Top Ten

February 14, 2013

Alberta advanced education minister seeks more unified PSE system

Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says he wants a more unified PSE system and plans to issue mandate letters defining the roles of each of the province's 26 publicly-funded PSE institutions. With Alberta spending $2.9 billion a year on advanced education and technology, Lukaszuk says he wants greater co-operation among institutions and less duplication in specialized academic programs for students. Beyond issuing mandate letters, the minister says there will also be regular joint meetings between institution presidents and board chairs and greater sharing of administrative functions. Lukaszuk has already said he plans to more closely align university research funding with the province's economic diversification agenda. Calgary Herald

Layoff worries loom over McGill

"It's an assault on higher education," said McGill University provost Anthony C. Masi of government funding cuts during a campus town hall earlier this week. He said the $124-million cut to Quebec universities in December for this fiscal year, coming on top of annulled tuition fee increases and representing about $19 million for McGill, was a huge blow. To compound the situation, the province has threatened to withhold the final installment of its conditional grant to any university that is not able to meet at least 50% of the cuts by the end of fiscal year 2014 -- representing more than $30 million to McGill. With 75% of the university's operating budget going toward salaries and pensions, the math all but dictates that inevitably staff will be hit. Some union leaders emerged from a meeting with McGill leaders Wednesday saying head counts are being taken to prepare for possible layoffs. McGill Reporter | Montreal Gazette

StFX, striking faculty reach tentative deal

The union representing striking St. Francis Xavier University faculty members says its executive members are recommending the membership approve a tentative deal with StFX administration. The tentative deal includes an 8% raise over 4 years. The deal will see an additional week of classes added to the academic year to make up for time lost during the 3-week strike. A meeting will be held today to explain the offer to union members, with a ratification vote to follow immediately afterwards and into Saturday. Vote results are expected to be released later on Saturday. StFX says classes are expected to resume on Monday. AUT News | Negotiation Updates | CBC

uManitoba union rally against privatization, cuts just the beginning, says faculty association president

Wednesday's union rally outside the University of Manitoba administration building was only the beginning, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. Union demonstrators could show up at any administration-organized event, says the president of the faculty association. On Wednesday, union leaders accused uManitoba of widespread privatization and contracting-out, of dwindling morale, and of students and staff suffering from spending cuts. They argued this transpires while administration pumps millions into advertising and more front-office staff. uManitoba president David Barnard said in a campus-wide e-mail Tuesday the institution welcomes "engaged debate on crucial issues we face together. As a community, we are continually looking ahead and asking ourselves how we can best advance our mission of learning, discovery and engagement as Manitoba's only research-intensive university." He said hundreds of staff members have been involved with projects to identify efficiencies and have participated in discussions, town hall meetings, and faculty council sessions around the faculty reorganization. Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

$5-million donation to uCalgary creates new Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Calgary entrepreneur Doug Hunter and his wife Diane have made a $5-million donation to the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business to launch the new Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The centre will offer academic and research programs focused on entrepreneurship and innovation and provide support for professional networks for students and new entrepreneurs. Beginning this fall, the centre will offer a new course that involves a business plan competition that every second-year student will be required to complete. uCalgary News Release

uAlberta alumni couple donates $5 million to university

Paulette and Tony Lashuk, who committed to each other in marriage while they attended the Alberta School of Business, have now made one of the largest-ever bequest commitments to the University of Alberta -- a $5-million donation to endow an "innovation fund." The fund will provide financing to support the inventive ideas of students, faculty, staff, and researchers in the engineering and science faculties. The couple hopes their gift will help teach the next generation of creators and innovators at uAlberta, and support research into new technologies that can help solve the challenges the world will face in the future. uAlberta News

Quebec legal aid group reviews students' strike rights

A Quebec legal aid group has suggested ways for students in the province to strike in an orderly fashion. The group has prepared a report that suggests 3 scenarios to help resolve the ongoing issues surrounding students' right to strike. The first one suggests binding PSE institutions to strike votes and forcing them to suspend classes if a majority of students vote in favour of a strike. The second scenario recommends adding the students' right to strike to the legislation that grants the accreditation and financing of student associations. The third scenario suggests the creation of a province-wide collective agreement for students, which would be negotiated every 5 years. This scenario would only allow strikes to occur during negotiations. CBC

New document identifies efforts to improve undergraduate education at Dal

In November, more than 300 Dalhousie University students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered to share their ideas for the future of undergraduate education. The recently-released DALVision 2020 Senate Forum report identifies 4 themes that emerged through the ideas, opinions, and considerations generated during the forum -- areas where participants felt Dal could focus its efforts on improving undergraduate education. These include enhanced interaction between students and faculty, and also among students; increased flexibility in program design and delivery, including opportunities for interdisciplinary study; more opportunities for experiential learning; and enhanced engagement of faculty and students in the learning and teaching process. One of the significant results of the forum and consultations to date is the recognition that while Dal has its strategic priorities, the institution has never articulated an academic strategic plan. Dal's director of academic planning is chairing a task force to consider the principles and priorities that would form the basis for such a plan. Dal News

uWindsor policy sets rules for advertising on institution's Web pages

University of Windsor academic and administrative units may seek revenue by accepting advertising on their websites under a policy approved by the institution. uWindsor's web communications director says the institution is sensitive to the impact advertising could have on its reputation. The policy sets out guidelines for the content, design, and location of advertisements, and requires that agreements receive approval from the chief communications officer. A portion of the revenue from any advertising contract must be used to support student interests, with the balance allocated to a specific uWindsor unit. uWindsor Daily News

UBC Continuing Studies launches new microsite

On February 1, UBC's Continuing Studies department unveiled a new microsite that follows the journeys of 4 learners -- their paths to the university and how the experience has shaped their life stories -- and encourages others to continue their own educational stories. The microsite integrates still photography, moving images, video, and text to tell the students' stories authentically through their own voices. Domain7 Blog | Microsite