Top Ten

April 25, 2012

Brock student charged with arson in residence fire

Niagara Regional Police have charged an 18-year-old Brock University student with arson in connection with a small fire that broke out in the institution's Lowenberger Residence Monday night. Nobody was injured and damage, mostly caused by smoke, was contained to a fourth-floor unit after some paper, allegedly set on fire in a bathroom, ignited surrounding materials and set off the fire alarm. The St. Catharines Fire Department responded and the fire was quickly extinguished. Fewer than 30 students from the residence were relocated to other dorm rooms following the incident. Brock says the students affected by the fire will not be disrupted in writing their final exams. Niagara Regional Police News Release | Brock News | St. Catharines Standard

NL budget commits $66 million to reduce student debt

Newfoundland and Labrador's 2012 budget provides approximately $66 million to reduce student debt through a continued tuition freeze at Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic ($44 million), up-front needs-based grants and interest-free student loans ($19 million), and debt reduction grants ($3 million). The budget includes more than $2 million to increase base funding at MUN's Marine Institute, and $1.7 million for the expansion of the university's engineering faculty. The province is allocating a total of $66.7 million in infrastructure investments for MUN, as well as $2.5 million to accelerate shop modernization at CNA. The budget also provides $4.1 million in new funding to support initiatives to advance apprenticeship opportunities and support underrepresented groups in skilled trades. NL News Release

Okanagan College to cut 16 positions

Addressing a $2.26-million shortfall in Okanagan College's budget for the coming year will result in staff cuts, modest student fee increases, and belt-tightening across the $92.5-million operation. On Tuesday, the college's board of governors passed the 2012-13 budget, which will see up to 16 positions being cut. Of the positions identified for reduction, at least 9 will be through attrition or retirements, while the others will be through layoffs, president Jim Hamilton says. Okanagan College News Release

TRU considers hiring freeze as way to trim budget

Phased retirements and a hiring freeze are some of the solutions that Thompson Rivers University officials are considering as a way to trim 2% from the institution's 2012-13 budget. "We’re looking at across-the-board savings plans," says a TRU spokesman. "We’re going to look at innovative solutions." These solutions include a rethinking of how the institution handles staff workloads and overtime -- all in an effort to boost revenue during the next 2 years. TRU's senate kicked around several ideas at a meeting Monday, the spokesman says. The institution wants to trim where it can without cutting positions or affecting students and programs. "We're going to give our best effort to mitigate service impact on students," he says. Kamloops Daily News

Amnesty International denounces Quebec police's handling of student protests

Amnesty International's French Canadian branch has asked the Quebec government to call for a toning down of police measures that, it argued, are unduly aggressive and might possibly suppress students' right to free expression. The organization also urges the government to find a peaceful solution to the 11 weeks of sometimes rowdy protests. "Amnesty reaffirms its concern regarding the tuition increases, which would undermine the progression to access to university for all," says the organization. Meanwhile, the leaders of Quebec's university and CÉGEP student federations have called off talks with the government after it refused to include CLASSE in discussions. Education Minister Line Beauchamp expelled CLASSE from the discussion table after she blamed the group for a violent protest Tuesday night in Montreal that resulted in 3 arrests. Canadian Press | Amnesty International News Release (in French) | CBC

SMU opens Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness

On Tuesday, Saint Mary's University celebrated the official opening of its Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness. The new facility features a light-filled lobby, the Centre for the Study of Sport and Health, and well-appointed community-use studios and fitness areas. New offerings include fitness and recreation programs and the chance to work with cutting-edge athletics equipment, such as the centre's new Pilates reformer machines. The opening of the centre included the official release of SMU's new health and wellness strategy. SMU News Release

Overhaul underway for UoGuelph Alumni Stadium

The University of Guelph's Alumni Stadium is now undergoing a complete overhaul. The $4.9-million project involves replacing the grass field with turf, resurfacing and widening the existing 400-metre track, installing new stadium lighting, planting, and landscaping. "It’ll be one of the premier collegiate fields in the country," says the VP of Davan Site Contractors. Currently, there are only 5 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) class 2 tracks in Canada, he says. UoGuelph's new track will become the sixth. "IAAF certified tracks mean you can host premier track events," the VP says. "It’ll be a world class facility." Guelph Mercury

uOttawa prof launches first-ever refugees and global health e-learning program

An associate professor in the University of Ottawa's Department of Family Medicine has conceptualized a Web-based tool that will help Canadian medical students, residents, and practitioners enhance their understanding of medical care for refugees and new Canadians. The Refugees and Global Health e-Learning Program is the first online tool of its kind in the country to follow new medical education guidelines under the Canadian Medical Education Directives. The program uses 7 online modules, featuring real case scenarios, video footage and practical questions designed to guide learners through training that gives them the knowledge and skills they need to excel in global health. uOttawa News Release

Northern College updates vision, mission statements

Northern College has modified its vision and mission statements to reflect a broader sense of community. The revised vision statement is: "Success for all through learning and partnerships," and the expanded mission statement is: "To ensure quality, accessible education through innovative programs, services and partnerships for the benefit of our northern communities." While the revised statements vary slightly from the previous ones, Northern College says "the subtle modifications integrate the changing world of education, including bilateral partnerships with overseas colleges and international recruitment opportunities." Northern College News Release

US colleges weigh value of Pinterest as marketing tool

US institutions are excited enough about the potential of Pinterest -- an image-based social network that is one of the fastest-growing sites ever -- to keep their brand on the minds of potential students and alumni that many have scrambled to set up a "presence" there, even as Pinterest's value as a marketing tool remains hazy. The site's essential focus on visual storytelling might give it a trump card over the largely text-focused Facebook and Twitter, says a digital media specialist at Iowa-based Drake University, which has a Pinterest page. The site's asset as a marketing tool -- the opportunity to casually stimulate an audience with visual ideas without connecting it to an explicit message -- may also be its greatest liability. From an ROI perspective, the need to be "human" (Pinterest has no user category for organizations or companies, just "people") can be stifling. The Drake marketer notes that metrics such as "likes" and "re-pins" are "kind of foggy" in terms of providing insight into whether a college's Pinterest page is worth the time and labour that goes into curating it. Inside Higher Ed | Pinterest