Top Ten

January 17, 2013

Law deans oppose TWU's proposed Christian law school

The Council of Canadian Law Deans opposes Trinity Western University's proposal to launch the country's first religious law school. In a letter addressed to the Federation of Canadian Law Societies, the body that decides whether a new law school can open in Canada, the council criticized TWU's long-standing requirement that faculty members and students refrain from homosexual relationships. The council's objection is TWU's Bible-based "community covenant," which the deans say makes clear that "gay, lesbian or bisexual students may be subject to disciplinary measures including expulsion." Despite receiving a copy of the letter, TWU's website continued to state this week that the university has "consulted widely with lawyers, judges, academics and professional organizations" about founding a Christian law school -- and "none of these have expressed serious concern." In response to the council's letter, TWU president Jonathan Raymond argues that the institution's community covenant, which prohibits homosexual relationships, is "consistent with federal and provincial law." Vancouver Sun

Alberta announces $10.5 million to expand campus mental health services

The Alberta government announced Wednesday a $10.5-million investment to expand student mental health services at provincial PSE institutions. The Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge will each receive $3 million over 3 years to expand campus mental health services and create models of care that can be used on campuses across the province. The Alberta Students' Executive Council will get $1.5 million over 3 years to support all PSE student unions in implementing mental health programs. Alberta News Release

FEUQ challenges CREPUQ report on Quebec university underfunding

The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) has dismissed a new Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ) report on provincial university underfunding as being based on outdated data. "They didn't evaluate the needs, they just made a comparison," says FEUQ president Martine Desjardins of the report, which indicated an $850-million university funding gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada. "Underfunding isn't a religion. We need concrete proof and we need an external commission to look into the numbers." In a new brief, FEUQ demands that an independent body be created to study and oversee university financing. Michel Patry, an executive committee member of CREPUQ and director of HEC Montréal, says the funding gap doesn't even take into account the $124-million cut the province announced last month for the current fiscal year. He says the students' interpretation of university financing is misguided and appears to ignore budgetary rules the institutions must follow. FEUQ News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette | CBC | FEUQ Brief (in French)

National Bank makes $10-million donation to Campus Montréal campaign

National Bank announced Wednesday a $10-million gift to Campus Montréal for the establishment of the National Bank Entrepreneurship Centre (tentative name), an institute dedicated to entrepreneurship, business relaunch, and family-owned businesses. The centre will provide HEC Montréal, Polytechnic Montréal, and Université de Montréal students and the public with access to entrepreneurial-related resources and initiatives. The donation announcement is the first since Campus Montréal's $500-million fundraising campaign was launched last fall. The donation is the largest single gift ever made in National Bank's history. uMontréal News

McMaster part-time student union head received $101,116 in retroactive pay

According to financial data obtained by the Hamilton Spectator, the McMaster Association of Part-time Students (MAPS) gave its executive director, Sam Minniti, $101,116 in retroactive pay the same year he received a salary of $126,151. McMaster University, which is reviewing MAPS's finances due to unspecified "significant concerns," processes the association's payroll, but did not process the "retroactive payment" cheque made out to Minniti in July 2011. Instead, the cheque was issued directly from MAPS to Minniti. The documents also list a $12,000 bonus cheque, again issued by the association, in June 2011. A McMaster spokesman says MAPS compensation is one issue the institution is studying, but adds that he cannot reveal anything officials have learned until the investigation is complete. Hamilton Spectator

uSask capital projects under review

A projected operating shortfall of $44.5 million by 2016 is one part of the financial picture at the University of Saskatchewan. There is also the capital budget, and meeting commitments to the $300-million Academic Health Sciences building and other projects will cause the university's debt to roughly double to $199.2 million in coming months, according to uSask's 2011-12 annual report. "Based on the conversations that the administration has had with the board (of governors), we believe the institution has reached its debt limits," uSask's provost says. Of the health sciences building, the provost says the university "will complete it in different ways and different degrees, depending on the financial circumstances." The provost says there is no government funding for the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Centre for Aboriginal students and "we're on our own to figure out the financing for the rest of it." Discussions have begun between contractors, the architect, and uSask officials to finalize the cost of building the student centre. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | uSask On Campus News

St. Clair asks county for SportsPlex support

St. Clair College asked Essex County council Wednesday for $2.5 million to help pay for its new SportsPlex, which is under construction and slated to open in 2014. Half of the $25-million project is already paid for through a student-approved fee dedicated to the sports complex and through fundraising. If St. Clair cannot get a grant from the Ontario government, it will have to borrow money. St. Clair president John Strasser says the institution needs a facility for its 8,000 full-time and 6,500 part-time students to exercise and stay healthy. The facility would have a triple gym, indoor running track, classrooms, and modern exercise equipment. Windsor Star

AUCC launches online database for Aboriginal students to obtain university information

Yesterday the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) launched a new online tool to provide Aboriginal students with better access to information on programs and services at Canadian campuses. Using the database, prospective students and their families can find information on the 286 different academic programs designed for Aboriginal students and other resources available at universities, such as availability of Elders, cultural activities, counselling, financial assistance, gathering spaces, housing, and mentoring. The online database is an enhanced update of a print version AUCC produced in 2006 and 2010. It will be regularly updated to reflect new and enhanced services for Aboriginal students at universities. AUCC News Release | Database

Study explores effectiveness of information literacy initiatives in PSE

In examining several different models for teaching information literacy in PSE, new research published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario found that on their own none proved significantly advantageous, and the authors suggest multiple approaches may be required. The study examined more than 500 students at Georgian College and assessed 4 different information literacy models: providing specific information literacy courses, embedding information literacy into existing curriculum, online tutorials, and non-mandatory tutorials. As may be expected, students' comfort, accuracy, and ability to use information literacy skills grew over their 2 years of study. While no single model proved to be particularly advantageous, the students who had information literacy training integrated into their curriculum did demonstrate significantly higher ability to accurately cite source material. The research calls for PSE schools to adopt information literacy strategies that focus on teaching styles, delivery models, HR requirements, outcome measurements, and defining the benefits to student, institution, and employer. Research Summary | Full Report

All institutional funding sources in US under pressure, says Moody's report

A new report from Moody's Investors Service outlines how every traditional revenue stream for US PSE institutions -- tuition, state appropriations, federal spending on research and student aid, endowments, and philanthropy -- is facing some sort of pressure. The report states the pressure is the result of macro-level economic, technological, and public opinion shifts, and notes these changes are largely beyond institutions' control. Moody's analysts warn that revenue streams will never flow as robustly as they did prior to 2008. They say the change will require a fundamental shift in how PSE institutions operate, one that will need more strategic thinking. Inside Higher Ed