Top Ten

September 20, 2012

WLU imposes 4-game suspension on varsity baseball team for hazing

Yesterday Wilfrid Laurier University announced the immediate suspension of the varsity baseball team for a minimum 4 games -- with the possibility of suspending the team for the rest of the season -- for hazing activity that violated WLU's student athlete code of conduct. The team has been given the chance to contemplate the serious detriments associated with hazing and to provide a meaningful reason for why it should be permitted to finish the season. Should the team take this offer, it will be invited to make a presentation to WLU's athletic director and interuniversity athletics co-cordinator Sunday evening. Based on this presentation, WLU will decide whether or not to suspend the baseball team for the rest of the season. WLU News Release

Postscript: Sep 26, 2012

Wilfrid Laurier University's varsity baseball team will be allowed to complete its season following a presentation by the players in which they apologized for a hazing party, volunteered to raise awareness and engage in peer-to-peer education about related issues, and committed themselves to upholding WLU's student athlete code of conduct. The team was suspended, and forfeited 4 games this past weekend, following an investigation by WLU's athletics and recreation into hazing activity during a team party the weekend before. WLU News Release

"Hate graffiti" found in UoGuelph residence

The University of Guelph is dealing with an incident termed "hate graffiti" by UoGuelph president Alastair Summerlee. "I am deeply saddened to report to our community that over the weekend an incident of hate graffiti was found in one of our student residences," says Summerlee in a campus-wide e-bulletin distributed Wednesday. "Unfortunately, this is an occurrence that happens every year especially at the beginning of the semester. Usually there are a small number of incidences like these but any expression of hatred is unacceptable." The graffiti was scribbled on a common area in a dormitory and found Monday evening. It has already been removed. There were 16 episodes of graffiti in the previous year, with the offending message removed each time. Guelph Mercury

AUCC among PSE groups raising concerns over OECD's higher-ed learning outcomes assessment

Agitation about the potential use (and misuse) about OECD's Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) is rising in Canada, the US, and Europe. In a letter sent in July to the leader of OECD's higher education program, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the American Council on Education, and the European University Association expressed their concerns about how OECD envisions the test being used -- and specifically that OECD "is attempting to create a transnational 'test' of learning outcomes, without clarity of purpose or consultation with institutions." OECD officials have cited many possible uses for AHELO -- helping universities better assess and improve their instruction, students make better choices about where they belong, policy-makers hold PSE institutions accountable, and employers gauge the skills of the graduates they hire. While some college leaders have welcomed the prospect of the release of institutional and national-level data that would make comparisons possible, those in many of the largest and most diverse nations dread the idea of introducing yet more data that might be used, in an oversimplified manner, to rate and rank nations with drastically different populations and approaches to PSE. "We hold strongly the view that it is possible to measure outcomes and enhance quality without promoting standardization of educational programs and homogenization of institutional missions," the letter writers state. "We hope that the OECD joins us in this view." Inside Higher Ed

Conference explores academic freedom in context of donor agreements

On September 6, uWaterloo, WLU, and AUCC co-hosted a conference to debate the impact that donor agreements and university partnerships have on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. Universities have become more adept at managing public and private partnerships, said Dal's research VP, and institutions can and do say no to partnerships when donors overstep their bounds. "Part of negotiating properly is knowing that you can walk away," said McGill's research VP, noting that McGill has refused a partnership on several occasions because the condition of academic freedom could not be guaranteed. Former uSask president Peter MacKinnon defended the Balsillie School of International Affairs governance structure and called CAUT's threat to censure uWaterloo and WLU "unjust." Both MacKinnon and CAUT officials agreed the Balsillie School dispute didn't revolve around the academic freedom of individual professors. Rather, argued CAUT, the academic integrity or institutional autonomy of uWaterloo and WLU is at stake. Carleton's provost responded to criticism about the power of the steering committee for the university's graduate political management program. He said a clarified donor agreement makes it clear the committee is not involved in program management and has no authority over academic decisions such as faculty hiring. "Those criticisms are completely unfounded," the provost said. "The academic integrity of the program is completely guaranteed." University Affairs

International Student Mobility Charter adopted at EAIE conference

A network of PSE associations officially agreed to an International Student Mobility Charter during the 2012 European Association for International Education Conference last week in Dublin. The charter was developed in response to the significant rise in the number of students studying abroad and their ensuing need for improved rights and welfare. The charter covers concerns such as equity of treatment, integration of international students, portability and continuity of funding, visas and formal requirements, and quality assurance of institutions. EAIE News

UBC opens Pharmaceutical Sciences Building

On Tuesday the University of British Columbia officially opened its new $133-million Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Building, which will enable the institution to graduate 224 new pharmacists annually by 2015 -- a 47% increase -- and more than double the research space for drug discovery and health care innovation. The 246,000-square-foot facility also supports the expansion of master's, doctoral, and doctor of pharmacy programs, and offers a new home to several other research organizations, such as the Centre for Drug Research and Development. In addition, a proposed pharmacy clinic will enable students and practitioners around BC to gain valuable experience working with patients. Under the supervision of licensed pharmacists, students will provide medical counselling to members of the public. UBC News Release

Saskatchewan approves universities' borrowing for capital projects

The Saskatchewan government has authorized the University of Saskatchewan to borrow nearly $95 million this year for capital projects. An order-in-council from last week's provincial cabinet meeting indicates that uSask has been allowed to borrow up to $94.76 million to finance sustaining capital, 3 deferred maintenance projects, and construction of the Health Sciences building. The document also permits the University of Regina to borrow more than $5 million during the financial year that ends March 31 for the purposes of financing some sustaining capital. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Trent's Lady Eaton College provides downtown space for off-campus students

A downtown space for students of Trent University's Lady Eaton College (LEC) celebrated its opening Wednesday at Black Honey Coffee House to benefit students who live off-campus. LEC students will be able to meet regularly with the college's principal, faculty, and student government representatives, or just casually drop in to relax with friends. A special discount card is being offered to all current LEC students. The space also offers members of the community an opportunity to learn more about LEC and Trent. "We are hoping that this initiative will strengthen the student relationship with the college and reaffirm Peterborough's traditional ties to Trent University," says LEC principal Michael Eamon. Trent News Release

Laurentian website gets a makeover

This week Laurentian University went live with a redesigned website, with versions in both English and French. Visitors to the homepage on both sites can click on and hover over the tabs at the top of the page, which direct to information about Laurentian, academic programs, research and faculty, campus life, athletics, and news and events. An RSS ticker on news and upcoming events is located at the bottom of the homepage. The homepage also features direct links to Laurentian's social media platforms. Laurentian website (English) | Laurentian website (French)

UnderAcademy College an "anti-MOOC"

UnderAcademy College is a new provider of free online courses that pokes fun at the growing trend of providing massive open online courses (MOOCs). Among the course offerings are "Grammar Porn" and "Underwater Procrastination and Advanced Desublimation Techniques." UnderAcademy does offer serious content taught by faculty from some well-known institutions. Unlike most MOOCs, UnderAcademy caps enrolment in each course at 15, with the idea that students should shape the courses and have a more personal learning experience. The college is an experimental alternative form of a MOOC that does a better job of delivering liberal-arts curriculum, says UnderAcademy founder Talan Memmott, a lecturer at Sweden's Blekinge Institute of Technology. "One could argue that MOOCs dehumanize the humanities," he says. And if liberal arts and the humanities "are being marginalized within traditional academic institutions, and the MOOC model doesn't facilitate a liberal-arts education -- another model must be sought, or invented. At its core, this is what UnderAcademy College is attempting to do." The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | UnderAcademy