Top Ten

October 17, 2012

SIIT president passes away

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies president and CEO Randell Morris passed away unexpectedly Tuesday at the age of 47. Morris had spent 20 years at SIIT, the last 5 of which he served as president and CEO. "Our sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to Randell Morris's family," said SIIT in a statement Tuesday "As a member of the George Gordon First Nation, Randell was a strong leader and he will be greatly missed by all his friends, staff, and students." In his honour, SIIT's campuses in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert remained closed through Wednesday. "Randell was a leader and visionary within the post-secondary education system in Saskatchewan," said Don Morgan, the province's advanced education minister, in a statement. "His success in building SIIT into a highly successful, culturally sensitive learning environment is a testament to his contributions to post-secondary education." SIIT said Tuesday that funeral arrangements will be announced shortly by Morris's family. SIIT News Release | Saskatchewan News Release | AFN News Release | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | CBC

uMontréal will scale back Outremont campus project if it exceeds budget envelope

The Université de Montréal's Outremont campus -- initially conceived as having a student residence, in addition to 20 departments and 10,000 people by 2030 -- now only has the green light for 2 pavilions with new classrooms, a library, and its chemistry, physics, geography, and natural science departments. "We are not abandoning it (the long-term plan)," says a uMontréal spokesman. "But for the moment what we want to concentrate on doing is this part of the project, which are these two pavilions that we urgently need. And after that we will do another analysis." He says that "if we see that our budget allows it we will construct the student residence, but that's not the priority of our budget." Some uMontréal professors question the need for a new campus with one million square feet of developable institutional land, when the institution's own numbers show it needs just 430,000 square feet of new space for a relatively stable student population of 45,000. The uMontréal spokesman says the university's space needs and development plans were evaluated by uMontreal's real estate committee. He says the institution is being fiscally responsible in deciding to spend $350 million to expand this new site situated 1.5 kilometres away from the main campus, rather than trying to renovate its aging facilities to meet the standards of modern laboratories. uMontréal will not tolerate cost overruns, the spokesman says. "We have a $350-million envelope that cannot be exceeded," he says. "If we surpass the amount, then we will reduce the scale of the project." Montreal Gazette

Developing a skilled workforce a priority in Saskatchewan Plan for Growth

The Saskatchewan government unveiled Tuesday a plan that sets out its vision for a province of 1.2 million people by 2020. The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth identifies 6 core growth activities the province can take, and among them is developing a skilled workforce. Some of the education-related targets and actions include leading Canada in Grade 12 graduation rates by 2020 and narrowing the gap in graduation rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students by 50% by 2020. The province intends to work with First Nations partners, employers, and PSE institutions to build on promising programs underway that help transitioning First Nations students who are moving off reserve pursue jobs and educational opportunities. Under the plan, the government will align programs provided by Saskatchewan's training institutes and workforce readiness activities to the current and future needs of employers in the province, while working with employers to boost the number of industry-sponsored training seats in Saskatchewan PSE schools. Saskatchewan News Release | Saskatchewan Plan for Growth

BC invest more than $18 million to create 3,000 skills training seats

The BC government announced Monday it has created more than 3,000 seats for skills training at 17 provincial PSE institutions with an $18.7-million investment. The BC Jobs Plan funding is being provided to these institutions under the Employment Skills Access (ESA) program, and will deliver skills training in a variety of programs. Through ESA, eligible British Columbians are provided with tuition-free, group-based training at public PSE schools to prepare them for entry or re-entry into the workforce. ESA skills training programs are primarily focused on preparing participants for entry-level positions in industries, occupations, or sectors that are currently encountering or are projected to encounter labour or skills shortages. BC News Release

Lambton proposes Centres of Excellence, Mobile Learning College in draft SMA

As outlined in its proposed strategic mandate agreement, Lambton College's key objectives are a highly specialized Centre of Excellence in Energy and Bio-Industrial Technology, which will differentiate Lambton (as Sarnia's only PSE institution) from all other higher education institutions in Ontario; an innovative Centre of Excellence in Fire and Public Safety; and transformation to a student-centred Mobile Learning College. These 3 priorities include a number of common elements, in particular the offering of job-focused 3-year degrees. The document states that Lambton has embarked on a board-approved Mobile Learning Project that will integrate mobile learning, in whole or part, into 100% of the college's programs, with a target of 10 hybrid programs and 30% of courses in hybrid or online format by 2016. Lambton News | Lambton SMA

UTM breaks ground for North Building reconstruction

The University of Toronto Mississauga held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for its North Building reconstruction project. The first phase of the multi-phase renovation will feature 4 storeys with improved rehearsal space, classrooms, computer labs, informal study space, and an expanded food services area. The Departments of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, and Psychology will have offices in the renovated area. The first phase is scheduled to open in September 2014. In June 2011, the Ontario government announced $52.5 million in funding to renovate the North Building and teaching labs in the William G. Davis Building. UTM will contribute $22.5 million for a total cost of $75 million. UTM News

Camosun opens new medical radiography facilities

On October 9, Camosun College officially opened its new Island Medical Radiography Technology (MRT) program and facilities at its Lansdowne campus. Funded by the BC government, a pair of fully equipped, leading-edge radiography laboratories and a high-tech "smart" classroom have been added on as the south wing of the Wilna Thomas Building. The 24-month MRT program began last month with a cohort of 16 full-time students, most of them from Victoria and up-island. The program is the only one of its kind on Vancouver Island. The new curriculum was developed in collaboration with BCIT and the College of New Caledonia. Camosun News

McMaster launches Graduate Student Life Initiative

Spearheaded by McMaster University's Graduate Student Services Committee, the institution's new Graduate Student Life Initiative aims to reach out to graduate students to identify their needs and create a framework to meet those needs. Surveys, social media, and a more informative and user-friendly website (to go live by the end of October) will help committee members determine much-need services and develop a fee proposal to support these services. In a recent survey of McMaster graduate students, respondents cited time management as a top concern. As for needed services, the majority of respondents said they want academic supports in the areas of writing and research. 60% of students surveyed reported wanting either job search assistance or career advice. As a result of this feedback, McMaster's Student Success Centre will offer a series of workshops on academics, wellness and career and employment, designed specifically for graduate students. McMaster Daily News

International enrolment boom at CBU

Enrolment of international students at Cape Breton University has jumped by 17.6% this year. At present, the institution is home to nearly 1,000 international students from 25 nations. CBU attributes its success in the international market to ongoing recruitment efforts worldwide and the presence of the International Centre for English Academic Preparation in the local community. Overall full-time enrolment at CBU is up by 4.6% over last year. CBU News Release

Smarterer's skills tests offer peek into alternative credentialing

Boston-based Smarterer is one of several relatively new attempts to offer job seekers a way to show what they can do through testing. Smarterer offers 800 free online tests for people to prove their skills in areas such as C++ programming and speaking English for business. The start-up's tests are crowdsourced, Wikipedia-style, and users can achieve a meaningful score by answering fewer than 20 questions. Smarterer's CEO describes her company as a "third-party, super powerful assessment and credentialing tool." It does not aim to replace the college degree, but rather to give employers an additional method to sort through job applicants. "Our big vision is to be the global standard of skills measurement," the CEO says. More than 400 employers have used Smarterer to help evaluate job candidates by testing skill sets. Inside Higher Ed | Smarterer