Top Ten

January 4, 2012

Man's body discovered on uManitoba campus

The body of a man was found in the vicinity of the University of Manitoba's administration building Monday afternoon. The man was taken to hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead. Police have ruled out foul play and confirmed the man was not a student at the university. uManitoba News | Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

uOttawa sued over hockey accident

An Ottawa man has filed a lawsuit against the University of Ottawa, which owns the arena where the man had a skating mishap 2 years ago that left him paralyzed. Seeking $8 million, the man alleges uOttawa was negligent in its maintenance of the arena where the accident took place and, as a result of that negligence, the man has suffered damages that include, among others, "loss of enjoyment of life," "loss of income," "loss of housekeeping capacity," and "health care costs." The man's wife is also seeking $100,000 in damages for "loss of care, guidance and companionship," among other claims, as a result of her husband's paralytic injuries. She is also seeking damages of $50,000 each on behalf of the couple's 3 children. "The matter is currently in the hands of our insurer, and is pending," says a uOttawa spokesman. "The university remains committed to offering its members and residents of the region safe, high quality facilities." Ottawa Citizen

Algonquin College union criticizes president's payout

The union representing teaching and support staff at Algonquin College is upset over an exit package awaiting Robert Gillett, the institution's outgoing president. Gillett will receive $500,000 on top of his pension when he retires in about a year, according to the union, which found the information through an access to information request. The payout amounts to a one year paid leave of absence and other small cash considerations, which union leaders call "astonishing" and "excessive." "The irony is that the recipient of this munificence is the same person who in August preached the importance of fiscal restraint to support staff on the eve of their strike," says the union's recent newsletter. The chair of Algonquin's board of governors says such compensation is necessary to recruit and retain top talent. The chair notes that Gillett's pay is in line with what other Ontario college presidents earn and is less than what a university president or hospital CEO would make. Newsletter | CBC | Ottawa Citizen

Carleton to open support centre for sexual assault victims

Following a number of assaults on campus and growing pressure from students, Carleton University plans to open a support centre for sexual assault victims. The new, university-run office will provide counselling to victims of sexual assault, as well as awareness and education campaigns and training for student volunteers, says Carleton president Roseann O'Reilly Runte. The new centre will hopefully be operating by September, says Carleton's director of equity services, who will strike an advisory committee made up of students, staff, and faculty to oversee the launch of the support centre. The Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre, which has been running and self-funding a hotline using volunteers' personal cellphones since March 2010, has been pushing the university to set up a student-run support centre for several years. Ottawa Citizen

Postscript: Jan 9, 2012

A member of the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre criticized Carleton University for ignoring her group's efforts by announcing plans for a new service to support sexual assault victims to be run by university officials. The coalition member says expanding support services on campus is a positive step, but the group's push has always been for a student-run centre. The Graduate Students' Association says students prefer a peer-to-peer model and charged that Carleton administration has ignored their requests. Ottawa Citizen

GMAC surveys show positive trends for business schools graduates

Key survey and poll results from the Graduate Management Admission Council during 2011 offer a positive outlook for MBA graduates in 2011 and projected hiring in 2012. According to the GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey, 54% of all graduate business students looking for employment in 2011 had a least one job offer before graduation, up from 32% in 2010. The same survey found that Class of 2011 graduates who completed an internship are 26% more likely to have a job offer before graduation than classmates without an internship. According to the GMAC Application Trends Survey, admissions offices at business schools reported that the quality of applicants for 2011-12 incoming classes and their academic credentials are equal or better for 89% of full-time MBA programs compared to last year. GMAC News Release

Aspen Prize competition recognizes successful practices at US community colleges

Florida-based Valencia College is the inaugural recipient of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a competition designed not only to highlight the sector but also to promote promising programs and policies to improve learning, completion rates, and employment outcomes. Receiving $600,000, Valencia shares the $1-million prize with 4 runners-up, including South Dakota's Lake Area Technical Institute, where nearly all students attend full-time, enrolling in a technical program as part of a cohort that advances together. Attendance is compulsory at the institution, where administrators contact students after 3 absences. Developing cohort programs and otherwise limiting student choice are important trends at community colleges, says the executive director of the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program. Seeing data that students who added classes late had poor completion rates, Valencia implemented a policy barring students from registering for classes that have already met. To maintain some flexibility, the institution introduced "flex start" sections, which begin a month into the term. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

WLU students give institution strong marks in NSSE

Wilfrid Laurier University reports that it met or exceeded the Ontario average in each of the 5 categories covered by the latest National Survey of Student Engagement, achieving particularly high scores on questions regarding integrated learning. 88% of first-year respondents and 85% of final-year respondents rated their overall educational experience at WLU as good or excellent, surpassing the provincial average of 82% for first-year and 77% for final-year respondents. WLU News Release

The factors contributing to the soaring cost of college in US

Exploring the "higher-education bubble," the Village Voice reports that the biggest single factor driving costs upward for both public and private PSE institutions in the US is the cost of employee health benefits. At the same time, colleges are providing a lot of services they didn't used to, and more lavish facilities are also a factor. Since 2002, average public-college tuition has continued to rise faster than for private institutions due to state funding cuts, resulting in colleges relying on tuition to pay more than half their costs for the first time in history, according to estimates from the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability. So far there is no sign of the bubble bursting. College Board figures show US undergraduate enrolment rose by 2.8 million from 2007 to 2010, with most of the growth at public colleges. "As people say it gets more and more unaffordable, the fact is more and more people are affording it," says a College Board researcher. Village Voice

Raunchy online series draws attention of UWO officials

"3 Audrey" is a 6-part scripted online series named for the house where a group of fictional University of Western Ontario students welcome a transfer student into their oft-partying family. The series' teaser, which showed the fictional students doing provocative things, received 7,400 hits when it was posted online last month, and UWO officials were among those to notice. A campus constable questioned a UWO media student and series co-writer about the production, said university officials and students' parents found it offensive, and told him he had a week to remove the teaser or face academic consequences. Agreeing that the teaser was in bad taste, the student and his co-writer took it offline. On Boxing Day, the pair released the full-length trailer for the series with the following disclaimer: "The characters and their actions or opinions do not represent any educational institution in existence." "At this point, it is too soon to understand the full scope of this show,” wrote UWO's director of media and community relations in an e-mail to Maclean's OnCampus. "If the show was produced to deliberately denigrate Western, that would certainly be disappointing...Obviously, anyone can shoot a video on campus, but commercially-produced programs require pre-arranged agreements." Maclean's OnCampus | Series Trailer

Students better absorb lecture material with classical music in background, study finds

New research from Europe observes that students learn more when a videotaped lecture is underscored with classical music. In an experiment featuring 249 university students, the students were separated into 2 groups "that were equal on academic performance." Each group watched a different version of an hour-long videotaped lecture that was accompanied by synchronized slides. For one group, a series of familiar classical pieces accompanied the lecture, while the other group listened to the lecture with no background music. Within 15 minutes of hearing the lecture, students in both groups took a multiple-choice quiz featuring questions based on the lecture material. The students who heard the music-enhanced lecture scored significantly higher on the quiz than the students who listened to the version without music. "It is possible that music, provoking a change in the learning environment, influenced the students’ motivation to remain focused during the lecture, which led to better performance on the multiple choice quiz," the researchers speculate.