Top Ten

October 16, 2012

Gift from Goodman Family honoured by new name for Laurentian's School of Mines

Dundee Corporation CEO Ned Goodman and The Goodman Family Foundation announced Monday a historic gift to Laurentian University's new School of Mines. In honour of the Goodmans' investment in the school's endowment fund, Laurentian has named the school the Goodman School of Mines. The Foundation has placed a proviso that any financial commitment, present or future, remains confidential. Laurentian president Dominic Giroux says the gift "will support the development of new mining-related courses and programs, improvements to the learning environment and opportunities both inside and outside the classroom, student recruitment, career and placement services, and guest speakers, and other specific use of funds to be mutually agreed upon." The Goodmans' contribution, along with others, brings Laurentian more than halfway toward the mining school endowment fund's $20-million goal. The Goodman Family was recently recognized for its contribution to Brock University's business faculty, which is now known as the Goodman School of Business. Laurentian News Release | Northern Life | Sudbury Star

Professors, students call on uMontréal to cancel Catania real estate deal

A coalition of professors and students is urging the Université de Montréal to scrap a real estate deal with Groupe Frank Catania & Associés. uMontréal spent about $35 million to buy and repair the former convent, which has been a campus since 2004; however, it still needs $140 million in repairs. uMontréal agreed to sell it in 2008 to the highest bidder -- Catania -- for $28 million. The coalition, which aims to block a proposed luxury condo development on the site, claims uMontréal did not follow proper legal procedures when it made the deal. It contends Quebec universities must transfer authority over their unused facilities to the government, which ensures they are not needed by any other public institutions, before allowing a private-sector sale. The coalition's decision to challenge the sale in court has prevented the deal from being finalized, says a uMontréal spokesman. The Charbonneau Commission on corruption is looking into Catania, whose board chairman was arrested last spring on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and breach of trust. uMontréal's contract with Catania was signed back in 2008, long before the allegations surrounding the developer were made public, says the university spokesman, adding that the institution hopes to finalize the deal by December. Montreal Gazette | CTV

"Sense of hope and optimism" at Concordia

Concordia University's "culture of contempt" (as highlighted in the External Governance Review Committee [EGRC] report) appears to have been replaced with a culture of respect and hope, reports the Montreal Gazette. Some of the strongest critics of board and administration relations now say there's a new vibe on campus, a sense of improved relations between all different sectors of the university -- instructors, students, employers, and administrators. Some of that optimism stems from the fact Concordia has implemented, or is in the midst of executing, nearly all of the 38 recommendations in the EGRC report. Concordia is choosing not to act on suggestions to update the charter to redefine the university governance structure and to amend the charter to establish an academic senate in its own right, with a proper degree of authority on academic matters. Concordia says it is addressing these matters in other ways without opening the charter. Montreal Gazette

uWaterloo Stratford opens new building

Yesterday marked the grand opening of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, whose 42,000-square-foot building will accommodate programs designed to support the confluence of art, business, and technology for the next generation of innovators. The 3-storey campus building features digital media labs, editing suites, project rooms, and bright, open collaboration spaces. The highlight of the facility is a 3-storey Christie Digital MicroTile wall -- the largest installation of its kind in Canada -- that shows curated and student content on 150 linked MicroTiles. The building was enabled by a combined $20-million investment from the Ontario government and the City of Stratford. The municipality's full commitment to the project included the additional expenditure of $4.5 million for the land. uWaterloo Stratford currently has 98 students enrolled in its Global Business and Digital Arts undergraduate program, and a cohort of 19 graduate students in the Master of Digital Experience Innovation program. uWaterloo News Release | uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

BC to offer free, open PSE textbooks

BC is set to become the first Canadian province to offer students free online, open textbooks for the 40 most popular PSE courses. The provincial government will work with PSE schools in implementing an open textbook policy in anticipation the material could be in use at BC institutions as early as 2013-14, supporting students taking a variety of courses in disciplines such as arts, business, humanities, and sciences. The open textbooks are expected to be produced with input from BC faculty, institutions, and publishers through an open Request for Proposal process coordinated by BCcampus. Educators will still have the option of using other teaching materials in developing curriculum and teaching classes. The initiative is the latest under BC's Families First Agenda. BC News Release

Ryerson discusses "zone-based education" in draft SMA

"To provide a platform for entrepreneurial innovation that serves as a magnet for the brightest students and faculty innovators" is one of the priority objectives in Ryerson University's strategic mandate submission. The institution's entrepreneurial zones include the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and the new Innovation Centre for Urban Energy. The document notes that since its launch, the DMZ has incubated and/or accelerated 51 start-ups, and there are currently more than 200 innovators in the zone. Within the next 2 years, Ryerson plans to add entrepreneurial zones in the fields of Aerospace, Design, Health, and Social Entrepreneurship. The university aims to expand "zone education" from the current 200 spaces to 800, with a target of 10% of graduating students having been involved in the development of a company, product, or service. Ryerson News | Ryerson SMA

HEQCO peer review panel to evaluate Ontario PSE institutions' mandate submissions

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has requested that the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario set up a peer review panel to evaluate the strategic mandate submissions from the provinces' 44 public colleges and universities. The documents will be evaluated in terms of their "ability to achieve significant improvements in productivity, quality and affordability through both innovation and differentiation." The panel will identify those institutions "whose submissions demonstrate the greatest ability to serve as lead institutions...those that provide the most compelling and promising visions, mandate statements and plans that advance government policies, objectives and goals...The lead institutions selected through this exercise would be the first to receive funding to pursue their mandates starting as early as 2013-14." To inform the ministry's selection of lead institutions, HEQCO will provide its final appraisals to the province in February. HEQCO has posted on its website links to the mandate submissions from nearly all of the institutions. HEQCO

International enrolment at Atlantic universities up more than 12%

According to the Association of Atlantic Universities' 2012-13 Survey of Preliminary Enrolments, for the fifth consecutive year, most Atlantic universities have experienced double-digit enrolment increases among full-time, visa students. Year-over-year, Atlantic universities report an overall increase in student numbers, including a 12.4% increase in international students, a 4.3% increase in full-time graduate students, and a 6.3% increase in part-time graduate students. The year-over-year international enrolment increases validate that "Canada's East Coast universities are viewed as an excellent and attractive destination for international students seeking high quality education and world-class degrees in naturally beautiful and safe communities," says Mount Allison University president and AAU chair Robert Campbell. He also notes that the graduate enrolment increases are "particularly heartening as it confirms that more people recognize the value of life-long learning as key to their future." Overall full-time undergraduate enrolment is up by 0.4% at Atlantic universities. AAU News Release | Chronicle-Herald | AAU Survey of Preliminary Enrolments

U Texas system joins edX

The University of Texas system will join Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) through edX. The system's board has agreed to invest $5 million in the non-profit partnership, which Harvard and MIT formed this past spring to provide MOOCs on a global scale. The U Texas system will offer at least 4 edX courses by fall 2013, starting with general-education courses in the spring. Students on U Texas campuses will one day be able to take the MOOCs for credit, thought they might be charged tuition fees, says the system's chancellor, who adds that edX courses would also be used in "blended learning" classes on the campuses. The partnership with the U Texas system, which includes 9 university campuses and 6 health institutions, will expand edX significantly. Meanwhile, the for-profit MOOC venture Coursera continues to race ahead, with partnering institutions -- including UBC and uToronto -- currently totalling 33. U Texas System News Release | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Students perceive UK as "safest place to study," survey finds

According to an international survey conducted by the British Council, students worldwide perceive the UK as the safest place to study. Nearly 40% of respondents who considered Britain the safest cited the country's "very multicultural society" as by far the most significant reason for their opinion. Other reasons cited include strict gun ownership laws, good medical care, and a relatively low crime rate. More than quarter of respondents placed Britain first in the safety ratings, with Canada (15%) placing second, followed by the US, Germany, and New Zealand. Non-UK students ranked Singapore and Germany in fourth and fifth place, respectively. The States' relatively relaxed gun laws were offset by its multicultural society and high police presence, resulting in divided student opinion. The US was simultaneously ranked as the third least safe and the third safest study destination. "Unsafe" nations as perceived by respondents include Israel, South Africa, India, the US, and Brazil. University World News