Top Ten

October 15, 2013

New UoGuelph dairy facility will advance research

Construction has begun on a new University of Guelph-run dairy research facility near Elora, Ontario. The $25-million project will replace aging facilities at the university's 650-hectare Elora Research Station, which has been used for crop research and storage for feed production. UoGuelph’s Associate VP Research says the new facility will expand the university's capacity in livestock research and will house state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary research infrastructure that will give researchers the opportunity to carry out projects that previously had to be done from multiple locations. The Ontario government has committed $20 million to the project, while Dairy Farmers of Ontario has invested $5 million. UoGuelph expects the building to be completed in fall 2014. Guelph Mercury

YorkU philosophy receives $1-million donation

York University’s Department of Philosophy has received $1 million from the Jackman family, the foundation of former Ontario Lieutenant Governor Hal Jackman and his wife Maruja. Twothirds of the gift will be used to establish the Philosophy Graduate Awards Endowment, and the remaining money will establish the Philosophy Department Conference Fund, which will be used to host academic conferences, workshops, speakers and other events “that contribute to the academic life of the Department of Philosophy at YorkU.” “Gifts like this are a vote of confidence in our programs and send a strong message that even as we build up other areas of strength, such as engineering, we are committed to a continuing investment in our proud tradition of offering the highest quality liberal arts education at York,” says YorkU President Mamdouh Shoukri. YorkU News Release

Global network of research universities in the works

Four of the world’s major research university groups have been discussing creating a parallel organization to the Global Research Council, a virtual network launched in Virginia last year comprised of the heads of some 50 science and engineering funding agencies from around the world. In the latest move towards such a council, the 4 groups released a joint statement outlining the characteristics of contemporary research universities that would belong to the organization. “[The statement] outlines the shared values that underpin effective cross-national institutional collaboration,” says Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities (AAU), one of the research university groups involved in the talks. The other 3 groups included are the League of European Research Universities, the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities, and the Australian Group of Eight research intensive universities. University World News

COU launches new accessibility website

The Council of Ontario Universities this week launched a new bilingual accessibility website for educators, university staff, and the public to raise awareness about mental health and to provide resources for removing barriers for people with disabilities. includes information on the Ontario legislation around accessibility, with which all organizations must be compliant by 2025, and on how universities can effectively implement the legislation on campus (e.g. how to run an accessible meeting, accessible teaching tips, etc.). The site also features engaging videos of students talking about their experiences with university accessibility services and about mental health awareness. COU News Release | Website

UVic launches "Compass" to help students navigate career search

The University of Victoria’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services has launched Compass, a new website and guide that helps undergraduate students navigate their way from first year to a successful career. The initiative guides students through 3 stages: gaining awareness of their interests and of how these might align with possible careers; assessing their competences and exploring potential career paths; and preparing to transition from the classroom to the workplace. The guide provides a list of steps to take during each stage and a calendar of events that lets students know “what to do when” throughout each school year. UVic News Release

A closer look at full-day kindergarten and academic outcomes

Full-day kindergarten makes no difference in academic outcomes tracked over several years, reveals a University of Manitoba study. The uManitoba research team has studied full-day kindergarten in the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine and in the schools with full-day kindergarten at St. James-Assiniboia School Division. Manitoba Centre for Health Policy Senior Scientist Marni Brownell says results still to be published show that not only was there no difference in academic outcomes for students in full-day compared to half-day kindergarten by grade 3 and beyond, there was also no shrinkage of the achievement gap between students from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds. "There's lots of research that full-day kindergarten has an effect in getting kids ready for Grade 1," says Brownell. "The literature shows that full-day kindergarten may not be the best program for longer-term improvements or for closing the gap.” Winnipeg Free Press

Americans still rate traditional learning over online

Many Americans think online education provides less rigorous testing and grading, includes fewer qualified instructors, and has less credibility with employers than does traditional, classroom-based education, according to a US opinion poll. On a more positive note, the survey also reveals that Americans think online education gives students a wide range of curricula options and provides good value for money. 34% of respondents rate such online programs as "excellent" or "good," while the majority call them "only fair" or "poor." In contrast, 68% rate 4-year colleges and universities as excellent or good, and nearly as many (64%) rate community colleges this highly. The poll is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and DC. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±4 percentage points. Gallup Poll

Few PSE institutions check applicants' social media posts

While social media becomes increasingly more popular with students, a new Kaplan study reveals that fewer than 1 in 3 admissions officers in the US say they check students' social media postings or Google results when evaluating applications. However, that number is up from 1 in 5 in 2011. “That’s their private space,” says Richard Shaw, Dean of Admissions at Stanford University. “Imagine if we could remove ourselves to an age when people wrote wonderful letters back and forth. We wouldn't be searching through that. So I think it's wrong to do just because it's there." Admissions officers also say there are just too many applicants to Google each of them, and that Googling just a sample would be wrong. Last year, California passed a law prohibiting colleges from requiring students to provide social media information. SF Gate

Ohio Northern University guarantees graduation within 4 years

Ohio Northern University this week announced a new initiative that aims to reduce tuition, lower student debt and help students graduate in 4 years. “The Ohio Northern Promise" features 4 key elements: lowering 2013-14 tuition rates by 20% to 25%; offering a 4-Year Graduation Guarantee in most undergraduate programs; continuing to offer opportunities such as internships, capstone courses, field experiences, study abroad and experiential learning; and sustaining the university's record of high job placement, and graduate and professional school admission rates. In 2009 the University of Regina launched the UR Guarantee, which promised that all students who complete the program requirements would land a job in their field within 6 months of graduation. Those uRegina students who met the requirements but did not find a job were given up to 30 tuition-free credit hours. University Business

High school graduates say rankings influence their PSE application decisions

66% of PSE applicants report university rankings influence their application decisions, according to a survey of 846 PSE-bound high school seniors in the US. Students with the highest SAT scores --1300 and above -- were more likely to have considered the rankings in their application decisions (85%) than students with SAT scores of less than 1300. The study also showed that students were most influenced by the US News and World Report rankings at 58%, followed by the Princeton Review at 21%. Survey