Top Ten

November 14, 2013

Saint Mary’s adds new School of the Environment

Saint Mary’s University in Halifax has designated a new School of the Environment. The new school is made up of 4 programs: BA and BSc degrees in Geography, a BSc in Environmental Science, and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES). These programs are interdisciplinary, underlining a key aspect of the new School of the Environment: to apply knowledge from various disciplines to solve complex environmental issues. The small class sizes and “community atmosphere” will allow for collaboration among students and faculty, as well as with the larger community of researchers, government agencies and national organizations involved in environmental research and sustainability. “The School of the Environment further illustrates Saint Mary’s commitment to sustainability,” says Dr. Colin Dodds, President of SMU. SMU News Release

McMaster receives $3-million gift for expansion of fine arts studio

McMaster University has received $3 million from philanthropist and McMaster alumnus Robert Fitzhenry for an expansion to the fine arts studio. The gift is the largest ever to the program, and will allow for a 1,700-square-foot studio, to be named the Dr. Robert and Andrée Rhéaume Fitzhenry Studios and Atrium. The atrium-studio will allow for a light-filled space devoted to painting, sculpture, and other media. The current studio was built in the 1960s and was meant to accommodate 15 students; McMaster’s fine arts program currently accepts 30 students a year. “This gift casts new light on our students’ work, both literally and metaphorically. Our fine art students will be able to do their best work in brighter, modernized studios, and they will be able to connect more directly with the world around them, achieving a higher profile that will benefit them and the community alike,” says Acting Dean of Humanities Ken Cruikshank. Construction is slated to begin in 2014. McMaster News | Hamilton Spectator 

RRC to get new trades and technology centre

The Honourable Philip S. Lee, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Manitoba, delivered the annual Throne Speech yesterday, highlighting the province’s efforts to improve PSE. As part of the strategy to improve skills training, Manitoba pledges to: “enhance and streamline tax credits for employers to hire more apprentices and grow their labour force; provide new tools to help match apprentices to job openings, helping more apprentices begin their careers and complete their training program; and introduce new legislation to ensure apprenticeship opportunities on all major government supported building projects.” Lee also announced plans to establish a new state-of the-art Skilled Trades and Technology Centre that will be housed at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus. The new centre will accommodate approximately 1,000 new students per year. Lee also spoke to recent improvements at other Manitoba PSE institutions, including the University of Winnipeg’s new RecPlex, and expansions to University College of the North campuses in Thompson and Norway House.Manitoba News Release | RRC News

SAIT’s applied research programs get top funding

Canada’s colleges have been experiencing a surge in funding for applied research projects, jumping to $216 million in applied research funding for 2011-2012 from $132 million in 2008-2009. SAIT Polytechnic topped the list of colleges receiving funding for applied research in 2012, according to Research Infosource Inc’s inaugural rankings ofCanada's Top 50 Research Colleges. “Colleges are not trying to compete with universities. They are trying to complement them,” says Ron Freedman, CEO of Research Infosource. “They’re not so interested in academic research that leads to publication … they are interested in practical, applied research that will help the prospects of an individual company or non-profit organization or government department.” SAIT conducts 30 to 50 applied research projects a year, and in the past 5 years has developed more than 250 prototypes. There are several advantages to applied research programs, including hands-on experiential learning for students, an “injection of youthful expertise and energy” for companies, and, for government agencies, the ability to fund “promising research that might have widespread benefits.”Globe and Mail 

Conestoga to support international students in entrepreneurship

Conestoga College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship has partnered with Scotiabank to support several initiatives designed to “help young entrepreneurs launch and manage successful businesses.” Scotiabank is providing $300,000 through the Bright Future program for an International Business Office that will “provide outreach, advice and assistance to international students and new Canadians working to establish businesses here.” As well, the partnership will establish a Global Citizenship initiative to provide support to students involved in study abroad or international work experience programs, and will support a workshop series focused on business planning and financing. Chris Stager, district VP at Scotiabank, stated, “we recognize that entrepreneurs are the backbone of the community and the country, developing new businesses that create jobs and contribute to our economic prosperity.” Conestoga News

La Cité reveals new logo and visual identity

Ottawa’s La Cité collégiale has a new logo and brand identity that underlines the college’s desire to target student success. La Cité has dropped the word collégiale from the logo, replacing it with the description “Le collège d’arts appliqués et de technologie” (College of Applied Arts and Technology). The graphic has 3 distinct elements that represent the 3 campuses, with text that is modern and elegant. A green circle represents Ottawa, as well as the Franco-Ontarian roots of the city and college, while also drawing connections to La Cité’s efforts at sustainable development. 2 black bars of different sizes stand for La Cité’s desire to continue to move forward and go above and beyond.La Cité News (in French)

MRU launches innovative mental health program

Calgary’s Mount Royal University has launched an innovative initiative designed to improve the mental health of students. “Breathing Room” is an online program with 8 modules meant to be completed over 8 weeks which helps students build resilience and cope with the various challenges that they face. The program was developed by the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM) after years of consultation with the university community. A successful pilot program led students to remark that “Breathing Room changed how they see — how they perceived themselves and what is around them; changed what they do — behaviours, abilities and actions; and changed how they feel — changes in emotions and sense of well-being,” says Patricia Steele, CIMIM’s Executive Director. One early student participant noted that “The freedom and anonymity of an online program gave [him] the flexibility to commit and engage with the material in [his] own way without feeling forced.” MRU News

New student services website at UQAM

The Université du Québec à Montréal has launched a newly designed website for student life services (les Services à la vie étudiante or SVE), which aims to provide a more user-friendly experience and to better meet the needs of students. The website is platform-responsive for mobile users, and features an uncluttered homepage with detailed drop-down menus. There are icons for the most popular resources, such as the job bank and scholarships directory, and an events section featuring activities organized by student groups and associations. There is also a new drop down menu titled “You Are...” (“Vous Êtes...”) to facilitate faster searches for those with specific needs (students with disabilities, parents, employers, etc). The website was designed by the Audiovisual Department in partnership with the SVE communications team and the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications. UQAM News (in French)

California colleges to launch statewide online learning portal

The governing board of California’s 112 community colleges has recently approved a contract to create a “one-stop statewide online-education portal.” The contract, worth $16.9 million, was won by a team from the Foothill-De Anza and Butte-Glenn community-college districts, who partnered to win the contract. The portal will allow students to access courses and programs from all participating institutions. “Our aim is to give students in every corner of California seamless access to high quality courses at all 112 community colleges by building a world-class statewide online education ecosystem that supports student success,” said Joseph Moreau, Foothill-De Anza’s Vice Chancellor of Technology. One benefit of a state-wide system is to reduce operational costs by avoiding overlap and increasing efficiencies. Organizers hope to have the portal fully functional by June 2015. Chronicle of Higher Education | Foothill-De Anza News Release

Elsevier announces addition of adaptive learning technology

Publishing company Elsevier, which specializes in medical and scientific literature, has partnered with Cerego to add adaptive learning features to its products. Cerego’s memory management tool will tailor content for specific users, testing students where gaps in knowledge appear, and determining how often they should review the content. Elsevier is planning to add the adaptive learning technology to the majority of its titles, which will be issued throughout the year. A recent report by Canada’s Fraser Institute promotes the use of adaptive learning technologies, especially for programs reaching rural and isolated communities. Inside Higher Ed