Top Ten

November 11, 2011

uManitoba PhD dispute ends with math prof leaving institution

The University of Manitoba and math professor Gábor Lukács have settled a 2-year dispute in a deal that will see him leave the university. Lukács had taken uManitoba to court to challenge its decision to award a PhD to a student who had twice failed a compulsory exam, waive the necessity for the exam, and exempt the student from some academic requirements. The student claimed he had failed the test due to extreme exam anxiety. uManitoba then suspended Lukács for 3 months without pay for violating the student's privacy when naming him in court documents. Lukács lost his legal challenge when the judge ruled he did not have the right to challenge uManitoba, but he was preparing an appeal. "The University has rescinded all disciplinary actions against Professor Lukács (including reprimand, suspension and denial of increment)," says a joint statement from uManitoba and the professor. "All outstanding legal proceedings between the parties are terminated. The parties have also agreed that it is to their mutual benefit to end the employment relationship." The statement says settlement details are confidential and will not be disclosed. Statement | Winnipeg Free Press

Yukon College appeals human rights ruling

The Yukon Supreme Court will decide whether a Human Rights Commission ruling against Yukon College should be overturned on a technicality. Twin sisters enrolled in the college's community support worker program filed human rights complaints spurred by friction between them and their instructors. In a decision released in May, an adjudicator found the sisters were harassed and discriminated against due to perceived conceptions about physical and mental disabilities, and awarded them each $10,000 in damages. The institution appealed to the Yukon Supreme Court, stating the adjudicator did not make the ruling until months after her appointment ended and therefore had no jurisdiction to make the decision. CBC

Manitoba Tory leader wants back-to-work legislation to end Brandon U faculty strike

Manitoba Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen is calling on the governing NDP to recall the legislature, which is not scheduled to return until next year, to immediately introduce legislation to force striking Brandon University professors back to work. While McFadyen says faculty do have a right to strike, he says they have made their point. "The right to strike is always balanced by the rights of others in the community," he says. "What we're saying is that students have a right to get an education as well." A government spokeswoman says the NDP respects the Labour Relations Act and encourages both parties to agree to arbitration to end the strike. Angry parents gathered last Wednesday evening and demanded students get a tuition refund. One organizer says parents will continue to make themselves heard if the labour action does not end soon. Brandon U's VP of finance told the parents that tuition refunds are possible. CBC

UNB military study centre to lose federal funding

The University of New Brunswick's Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society is bracing for the loss of a $120,000 federal grant that has supported its public outreach. The Department of National Defence (DND) is cutting its Security and Defence Forum fund by approximately 80% next year. UNB is one of a dozen institutions across Canada that benefits from the funding. The centre's director says it will not fold and there is no threat to teaching staff, but everything it does outside of teaching, such as conferences and research support for graduate students, is at risk. To avoid the end of the centre's Journal of Conflict Studies and the New Brunswick Military Heritage Project book series, the centre is making applications to any grant for which it might qualify, as well as seeking endowments and other DND funding sources. UNB president Eddy Campbell says he does not understand Ottawa's logic in cutting forum funding, noting that the academic study of military affairs at the centre serves a vital purpose. Daily Gleaner

Mount Royal unveils $25-million science department expansion

Last Wednesday, Mount Royal University unveiled the $25-million expansion of its science department, which officials say will give students a leg up in their careers. "A first-class space will be inspiring to both faculty and students," said Mount Royal president David Docherty before cutting the ribbon to unveil 7 high-tech laboratories, expanded research space, and over 40 new faculty offices. Science students at the university will now have access to a Raman spectroscope, the same kind the RCMP uses to test for drugs, minerals, and trace evidence at crime scenes. Mount Royal recently received approval to offer a minor in forensics. Calgary Herald

UoGuelph planning new student residence

The University of Guelph is planning to build a new on-campus residence with help from a private-sector developer that would provide the capital for the facility. The proposed residence would be the first built at the university in more than a decade. "This will help us with our recruitment process," says a UoGuelph official, adding that current residences "do not provide for the increased desire for privacy that many prospective students are requesting." The plan calls for reconfiguring Macdonald Hall -- the university's oldest residence -- into teaching space for use by the College of Management and Economics. Macdonald Hall will continue to operate as a dormitory until completion of the new residence, which would not likely open until fall 2014 at the earliest. UoGuelph News

Douglas College to move Faculty of Child, Family and Community Studies to Coquitlam campus

To accommodate its expanding student body, and to make room for even more students in the near future, BC's Douglas College will relocate its Faculty of Child, Family and Community Studies (CFCS) to its David Lam campus in Coquitlam over the next 2 years. Currently, all CFCS classes, save for Therapeutic Recreation, are taught at the New Westminster campus. Current full-time students will be able to complete their programs at the New Westminster campus, and new students will start classes in September 2012 in Coquitlam. By fall 2013, nearly all CFCS programs will be offered at the David Lam campus. Douglas College News

AUCC brochure spotlights universities' cultural, economic, social contributions

In a new brochure, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada states that as a $30-billion enterprise in direct expenditures alone, universities are significant drivers of economic prosperity in communities across the country. In 2010, universities employed 272,000 individuals directly, and thousands more worked, both on- and off-campus, to provide services to students, faculty, and institutions. The brochure says that every year, Canadian universities conduct nearly $1 billion in research for business and help build their competitive advantages, as well as about $1 billion in research for the health and social services non-profit sector. Canadian universities are a magnet for talent, AUCC notes. Nearly 550 -- or 30% -- of Canada Research Chairs were recruited from abroad, and close to half were Canadian expatriates who were attracted home. There are more than 100,000 international students enrolled at Canadian universities this year, compared to 25,500 in 1995. AUCC News Release | Brochure

First-time international graduate enrolment in US up 8%

This increase, from 2010 to 2011, builds on the previous year's growth of 3%, and is the largest gain since 2006, when international first-time graduate enrolment rose by 12%, reports the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). First-time enrolment of Chinese students increased by 21%, while the Middle East experienced 14% growth. CGS reports a 2% increase in the number of first-time enrolment from Indian students, following a 3% drop last year and a 16% decrease in 2009. First-time graduate enrolment of South Korean students remained flat following a 3% decline in 2010 and a 13% drop in 2009. The largest gains in international first-time graduate enrolment were seen in education and physical & earth sciences (12% each). Business (9%) and "other fields" (8%) also experienced strong growth, engineering rose by 6%, and life sciences saw the smallest growth of 1%. CGS News Release | Read the report

"Why the f**k should I choose Oberlin?"

That's the name (without our editorial modesty) of a new website launched by a pair of recent Oberlin College graduates, now employees of the Ohio-based institution. Part of the site's appeal "is it's got some of that rebellious Oberlin spirit," says a co-creator. Though the developers say the 3-week-old site is unofficial, they informed their supervisors of the project, which has become viral, yielding 1,500 f-word-laden submissions in the first 24 hours. While Oberlin will not endorse the site or consider it linked to the college, the school's VP for communications says that if you can look past the expletive, it's a "wonderful communal love letter to Oberlin." The VP adds that if the college officially endorsed the site, it would not have the same underground feel -- a sentiment also held by the site's creators. One marketing expert says it's smart that college officials are letting the site run its course. There would be no point in trying to shut it down -- it would likely only incite criticism from the community and be futile, at that, she says. Inside Higher Ed | Why the f**k should I choose Oberlin?