Top Ten

December 10, 2012

$12-million donation supports new design school at Kwantlen

lululemon athletica founder Chip Wilson announced Friday he will help fund a new $36-million school of design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University that will focus on high-tech clothing. Chip and his wife Shannon will donate $8 million, to be combined with $4 million from lululemon, to launch the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen's Richmond campus. The BC government and the university will each contribute $12 million to the school. Set to break ground next fall, the school will include new teaching studios, gallery space for student exhibitions, and a "usability lab" where students can design, manufacture, and market clothing prototypes. The school will increase the academic space at the campus by 124% and offer a post-baccalaureate diploma in technical apparel design. Kwantlen News Release | BC News Release | Vancouver Sun

uManitoba faculty reorganization worries profs

"A lot of members are very stressed because they don't know what their future holds," says the president of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association about the institution's plans to reduce its number of faculties from 20 to 13. For example, the nursing faculty is concerned about where it will be housed if it and the human ecology faculty were to shift from the Fort Garry campus to the Bannatyne medical campus by summer 2014 under a reorganization of health sciences schools. uManitoba's VP academic told the campus there will be consultation through January, after which administrators will produce a draft proposal to go back for further consultation through April. Final decisions will be made in September 2013, for implementation on July 1, 2014. The faculty association president says there is not enough time for staff or students to digest and comment on the proposals. uManitoba's director of marketing and communications says there have been no decisions made yet about physical space. Winnipeg Free Press

uRegina profs, staff raise concerns about cuts

More than 200 University of Regina professors and staff members have sent a letter to the institution's administration, raising concerns about possible budgetary decisions. It stems from uRegina's ongoing academic review and its request for all departments to look at ways to reduce their budgets by 3%. Specifically, the letter contends uRegina's increased administrative spending will erode academic programming. The letter outlines 4 requests: an immediate freeze of administrative hiring and salary increases; developing a 3-year plan for reducing university administration costs; developing a 3-year plan for restoring uRegina's academic mission "to its proper place"; and publishing an annual budget book. A uRegina spokeswoman says she wasn't surprised by the letter, given that the "faculty is understandably very concerned for the academic mission" -- a concern shared by administration. To remain one of the best comprehensive universities in Canada, "we all are going to have to tighten our belts," says the spokeswoman, who stresses uRegina's administrative units have also been asked to look for cost savings. "We want to drive as many resources as possible to the front line teaching and research part of the university and we're doing a lot of things to try to make that happen." Regina Leader-Post

uMontréal cancels Catania real estate deal

The Université de Montréal has cancelled a $28-million real estate deal to sell a historic former convent in Outremont to developer Groupe Frank Catania & Associates. uMontréal has decided there are too many obstacles to finalize the transaction, according to a university spokesman. The project has been opposed by a coalition of students and staff that initiated legal action to stop the deal, and the Charbonneau Commission on corruption is looking into Catania. uMontréal said Friday it would not extend its deal with Catania past December 31, noting the deal specified if the sale was not signed before that date the institution has the right to cancel the offer to purchase. The professor who led the coalition to fight the deal says he is pleased with uMontréal's decision, but also vows to fight to preserve the educational vocation of the former convent and its historic character. uMontréal News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette

UoGuelph adopts institution-wide learning outcomes

The University of Guelph has adopted institution-wide learning outcomes designed to demonstrate and account for student knowledge and achievement beyond traditional grades. At a meeting last Monday, UoGuelph's senate approved the following learning outcomes: communication; critical and creative thinking; literacy; global understanding; and professional and ethical behaviour. The university's AVP academic says the learning outcomes will be embedded into the curriculum and are meant to complement existing educational programs and offerings. UoGuelph News Release

Ontario students worry teachers' labour action may affect university reference letters

Some worried Grade 12 students in Ontario say teachers have told them they will not write letters of reference for scholarships or elite programs as of yesterday due to the province-wide work-to-rule against Bill 115. Yet in a sign of confusion around this labour action, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation insists writing letters is not a banned activity, nor is any help for students applying to PSE. Other Grade 12 students worry they may lose out on athletic scholarships now that after-school sports are cancelled, but they should not despair, says a McMaster university admissions official. "Students heading for these varsity scholarships get identified earlier than their final year," she says. "They're on the radar (of scouts) sometimes as early as Grade 8. An athlete doesn't become a star suddenly in the second semester of Grade 12." Toronto Star

Ottawa invests in STEM initiatives at Carleton, uWindsor, and Perimeter Institute

The federal government announced Friday funding to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach, fellowship, and internship programs in southern Ontario. Through FedDev Ontario's Graduate Enterprise Internship initiative, Carleton University is receiving up to $1.43 million to place 100 recent graduates and graduate students in small- and medium-sized enterprises and start-up businesses within STEM sectors. Another contribution of up to $945,000, through FedDev Ontario's Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative, will allow Carleton to partner with the University of Windsor and distribute commercialization fellowships to STEM graduates and graduate students across southern Ontario. Through its Youth STEM initiative, FedDev Ontario is investing up to $1.73 million to help the Waterloo-based Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics expand its BrainSTEM educational outreach program. FedDev Ontario News Release (Carleton/uWindsor) | FedDev Ontario News Release (Perimeter Institute)

BMO donates downtown Chilliwack building to UFV

In what will be the largest gift it has ever received, the University of the Fraser Valley will take possession in early 2013 of the former Bank of Montreal branch building at historic Five Corners in downtown Chilliwack. The institution will renovate and refurbish the building to create UFV Plaza, a downtown education centre focusing on programming related to business development and training. BMO Financial Group will donate the land and the facility, valued at approximately $850,000, to UFV. The Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation will provide up to $650,000 to renovate the facility, bringing the total value of the project to approximately $1.5 million. UFV News Release

Gates Foundation invests in uToronto MOOCs

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the University of Toronto a $100,000 grant to develop a pair of online courses to be delivered by award-winning uToronto faculty members. The 2 courses -- the latest in uToronto's involvement in massive open online courses (MOOCs) -- are intended to "engage a broad range of students in successfully advancing their general and developmental education," stated the Foundation in announcing the grant earlier this month. Students will soon be able to register for the courses and lectures will begin in spring 2013. The 2 courses -- Introduction to Psychology and Statistical Science -- are in addition to those uToronto delivers through Coursera. uToronto News

New UC logo draws criticism

Thousands of individuals are giving a failing grade to the University of California's new logo, and calling for the institution to abandon it. UC has until now used its original seal, dating back to 1868, featuring an open book and the words "let there be light." The new mark is theoretically supposed to depict the letter "C" inside a "U." More than 30,000 individuals have signed a petition against the new logo. "The newly designed monogram of the University of California, while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal," reads the petition. "Corporate," "cheap," and "the logo of something found in the toddler section of Toys R' Us" are among the comments posted on the petition website. Many question why UC even needs a new logo, arguing that the original seal reflects the institution's values. UC is defending the new logo in part by stating that the seal is not going away. The new logo helps in ways the seal does not, says the UC system's director of marketing and communications. "The new mark was created as part of our broader efforts to build awareness and support for all the things that UC does to make California (and by extension the world) better." Inside Higher Ed

Postscript: Jan 3, 2013

The University of California has suspended further use of a new monogram that drew widespread criticism. In a statement issued December 14, UC's senior VP for external relations said "the controversy has been fueled in large part by an unfortunate and false narrative, which framed the matter as an either-or choice between a venerated UC seal and a newly designed monogram." (Inside Higher Ed notes that many critics of the new logo acknowledged the traditional seal was remaining, but insisted they didn't want the new monogram to be used anywhere.) The official said "while I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it also is important that we listen to and respect what has been a significan t negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community. Therefore, I have instructed the communications team to suspend further use of the monogram." Statement | Inside Higher Ed