Top Ten

April 15, 2010

Alberta post-secondary schools urged to improve financial reporting

In a report released Wednesday, Alberta's auditor general recommends all of the province's post-secondary institutions improve financial reporting and internal control systems, and preserve endowment assets. The report recommends Alberta's advanced education ministry work with institutions to identify best practices and develop guidance for effective enterprise risk management systems. The report raises concerns over bookstore operations at several schools, including Grant MacEwan University, where a forensic accounting investigation uncovered $97,000 in suspected fraud related to petty cash, cash floats, and refunds using debit card machines. Following up on alleged fraud at Bow Valley College, the report says the school has done a very good job in dealing with this issue. Office of the Auditor General of Alberta News Release | Calgary Herald | Edmonton Journal | Read the report

uOttawa faculty, students oppose spending-cut proposals

Faculty and student groups at the University of Ottawa are strongly opposed to spending-reduction proposals, which include increased class sizes, elimination of vacant teaching positions, and reductions in student scholarship support. Professors and students say they are not convinced that there is a $25-million deficit because administration has not explained what it consists of or how it came about. The professors' association president says it was a mistake to impose 5% cuts across the board, and instead uOttawa should determine what its priorities are and spend accordingly. In a letter-writing campaign, students say these "wrongheaded decisions" will increase the likelihood that prospective students will pursue their education elsewhere. Ottawa Citizen

Pension fund shortfall could put Dal in financial crunch

The financial collapse that led to the 2008-09 downturn didn't spare Dalhousie University's pension funds. Even after recent market gains, the institution's pension plan is over $100 million in the hole. If a solution cannot be worked among the plan's members, the Nova Scotia government, and Dal, it will fall to the university -- the plan's sponsor -- to find the money, and that means cuts equivalent to 5% for every program and service this year, followed by a 7.6% cut next year. Dal's president says he will "wait and see" the outcome of a process aimed at solving the pension solvency crisis before finalizing a budget. He expects a solution that will allow him to go to the board of governors with "no substantial program cuts, and certainly nothing as draconian as five or seven per cent." Dal News

UTM to close day-care centre

After just 8 months of operation, the University of Toronto Mississauga's day-care centre will close at the end of June due to a lack of demand. A UTM official says the 26 spaces available at the centre are not filled, creating a $45,000 operating shortfall for which the institution will be responsible. UTM's student union says it is "irresponsible" for administration to pull the plug on such an important service in the first year of its operation. UTSU News Release | Mississauga News

uManitoba turns down donation of record collection

The University of Manitoba has turned down an offer from a potential donor who wanted to donate a 56,500-piece record collection to the university. The dean of uManitoba's music faculty says there's no way the school could manage to catalogue, archive, and preserve such a massive amount of music. The dean says it would be irresponsible to accept the collection, as the owner is not sure of what is in the collection, and uManitoba does not know the academic value of the pieces in the collection or what kind of condition the records are in. Winnipeg Free Press (April 14 article) | Winnipeg Free Press (April 15 article) | CBC

uMoncton opens modernized sections of Edmundston campus

Last Friday marked the official opening of the modernized sections of the Simon Larouche building at the Université de Moncton's Edmundston campus. The New Brunswick government invested $2.2 million in Phase 3 of the renovation project. The third phase was made possible through 5 government programs: enhancement of nursing and research infrastructure; nursing sector; co-location agreement with the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick; the University Infrastructure Trust Fund; and the University Deferred Maintenance Program. NB News Release

CCNB receives $2 million to deliver courses at Campbellton high school

The New Brunswick government announced yesterday it will invest $2 million in the Polyvalente Roland-Pépin, a Campbellton-based francophone high school, so that it can deliver 2 courses offered by the town's Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick campus. The CCNB courses that will be delivered at the school are medical electrophysiology technologist and rehabilitation techniques. About 10,000 square feet will be used to accommodate 35 students taking the courses. NB News Release

uCalgary music department receives $1-million gift

The University of Calgary's music department has received a $1-million donation, half from long-time arts supporter Dick Matthews, and the remainder matched by an anonymous donor. The gift will go towards the department's Facilities Renovation and Relocation Project, which will renovate and improve music performance teaching spaces, updating them with new technology and providing space that is more flexible and has better acoustics. UToday

Faculty, branding experts split on Vermont college's online language program

Known for its immersion-based language instruction, Vermont-based Middlebury College announced Wednesday it is partnering with a for-profit company to build an online language program aimed at middle- and high-school students. Reaction from college faculty appears to be mixed. A professor of Russian has questions about whether a program of the quality for which Middlebury is known can be delivered online. On the question of whether the online program will dilute the college's brand, higher education brand experts interviewed by Inside Higher Ed were split. One expert calls the move "brilliant," describing it as a "natural [product] line extension," while another suspects Middlebury is "trying to back-fit what are really financial-venture activities into their brand." Inside Higher Ed

U. of Delaware premieres musical-style recruitment video

"Delaware: The Musical," a video musical production produced by the University of Delaware's admissions office, premiered Tuesday, coinciding with the return of the show Glee to television. The video, nearly 8 minutes in length, begins with a pair of admissions officers discussing the project with various administrators before the duo and a prospective student break into song and dance. With the help of scores of students singing and dancing in the background, the admissions officers provide an overview of the university's facilities, activities, colleges, and student environment. The video has so far received over 15,000 hits on YouTube. UDaily | .eduGuru