Top Ten

June 25, 2013

Growing list of program closures because of budget constraints

The imminent closing of the Social Justice Centre at the University of Windsor is one of many disciplines, faculties and programs falling under the budget axe, observes the National Post.  Other recent casualties have included uAlberta's Medical Acupuncture program, UoGuelph's Women's Studies, and uRegina's Francophone Studies and Latin American Studies.  John Fraser, the Master of uToronto's Massey College, observes that the closures are generally concentrated in the humanities, and that many interdisciplinary programs were trendy in the 90s: "courses based on fads eventually go the way of fads."  Other waning trends include Marxist theory, postmodern literary critical theory, and women's studies. The struggle for many PSE institutions is the balance between offering new and “niche” programs and classes, while still maintaining the strength of core disciplines, especially in the humanities.National Post

uManitoba to host research centre on residential schools

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has chosen the University of Manitoba as the site in which to establish a National Research Centre on Residential Schools. The centre will house the statements, documents and other materials about residential schools that the TRC has been collecting for the past 5 years. The agreement was signed at uManitoba last Friday, National Aboriginal Day, and marks uManitoba’s commitment to continuing the spirit and work of TRC beyond the expiry of its mandate next June. uManitoba has long supported reconciliation in Canada, and in 2011 president Barnard was the first Canadian university president to offer a formal apology for residential schools. The chair of the TRC noted that uManitoba’s “current and pending partnerships for this project ensure that the records of TRC will be accessible across Canada.” The exact campus location of the Centre has not yet been determined. uManitoba News

uSask receives $1.67 million for mining courses

The University of Saskatchewan and the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) announced this week a $1.67-million funding agreement to develop and deliver 5 additional mining courses and to create 3 new undergraduate mining options in geological, mechanical, and chemical engineering. uSask will also be able to recruit 3 new faculty members who specialize in mining engineering, to invest in mining engineering technology and to develop the new courses. uSask is looking to offer the new programming in September 2014. uSask News Release | Star Phoenix

MUN receives $1 million to establish new research chair

Memorial University in Newfoundland has received $1 million from Chevron Canada Limited and the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador to create the Chevron Chair in Reservoir Characterization. Dr. Alison Malcolm, who will become the chair in summer 2014, will “work to help reduce reservoir uncertainty in support of improving the predicted oil in place, static and dynamic reservoir models, production performance and ultimate recovery.” MUN News Release

CCAE recognizes outstanding university advancement with annual awards

The Canada Council for the Advancement of Education earlier this month announced the winners of its 2013 Prix D'Excellence awards, which are given out each year for excellence in university advancement. This year, McMaster led the group with 9 awards, followed closely by McGill, which picked up 8 awards. Memorial received 7 awards, UoGuelph and uManitoba won 6, uToronto won 5, and uSask won 4. Queen’s, uMontréal, uQuébec a Montréal and uAlberta each received 3 awards, and NSCAD and WLU got 2 awards each. Other award winners included Algonquin College, The Banff Centre, Branksome Hall, Concordia, Dalhousie, Durham College, Laurentian, Mount Allison, NorQuest, OCAD, Ryerson, SAIT, Laval, UBC, uCalgary, uLethbridge, uWaterloo, UCC, uWestern, and York U. CCAE Website

4 Canadian universities make THE Top 100 under 50 ranking

Simon Fraser University, the University of Guelph, the University of Victoria and the University of Calgary have been recognized by Times Higher Education as being among the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years old. A “100 Under 50” ranking means that the institution shows great potential for the future. THE uses the same 13 indicators as those it uses for its World University Rankings (published in March), but re-calibrates them to reflect the special characteristics of younger universities, “giving less weight to subjective indicators of academic reputation.” uVic took the 20th spot this year, uCalgary was awarded number 23, SFU sits at number 26, and UoGuelph is ranked number 55. Times Higher Education

uVic’s president leaves a strong legacy

David Turpin has served as president of the University of Victoria for 13 years, and when he leaves his post this month, he will leave behind numerous reminders of his successes as president. Supporters state that Turpin’s efforts helped launch uVic from the position of a “regional university” to a “leading research institution” of “national and international prominence.” Although critics suggest he has also altered the university into something resembling a “private company,” Turpin led uVic through many successful funding campaigns, the construction of 17 new buildings, including a First Peoples House and a number of student residences, and a doubling of financial assistance funds. Victoria Times Colonist

Canadian students happy with sex lives, study finds

A new survey conducted by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) has determined that Canadian university students are happy with their sex lives. The majority of respondents reported that their last sexual encounter was with a committed partner (60% of men and 70% of women); the next most popular category was “friends with benefits,” indicating that university students are engaging in sexual activity with acquaintances as opposed to strangers. The survey also looked at contraceptive use and found that the majority of students report using condoms or oral contraceptives. These Canadian findings are somewhat at odds with reports from US universities, where one researcher found that students were largely “ambivalent” or “unhappy” about their sex lives. The full results of the Trojan/SIECCAN study will be published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. CBC

Grads need better preparation for the realities of the workplace, commentary

A York University professor tells the sobering truth to students who believe the myth that simply obtaining a university degree is a sure ticket to a good job, in recent commentary in the Toronto Star. Thomas Klassen points out that employers are looking for students who have demonstrated a passion for a subject or activity, and contributions outside of the classroom, and that it’s unrealistic for young graduates to expect to land a full-time, permanent and high-paying job straight out of university. Klassen also discusses ways in which to prepare students for the “stressful, complex and uncertain transition from PSE to work”: ensure they have realistic expectations, help them understand that their academic performance, and not just the degree in hand, is what employers look for so that they can adjust their programs and schedules accordingly, and prepare them to be more flexible in their job search, which may mean applying in other countries or to temporary and part-time positions.The Toronto Star

No opinion on affirmative action in PSE admissions from US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court has decided to send the closely-watched affirmative action case, Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin, back to the lower courts because it does not think enough scrutiny was given to the university’s policies. Abigail Fisher, a white woman rejected for admission by the university, said that her rights were violated by uTexas-Austin's consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. According to Inside Higher Ed, some had speculated that the Supreme Court might reverse past decisions that allowed PSE institutions to consider race when making admissions decisions. However, the Court did not offer a definitive opinion on the matter. Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Education