Top Ten

July 26, 2012

St. Clair student pleads guilty to threatening nursing instructors

Aspiring nurse Narin Dhillon pleaded guilty Wednesday to threatening her instructors at St. Clair College in a series of elaborate anonymous e-mails, warning them that they would be kidnapped and beaten if their students failed. 3 nursing instructors received threatening e-mails from a person using the alias "Black Cobra," said an assistant Crown attorney. The e-mails, sent between September 2011 and March 2012, warned the instructors to pass all the female students in their classes or all the students in certain sections, threatening to beat and confine them if they didn't. St. Clair assigned security guards to escort the instructors to their cars following the threats, said the assistant Crown attorney. Cameras set up in campus computer labs eventually caught Dhillon sending the e-mails. Dhillon pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and received a suspended sentence with 24 months' probation, a ban on contacting the 3 instructors or going to their workplaces or their homes, and a weapons ban. Windsor Star

Manitoba releases Brandon Medical Education Study

More physicians will be trained in Brandon and other rural communities in Manitoba, as the provincial government accepts all of the recommendations from the Brandon Medical Education Study. The report concludes that a separate medical school in Brandon would be "ill-advised," given the region's relatively small population. However, the report recommends that the province work toward establishing a satellite medical school in the city, in partnership with the University of Manitoba. The study recommends focusing first on post-graduate medical training in Brandon and other rural communities by creating more medical residencies. Other recommendations include creating community campuses with clinical teaching units for third- and fourth-year medical students interested in rural practice. A rural medical education working group will be established including representatives from the medical school at uManitoba, Brandon University, and other partners to support implementing the study's recommendations. Manitoba News Release | Brandon Sun | Study

Continued class boycott will result in failures, says CÉGEP federation

As Quebec universities and CÉGEPs prepare for what will likely be a turbulent back-to-school season, students who choose to continue to strike have been put on notice. "There are no more alternatives after this," says Fédération des cégeps president Jean Beauchesne. "There is no more room to manoeuvre after these makeup sessions. Beyond that, there will be failures." Beauchesne says that while a minority of students support the class boycott, he wants them to know they need to save their term -- especially the 4,000 to 5,000 CÉGEP students slated to begin university in September. He says those who opt to strike rather than attend the makeup classes scheduled for mid-August until the end of September will likely be sacrificing their term. "If they can't start university classes in October, it will be the end," says Beauchesne, unless they have a medical or other valid reason. FECQ president Éliane Laberge says students who will vote in general assemblies the week of August 17 will be informed of the consequences of continuing the strike. Montreal Gazette

uWaterloo releases Student Mental Health Project report

The University of Waterloo recently released its Student Mental Health Project report, which offers recommendations about the mental health and related services provided to students. Among the recommendations is to create a new director of campus wellness position, transform the Office of Persons with Disabilities Department into an Accessibility and Accommodations Office, and shift this new office to the Office of Student Success. The report recommends that the associate provost, students initiate a review of all wellness-related committees and determine an overarching committee structure to promote campus-wide engagement in supporting students' mental health. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin | Student Mental Health Project

What BC university and college presidents are earning

According to the BC government's latest Executive Compensation Disclosure list, University of British Columbia president Stephen Toope is the highest-paid university president in the province, having received a total compensation of $580,978 in the 2011-12 fiscal year. British Columbia Institute of Technology president Don Wright received the highest compensation of provincial college and institute presidents, earning $301,290.30. The BC government requires compensation disclosure of public sector organizations' CEOs and the next 4 highest-ranking/paid executives where such positions hold an annual base salary of $125,000 or more. 2011-12 Executive Compensation Disclosure

Universities must take steps to defend themselves against fraud

Universities need to takes measures to protect themselves against fraud committed by individuals who work for them, despite a natural inclination to trust staff, said a pair of experts at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers last month. A simple and particularly effective defence against fraud is a system for receiving tips and protecting whistleblowers, such as an anonymous hotline. A university's obvious defence would be to monitor grade inflation trends by professors, said Concordia University professor Dominic Peltier-Rivest. He recommends spot checks of marked exams and assignments, a policy against hiring students in the program, and centralized hiring of tutors. Peltier-Rivest and Mark Britt, director of internal audit at the University of Toronto, stressed the importance of collecting enough evidence, once a fraud is detected, to submit to police so that criminal activities are not simply transferred to another unsuspecting university when an employee is terminated. University Affairs

Risk management a growing field in business schools

Employers seek business school graduates with high-end math skills to apply risk management tools, as well as the capacity to look beyond the figures at qualitative "what if" scenarios that could disrupt business operations. In response, some Canadian business schools are revising their curriculum. Dalhousie University will roll out this fall a revised enterprise risk management course for its MBA Financial Services, and York University's Schulich School of Business has modified its Master of Finance to introduce a specialization in financial risk management this fall. "There is a demand for this cohort," says a Schulich professor, citing industry requests for students trained in risk management as it relates to markets, day-to-day operations, and other issues. "I am very hopeful that students with this (new) specialization will have an easier time getting a job." Globe and Mail

Concordia arena to undergo $6.5-million renovation

Under the Quebec-Municipalities Infrastructure Program, the Quebec government is contributing $3.25 million to the reconstruction and redevelopment of Concordia University's Ed Meagher Arena. The funding will be matched by Concordia, bringing total funding to the renovation to $6.5 million, which will allow the institution to bring its arena up to NHL standards. The main renovations include a new rink surface, an upgrade to the refrigeration system, and a new dressing room and equipment storage room adjacent to the arena. The upgrades will allow the arena to accommodate a greater number of students, allow for the organization of more sporting events, and allow more community use of the complex. Work on the arena has already started and will continue through 2013. Concordia News | Montreal Gazette

1/3 of US institutions find social media more efficient in reaching target audience

According to a study of 4-year accredited undergraduate schools in the US, one in 3 institutions say social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audience. 92% of undergraduate admissions officers agree that social media is worth the investment they make in it, and 86% plan to increase their investment in social media over the next year. The most useful tools for recruiting undergraduate students include Facebook (94%), YouTube (81%), Twitter (69%), and downloadable mobile applications (51%). 78% of institutions surveyed report that social media tools have changed the way they recruit. UMass Dartmouth News Release

US university presidential departures reflect poorly designed governance structure for current climate

"The more recent flurry of presidential departures reflects a university-governance structure that is poorly designed for the current challenging environment," write Gary C. Fethke and Andrew J. Policano for The Chronicle of Higher Education. The pair state that the "resignation" and reinstatement of University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan and earlier departures of presidents at the Universities of Oregon and Illinois "can be construed as the results of conflict between university boards bent on imposing a 'corporate style' market-based discipline and faculty unwilling to embrace reform." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)