Top Ten

June 21, 2012

Mount Royal releases its Strategic Research Plan

On Wednesday, Mount Royal University announced its first Strategic Research Plan. The 5-year plan has 4 key themes: undergraduate involvement in research, community-engaged scholarship, scholarship of teaching and learning, and collaborative research. The plan also identifies 5 areas of strategic focus: community sustainability, personal and social health, entrepreneurial innovation and economic competitiveness, innovation in science and technology, and interpreting society: past, present and future. The plan notes that Mount Royal will maintain its focus on undergraduate education, as AVP Research Trevor Davis maintains that research “doesn’t have to be disconnected from teaching and learning – they are synergistic, and that is something we can demonstrate.” Mount Royal News Release | Strategic Research Plan

SFU holds inaugural meeting of the Indigenous Research Institute

On Thursday, Simon Fraser University celebrated the inaugural meeting of the Indigenous Research Institute members. The members, who are SFU faculty, students and alumni researching or connected to Indigenous subjects or issues, discussed research collaborations, opportunities for mentorship and strengthening SFU’s connections with Indigenous communities. The institute fulfills an important mandate of SFU’s Aboriginal Strategic Plan: to “establish a comprehensive framework for the promotion, encouragement and support of Aboriginal research.” The institute will address global Indigenous issues, as well as national ones, and in so doing hopes to “carve out a reputation for itself as a pioneering incubator of proposed solutions to challenges facing Indigenous communities globally.” SFU News Release | Institute Constitution

CFS-O gives Ontario budget a "failing grade"

On Wednesday, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students criticized the 2012 Ontario Budget, saying it "does nothing to alleviate record-high student debt or reduce the upfront cost" of tuition.  CFS-O says that while the budget does provide some financial assistance to students, tuitions in Ontario are the highest in Canada, and have increased as much as 71% under the McGuinty government. Instead of a promised 30% tuition cut, CFS-O says the government has cut 9 grant programs, and introduced a complicated Ontario Tuition Grant that serves just 20% of Ontario students.“For every new $1.00 allocated to financial assistance, this budget will claw back $1.20 from students in 2012-13.”  CNW Newswire

St. Clair College to open a new student centre in downtown Windsor

St. Clair College announced plans for a new student centre to serve St. Clair students who have moved to downtown Windsor. Part of St. Clair’s effort to bring students downtown, the centre will offer tutoring, academic counselling, a computer lounge and gathering space. The building was donated by TD Bank Group, and will open in September. Windsor Star

MUN approves new Department of Ocean Sciences

Memorial University announced that it has changed the status of the Ocean Sciences Centre from a research unit to an academic unit. The new Department of Ocean Sciences will be part of the Faculty of Science and will include graduate and undergraduate programming. MUN intends for the department to be interdisciplinary, and will offer 2 minors by the fall of 2013. MUN News Release

AAUP releases guidelines for university-industry relationships

The American Association of University Professors recently released a report on the relationships between PSE institutions and industry partners. It provides 56 principles to guide collaborations, ranging from the areas of academic freedom and governance to student education to intellectual property rights. The AAUP argues that the guidelines are necessary due to the increased role of industry on university campuses and because many US PSE institutions’ regulations could be strengthened. Among other suggestions, the report recommends that universities: a) list potential conflicts of interest of health care providers, b) prohibit employees from participating with industry-led “speaker bureaus,” and c) separate “corporate funders from the university’s academic work.” Inside Higher Ed | Read the Report

New study shows professors’ conflicted relationship with online education

A new study shows that many professors have conflicting views about the future and value of online courses. The study of 4,564 US faculty found that 58% viewed the growth of online education with “more fear than excitement.” 66% of respondents believed the learning outcomes of traditional courses were superior to those of online courses. 39% of online instructors agreed that online courses produce inferior learning outcomes. Professors with exposure to online education were more optimistic than those without, and those with experience teaching an online course were by far the most positive. Despite negative views of online learning, 60% of professors reported recommending an online course to a student or advisee. Inside Higher Ed | Read the Report

Stanford MOOC adds social learning

This summer, Stanford will add social interaction to one of its massively open online courses available through iTunes U. The course, iPad and iPhone Application Development, is Stanford’s most popular MOOC, with 400,000 subscribers to the 2011 video series. Stanford will partner with Piazza, a free program that allows students to interact with instructors and other students. In the past, students have created informal Google groups to discuss the material, prompting Stanford to provide a central location for students to interact. Course facilitators will moderate discussions and answer general questions, while students can respond to specific questions. The social learning program is designed for 100,000 students. This is the first course on iTunes U to incorporate social learning. Inside Higher Ed | iTunes U

New report argues UK PSE looking to private and overseas partnerships

A new survey of vice-chancellors and administrative heads in the UK shows that most PSE institutions are concentrating their development on international agreements and private partnerships. Nearly 75% of respondents reported that their institution has relationships with industry or private partners that will alter the “direction, revenues or operations” of the university, and 88% reported alliances with international institutions. 9 out of 10 university leaders anticipated a “dramatic polarisation” between elite research universities and low-cost schools. Times Higher Education

Discipline of student for Facebook comments upheld in Minnesota

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision to discipline a University of Minnesota student based on comments she made on Facebook. Amada Tatro, a mortuary-science student, joked on Facebook about a donated cadaver she nicknamed "Bernie," and wrote that she wanted to “stab a certain someone in the throat with a trocar,” and consequently received a failing grade. The court found that Tatro had violated “academic program rules that are narrowly tailored and directly related to established professional conduct standards,” and as such, the university did not infringe on her right to free-speech. However, the court maintained that it was not applying a broad standard that would allow institutions to infringe on students’ rights to expression. In Canada, the Alberta Court of Appeal has sided with students disciplined for criticizing a professor on Facebook. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)