Top Ten

November 20, 2012

Job action begins at more BC PSE institutions

CUPE-represented support staff at Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, North Island College, and Vancouver Island University initiated job action yesterday morning. CUPE said yesterday that initial plans called for a 2-day shutdown. The labour action follows class cancellations at Vancouver Community College due to a one-day strike by CUPE-represented staff. At issue, the union said, is a blockage in negotiations at BC's Public Sector Employers' Council and the advanced education ministry. CUPE support staff at BC's community colleges are seeking a no-concessions, 4-year deal with 2% wage increases in the last 2 years, in line with other recent public-sector settlements in the province. CUPE News | Camosun Update | CNC News Release | COTR Update | NIC Update | VIU News

Who Canada's universities need now to lead them

Canada's university leadership will undergo dramatic change over the next year, reports the Globe and Mail. Dal's new president, Richard Florizone, will assume his position in June, and McGill, uToronto, and UVic are now searching for new leaders. The successors must continue their predecessors' efforts in fundraising and defending the sector against competing public priorities, while also bolstering Canada's international brand against ambitious new competitors. Winning the global race requires strong personalities, and there is debate about whether or not universities should search beyond the ivory tower. Talk about potential star candidates from outside the sector may sound good at first, but when boards "get serious about what kind of skills they want the incoming president to have, the safest place to look is inside of academia," says a Washington-based lawyer specializing in university presidents' contracts. It is "to our detriment" that Canadian universities are less ready to search outside their own ranks for presidents, says search consultant Janet Wright. What they might find, she says, are leaders "who have the bona fides that would make them credible in the [university], but who have honed their specific skills in other places as well." Wright says "the days when the gentleman scholar could become the president of a multibillion-dollar operation, I think, are gone." The Globe published a Q&A with the departing leaders of McGill, uToronto, Dal, and UVic, who each describe the biggest challenge their successor faces. The paper also lists a few potential candidates often mentioned as front-runners for some of Canada's top university jobs. Globe and Mail | Q&A | Potential Front-Runners

Manitoba to hold Skills Summit

In its throne speech Monday, the Manitoba government said the Premier's Economic Advisory Council will convene a Skills Summit in the coming year. The summit's mandate will be to offer advice on how to meet the province's target of 75,000 more workers by 2020, to ensure Manitoba firms have access to the workers they need when they need them, and to connect Manitobans with jobs. The summit will focus on 4 themes: excellence in education to ensure young people are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow; apprenticeships and training to connect Manitobans with the trades; First Nations and M├ętis labour force development for these growing populations; and growing the province's immigration strategy. The government said attracting more international students supports immigration and skilled labour -- areas that are central to its economic development strategy. In the year ahead, Manitoba plans to take steps to support international students, and coordinate efforts by all provincial colleges and universities to promote Manitoba as an educational destination. The government also confirmed in the throne speech its fall 2011 election promise to commit $60 million toward the development of a new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at Red River College. Manitoba News Release | Manitoba Throne Speech | Winnipeg Free Press | uManitoba News | RRC News

uAlberta unveils case for philanthropic support

The University of Alberta released last week its Case for Support, an initiative to boost targeted donations in support of the institution's strategic fundraising priorities. The document outlines priority investment areas that will advance uAlberta's leadership in areas of significant global interest, such as digital online learning, nanotechnology, and water research. The Case for Support demonstrates the role for philanthropy in furthering the university's highest academic priorities: recruit talented students and faculty; advance learning, discovery, and citizenship; connect communities -- locally and globally; and provide a transformative university experience. The document's release follows a year of record fundraising for uAlberta. A total of $162.7 million in philanthropic support was recorded in the 2011-12 fiscal year, and donations came from a record number of nearly 20,000 alumni and individual benefactors. uAlberta News | Case for Support

Experiential learning, flexible delivery targets outlined in George Brown College draft SMA

As stated in its strategic mandate submission, George Brown College has set an experiential learning goal of having a field education component in 100% of its qualified programs by 2015. Currently, 69% of the college's qualified programs have a field education component. Another goal is to incorporate an element of "flexible delivery" in 20% of George Brown's full-time courses over the next 3 years. This includes integrating hybrid and online delivery, as well as more web-enhanced engagement and mobile device use in the curriculum. The college plans to expand summer programming to fit its students' needs to join the workforce faster and to maximize space and resource efficiencies. In the next 2 years, George Brown aims to increase summer enrolment by 40% to nearly 5,000 students. George Brown SMA

Conestoga opens Institute of Food Processing Technology

On Thursday, Conestoga College celebrated the grand opening of its Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT). Created through a partnership between Conestoga and the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP), the IFPT is the first and only technology centre that focuses on developing a skilled workforce, tailored to the sector's needs. The institute's opening comes at a crucial time for Ontario's food and beverage manufacturing industry, as a recent study released by the AOFP predicted that the sector will encounter serious long-term skilled workforce shortages by 2026. During the grand opening, Conestoga president John Tibbits announced the IFPT would be named the Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology in recognition of the contributions made by AOFP president Craig Richardson. Conestoga News

Report finds UVic has $3.2-billion impact on local economy

According to a new economic impact report from the University of Victoria, the 50-year-old institution's economic contribution to surrounding communities has grown to approximately $3.2 billion a year. The report notes the largest economic drivers at UVic are the increased earning power for alumni (estimated at $1.27 billion) and the economic contributions of research (estimated at nearly $1 billion). Economic impact of direct university spending and student spending are calculated at $584 million and $177 million, respectively. The report uses methodology undertaken in similar studies by UBC, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Alberta. After its first year of operation in 1963-64, UVic's economic impact was calculated at $6.3 million. UVic News Release | Victoria Times-Colonist | Report

York U's mentorship program for students with Asperger's a success

York University has taken an innovative approach to serving students with autism spectrum disorder with its Asperger Mentorship Program (AMP), which is winning praise from students and experts. Created by a psychology professor, AMP pairs psychology students with "Aspie" undergraduates. Participants usually meet weekly with their mentor one-on-one and once a month as a group for activities such as dinner and plays. The program gives psychology students practical experience in their field, while helping students with Asperger syndrome successfully navigate university life. The ultimate goal is to ensure the dropout rate for autistic students is no higher than average. On that score alone, AMP is a success, says the program's founder. Of the 50 students AMP has served since its inception, 3 have graduated, some have switched to other universities, but most are still at York U, a sign the program is making a difference. The psychology professor hopes a new manual he has produced will be a guide for other institutions to follow. Toronto Star

SAIT limits daytime drinking on campus

SAIT Polytechnic has put limits on how much alcohol can be served during the day. The new rule limits students to 2 drinks before 3 pm, and only with an order of food. Shots and shooters cannot be served. The rule is about student safety, says a SAIT spokeswoman. "We are being proactive with this approach to ensure students are being responsible, and allow them not to be in a position where they are going into a class and using dangerous equipment after drinking." The SAIT Students' Association, which owns and operates the campus bar, is concerned administration did not discuss the new rule with the student government. The new limit could also have a financial impact, leading students to leave the campus as there are many bars and restaurants nearby. CBC

Consortium of top-tier US universities to offer online, credit-bearing courses

10 top-tier universities in the US have formed a consortium to offer fully online, credit-bearing undergraduate courses through a partnership with 2U, an education-technology company. 2U's chief executive says any students enrolled at an "undergraduate experience anywhere in the world" will be eligible to take the courses, the first of which are slated to make their debut in the fall. The 2U consortium's courses will not be massive open online courses, as students who enrol will have to pay. In return, students are promised a high-touch virtual experience that reaches, if not equals, the social and intellectual rigour of a typical course at any of 2U's partnering universities. Upon completion, students will receive the equivalent number of credits -- with their university's seal of approval. 2U and the institutions will share any revenue that comes from the project. The company plans to add "a handful" of partners prior to the formal launch next fall. But ultimately the extent of the group's growth, such as admissions standards and prices, will be the purview of a governing body with the consortium itself. Inside Higher Ed