Top Ten

November 7, 2013

Ontario extends solvency relief for university pension plans

The Ontario government recently announced that it would give universities and other broader public sector pension plans an additional 3 years of solvency relief, meaning those institutions will avoid having to put large amounts of additional money into their plans. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) states that it does not believe the move will put pension benefits at risk, and says it has been lobbying the provincial government to provide some short-term additional relief to universities facing serious pension pressures. OCUFA News Release

Parkland College receives over $1.2 million from Mosaic

Parkland College in Yorkton, SK has received just over $1.2 million from The Mosaic Company in support of the new Trades and Technology Centre. The new facility will allow Parkland to offer new programs and services, and will provide space to train 2,000 students annually. Contributions to the college’s capital campaign now total over $4.79 million, with many local businesses and community groups also contributing. President Dr. Fay Myers stated, “Mosaic’s donation is further proof that colleges build communities and communities build colleges.” The Saskatchewan government recently announced a $10-million donation to the construction of the new facility, which is currently in the tendering process. Construction is expected to start in early 2014, with an opening target of September 2015. Parkland News Release

uSask reports progress in cost-saving plan

The University of Saskatchewan is making progress as it works to meet a goal of saving $44 million in operating costs by 2016, reported officials this week at a town hall meeting focusing on uSask’s TransformUS plan. The university found $15 million in savings this past year, part of which comes from the elimination of almost 250 jobs. 2 task forces are working to come up with another $25 million in savings, and will submit reports to uSask President Ilene Busch-Vishniac on November 30. uSask has a $100-million surplus this year, but says most of that money is reserved for specific purposes, such as research and endowments, and can't be used to cover the operating deficit. CTV Saskatoon | uSask News Release

WesternU opens new student residence

Western University this week opened its new student residence, Ontario Hall, which expands its already robust student housing offerings. The 5-storey building, which can house up to 1,000 residents, will help WesternU continue to guarantee accommodation for first-year students, and will provide extra capacity for upper-year students across the residence system. The residence features both double and single rooms and common areas, such as an “Academic Café,” lounges, study rooms, music practice rooms, exercise room, media room, and a health & wellness centre, where students can access nutrition seminars, yoga classes and information about campus community resources. In addition, an open-concept dining room includes interactive cooking stations, made-to-order sushi bar, Mongolian-style grill and cushioned booths for a “less institutional feel.” WesternU News Release

#RippleEffectUBC campaign promotes sustainability

The University of British Columbia has launched a new “#RippleEffectUBC” campaign designed to draw attention to sustainability initiatives at the university. The campaign features a website and social media conversations that demonstrate UBC sustainability efforts in various areas. The UBC Sustainability Initiative and its campus partners are also hosting events, called “ripple labs,” to showcase what UBC is doing to minimize its environmental impact on the world, including rides in UBC Building Operations’ electric car, cows on campus to teach people about UBC’s research on animal welfare, and a “Bike Kitchen” tune-up station. UBC News Release | Campaign Website

RRC joins worldwide culinary alliance

Red River College has been inducted into the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, an international culinary arts alliance that allows member institutions to send their top students for a 4-month session to perfect their technical skills, discover French culture, and showcase their own culinary culture. RRC is the only Canadian member of the alliance, according to the college. The partnership also brings opportunities for student and instructor exchange, and curriculum development and design. “By joining this worldwide alliance we have the opportunity of sharing skills and best practices by participating in exchanges of teaching staff from the Institut Paul Bocuse and its partners,” says RRC School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts Dean Keith Muller. RRC News Release

uMoncton launches new scholarships and financial aid website

The Université de Moncton has launched a new scholarships and financial aid website. The revamped site includes a new search engine for scholarships, tips on financial management while studying, and an interactive budget planner. To promote the new website, uMoncton invited students to complete their budgets online using the new budget tool. Students then had the opportunity to participate in a draw for 3 iPads. uMoncton News Release (in French) | Website

GBC partners with Indian design school to offer transfer opportunity

Toronto’s George Brown College and the MIT Institute of Design (MITID) in India have announced a partnership that will allow India's creative game designers the opportunity to study in Canada, while acquiring credentials from both the School of Design at GBC and the Design School at MITID. Beginning September 2013, MITID students who have completed 2 years of study at MITID can complete the 2nd and 3rd years of GBC’s Advanced Diploma in Game Development in Toronto. Upon completion, students will receive both an MITID Certificate and a GBC Advanced Diploma. GBC News Release

Confederation College receives accreditation for medical lab assistant program

Confederation College’s Medical Lab Assistant program has received a 2-year accreditation from the Canadian Medical Association, making it one of only 3 accredited MLA programs in Ontario, according to the college. To become accredited, an institution must submit a program assessment that demonstrates its compliance with the requirements for accreditation. A survey team then reviews the assessments and conducts site visits and interviews at the college, and the students’ field placement sites. “Graduating from an accredited program makes our graduates eligible to write the national MLA certification exam and have greater mobility as a health care practitioner,” says Confederation School of Health and Community Services Dean Kathleen Lynch. Confederation News Release

US engineering departments incorporate LEGO in the classroom

Several prominent US universities have begun incorporating LEGOs in their engineering classes to engage and retain students. According to Howie Choset, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, it is not necessarily the LEGOs themselves that matter, but how students interact with them. Choset “watch[es] to see how students interact with LEGOs and see what sorts of skills they have ... LEGO is a vehicle to building engineering skills.” Several institutions are using the LEGO MINDSTORM, an advanced LEGO robot set with movable and programmable parts. Many high school robotics teams are also using LEGO to build prototypes for larger robots that are then used in competitions. Ethan Danahy, a Tufts University professor of engineering, says LEGOs “provide access to hands-on, open-ended, project-based engineering problems.” University Business