Top Ten

April 20, 2011

UBC prof files racial discrimination complaint against school

A University of British Columbia education professor has accused the university of "racial bias" because she was denied a promotion and her complaint about unfair treatment was later dismissed by an internal review. The professor, who is of Chinese descent, has now filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. A UBC official says the institution "has thoroughly and exhaustively investigated the allegations" both through an inquiry and with a separate review conducted by external human-rights experts. While the professor says she "is unaware of any direct derogatory comment being made about her race," she claims she has been the victim of "a discriminatory institutional culture" at the university. Her allegations have not been proven in court or at the tribunal. Globe and Mail | Georgia Straight

Ayers may again be barred entry into Canada

Publicized during the 2008 presidential campaign, US academic William Ayers' radical past hurt his speaking schedule, was cited by the University of Illinois' board as a reason to deny him emeritus status, and has twice kept him from entering Canada. Ayers, who has never been convicted of a felony, is now trying to get the situation sorted out before June, when he is scheduled to speak at the inaugural Worldviews Conference on Media and Higher Education in Toronto. "This is an issue of academic freedom, not one of a potential 'threat' to Canadian security," says Mark Langer, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, one of the conference's organizers. Ayers has lawyers working on both sides of the border to try to figure out why he has been denied entry. He still plans to speak at the conference, though he might have to do it by teleconference. Worldviews Conference News Release | Inside Higher Ed

International students at Dal criticize tuition fee hike

Dalhousie University's board of governors approved Tuesday a 10% increase in tuition fees for foreign students, a move that has upset such students. Dal officials says 70% of the fee increase will pay for expanded services to help international students succeed, but students, many of whom protested in the rain before the board meeting, say they were not consulted to find out which programs, if any, required improvements. The fee increase is the first in a series of proposed tuition fee hikes for all faculties. The board has postponed its vote on those other increases after student representatives complained that administration had not properly consulted with students. Dal president Tom Traves has agreed to further consultation with students, though he doubts it will alter the final decision. He says Dal faces a significant budget shortfall, which could total nearly $7.5 million if it receives pension relief payments from the Nova Scotia government. Chronicle Herald | CBC

New Ontario legislation would protect student union autonomy

On Tuesday, an Ontario Liberal MPP introduced a private member's bill, co-signed by an NDP MPP, that, if passed, would recognized the autonomy of college and university student associations, ensure good governance and accountability, promote collaboration and agreement between student associations and PSE schools, and protect the financial stability of student associations in the absence of an agreement. Provincial student organizations welcome the proposed bill, particularly on the issue of collecting and administrating fees. Yasir Naqvi MPP Facebook page | CFS News Release | CSA News Release | OUSA blog

2011 Killam Prize winners announced

On Tuesday, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the 5 recipients of this year's Killam Prize. Described as Canada's Nobel Prize, the $100,000 Killam Prize celebrates outstanding scholarship in the areas of health sciences, engineering, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The prize is one of Canada's most distinguished, its limited number reserving it only for the best minds in the country. The 2011 winners are Université de Montréal quantum physicist Gilles Brassard, University of British Columbia genetic researcher Michael Hayden, University of Toronto linguist Keren Rice, University of Manitoba engineer Lotfollah Shafai, and University of Waterloo social psychologist Mark P. Zanna. Killam Prize Winners 2011 | Globe and Mail

Huntington U launches Lougheed Teaching and Learning Centre of Excellence

A federated institution of Laurentian University, Huntington University has officially opened its Lougheed Teaching and Learning Centre of Excellence. A first of its kind in northern Ontario, the centre promotes excellence and innovation in PSE and professional development throughout the north. In joining the campus community and public at-large, the facility aims to foster a culture that continually offers opportunities for integration and discussion with the hope of spreading best practices in teaching and learning. The centre boasts 3 functional areas: technology-enhanced classrooms: a student technology commons; and a state-of-the-art interprofessional training centre. Laurentian News

Camosun opens Aboriginal gathering place

Tuesday marked the opening of a new Aboriginal gathering place at Victoria-based Camosun College. Based at the institution's Lansdowne campus, the gathering place provides a central spot for Aboriginal students and Elders to come together to mark special occasions and share their experiences. Camosun's Aboriginal gathering place is one of 27 being built at public PSE schools across BC through a $13.6-million investment. BC News Release

Brandon U receives $1-million research grant toward improving educational success of Aboriginal youth

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has granted Brandon University a 5-year, $1-million Community-University Research Alliance award aimed at a university-community partnership to improve success for children and youth in Aboriginal and northern communities in Manitoba. In partnership with University College of the North, Brandon U researchers will help to develop the capacity of teachers, schools, school divisions, educational authorities, local government, community partners, and teacher education programs to understand Aboriginal learning, as well as develop, use, and monitor community-based indicators that will measure educational success for children and youth. Brandon U News

UVic, UoGuelph presidents encourage students to vote

Like his counterpart at the University of Ottawa, University of Victoria president David Turpin has turned to YouTube to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming federal election. Appearing in a video with the student society's chairperson, Turpin tells students the election is their chance to shape their future, their chance to change their world. Last week, University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee underwent an Avatarian transformation as part of a pledge to student voters. He agreed to have his face painted blue if 1,500 students made a pledge to vote in the election. It took just 2 days for the target to be reached, says one of the organizers of UoGuelph's student "vote mob." According to, students from more than 20 post-secondary institutions across Canada have organized vote mobs. YouTube | Guelph Mercury |

Colleges struggling to quantify value of social media activity, US survey finds

According to a new study, more US colleges are developing policies to guide their social media use, but few are measuring how social media impacts institutional goals. Survey results show 96% of responding colleges are actively using social media tools to engage stakeholders, but many are having difficulty in adequately staffing and evaluating their efforts. Respondents cited inadequate staff, lack of support from above, and lack of expertise and funding as primary barriers to successful deployments of social media. Over two-thirds agree that "it is difficult to measure 'return on investment' from the use of social media." In assessing how well their social media strategies are working, institutions are looking at the number of likes, friends, and followers and the level of participation, but are still trying to figure out how to measure the impact of social media on behaviour. CASE News Release | Inside Higher Ed