Top Ten

November 29, 2010

Service cuts may loom at universities with pension shortfalls

A Globe and Mail survey of over 20 Canadian universities reveals a combined pension plan solvency deficit of at least $2.59 billion, which may leave institutions with no choice but to cut services in order to address the deficit. Although the Nova Scotia government has granted Dalhousie University some pension solvency relief, some cuts are likely unavoidable, says the university' assistant vice-president. Due to its pension plan losing 29% in value in 2008, the University of Toronto expects to owe another $50 million on top of the $100 million it already contributes from a $1.5-billion operating budget. Service cuts are the likely solution again after an arbitrator ruled against a proposed premium hike for faculty and librarians. The Ontario government has temporarily eased pension requirements on universities to give them time to regroup, but uToronto argues solvency tests make no sense for universities. Globe and Mail

uCalgary to appeal Facebook ruling

The University of Calgary has filed a notice to appeal a court ruling that said the institution infringed upon the charter rights of twin brothers when it sanctioned them for non-academic misconduct for criticizing their professor on a Facebook page over 2 years ago. uCalgary says it seeks clarity on the extent to which the Charter applies to its own operations and those of other post-secondary schools in Canada. The university says filing the notice to appeal gives it more time to study the decision and how it fits with similar cases currently before the courts in other Canadian jurisdictions. Calgary Herald | CBC

Queen's papers retracted over duplication

4 scientific papers have been retracted following a long-running dispute at Queen's University over self-plagiarism and "bogus authorship." The Annals of the New York Academy of Science pulled 3 Queen's papers dealing with space experiments over concerns of duplication. The fourth paper retracted was nearly identical to an earlier publication. It represents "a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system," say the journal editors who recently pulled the duplicate report, which was uncovered in 2004 as part of an alleged "academic misconduct" case involving "holus-bolus" recycling by a senior scientist at Queen's in papers published with some of his students and associates. The professors who discovered the duplication say neither Queen's nor NSERC dealt with the matter properly. University officials, journal editors, and an outside expert say allegations of plagiarism of other people's work and data falsification are unfounded. Queen's has apparently revised its policies to satisfy NSERC. Postmedia News

Mathematicians around the world protest degree granted by uManitoba

A group of mathematicians worldwide has joined a suspended University of Manitoba professor in questioning the institution's decision to award a doctorate to a student who twice failed a comprehensive exam due to extreme exam anxiety. The 86-person group has written to uManitoba president David Barnard, accusing him of "seriously endangering" the university's reputation by granting the PhD. The letter states that to waive an exam based on the controversial diagnosis of exam anxiety reflects an improper evaluation process, calls into question the "competence" of the math department itself, and will "handicap" the career of anyone with a uManitoba math degree. National Post

FedDev Ontario invests $20 million to encourage youth to pursue science

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced yesterday the new Youth STEM initiative, which will provide up to $20 million for non-profit organizations to enhance or expand educational science and technology outreach programs that boost young people's awareness about the rewards of pursuing an education or career in the sciences. The initiative is a result of feedback from business leaders, academics, and community leaders in southern Ontario, who encouraged the agency to take a role in addressing the ability of youth to meet future labour market needs by developing the next generation of STEM leaders to fuel business innovation in the region. FedDev Ontario News Release

Boréal launches $5-million capital campaign for Sudbury, Toronto campuses

At the closing of its 15th anniversary celebrations, Collège Boréal announced its new $5-million "Leading us to prosperity" campaign, whose funds will help finance new facilities at the Sudbury campus and a site consolidation in Toronto. The campaign is being conducted as part of a $26-million infrastructure project to provide for the entry of students to new programs, mostly in culinary arts, stage management, and trades. Boréal News Release

Fewer male students enrolling in veterinary school

Once a male-dominated profession, veterinary medicine is attracting more women. Of the 114 students who entered the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College this fall, 87% are women. "There's something about the presence of women (in the classroom) that serves as a deterrent," says one US sociologist, whose research observes that for every 1% increase in women in veterinary college, about 1.7 fewer men apply the following year. Some argue that lower salaries for graduating vets in comparison to doctors or MBA grads make the profession less attractive to men. One male vet interviewed by the Toronto Star says he believes men are held back because their grades are not high enough. Toronto Star

Humber opens Fashion Institute

Humber College's business school recently held a grand opening ceremony for its new Fashion Institute, the hub of the college's Fashion Management Degree program. The facility features a retail storefront design by students working with leaders in the local fashion scene. The Fashion Institute is a shared resource for the fashion industry, gives students the opportunity to put classroom learning into practice, and will be a host venue for fashion events. Humber News

Crandall U president to step down

Dr. Brian MacArthur announced this past weekend he will not seek a third 5-year term as president and vice-chancellor of Crandall University (formerly Atlantic Baptist University) when his current contract ends June 30, 2012. "It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the university through a period of growth and expansion," he says. While he has not announced plans after leaving office, MacArthur says his focus for the foreseeable future is to bring Crandall U's capital campaign to a successful conclusion. Crandall U News Release

60% of Canadian Internet users visit social networks monthly

In a new report, eMarketer estimates that about 15.1 million Internet users in Canada will have visited social networks at least monthly by the end of 2010, up from 13.6 million in 2009. The number of social network users will rise from 59% of the Internet audience this year to 68% in 2014, when 18.4 million Canadians will visit social networking sites at least once a month. Facebook is the top social network in Canada, followed by Windows Live Profile and Twitter. eMarketer