Top Ten

May 14, 2013

Dal receives $10-million gift for new performing arts school

As part of Bold Ambitions: the Campaign for Dalhousie, which concludes tomorrow, philanthropists Fred and Elizabeth Fountain have contributed $10 million, their largest donation ever, to the creation of a new school for performing arts, the only one east of Montreal. Building on Dal’s scholarly study of the arts, the new school will enhance the creative economy of the Maritimes and will serve the entire Atlantic community, the benefits of which were stressed by the Fountains. The Dalhousie Arts Centre is also to undergo renovations, funded by the university, in order to be ready to house the expanded programs and services that will be offered by the new school. Dal News Release

New Manitoba legislation aims to protect international students

On Monday, the Manitoba government introduced legislation that would regulate all education providers that intend to recruit and enrol foreign students. Under the proposed legislation, in order to enrol an international student, every education provider would now have to follow a code of practice and conduct that would be set up under the act. Among its provisions, the proposed act would allow the Manitoba government to inspect and investigate any education provider; suspend or cancel any provider's right to recruit and enrol students, if they were to violate the code or the act; fine any education provider between $25,000 and $100,000 if they commit an offence such as providing false or misleading data, or obstructing inspections and investigations; and collect new information in order to promote better understanding of the province's international student body. Manitoba News Release

CAUT files grievance after ACAD instructor fired following chicken slaughter

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Alberta College of Art and Design Faculty Association (ACADFA) have joined forces to lobby for the reinstatement of professor Gord Ferguson, fired after a student’s controversial art project. The project involved the public slaughter of a chicken in the school cafeteria, which prompted another student to call local police. CAUT has filed a grievance and threatened arbitration if Ferguson is not offered reinstatement and compensation for lost wages. CAUT’s position is that “universities and colleges should be places where free expression and creative exploration is encouraged.” Support for Ferguson, head of the sculpture department and professor at ACAD for over 30 years, is growing, with online petitions and planned protests. CAUT News Release | Calgary Herald 

Ontario college programs to be offered in Saudi Arabia

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is concerned about plans expressed by 3 Ontario colleges -- Fanshawe, Seneca, and Mohawk -- to invest $2.5 million each over 5 years to a college in Saudi Arabia. Scott Porter, Fanshawe’s VP, states that in light of government cost-cutting, investing in a foreign campus may provide increased revenue for the college. OPSEU is concerned about the speed with which the deal appears to be going forward, and calls for further consideration and “due diligence” before any plans are finalized. Worries over the reputation of Ontario colleges, the value of a diploma from an Ontario institute, and the overall quality of the education system are also expressed by OPSEU. This would be the first Ontario college to operate in the Middle East, although some Fanshawe curriculum is offered in other countries through affiliated schools. OPSEU News Release | CTV

uSask Lean project expected to result in savings

A pilot project at the University of Saskatchewan is projected to save between $1 million and $2 million over the next year. Project Lean examines large purchase orders and on-campus stores and will make recommendations going forward after the pilot ends sometime this summer. Empowering staff is another benefit resulting from the project, as is making the culture at uSask more service-oriented. The savings themselves are overshadowed by the overall operating budget of $150 million, but the improving of complex processes is thought to enhance the experiences of staff and students. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

New mental health strategy at York U

York University has released its new strategic plan for addressing mental health concerns among students and faculty. With the aim of being proactive, York U is focusing on creating a healthy environment for students and staff, one that confronts pressures before a mental health crisis is reached. Policy development and extending the campus’s ability to handle mental health concerns are part of the strategy to meet long-term goals. The promotion of a new software program, Mental Health EDU, will help faculty and staff learn to assist students in distress through varied approaches, based on the individual student’s comfort level. York U News Release

St. Clair acquires golf course

St. Clair College has added a golf course to its ever-growing educational arsenal with the purchase of Woodland Hills. The 9-hole executive course joins a stable of assets that include Windsor's Chrysler Theatre and the Capitol Theatre in Chatham, and St. Clair president John Strasser hints the institution is not done yet. "St. Clair College will continue to look for opportunities in Essex and Kent Counties that provide new benefits to our students," Strasser says. "This new acquisition will provide new [experiential] learning for our students and a unique recreational opportunity for every student at all of our campuses." Some St. Clair students from the areas of hospitality, event management, culinary arts, horticulture, and landscaping will be employed at the golf course. Windsor Star

UoGuelph distributes grants to enhance undergraduate engagement

5 projects aimed at strengthening undergraduate engagement and academic success at the University of Guelph have received close to $98,000 from the institution's Learning Enhancement Fund (LEF). Launched in 2006, the LEF supports initiatives arising from the integrated planning process and the curriculum renewal process. LEF grant proposals can come from faculty or staff in any college, department, or academic support unit that reports to the provost. Projects must strengthen undergraduate teaching and learning in demonstrable ways, says UoGuelph's AVP academic. They must also be interesting, novel, sustainable, have a potential impact on teaching, and support learning experiences that cross departmental and college bounds. One proposal receiving funding addresses the challenge of large lecture courses for instructors who strive for live engagement across learning styles and accessibility needs. The proposal is for the development of technology to address this concern through non-anonymous, moderated online live discussion; anonymous live polling of learning outcomes; archivable content; live file and image sharing; and live private messages to the instructor. At Guelph | Funded Projects

Youth employment falls in April

According to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey, employment among 15- to 24-year-olds declined by 19,000 last month, and the unemployment rate was 14.5%. Compared to 12 months prior, youth employment was little changed. Youth in PEI made the most gains in their employment rate with a one percentage point increase compared to March, while Saskatchewan recorded the highest employment rate among 15- to 24-year-olds, sitting at 62.7% in April. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

Trend in US campuses offering community kitchens

As US campuses construct and renovate residential space to accommodate rising enrolments, they have tried to adapt to students' current interests and preferences, including private space and the ability to cook for themselves. With a trend to individual sleeping quarters, community kitchens often become not just a place to cook, but also the main gathering space. In a survey last year, the Association of College and University Housing Officers--International found that more than 60% of institutions had done some kind of residential building and renovation between winter 2010 and fall 2011, and nearly three-quarters of those facilities contained kitchens. That figure was up approximately 11 percentage points over 2005. At Minnesota-based Carleton College, renovations completed in January included a spacious kitchen equipped with full-size appliances and plenty of counter space in one residence. While students tend to consider their rooms as personal space, they gather in the kitchen to cook and hang out, says the college's director of residential life. "The kitchen helps us serve that community feel," she says, "because they also want that interaction and connection." The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)