have been operating illegally. Some students at the institution filed complaints to the ministry, claiming they were used as "cheap labour" for luxury restaurants under the guise of school internships, and received credits for courses they never took. The school's owners dismiss the students' allegations, stating they are victims of a "group of subpar students." The MTCU intends to remove the school's registration on March 2, and fines are expected. Toronto Star

uOttawa considers closing spiritual services centre

In a bid to cut costs across campus, the University of Ottawa is weighing a proposal to close its spiritual services centre, which employs 2 people and offers chaplains, guidance, referral to various religious groups, potlucks, and monthly faith presentations. A uOttawa student circulating a petition to prevent the closure says the centre is a comfortable place for people of faith to meet and talk. "There's not really another place we can go...We'd have to go to a cafeteria or something like that, noisy and open." The proposal goes to a vote this week. Ottawa Citizen

Alberta criticized for delay in building police college

Residents of Fort Macleod, Alberta say they feel betrayed by the provincial government for continuing to renege on its long-standing promise to build a police college in the town, as last week's budget allocated no funding to the $250-million police and peace officer training centre, first proposed in 2006. The town continues to lobby the province, releasing a pamphlet with a picture of the empty building site with the caption "Field of Dreams." A former Alberta solicitor general and proponent of the college says the province should reconsider funding as soon as possible. Canadian Press

Red tape puts uVic rabbit-capture program on hold

A University of Victoria pilot project aimed at reducing the feral rabbit population on campus is temporarily on hold while the university seeks permits from BC's environment ministry in order to hold captured rabbits for more than 24 hours. The facility where the rabbits are to be held and the vehicle in which they are to be transported also require inspection before any animals are captured. While a uVic official is confident the school will receive the permits, he notes that timing is important as the rabbit mating season approaches. There are an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 rabbits on campus, most of which are descendants of pets abandoned by owners. Victoria Times-Colonist

Okaganan College begins expansion of trades training facility

Okanagan College held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the $1-million expansion of the school's trades training facility in Salmon Arm. The expansion will add 144 student spaces, of which 96 will be dedicated to carpentry, and 44 to 3 entry-level trades programs. The project entails a 262-square-metre expansion to the existing trades building, a 525-square-metre covered work area, and renovation of the existing 38-square-metre shop space. Construction of the expansion is slated for completion by this August. BC News Release

Peterborough invests in Trent sports complex expansion

Trent University reports that the City of Peterborough is investing $1 million in the institution's $16-million expansion and renovation of its sports complex. Features of the expanded complex include a fitness centre, an indoor rowing and padding tank, a climbing wall, a swimming pool retrofit, and an outdoor pavilion. Students are contributing to the project through a multi-year, $50 per-student levy. The Trent Community Sport and Recreation Centre will become the third recreation centre serving Peterborough residents. It is hoped the complex will attract national and international sporting events. Trent News

Trend in US colleges accommodating students' food allergies

With food allergies appearing to become more common among young people, a number of campus dining halls in the US are stepping up efforts to meet the needs of students with such allergies, with some opening allergy-free kitchens and offering made-to-order meals prepared by specially-trained cooks. For example, Pennsylvania-based Franklin and Marshall College's dining halls have been almost completely nut-free for the past 3 years. Last fall, Virginia-based Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) launched its College Network, a website listing schools and what they offer for students with food allergies, as a resource for prospective students. Inside Higher Ed | FAAN College Network