Top Ten

January 13, 2012

Douglas College launches independent review of Chinese partnership programs

Douglas College's board announced Thursday it has initiated an independent review of the policies and procedures regarding the institution's partnership programs in China. The review follows up on issues raised in a 2010 internal review of Douglas College's partnership programs related to the Heilongjiang Institute of Science and Technology. Following that review, admission standards were raised, class sizes were cut by half, English-language instruction was added to the second year of studies, and changes were made to policies governing supplemental exams. The independent review will examine controls in place related to the exam process, student grades and course marks awarded in the programs, and processes and structures in place for the oversight of the programs in China. The report's findings will be made public following the investigation's conclusion in March. Douglas College News

NWCC posts $1.7-million deficit

In a letter to students and community members, Northwest Community College president Denise Henning states that the BC-based institution is operating a deficit currently estimated to be $1.7 million. The college was allowed to run a deficit last year so it could carry out work of Priority Planning, but its grace period is up and it must eliminate this shortfall and turn in a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. "These are challenging times for all of us and NWCC's administration and union leadership will have to make some difficult decisions over the next 8-10 weeks," says Henning. NWCC will launch a dedicated microsite to provide updates to students, employees, and communities, as well as an e-mail address where people can send inquiries and offer suggestions on how the college can save money. Read the letter

Man admits to sending threatening e-mails at uWaterloo

A former University of Waterloo student has pleaded guilty to criminal harassment for sending anti-female e-mails to more than 100 students and staff over a 4-month period last year. One message purported to have been sent by uWaterloo's president depicted a nuclear bomb and suggested women should not hold positions of power. Anti-female posters were also found on campus, including some placed over the campaign signs of a female candidate in a student election. Individuals at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs also received the messages. The 35-year-old man was sentenced to 8 months already spent in custody, plus 2 years on probation. The terms of his probation include staying away from uWaterloo and WLU, counselling, and a ban on sending e-mails dealing with race or gender issues. Waterloo Region Record

CAUT objects to Princeton president's appointment as CERC program selection board co-chair

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is criticizing the federal government for naming Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman as co-chair of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program selection board. The association has no fault with Tilghman, only with her serving while being president of a US institution. "We were surprised and disappointed at the announcement (Thursday) that no Canadian university president or other academic was deemed distinguished enough to be named co-chair," state CAUT officials in a letter to Science and Technology Minister Gary Goodyear. "There is no shortage of Canadian university presidents and other distinguished academics at Canadian universities who could more appropriately have filled the role." Government officials praised Tilghman for agreeing to serve on the board, noting that she was raised in Winnipeg. A Princeton official confirms that Tilghman remains a Canadian citizen. CAUT letter | Industry Canada News Release | Inside Higher Ed

Brandon U education, music students protest downgraded marks

Some Brandon University students claim they have been graded unfairly after their marks were changed from A or A+ to P for "Pass." Over 100 students in music and education classes have signed a petition to protest what they see as downgraded marks. Brandon U officials confirm that the students' dean did overturn some grades, adding that it is standard policy for grades to be reviewed when average class marks are unusually low or high. In this instance, a P grade is not that bad, says the university's VP academic and research. "When you're making a difference between an A student and a D student, you're engaged in some sort of comparative rank ordering. But a pass-fail system looks at competency-based performance in the classroom," says the VP. One affected student says it is not fair for the grading system to have changed without any notice to students. The concerned students plan to appeal the grades by submitting the petition to a Brandon U senate committee. CBC

Concordia adopts new $25-million academic plan

On Thursday, Concordia University's board of governors unanimously adopted a new academic plan, leaving Concordia's provost "beaming" now that the institution can finally move forward and make the changes it believes will enhance its academic mission. Looking to become a top-tier university and a high-quality research institution, Concordia will invest $25 million over the next 5 years to increase its standing in the academic world. The plan aims to improve the university's reputation by "using improved research performance as a catalyst to attract top-notch faculty and students and recognition." As outlined in the plan, Concordia will invest $4.5 million to increase the library's acquisitions budget, more than $7 million to boost research, and more than $6 million to promote student success. Montreal Gazette

Service excellence central to uWindsor campus master plan

In a speech to hundreds of students and faculty Thursday, University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman laid out a master plan for the campus that includes centralization of student services and a Welcome Centre to greet visitors and campus newcomers. "We cannot have a University where students have to go to multiple buildings to get the basic services they need," said Wildeman, who believes "it is the University’s duty to provide a supportive environment and spaces within which every person, regardless of who they are, can feel that (the foundations of courage, love and hope) are enabled so that their own human spirit can thrive." The president also introduced uWindsor's new Service Excellence Program, an initiative designed to promote responsive, reliable, and courteous service to students, faculty, staff, and visitors. uWindsor Daily News (president's address) | uWindsor Daily News (service excellence initiative) | Windsor Star

UoGuelph considers options for development on core lands

The University of Guelph is examining new ways to generate revenue on some of its core academic lands. In 1989, the institution launched its Heritage Trust, an endowment fund topped with revenues from leasing university-owned land. Part of the process entailed identifying core and non-core land. It is the non-core lands that have, to date, been leased, generating funds that help pay for certain investments to avoid adding more pressure to the operating budget. The non-core lands are now in short supply. UoGuelph president Alastair Summerlee says there have been talks around the idea of leasing core lands to private companies and public agencies. Such lease agreements would have to meet an academic need, whether in teaching or research. Guelph Mercury

Enrolment rises in uCalgary-Qatar nursing program

Student enrolment at the University of Calgary-Qatar now totals 225 after 45 more students enrolled in the campus' Bachelor of Nursing degree program. "We are on the move. We are growing," says uCalgary-Qatar's dean and CEO. "We are becoming well recognized in the Qatar community. They know we have a quality program and most importantly, more people are realizing the value of a career in nursing." Last year the nursing program received accreditation from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, making it the first time the association awarded accreditation to an institution outside of Canada. Last year the campus developed an online video game called Nurses Against Zombieism to inform people about the Qatar program and stimulate interest in the nursing profession. UToday

AALS conference session discusses transparency in law school admissions

In a session at the Association of American Law Schools' conference this month, panellists said that law school admissions offices should be as transparent as possible with potential students, including releasing job placement data that is as detailed as possible. In 3 class action lawsuits, recent graduates have sued their law schools, claiming the schools provided deceptive job placement statistics that were effectively false advertising. Admissions officers sometimes feel pressured by administrators to recruit the best students and will alleviate any concern. The panellists recommended having conversations with students about some of the flash points in what has been deemed the crisis of legal education: providing as much information on job placement rates as possible and letting students who have been offered scholarships know how likely they are to retain them. Inside Higher Ed