Top Ten

May 13, 2011

Huron administration urged to refuse funding for Islamic studies chair

A letter sent by 26 faculty, alumni, and friends of the University of Western Ontario calls on Huron University College administration to refuse money for a new chair in Islamic studies at the UWO affiliate because, they claim, the funding comes from 2 groups with ties to radical Muslim movements and that these violent philosophies will influence what the institution teaches. A spokesman for the group says the letter signatories fear the association with the 2 organizations will eventually "blow up in the face of the university and cause it major embarrassment." Huron interim principal Trish Fulton, to whom the letter was sent, says one of the groups will provide $1 million in matching funds only when the university can raise $1 million on its own, while the other will help fundraise but will not give the institution direct funding. National Post

Fanshawe "bulging at the seams"

On Friday, Fanshawe College opened its $31-million Centre for Applied Transportation Technologies, which will accommodate 1,500 students -- but that is not nearly enough elbow room for the booming institution. Fanshawe president Howard Rundle says the college is still "bulging at the seams" and will have to scramble to acquire more space in the neighbourhood, in downtown London, and in downtown Woodstock. The college also plans to build vertically on its main campus. Over the next decade, Rundle expects Fanshawe to grow by 20% -- not just to handle incoming students, but also to train enough people to replace retiring baby boomers. To squeeze in all the students next year, the institution plans to extend the classroom schedule from 8 am to 8 pm -- a move that will be unpopular, admits Rundle, who says the only real solution is expansion in the short, medium, and long term. London Free Press

BC invests in health program equipment renewal

BC's advanced education ministry announced Thursday a $5-million investment to allow 22 provincial PSE institutions to refresh their laboratories by replacing and renewing health equipment so students can receive all the training needed to provide safe and high-quality care to patients across BC. The funding has been allocated to each institution based on the school's size and number of health education programs. BC News Release

Trent completes fundraising campaign for athletics complex

Trent University has raised more than $4,056,000 in support of the renewal and expansion of athletics and recreation facilities at the institution, surpassing the $4-million goal set for the campaign when it launched in October 2009. The Trent Community Sport & Recreation Centre, which opened last fall, features a competitive swimming pool, the only indoor rowing tank in Ontario, and a high-end indoor rock climbing wall. Trent's athletics director says the new facility has helped position the institution to attract the best and brightest students. "Students are choosing universities based on academic programs, but they're also weighing lifestyle options," he says. "Whether you're an athlete or not, this will influence people, if they want to come to Trent or not." Peterborough Examiner

Queen's expands mental-health services

This fall Queen's University will implement additional counselling services and supports for students. The university will hire an additional full-time counsellor for Health, Counselling and Disability Services, as well as an Associate Director of Counselling. An additional counsellor will be based in residences to supplement existing services. A new 45-minute information session on how to recognize and help students in distress will be offered to staff, instructors, TAs, faculty, and any campus group that requests it. The session is being provided to the 2011-12 Alma Mater Society employees as part of their training. Queen's is also participating in a pilot program of The Jack Project, an organization dedicated to helping youth achieve optimum mental health. The expanded services come as the Queen's community comes to terms with the death of 6 students, at least 2 to suicide, in the last year. Queen's News Centre

Capilano unveils new coat of arms

Governor General David Johnston was at Capilano University Thursday to present the BC-based institution with its new coat of arms. The design combines traditional symbols of learning with references to Capilano's natural setting between the mountains and the ocean. The coat of arms' winged bear supporters "demonstrate that one of the strengths of heraldry is its ability to transform the familiar into something of imagination," Johnston said at the ceremony. The coat of arms features a salmon rendered in a West Coast First Nations style, representing the connection Capilano has enjoyed with local First Nations communities since its creation in 1968. Capilano News

Interactive teaching boost student engagement in large classes, study finds

According to a new University of British Columbia study, interactive teaching methods significantly improved and doubled both learning and engagement in a large physics class at the institution. The study compared the amount of learning students experienced when taught by traditional lecture and by using interactive activities based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education. The study found the students in the interactive class showed nearly double the engagement levels of their lectured counterparts, had 20% higher attendance, and scored almost twice as well in a test designed to determine their grasp of complex physics concepts. Researchers surveyed students and found the interactive teaching methods "generated a lot of excitement in class -- which makes for a great learning environment." UBC News Release | Globe and Mail | Canadian Press

Study finds rampant homophobia in Canadian schools

According to a national 3-year study involving more than 3,600 Canadian teenagers, homophobic comments are a daily, common and accepted part of school life, even uttered by some teachers. Nearly two-thirds of non-heterosexual students do not feel safe in their schools, the report found. The study observed that girls and young women are more likely than boys and young men to suffer verbal and physical harassment due to their sexual orientation. The report found nearly 10% of straight students have experienced homophobic insults and physical harassment due to perceptions about their sexual orientation. Nearly three-fifths of straight students find homophobic comments upsetting. The researchers identify 3 steps that can change school culture: first, school divisions need to develop anti-homophobia policies; second, schools can form gay-straight alliance groups for students; third, school curriculum needs to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people. uWinnipeg News Release | Winnipeg Free Press | Read the report

Stanford introduces alumni interviews to admissions process

For decades alumni interviews have been part of the admissions process at elite US private institutions, save for Stanford University. Last week, however, Stanford announced a 3-year test of alumni interviews had been a success and the institution would start expanding its alumni network so that within about 3 years, all applicants could be offered an (optional) alumni interview. Stanford's dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid says the pilot program showed that alumni interviews "add texture" to the applicants' portfolios. In about 10% of the cases, the alumni interviewer's report influenced the decision one way or another. The dean says students from disadvantaged backgrounds or whose parents did not attend college were as likely as wealthy applicants to be helped by an alumni interview. Moreover, many of the wealthier applicants came in "overly packaged," which turned off alumni, who were looking "for honesty" and not for presentations that came "from consulting services." Inside Higher Ed

Google launches Chromebook

Last week Google unveiled Chromebook, a line of notebook computers that use the Google Chrome operating system, based on the company's Chrome browser. With no programs, no desktop, and nothing to start up, Chromebooks are reliant on an integrated web browser and web applications for all their functionality. The web, rather than a local hard drive, is used for storing user files. That means the computers can boot in 8 seconds, do not require updates, and can't lose data in hard drive crashes, Google says. The company also announced Chromebooks for Business and Education, a service that includes Chromebooks and a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications, and policies. Google Blog | CBC