Top Ten

March 9, 2011

SIAST board chair, vice-chair resign over land deal

The chair and vice-chair of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology's board of directors have resigned after the board violated provincial legislation by making a $6.7-million purchase of 2 properties near SIAST's Kelsey campus without the approval of Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris. A review by both the ministries of advanced education and justice determined that the board had violated the SIAST Act, but Norris says it was concluded that the board had been acting in good faith and he decided to move forward with the purchase. He says the province recognizes the need for enhanced governance procedures. Norris announced Tuesday the appointment of an interim board chair for SIAST. Regina Leader-Post | Saskatchewan News Release

uWinnipeg faces $3 million in additional pension costs

Actuaries providing a valuation of the University of Winnipeg's pension plan told the institution recently that it needs to add $3 million annually to pension contributions. "We're still trying to deal with the ramifications of that," says a uWinnipeg official, who notes the extra contributions amount to 3% of the anticipated $100-million budget for the 2011-12 academic year that goes before the board of regents in May. The valuation comes as the university and its faculty association face a conciliator and the possibility of a strike. Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

Victoria seeks downtown university campus

The City of Victoria BC has underscored its longstanding desire to have a satellite university campus located downtown. The city council's governance and priorities committee has voted to submit a resolution to the University of Victoria, requesting the institution identify the development of a downtown campus as one of the objectives in its strategic plan. UVic says the update of its strategic plan is a year or more away from completion. CFAX 1070

Applications to Ontario universities from secondary students up for March

The Ontario Universities' Application Centre released its March undergraduate applications statistics yesterday, showing a 1.8% increase in applications from secondary school students compared to March 2010 numbers. OUAC reports that 89,650 students made 389,776 applications, up from 87,782 applicants and 383,018 applications last year. The March 2011 figures are the highest recorded since 2003. Undergraduate Application Statistics -- March 2011

Brock offer packages come complete with confetti

Accepted applicants to Brock University have begun to blog about the impression being made by the new offer package -- which comes with a bag of sparkly confetti and step-by-step instructions to "1) read your offer of admission, 2) open confetti package above, and 3) throw confetti and do your happy dance... you're in!" Bloggers are suggesting the attention-grabbing package has increased their preference for Brock. My Life is Average | Customer Think

Toronto school trustees seek to tackle Portuguese dropout rate

2 Toronto school board trustees are pushing for a task force to address the 34% dropout rate among students of Portuguese background, including a potential Portuguese alternative school. Some argue that an alternative school is the last thing Portuguese students need, as they are already too focused on their own community, whose historic disregard for formal education was instilled by Antonio Salazar, the long-serving ruler of Portugal. "We're starting to see some improvement among the new generation of parents, and kids will benefit from watching their peers from other backgrounds," says the director of the Working Women's Centre, which helps run a homework program for children of Portuguese and Spanish background.

uRegina new member of international francophone university network

The University of Regina has been accepted into the Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF), a growing network of 774 member institutions worldwide mandated to support research and education in French. Each year, AUF offers over 2,000 scholarships and grants in support of student and professor exchanges, and also provides international institutional visibility in a high-profile network of universities. uRegina president Vianne Timmons says AUF membership will open doors for faculty and students at the institution to work and study in other areas of the world. uRegina News Release

Camosun eligible for SSHRC funding

Camosun College has recently been granted eligibility to access research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Combined with the NSERC funding Camosun has been able to access over the last 3 years, the Victoria-based college is set to leverage huge opportunities. "Becoming eligible for SSHRC is prestigious recognition of the role we can play in transforming community, both through economic diversity and social innovation," says the dean of the college's School of Arts and Science. Camosun News Release

Pennsylvania governor proposes halving state colleges' budget

Under the 2011-12 budget proposed by Pennsylvania's new Republican governor, state spending would be reduced to 2008-09 levels, with funding for the 4 state-related universities cut in half compared to current amounts. The State System of Higher Education, which includes 14 universities and the multiple campuses of Pennsylvania State University, is also absorbing a 50% cut in state funding. Penn State describes the budget as "catastrophic" and an "apparent push toward privatization of public higher education." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

CollegeACB's new boss seeks new direction for campus gossip site

The new proprietor of CollegeACB, a controversial online forum aimed at college students, promises reforms to "push the culture of the site in a more positive and productive direction." The new owner, who declined to disclose his identity to Inside Higher Ed, argues that with the right design, CollegeACB could work as a legitimate setting for frank discussions about college life. The company may write mechanisms that recognize certain epithets and names and redact them automatically. "We can't and shouldn't control what people say. We can only guide them to say better things," the owner says. "We think that we can develop tools that will highlight the good and decrease the bad." Inside Higher Ed