Top Ten

February 16, 2012

CAUT investigates UoGuelph vet college following faculty complaints

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is investigating concerns by faculty and veterinarians at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College. 5 grievances have been brought forward to UoGuelph's faculty association in the past 2 years. The allegations include improper procedural practices into investigations of faculty members' behaviour; inappropriate practices in hiring decisions; intimidation of faculty and veterinarians by OVC administration; refusal to recognize teaching done by veterinarians; and the failure to hire any continuing appointments in the teaching hospital since the first collective agreement was signed in 2008. A 2-person committee will take about 4 months to investigate the concerns raised. If the committee finds the allegations to be valid, it will prepare a report with recommendations for OVC. Guelph Mercury

New name for NB Bible college

Concerned that its graduates may face risks in some "restricted-access" Asian countries, Bethany Bible College has renamed itself Kingswood University in order to sustain its tradition of "bold evangelism" without explicit, titular reference to the Gospels. Mark Gorveatte, president of the Sussex, New Brunswick-based institution, says the new name recalls a seminal 1739 event in Wesleyan Church history in Kingswood, England, but also honours the New Brunswick county (Kings) where the institution is located, as well as one of the province's most important resources (wood). Gorveatte describes "Central Asia" as the region where Christian college credentials can raise alarms with local officials. "We've had graduates serving in humanitarian roles who've been questioned extensively -- they've not been restricted yet -- and it's our understanding they've been placed on watch lists because of having 'Bible College' in their diploma," he says. Kingswood U becomes New Brunswick's second religious university in recent years to rename itself. In 2009, Moncton-based Atlantic Baptist University announced it would become Crandall University to widen its appeal among prospective students. Postmedia News

UBC plans sustainability-themed residential college

The University of British Columbia is planning to construct a new residential college focused on sustainability on the UBC Farm, reports a student newspaper. The Sustainability College is proposed as a residential college similar to Green College and St. John's College, aimed at upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, and visiting scholars. "The idea is that it would be a place where...(students) could really immerse themselves in a sustainability-themed academic experience," says the UBC Farm's acting director. The college would involve a dining society, scholarly events, and "finding a way to incorporate the residents in hands-on meaningful practical participation at the Farm," the director says. The Ubyssey (student newspaper)

Ontario PSE community reacts to Drummond report

The Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services is long on cuts and short on insights, argues the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, which states that taken together, the commission's recommendations would continue the erosion of the quality of education at provincial PSE institutions. "By only fiddling around the margins, Drummond is proposing that higher education drive Ontario forward on a half-empty tank," says OCUFA president Constance Adamson. The Council of Ontario Universities appreciates the focus on PSE issues provided by the commission, welcoming particularly its support for sufficient tuition revenue so that universities can continue to maintain the quality of the student experience. The Canadian Federation of Students' Ontario chapter rejects many of the commission's recommendations, adding that it's "disappointed to see no recommendations that reflect the return to tax revenue that accompanies a higher-educated population." In anticipation of the Drummond report, the CFS-O released Wednesday a document outlining recommendations for the future of tuition fee policy in Ontario. One suggestion for the province is to allocate $1 billion over 4 years to develop a multi-year tuition fee framework that progressively reduces tuition by 30% over 4 years. OCUFA News Release | COU News Release | CFS-O News Release | CFS-O Report

Carleton TAs oppose clawback of overpayments by institution

Carleton University teaching assistants are protesting the administration's plan to cut their wages for the rest of the term after human resources noticed a payroll mistake dating back a year and a half. Carleton notified TAs that those hired on or after September 1, 2010 were overpaid because of a university error in the calculation of tuition rebates. As per their collective agreement, TAs who work at least 65 hours per semester have their tuition rates frozen at the time of hire. However, those hired since September 1, 2010 were mistakenly given a tuition rebate based on 2009 levels. A Carleton notice dated February 3 said affected TAs would have future paycheques reduced in total between $89 and $1,022 to recoup the overpayment. The union representing the TAs has initiated a petition in an effort to stop the move. Ottawa Citizen | Petition

Canadian colleges decry limit on international student-athletes

Holland College is leading a fight against a 20-year-old rule that limits the number of international students who can dress for varsity sports teams, arguing that it hampers international recruitment. The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association caps the number of foreign students who can play on these teams to one in 6 players in order to maintain parity and guarantee spots for Canadians. International students make up 4% of Holland College's population, but that proportion is growing fast. Positive word of mouth is key in maintaining interest, says a Holland College official, and every student who goes elsewhere or has a subpar experience dulls that buzz. The college appealed to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore last month to use his influence over Sports Canada, a major funding source for collegiate athletics, to spur change. The institution has yet to receive a reply, but Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal told the Globe and Mail that colleges must make their own decisions, and he hopes "they will balance the interest of Canadian athletes with the goal of increasing international students." Globe and Mail

WesternU student council vote deemed invalid after election site hacked

Western University has scrapped 2 days of voting for the University Students' Council president following allegations of vote rigging. An unknown hacker struck Tuesday, changing the title of the voting website to "Justin Bieber 2012, and Selena Gomez is wonderful," later changed to "Welcome to the Justin Bieber Hairstyle vote 2012. Justin Bieber is the hero of UWO. And Selena Gomez is phenomenal," then to "USC erections." Campus police are searching for a culprit while university officials and student leaders will try for another vote later this month. Western News | London Free Press | Toronto Star

Students give Royal Roads positive marks in NSSE

Royal Roads University ranks first among Canadian public universities in the areas of "level of academic challenge" and "active and collaborative learning" in the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement. 84% of respondents rated their experience at Royal Roads as either excellent or good -- an increase over the previous survey and twelfth overall in the pool of institutions. Royal Roads students also ranked the institution eleventh overall when asked if they would take their education again at the same university. Royal Roads News Release

Ohio State U experiment puts recruiting message in hands of students

Ohio State University has e-mailed more than 100,000 high school students with the following pitch: Why not get to know "the real Ohio State" by connecting with a current student who does not work for the institution's admissions office? In the experiment, prospective students can e-mail, instant-message, or call any of 68 Ohio State U students who work for a start-up company called CollegeSolved. The conversations are private, so the university knows only that a prospective student has demonstrated an interest. The institution also receives anonymous data on the type of queries from prospective students, such as scholarships and residences. For college admissions offices, a CollegeSolved founder pitches his service as a way to better gauge students' intentions at a time when they are applying to many more institutions, making it more difficult to predict where they will enrol. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | CollegeSolved

Campus-themed Internet memes gaining traction

Coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, the term "meme" has come to refer to online memes -- ideas that spread through populations via the Web. Campus-themed memes have gone viral at Canadian and American institutions. Many students have replicated the popular "Sh*t Girls Say" meme in reference to their own institution. (Variations in Canada include those at the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Ottawa). Others have posted variations on another meme in which a student or a professor juxtaposes the warped perceptions of his or her field from various perspectives, including his or her own, with the mundane reality. The CEO of note-sharing service NoteWagon has set up Facebook meme pages for a number of Canadian and American institutions. There is scant evidence of pushback from campus communications officials. The NoteWagon CEO, who is a former University of Waterloo student, says he was asked by SFU and University of Toronto officials to remove their logo from Facebook meme pages, which he did, but reports no stern notes from lawyers at any other institution. "The memes are funny and should be allowed their five minutes of viral fame," says the communications director at Santa Clara University, but one PSE marketing expert cautions institutional officials against trying to "get on the bandwagon and embrace memes, " as they "generally have a negative and snarky tone." Inside Higher Ed