Top Ten

December 12, 2012

Mount Royal attributes impending shortfalls to provincial funding freeze

Mount Royal University officials have attributed anticipated budget shortfalls to an ill-timed provincial funding freeze as it prepared to introduce new degree programs in its transition from a college. Mount Royal had announced 6 new degrees in anticipation of becoming Calgary's second university in 2009. Alberta government funding, on the other hand, dried up in 2010 when the province declared it was scaling back its PSE budget. "Certain funding we were anticipating to be coming wasn't coming," says Mount Royal's chief financial officer, noting the "fiscal pressure" at the institution comes in the wake of the 2-year funding freeze. A government official contends it's up to Mount Royal's board to balance its budget. She pointed to 2% increases budgeted in this and each of the next 2 years as the PC government's commitment to stable funding. However, Mount Royal is still heading toward a $5.4-million shortfall in the 2013-14 academic year and another deficit of $6.2 million in the following year due to lower-than-expected revenue and rising costs. Mount Royal is now looking at raising tuition by the maximum amount, curtailing enrolment, and cutting programs, according to options tabled during budget talks this month. Calgary Herald

Support grows for suspended uWindsor education dean

A groundswell of support is building for Clinton Beckford, who was suspended from his position as dean of education at the University of Windsor over charges of plagiarism. Students and alumni who have been taught by Beckford or have been involved with his relief effort in Africa are rallying behind him. An education faculty alumna says scores of current and former students have been exchanging phone calls, e-mails, or text messages to express their dismay over Beckford's suspension. She says uWindsor's academic integrity department owes it to students, staff, and the community to provide more information on the process that led to the suspension to ensure clarity and that the matter has been dealt with fairly. Windsor Star

Facing $44-million shortfall, uSask prepares for more cuts

An annual shortfall of $44 million at the University of Saskatchewan will lead to another round of cuts, says the institution's VP of finance and resources. Support staff and programs have already been cut and operations at uSask's Kenderdine Campus have been suspended, but the VP says there will be more cuts to come. uSask also has a crumbling infrastructure that will cost half a billion to repair, says the VP, adding that the provincial government contributes $14 million annually toward fixing it. CBC

More contention expected over Quebec university administrators' compensation

As Quebec universities "scramble to look for ways to slash their budgets, criticism is sure to resurface over the salaries and perks some top administrators earn," reports the Montreal Gazette. Universities argue that salaries and perks are needed to attract top candidates, but unions and students are wondering how much a public institution must spend to recruit top leaders. Some argue rising salaries point to a bigger issue in the university sector -- the commercialization of PSE. The question of why universities would lend money to administrators emerged last month when McGill University announced it was suing former McGill University Health Centre CEO Arthur Porter for failing to repay a portion of a $500,000 low-interest loan. At a McGill senate meeting last week, recriminations flew over the loan, with senators complaining that the institution had acted as a bank. "Regarding loans, the university exceptionally offers loans to permit the attraction of senior administrators in the international recruitment market," says McGill's dean of medicine. A Concordia University official says the institution does not routinely lend money as part of compensation packages, and Université de Montréal rector Guy Breton says his institution does not offer loans. Montreal Gazette

Lakehead Orillia releases draft campus plan

Lakehead University's Orillia campus has prepared the first draft of its 2013-18 campus plan, now posted online for feedback from members of the campus community. The document notes the task facing Lakehead over the next 5 years is twofold: to grow the enrolment of the Orillia campus to 2,000 students, a capacity that its current infrastructure can support; and to ensure that all aspects of campus activities are fully integrated within the institution, thus promoting the development of Lakehead's vision to become "One University: two campuses." The document states these 2 objectives will be pursued within the frameworks established by Lakehead's strategic and academic plans. Draft Plan

Queen's to construct 2 new residences

Queen's University's board of trustees has approved construction of 2 new residence facilities on campus. The university will own and manage the residences, whose estimated cost is $70 million. Construction of the facilities is expected to begin in 2013, with completion for residency slated for fall 2015. Community meetings to discuss designs and plans and seek public input on the residences will be scheduled in 2013. Queen's News Centre

Gaelic College reveals new logo, strategic plan

Nova Scotia's Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts unveiled a new logo and its 2013-14 strategic plan during its annual general meeting late last month. The logo depicts the letters "G" and "C" at the top of a tree. Gaelic College CEO Rodney MacDonald said the following about the new logo: "The G and C represent both 'Gaelic College' and 'Colaisde na Gàidhlig' but the tree itself also has great meaning. It represents knowledge, and wisdom, but also it symbolizes the deep roots Colaisde na Gàidhlig has in the traditions of Nova Scotia, while also growing and branching out to the future." The new strategic plan includes policy pertaining to the marketing, infrastructure renewal, education programming, and Gaelic language and culture at the institution. Other objectives include developing a more bilingual site, introducing a strong online component to academic programming, and offering university-credit courses at the St. Anns campus. Cape Breton Post | Logo | Strategic Plan

UoGuelph FARE ad campaign helps boost department's enrolment

Earlier this year, the University of Guelph's Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (FARE) ran black-and-white ads in student media at Queen's, uToronto, and uWaterloo. The ads feature messages from Bono, Bill Gates, and David Suzuki asking prospective graduate students "What do you think?" about today's most pressing global issues. UoGuelph reports the messages are getting across, boosting graduate enrolment in FARE by 300%. The department's chair calls the ad campaign an important part of a recruitment effort that successfully boosted enrolment and raised FARE's profile. "It certainly contributed in a significant way to the overall effort being made to present the department in a new way and attract students who wouldn't necessarily think of the University of Guelph -- but should -- for graduate studies." Last month the campaign won first place in a national marketing competition sponsored by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association. At Guelph

Ivey named CEMS Global Alliance School of the Year

Western University's Richard Ivey School of Business has been named the CEMS Global Alliance School of the Year. The recognition is awarded to the business school that has the best student evaluations overall, measuring the effectiveness of the CEMS Masters in Management (MIM) program and services. The program requires attendance at 2 academic institutions within the CEMS global alliance during the year. The School of the Year award is based on a compilation of student evaluations of all 28 business schools in the alliance. In 2009, Ivey joined CEMS as the first North American program, and its exclusive Canadian academic partner, and launched its MSc program in 2010. Ivey News Release

Professor Direct lets instructors set prices for online courses

Professor Direct is a new platform that allows instructors to determine not only how much to charge for their online courses, but also how much time they want to devote to office hours, online tutorials, and e-mail correspondence with students. Professor Direct is run by StraighterLine, a company that offers online, self-paced introductory courses. Unlike massive open online courses, StraighterLine's courses are not free. But tuition is lower than what traditional PSE institutions typically charge -- the company calls its pricing "ultra-affordable." A number of institutions -- including Thompson Rivers University -- accept StraighterLine courses for transfer credit. Instructors who offer courses using the platform will be able to essentially set their own sticker prices, as long as they are higher than StraighterLine's base price. It is also up to each instructor using Professor Direct to decide what services to offer students in addition to a core set of materials prepared by StraighterLine. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)