Top Ten

July 6, 2011

Saskatchewan places St. Peter's College on probation

A KPMG audit report issued last Thursday identified serious financial problems at St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Saskatchewan, and as a result, provincial funding for SPC will now be administered through the University of Saskatchewan. KPMG reported deficiencies in transparency and accountability, that a significant operating deficiency was covered using restricted funds, and implied that SPC’s financial survival is questionable. In March, CEO Glen Kobussen was fired before a merger of SPC and Carlton Trail Regional College could be orchestrated, the province ordered audits of both institutions, and replaced the CTRC board with an administrator. A separate Deloitte and Touche audit of CTRC, also released last Thursday, found appropriate financial controls in place and all public dollars accounted for. CBC News | SK media release

Lakehead Law School gets provincial green light

Lakehead University is officially launching Ontario’s first new law school since 1969 (and Northern Ontario’s first ever). In hopes of addressing a lack of law graduates in Northern Ontario, Lakehead promises its newest faculty will target local and aboriginal students and focus on aboriginal law. Provincial funding of $1.5 million will go toward refurbishing a historic local high school Lakehead took over in 2008, which will be home to the new faculty. Enrolment is expected to begin in September 2013. Lakehead News | Ontario Media Release | Globe & Mail

Ryerson U may get its own subway station

York University may have been first in the subway station domination game in 2004, and reprised it in 2009, but now Ryerson University may be the first sponsor to rename a TTC subway station. The Toronto Transit Commission plans to renovate the nearby Dundas subway station, and Ryerson has urged a new access point at the north end of the platform, across the street from the university’s planned student learning centre. Councillor Doug Ford, brother of Toronto’s mayor, drew protests last month when he suggested selling naming rights for subway lines and stations. Although Ryerson and the TTC have not yet actually met to discuss the possibility, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy told the Globe & Mail that “if we could negotiate something and have our name on it, we would not be beyond looking to fundraise to make that happen.” Globe & Mail

Maimed UBC student returns to Vancouver

University of British Columbia master’s student Rumana Monzur has returned to Vancouver after an attack that left her blind. Monzur still remains hopeful for the future after returning from a trip home to Bangladesh to visit family, where she was attacked by her husband. Monzur is seeking help in Canada to improve her vision, despite two top Indian specialists’ conclusion that no further treatment was possible. UBC has sponsored a fundraising campaign aimed at supporting Monzur for at least 6 months at the university, with the ultimate goal of raising $70,000; to date $35,000 has been raised. Globe & Mail

UVic governors approve new $59-million sports centre

A new sports centre has been approved by University of Victoria governors, with construction expected to begin this fall. The $59-million project will include the construction of an 11,600-square-metre Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities, and renovation of the existing McKinnon gym. The new building will house a gymnasium for university sports teams with increased seating, a field house with a multi-use floor, and CanAssist, a program that creates technology, services and programs for people with special needs. The new sports centre is expected to be completed in 2013. Times Colonist

Highest-paid university officials in Canada

Maclean’s has published another ranking -- listing the 10 university officials with the highest base salaries in 2010. Topping the list is former University of Waterloo president (now Governor General of Canada) David Johnston, who earned just over $1 million. Following Johnston are Moriarty William, president of UofT Asset Management, who earned almost $700,000; and Amit Chakma, former VP at uWaterloo (now president at UWO), who earned $500,000. The remaining 7 officials are comparative bargains at less than half a million dollars in base salary, and include Richard Levin (McGill), Mamdouh Shoukri (York), Indira Samarasekera (uAlberta), Ramona Lumpkin (Huron University College), Carl Amrhein (uAlberta), Alastair Summerlee (UoGuelph), and Dezso Horvath (Schulich School of Business). Maclean’s notes that figures from New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan are not publicly released. Macleans OnCampus

Laurentian cuts 25 positions

25 Laurentian University employees, largely management professional and administrative staff, have been laid off, cutting $1 million from the university’s administrative costs and balancing its budget for the first time in 4 years. Members of the Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU) are “reeling” after news of shortened contracts, and vacant positions that will remain unfilled, on top of the release of 11 LUSU members. The budget also included $2.1 million more for academic programs and research, and $300,000 more for student support, creating 11 new positions. Northern Life

CIS approves presidents' advisory board

Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the governance body for varsity sports in Canada, approached AUCC in spring 2009 suggesting a management oversight body of university presidents to provide “input, guidance and direction on matters deemed substantive in nature.” At the CIS annual general meeting in Victoria last month, delegates unanimously approved the creation of the panel, effective immediately. A CIS spokesperson also told University Affairs that UNBC’s application to Canada West was recently turned down for a second time, largely because of member concerns about increasing travel expenses, and encouraged UNBC to “keep trying.” University Affairs

Hamilton commits up to $20 million for McMaster health centre

The city of Hamilton has contributed $10 million, with another $10 million pending, to help fund a new $100-million campus to house a medical training and research centre. McMaster hopes to build on the site of the public school board’s current downtown headquarters, claiming it will help revitalize the city core through the economic advantages that the new centre will bring. McMaster hopes to make an offer on the property on July 16. Hamilton Spectator

Province contributes $15 million to uWinnipeg Fieldhouse

The province of Manitoba has invested $15 million to “kickstart” a new $31.5 million mixed-use wellness and athletics complex at the University of Winnipeg’s Spence Street Promenade. The new complex will include a regulation-size indoor soccer field, a 10,000-square-foot wellness centre, classrooms for athletics and kinesiology students, and a parkade. It is expected to offer new recreation options for inner-city residents and youth in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg has also pledged $2 million towards the project, which is expected to be self-funding and have no impact on uWinnipeg’s ongoing operations. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2012. uWinnipeg News

Canadore breaks ground for new residence

Construction is set to begin this week on a new 6-floor, 200-bed residence at Canadore College, to be built in partnership with the private-sector company Campus Living Centres. The 100 apartment-style units will have 2 bedrooms, shared bathrooms, kitchens and living space, and should be ready for occupancy in Fall 2012. 20% of Canadore students currently live in residence, but the new facility will increase capacity by almost 40%, from 533 to 733 spots. Media release

Mohawk to close Brantford Elgin Street campus

Mohawk College’s Elgin Street Campus in Brantford will close within the next few years because of consistently low student satisfaction scores, and insufficient services available in the campus’s immediate area to meet students’ needs. Due to a lack of funding from all three levels of government, the initial plan of relocating the campus to the downtown area is no longer an option, said Jay Robb, Mohawk's director of communications. A timeline for the closure has not yet been established, however students will not be moved until a comparable facility is built at Mohawk’s Fennel campus. (Odeon, another of Mohawk’s Brantford campuses, will remain open.) Brant News

SAIT receives $7-million towards new complex

SAIT has received a $7-million donation from Stan Grad (a graduate from the school’s petroleum technology program) and his wife, to help meet its $75-million campaign target to build a new Trades and Technology Complex. The complex will contain three buildings with a total of 3,600 student spaces, and is aimed at bringing together students and instructors from various trades sectors and offering technology and training reflective of real-life workplaces. With $300-million from the province, among other donations, the $400-million complex is expected to open in September 2012. Calgary Herald July 5 | Calgary Herald July 6

Ontario invests $6.6 million in Algonquin’s Digital College Project

Last week, the Ontario government announced $6.6 Million in funding to support Algonquin College's Digital College (ACDC) project. With the goal of increasing the number of college programs available and supported online, this project is positioned to improve student access, retention and success, as well as improve program flexibility and student/faculty/industry collaboration. The investment will help create space on campus for applied learning facilities, provide more options to international students looking to study in Canada, and will help Algonquin College deliver on its commitment to become the "Connected College" of the future. Creating more than 900 additional student spaces, Algonquin College expects this funding to help transform classrooms into labs, simulation facilities, and other hands-on learning environments. Nepean EMC News

Algoma U to house Aboriginal Healing Foundation resource centre

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation announced Algoma University and the Children of Shingwauk as beneficiaries of the Gail Guthrie Valaskakis Memorial Resource Centre. The centre contains over 6,000 items including video and audio interviews, research materials and project reports, and houses a library, reading room and private screening room. The goal of the centre is to assist Canadians in understanding and addressing the Indian residential school system and its impacts. Its recipients were chosen based on their commitment to "'sharing, healing and learning' in relation to the legacy of Canada's Indian Residential Schools policy.” Algoma U News

New health-care education building for Dal’s Carleton campus

Dalhousie University is planning a new facility for its Carleton campus that aims to provide "common ground" for students in the Faculties of Dentistry, Medicine and the Health Professions. Once completed, the "Inter-Professional Health Care Education" building will become a showcase for Dal and a focal point for the campus. The light-filled, 5-storey facility will feature lounges, a learning commons and library, food court, fitness room, rooftop patio, event room, simulation centre, and classrooms. The target date for completion is in 2013-14. Dal News

uStBoniface launches new website

Winnipeg’s Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface has launched a new, French-only website, and in anticipation of its new university designation has shifted its address from to The site’s friendly welcome page is dominated by a rotating series of large portrait photos, and presents audience-based navigation for future students, current students, parents and counselors, alumni and friends, donors, the general public, and staff. Current student priorities are course schedules, residence services, sports and leisure news. Staff will find policies and regulations, HR news, and equipment reservations. Prospective students will see an interactive map of campus and 360-degree panoramic photos. Some of the site will be translated into English this fall for parents of prospective students, donors and other members of the Anglophone community. uStBoniface website (French only)

UK university marketplace in turmoil

UK university reforms are expected to benefit top-ranked universities and those charging the lowest fees – potentially disadvantaging institutions offering expensive professional programs. In addition to tripling the cap on tuition fees, proposals will release 85,000 student places from government control, allow unrestrained competition for top-achieving students, and reward institutions charging less than £7,500 in average tuition. The Sunday Telegraph reports that nearly a quarter of UK universities, including Cambridge, plan to recruit more international students while reducing domestic or EU enrolments by almost 1,000 places. Since record numbers of students are applying to UK universities this year to beat the 2012 tuition increases, about 220,000 are expected to miss out on a place. The government hopes to spark “innovative forms of delivery,” and add “a wider range of providers” including for-profit universities. Student and administration critics fear that “competition alone will not drive up quality.” University World News | Sunday Telegraph

VCC chefs cook for Will and Kate in Ottawa

Members of Junior Culinary Team Canada, all Vancouver Community College chefs, flew to Ottawa last week to cook a Canadian-inspired feast for William and Kate at the couple’s first dinner during their 9-day royal tour of Canada. In the garden of Government House on June 30, the couple was served delicacies from across the country such as Yukon Arctic char, Newfoundland and Labrador spruce-tip smoked oysters, Alberta yak, Outaouais quail eggs, and Salt Spring Island goat cheese. The VCC chefs won a national competition in June 2010 earning the right to represent Canada at the 2012 Culinary Olympics in Germany. VCC News

Blackboard sold to private equity firm for $1.64 billion

After years of growth through acquisition of smaller companies and competitors, the dominant online learning platform provider, Blackboard, announced last Friday that they have been sold to an investor group led by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm with a portfolio of education companies. The $1.64-billion deal closes in the last quarter of 2011. More than half the nonprofit colleges and universities in the US use Blackboard Learn, the leading LMS. While company officials assure their customers that it will be business as usual, with no changes to senior leadership, analysts observe that private equity is usually more focused on profit. Some speculate that Blackboard will ease off on acquisitions, and potentially divest itself of less profitable products, such as Blackboard Mobile or Blackboard Analytics, or exit less profitable markets like K-12 education. The president of Blackboard Learn says that, without the need to manage the perceptions of a few dozen institutional investors, Blackboard will be free to serve client interests first and foremost. Blackboard Blog | InsideHigherEd | Chronicle of Higher Ed