Top Ten

February 22, 2010

uToronto ends aggressive investment practices following $1.5-billion loss

In a letter sent to faculty and staff, University of Toronto president David Naylor announced the school would discontinue its foray into aggressive US-style investing after a decade of poor returns and a $1.5-billion loss that wiped out close to 30% of the institution's pension and endowment funds in a single year. The move follows recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel, whose report finds that the University of Toronto Asset Management (UTAM) "has not achieved its mission." The report suggests uToronto bring UTAM back under its direct control, and scale back its exposure to risky investments such as hedge funds and private equity. The head of the university's faculty association, critical of the school's investment practices, says the changes do not go far enough. "All they are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This acknowledges the problems, but it does not say why the mistakes happened." Globe and Mail

$10-million shortfall spells potential layoffs, program cuts at NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology might have to make cuts to its apprenticeship programs and lay off staff in order to deal with a $10-million funding shortfall. NAIT could train as many as 1,000 fewer apprentices in the next budget year, which could affect staff levels. In order to avoid job cuts and to balance the shortfall, NAIT may increase online learning and send trades instructors to teach abroad. Edmonton Journal | CBC

UNB student union challenges proposed science faculty ancillary fees

As part of the University of New Brunswick's budget process, departments have been encouraged to find ways to either cut costs or generate new revenue. UNB's science faculty has proposed a $35 fee per lab and a $25 fee for first- and second-year math courses, which the student union president says will add $260 in expenses for the average first-year science student. The student leader suggests fee increases might be UNB's way to bypass a tuition freeze as it plans to trim nearly $3 million in expenses at its Fredericton and Saint John campuses. "Raising fees during a tuition freeze is unethical." The student union recently passed a motion requesting that ancillary fees be placed under students' control, and has also asked for an increased operating grant from the province for the institution. Daily Gleaner

FNUC report recommends slimmed-down board devoid of First Nations chiefs

A long-awaited report on the First Nations University of Canada recommends a smaller board of governors comprised of elders and technical experts, and without any First Nations chiefs. The school should be run by people without a conflict of interest, the report states, and the board would be volunteer, with members collecting only reimbursement for expenses. It is not clear what effect the report will have, as the Saskatchewan and federal governments have cancelled grants to the institution, the FNUC board has been dissolved, and proposals have emerged that could see the University of Regina controlling FNUC's finances. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations chiefs will debate the report at a special assembly next month. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | Canadian Press

Labour shortages "impending reality," warns Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The labour shortages that existed before the market downturn will resurface once the economy fully recovers, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce warns in a new report released yesterday. To realize Canada's full potential, businesses will need to tap the country's pool of underutilitized talent: older workers, Aboriginal peoples, individuals with disabilities, and new immigrants. The report states an affordable, accessible, and high-quality PSE system will continue to be key to ensuring a large and growing pool of skilled, knowledgeable workers needed to meet future labour market needs. More needs to be done to ensure affordable access to high-quality education for Aboriginal peoples and those with disabilities -- groups whose PSE rates continue to be low. Also, with an aging population, institutions will have to be more responsive to the needs of mature adult learners by offering more flexible programs, providing a greater variety of delivery methods, and accommodating different learning styles. Canadian Chamber of Commerce News Release | Read the report

Mount Royal launches new logo

Yesterday Calgary's Mount Royal University unveiled its new logo, the result of a 9-month process of extensive research and consultation involving students, faculty, staff, prospective students, and community members. The new design is an evolution of the school's previous logo, which depicted a person reading a book. The new logo features 3 folding forms, representing open books -- a classic symbol of education -- and open doors, reflecting the sense of openness at Mount Royal. The maple leaf suggested in the new design reflects the institution's aspiration to become Canada's premier undergraduate university. The new logo also includes Mount Royal's founding date of 1910. Mount Royal Media Room

Schulich MBA makes top 20 in Expansión ranking

York University's Schulich School of Business placed 18th in the world in a global MBA survey conducted by Expansión magazine, a Mexican-based business publication. It is the highest ranking Schulich has ever attained in the survey, and the third straight year in which the school improved its ranking. The only other Canadian business school to make the top 50 is uToronto's Rotman School of Management, which placed 33rd. Established in 2006, the Expansión Best Global MBAs ranking uses a broad range of criteria, such as academic quality, return on investment, and global value. Y-File

GlaxoSmithKline funds research chair at uSask pharmacy college

Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline recently announced a $1.5-million donation to the University of Saskatchewan's College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. The funds will be used to create a chair in rational drug design, which is the process of developing new medications based on the knowledge available about the disease and the way it interacts with the human body. The new chair will work in collaboration with uSask's Canadian Light Source, which provides the capacity to see living cells as they react to drugs. uSask News Release

Tufts U. invites applicants to submit personal videos

Massachusetts-based Tufts University has become the first selective institution in the US to encourage applicants to submit videos about themselves, and over 1,000 applicants have included one-minute video essays in their bids for a spot in the Class of 2014. The video-essay invitation is part of an effort Tufts U. began in 2006 to evaluate aspects of applicants' intelligence not expressed in SAT scores and grades. The videos are judged as one part in the admissions team's decision, while a student's academic record is still weighed the most. Boston Globe

Sustainability of University of the People questioned

It's been a year since the University of the People launched, and some are questioning the project's long-term viability. The director of Boston College's Centre for International Higher Education does not think in the long run the project can run on volunteer faculty. The director also has reservations about UoPeople's "peer-to-peer" learning model, stating that having the professor in a marginal role might negatively affect learning outcomes. UoPeople is not currently authorized to grant degrees, and is seeking accreditation in the US. A vice-president at the American Council on Education is skeptical about the project's prospects, noting that "US accreditation wasn't really made for this kind of creature." Inside Higher Ed