Top Ten

April 23, 2013

SIAST to cut 16 positions

Staff at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology were told last week there will be 16 layoffs. 9 of the cuts are to academic staff, while 7 are to professional services. In an interview with the CBC, SIAST president Larry Rosia says the move is spurred by a program review. "It's just good business practice to make sure that we are spending the taxpayer's dollar in the most effective and efficient way." CBC

Western U makes $30-million "brain gain" investment

Western University announced yesterday a "brain gain" initiative to attract and secure elite academic talent, investing up to $30 million in 2 new strategic programs that will recruit and support top students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers from around the world. The Western Clusters of Research Excellence program will provide up to $5 million over 5 years to support the launch of up to 4 internationally prominent clusters of interdisciplinary research and teaching. Western U will provide the resources to retain these researchers at the institution and put them in a position to succeed on an international scale. The university is also introducing the Western Research Chairs program to recruit up to 10 high-calibre researchers who will support the development of these identified research clusters. These mid- to senior-level researchers will build capacity across disciplines, and come to the institution with established reputations for producing research with global implications. Western U News Release

Sheridan commits more than $30 million to sustainability initiatives

Sheridan College announced Monday a $30.6-million investment over the next 7 years in 2 "Mission Zero" initiatives: Sheridan's Integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan, which aims to decrease the institution's overall energy and carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, and Zero Waste Sheridan, which will guide its transition to a zero-waste campus by 2020. "Sheridan's Mission Zero initiatives are all about transitioning and aligning our business operations with sustainability," says the director of Sheridan's Advancement of Sustainability. "But we don't want to lose sight of another critical benefit -- the opportunity to create new programs and applied skill sets for our students here in Ontario and in Canada. Our plan creates tangible opportunities to address the challenges of our day, such as climate change, pollution, and depleting natural resources. By turning Sheridan into a living laboratory, we're expanding avenues for curriculum development and undergraduate applied research." Sheridan News Release

Christian institutions received $20 million from Knowledge Infrastructure Program

The Conservative government has awarded more than $20 million of its infrastructure funding to Christian PSE institutions since the launch of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program in 2009. Some of the institutions receiving federal infrastructure funding prohibit things like same-sex relationships, based on the institution's moral code or religious teachings. A Radio-Canada analysis found that out of the $2-billion allocated in the 2009 federal budget to support infrastructure improvements at PSE schools, $20 million went to 13 Christian institutions. The funding awarded to these institutions has sparked concern because these schools may require staff or students to adhere to a moral code. "The federal government should not subsidize institutions that have discriminatory practices," says a Canadian Association of University Teachers spokesman. Christian Higher Education Canada, a group that works to expand and improve Christian PSE in the country, argues that religious institutions have rights in Canada's pluralistic society. Even if they have moral codes, argues the group's CEO, Christian institutions still comply with the requirements of human rights legislation. A University of Ottawa law professor agrees that private religious institutions have the right to advance their own religious teachings; however, she says, when a private institution receives public funding, this leads to new obligations to balance religious rights with the rights of individual homosexuals. CBC

Manitoba devotes millions to boost nurse numbers

Manitoba's 2013 budget has earmarked $2.1 million to create 62 more nurse training positions, which the province says it needs to address a higher number of baby-boomer retirements in the nursing field and to meet the growing aging population. The funding will add the new nurse training seats at the University of Manitoba, Université de Saint-Boniface, and Assiniboine Community College. Budget 2013 also invests more than $3.7 million in the Nursing Recruitment and Retention Fund, including grants to recruit nurses to Manitoba from outside of the province, grants to attract more nurses to personal care homes, and continuing education funding for existing nurses. Manitoba News Release | Winnipeg Free Press

Dal College of Sustainability to benefit from $1.5-million donation

Dalhousie University announced Monday a $1.5-million commitment from the RBC Foundation to the institution's College of Sustainability to support its Sustainability Leadership Certificate program. The program brings together students, community groups, and businesses to encourage and foster creative sustainability solutions. The donation now ensures financial sustainability of the program for at least 10 years, increased program reach and impact, minimal program cost to students, continued community collaboration, and evaluation and continuous improvement of sustainability education. RBC News Release | Dal News

UTM makes $1.3-billion impact on Peel Region, Ontario economy

According to an independent report, the University of Toronto Mississauga contributes more than $1.3 billion annually to the Peel Region and Ontario economy. The report notes that UTM's annual economic impact entails a total of $317.4 million in ongoing spending through the production of goods and services and through capital spending, and nearly $1 billion in additional income earned by alumni living in the Greater Toronto Area. Ongoing spending includes $272.7 million in spending by UTM, its students, faculty, staff and visitors and $44.7 million in capital spending. The annual economic impact also includes the creation of an estimated 2,930 full-time jobs in Ontario, generated directly and indirectly: 2,450 jobs created by spending by UTM, its students, faculty, staff and visitors; and 480 jobs created by capital spending. UTM News

Kitchener supports digital media centre

The City of Kitchener has approved $200,000 in upgrades to a downtown building that will house the Kitchener Studio Project -- a new digital media centre. The project is a collaborative venture between Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Christie Digital, and a number of high-tech companies in the area. It will provide space for upwards of 70 students to learn about digital media art, music, and design. The Kitchener Studio Project will be equipped with cutting-edge technology for graphics, music, film, design and gaming. The dean of Conestoga’s school of media and design says digital media is the fastest growing program at the college. He says the studio project will meld the practical application of college programs with the academics from the universities. Waterloo Region Record

McMaster developing learning portfolios for students

McMaster University is developing a new option for students to digitally capture what they learn both inside and outside the classroom. Students from across the university recently participated in a series of focus groups meant to explore ways of enhancing the student experience through the use of a "learning portfolio," an online platform that allows students to plan, record, and reflect on a range of educational experiences. Students who create a learning portfolio will be able to upload images, video, blogs, and other digital media files that document their experiences to a customizable space in the Avenue to Learn learning management system. "It's an innovative tool for students to show their growth and development," said one focus group participant. The learning portfolio could also be a practical tool for students when they leave McMaster, she added. "I'll be better equipped to enter the working world with a clear and concrete electronic record of my essential qualities and attributes." McMaster Daily News

NSCC unveils new website

Nova Scotia Community College recently launched a redesigned website. Visitors to the homepage can manipulate the graphic banner, which showcases several college programs. To the right of the banner is a menu of links pertaining to campus tours, scholarships and bursaries, online learning and continuing education, and information for secondary school students, current students, and staff and faculty. Another banner below connects to top 10 reasons to go to NSCC (high employment rates, small class sizes, and portfolio among them) and stories from the campus community. The homepage includes a list of tweets from NSCC and those mentioning the institution, a list of important dates, and vibrant photographs that link to pages relating to NSCC's 13 campuses. NSCC website