Top Ten

January 27, 2011

uToronto offers retirement incentive to profs over 60

The University of Toronto is offering a buyout worth a year's salary to about 500 faculty members and librarians 60 and older and with 10 years of service -- a fifth of the faculty association's total membership -- if they choose to retire this year. A uToronto vice-president says the package's goal was neither to cut costs nor reduce faculty, but rather to "renew" the institution's faculty by shifting teachers and researchers to areas that need them. The retirement incentive contains a promise that uToronto will start searches to replace those who accept the offer within 5 years. The package follows similar efforts at other large universities, such as UWO and uAlberta, in recent years. Globe and Mail

SFU students, staff protest Goldcorp donation

A group of Simon Fraser University students and staff held a rally yesterday afternoon coinciding with a board of governors meeting in a move following what organizers claim were failed attempts to have the board listen to their concerns over SFU accepting a $10-million donation from Goldcorp. On its website, the SFU Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) states that the board's "head-in-the-sand" approach to the donation "not only effaces any questions surrounding the ethics and practices of the donor company, but also refused to acknowledge that to accept this kind of donation is to relish in the privatization of the university." A group called SFU against Goldcorp and Gentrification demands the university remove Goldcorp's name from campus buildings and projects, and introduce a transparent and accountable donation policy to be developed by SFU students, faculty, and union community. TSSU website | Georgia Straight | No Goldcorp at SFU

uAlberta suspends frat for 5 years over hazing incidents

Following a 3-month investigation into hazing activity at the University of Alberta's Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity chapter, the university's dean of students announced yesterday the frat has been suspended as a student group for 5 years. The suspension means DKE cannot use uAlberta's name or insignia, use the university's liquor or gaming licenses, or rent university property or equipment. After a 3-year period, DKE may be able to have the suspension lifted, provided it can demonstrate good behaviour during the suspension period. In a statement, the chapter apologizes to the university, saying some of its members and alumni have engaged in conduct that violates university rules and the international fraternity's policies against hazing. uAlberta ExpressNews | The Gateway (student newspaper) | | CTV |

Study explore NS, PEI adult learners' success in college

In a study whose objective was to identify the difference in academic performance, if any, between learners with a high school diploma and those with a GED at Holland College and NSCC, GED students on average performed as well as high school graduates, though there were variations due to gender, sex, and program. The findings show that females and older learners performed well irrespective of program of study or diploma credential. Learners at greatest risk for poor performance were males under 25 with a GED. Policy implications for PSE institutions, as outlined in the report, include GED as a valid credential for access to higher education, support requirements in specific cases for GED learners, and additional supports for identified at-risk learners. Holland College News Release | Read the report

Majority of Ottawa residents polled believe tuition is too high

According to a new poll of Ottawa region residents, 55% of respondents think tuition has risen to unacceptable levels, while 65% believe the current Ontario government has not performed any better than the previous government in terms of the PSE system. Of those polled, 39% believe universities should have more freedom in the way they are managed, while 12% think the government should be more involved. 57% of respondents say they trust university professors most to develop a high-quality PSE curriculum, compared to 3% who say government should develop educational programs. 48% trust professors most to develop standards in higher education, while 9% of those polled trust government to do so. OCUFA/CFS-O News Release | Poll results

BC launches $15-million employment and skills training program

The BC government announced Tuesday a new $15-million employment and skills training program to help unemployed BC residents gain the skills, confidence, and experience needed to find employment. The province is providing $15 million each fiscal year for Job Options BC, a program consisting of 4 to 6 weeks of facilitated group work followed by another 4 to 6 weeks of work experience, preparing participants for new employment, or when appropriate, further training. When needed, those who complete the program can also access up to 6 months of additional support to help them succeed. The program is open to unemployed, non-Employment Insurance clients. BC News Release

Low-income school planned for Niagara

This fall, the Niagara region will be home to Ontario's first school dedicated to low-income students whose parents do not have a college or university education. While raising concerns about stigmatizing poor children, the District School Board of Niagara has approved the school saying the current system does not serve such students well and that similar US schools have proved successful. The DSBN Academy will be located temporarily in Welland, and long-term plans for the school are to house it at either a Niagara College or Brock University campus. The school would offer a single-track curriculum of advanced courses to accelerate academic achievement for students from low-income families. After enrolling, each student is assigned to a teacher-adviser who will support them until they graduate. St. Catharines Standard |

Algoma U "Distance" campaign wins national marketing award

Algoma University "Distance" campaign, which ran in fall 2009, and again in fall 2010, earned a bronze in this year's CASSIES Awards. This is the second time a university advertising campaign has been recognized by the CASSIES since the awards were launched in 1993. Algoma U's director of advancement and external relations says the institution saw a 35% increase in applications in fall 2009 and met its enrolment goal with a 10% increase in first-year students in that same period. Currently, the university has seen a 31% increase in applications from Ontario secondary students. Algoma U News Release

Which Canadian university is the most influential on Twitter?

That would be Simon Fraser University, as of January 25, when York University's Ross McMillan did a search of Canadian schools on Klout, an online company that tracks the popularity and impact of Tweets. Klout calculates a numerical score for influence based on true reach, amplification probability, and network influence. SFU tops with a score of 55.83, and rounding out the top 10 Canadian universities are uCalgary (50.53), UWO (49.93), McGill (49.12), uAlberta (48.58), Ryerson (47.63), UBC (47.21), Queen's (46.01), Carleton (44.45), and Brock (44.34). Klout recently published a list of the most influential US post-secondary schools on Twitter, on which Stanford University placed first. | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Academics turn to online animation site to satirize academia

Xtranormal, a do-it-yourself cartoon-video website, is gaining a wide following among educators as a tool for both teaching and satire. Having attracted more than a half-million views, "So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities," created by an English PhD student at Philadelphia-based Temple University, depicts a meeting between a literature student, who declares her intention to become a college professor, and a jaded professor, who warns the student that she will remain single forever and work 65 hours a week "trying to publish an obscure article that no one cares about in an obscure scholarly journal that nobody will read." Similar satires have been produced on other disciplines, such as law, political science, and business. Xtranormal is working on making the site more useful in the classroom, with education-specific features anticipated by midyear. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Margin Notes