Top Ten

December 7, 2010

uToronto criticized for accepting "Jewish racism'' thesis

The University of Toronto has been slammed by Jewish groups, a prominent historian, and Holocaust survivors for accepting a master's thesis that deems 2 Holocaust education programs "racist." The thesis denounced the March of Remembrance and Hope, for which young adults travel with Holocaust survivors to sites of Nazi atrocities in Poland, and March of the Living Canada, which takes young Jews with survivors to Israel and Poland. The author argues the programs cause Jews to falsely believe they are innocent victims. Several Jewish groups say the thesis should have been rejected over its unwarranted claims and false statements. uToronto's provost says “freedom of inquiry lies at the very heart of our institution” and that “the best way for controversy to unfold is for members of our community to engage with the perspectives and arguments they dispute.” Toronto Star

uAlberta alumni donate 12,300-acre ranch to university

Yesterday University of Alberta alumni Edwin and Ruth Mattheis donated their 12,300-acre ranch to their alma mater, making the largest gift of land to a Canadian university. The donation ensures the land will forever be a working ranch and will provide uAlberta with research and teaching opportunities in rangeland and pasture management. In light of the gift, the institution is establishing the Mattheis Chair in Rangeland Ecology and Management. The ranch, to be named the University of Alberta Rangelands Research Institute -- Mattheis Ranch, is located near Duchess, 150 kilometres east of Calgary. uAlberta ExpressNews

More funding needed for Ontario college infrastructure

In his annual report, released Monday, Ontario's auditor general states that buildings on provincial college campuses are deteriorating and the backlog of required maintenance is getting worse. Over the past 4 fiscal years, the report states, Ontario colleges would need to have received between $80 million to $135 million annually for infrastructure renewal -- about twice what they have been getting. The report notes that as of April 2010, the backlog of needed maintenance and repairs at colleges was estimated to be more than $500 million. This backlog has been growing annually and could reach $1 billion in 15 years. Over $70 million of the repair backlog has been classified as critical and should be dealt with in the next year, the report says. Office of the Auditor General of Ontario News Release | Read the report

$61 million for new commercialization centres

The federal government announced Monday 5 new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) that will share $61.1 million over the next 5 years to pursue major discoveries and product innovations and bring them to the marketplace. The centres will support microelectronic businesses, regenerative medicine technologies, medical imaging innovations, monitoring technologies used in Canada's North, and the wireless industry. Researchers from post-secondary institutions such as uSherbrooke, uToronto, and UWO are involved in the new centres. NCE News Release | uToronto News | Western News

TRU to work on attracting more local students

As students across the world continue to flock to Thompson Rivers University in increasing numbers, university officials intend to focus on attracting a greater number of local students in the coming years. This fall, the number of foreign students at TRU is up 15% from 2009, but domestic enrolment fell by 1%. In order to draw more students from within Canada’s borders, TRU intends to develop a more recognizable reputation nationwide to attract students from outside Kamloops and BC’s Interior. One option is to sell TRU as a destination university. Another possibility is for the institution to partner with overseas universities to offer students the opportunity to earn dual degrees. Kamloops This Week

Alberta not considering new market modifiers for tuition fees

The Alberta government states the annual rate of inflation will remain the foundation for the province's tuition fee regulation, but one-time, program-specific tuition increases approved earlier this year are now in place following an amendment to the regulation. Alberta's advanced education minister says his department is not considering any new market modifiers at this time and is not opening any opportunities for annual reviews and increases outside the current policy. Alberta News Release

Time to shift undergraduate education from teaching to learning

''We need to seek new and better ways to satisfy the hunger of our students,'' write University of Sudbury president Pierre Zundel and McMaster University president Patrick Deane in an article published by University Affairs. What is needed, they state, is a radical re-conceptualization of the teaching and learning process in which the goal becomes ''helping students learn'' instead of ''teaching.'' By thinking of teaching as helping students learn, teachers become more concerned with what the students are actually doing and begin to think more broadly about the kinds of situations in which students learn. Zundel and Deane give examples of initiatives focused on learning rather than teaching, including those at their respective institutions. University Affairs

Job-shadowing family doctors mandatory for uCalgary med students

In an effort to boost the number of much-needed family physicians, medical students at the University of Calgary are being sent through a mandatory job-shadowing program. First-year med students will follow a family doctor through 5 half-day programs. The chair of the course says he hopes exposure to the field will encourage more students to consider family medicine instead of more highly specialized roles. Calgary Herald | CBC

Renovated student space opens at MSVU

Last Friday, Mount Saint Vincent University opened newly renovated multi-purpose student space as part of its Facilities Improvement Project. Made possible by a joint $3.4-million investment from the Nova Scotia and federal governments, the new facilities offer students state-of-the-art chemistry and biology laboratories, a common gathering area, meeting rooms, and a multi-faith contemplation and reflection room. MSVU's Facilities Improvement Project includes over 40 initiatives to ensure the institution remains fiscally responsible, environmentally and economically sustainable, and that students, staff, and faculty are receiving the best experience possible at MSVU. MSVU News Release

Canadian youth perform well in reading, math, sciences

According to the 2009 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment, 15-year-old students in Canada continue to perform well internationally and have strong skill sets in reading, mathematics, and sciences. However, Canada's relative ranking declined in all 3 assessment domains. Canada had a mean score of 524 on the combined reading scale, well above the OECD average of 496. Canadian 15-year-old students had an average score of 527 in math and 529 in science, well above the OECD average of 497 and 501, respectively. Statistics Canada | Read the report