Top Ten

January 28, 2014

Multiple campus shootings in US

The past week saw a string of campus shootings in the US, some which resulted in fatalities, reports Inside Higher Ed. A student at South Carolina State University was shot and killed on Friday; authorities arrested a man, saying the 2 were arguing before the shooting. Another man was shot in the parking lot of Los Angeles Valley College, and earlier in the week a Purdue University student was charged for murdering a fellow student. At Widener University, a student was injured after being shot last Monday. Inside Higher Ed

Mount Allison faculty strike suspends classes

Faculty and librarians at Mount Allison University are on strike as of Monday morning after their union and the university failed to reach an agreement over the weekend. All classes have been suspended until further notice, but all other services at Mount Allison continue to operate as usual, “including residences, the dining hall, the student centre, the athletic centre, and the library," reads a university news release. The Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA), which represents 154 full-time and 56 part-time academic staff, says workload and the need to provide greater support to the core academic mission of the university are the key issues in the dispute. MAFA issued a strike deadline for 12:01 am on January 27. CBC

Update: February 5, 2014

Mount Allison University and its faculty association are resuming their negotiations today at the request of the provincially-appointed mediator, Rick Merrill. The faculty strike at MTA began on February 27, suspending classes for 2,400 students. CBC

Update: February 19, 2014

Mount Allison University and its faculty have settled their issues with binding arbitration, ending a 3-week strike and allowing students to return to class this past Monday. MTA says it hopes to present a revised academic schedule to the university senate by the end of the week. MAFA News Release | CBC

Kwantlen to host BC’s first public school of Chinese medicine

Kwantlen Polytechnic University will host British Columbia’s first public school of traditional Chinese medicine, the province’s Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk announced late last week. Practices of traditional Chinese medicine include acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine, and lifestyle and dietary recommendations. While there are already 6 private schools in the province that train traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, Virk says there are still skeptics of the increasingly-popular program. "The fact that you have a publicly-funded university [with such a school] adds a different level of acceptance to a program," says Virk. Kwantlen VP Finance and Administration Gordon Lee says the university will be putting together a committee to help design the new medicine program. BC News Release

Montreal hotels to be turned into student housing

A large Holiday Inn near McGill University has been acquired by US-based joint venture Campus Crest Communities Inc., which seeks to “expand its stake in Montreal's growing student housing market,” reports the Montreal Gazette. The company is also currently converting the former Delta Centre-Ville hotel into a student residence scheduled to open this fall. "Our teams look forward to opening both Montreal assets for the 2014-15 academic year," says a company news release. "Right now, the [student housing] choices are very limited," says Henry Morton, President of Toronto-based Campus Suites Inc, which is working to convert yet another hotel on Parc Ave into a 140-bed student housing complex called Parc Cité. "Expectations by students and parents are changing [over housing]. It's a combination of demand from foreign students and local students who are looking for a nicer lifestyle than what's available in the regular [housing market]." Montreal Gazette

Universities coping with space shortage

Universities are having trouble finding enough space for their growing numbers of students, causing some to schedule early-morning classes and others to scramble to create new facilities, reports Maclean’s On Campus. Wilfrid Laurier University demolished a building that housed many business classes to begin construction of its new Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building -- set to open in 2015 – which led to classes that begin as early as 7 am Ryerson University Registrar Charmaine Hack says scheduling 8 am classes is “a practical necessity.” New data from the Campus Alberta Planning Resource for 2013 reveal that both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary are lacking physical space. It suggests that uCalgary could be 4,147 physical spaces short of peak student demand. And these statistics come at a time when Alberta is seeing the lowest PSE participation rate in Canada (more than 7% below the national average). Maclean’s | Metro News Calgary

York/Sheridan student talent attracts attention of Facebook

The work of students of the York University/Sheridan College Joint Program in Design (YSDN) has caught the attention of Facebook, which will send recruiters to YorkU to meet with Department of Design faculty, undergraduates and graduate students later this month. YSDN students Sarah Hum and Wayne Spiegel interned at Facebook last summer, which led the social network to send representatives to check out the program. The Facebook delegation will participate in class critiques, conduct presentations, and interview YSDN students for potential internships and new-graduate hires. “Our students complete an intensive design education at York, ready to meet 21st-century challenges and Facebook has taken notice,” says YorkU Graduate Program in Design Director David Gelb. YorkU News Release

GPRC tuition fees rise by 1%

Grande Prairie Regional College President and CEO Don Gnatiuk announced recently that tuition at the college will rise by 1% next year, the maximum amount allowed by the Alberta Department of Innovation and Advanced Education. “I believe if we’re not the second, then we [have] the third lowest [tuition rates] generally across the province. So, we’re in a situation where we can raise this to the maximum and still be more than competitive,” says Gnatiuk. The president also announced that GPRC will meet its targeted budget for the calendar year. The province gave the college an increase of 2.26% of its base grant. Daily Herald Tribune

MIT joins peers in innovation strategy development

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is overhauling its strategy for innovation and discovery to remain ahead of growing competition from other institutions. In a letter to campus in October, MIT President Rafael Reif outlined several pieces of the initiative that will “actively celebrate, support and intensify MIT’s ‘culture of making,’ [its] faith in the creative power of mind and hand.” The university has begun giving its engineering students academic credits for participating in a boot camp called Start6, which teaches them how to turn new ideas into real businesses. Other measures MIT is considering include creating an undergraduate minor in innovation and entrepreneurship, a postdoctoral program for innovation leaders, funding student-run startups, and creating a building dedicated to innovation. “The facts are that until quite recently MIT didn’t do anything explicit to promote innovation other than the research and education part,” says MIT alumnus Ray Stata, Co-Founder of computer chip manufacturer Analog Devices Inc. “The graduates who have been in the entrepreneurial world think MIT can do an even better job by being deliberate about entrepreneurship and not being derivative.” Boston Globe 

Credit for MOOCs risks cannibalizing tuition, alumni revenue

Elite universities in the US that award credit to students who pass MOOCs offered by their faculty could be undermining their ability to invest in promising students, according to analysis by Stanford University economist Caroline M. Hoxby. She explains that elite universities like Stanford are primarily funded by the fraction of students who make a significant gift to the university later in life, which in turn funds programs for the remaining students. This phenomenon, Hoxby says, depends on the deep emotional connection that these students have to their alma mater. “If selective colleges began granting credit to students who succeeded in their MOOCs, it could compromise the more traditional 'human-capital investments' in their portfolios,” she says. “[Highly selective] institutions have no advantage in educating the masses, and their resources, though considerable for the narrow purpose they pursue, are negligible relative to the problem of mass postsecondary education.” Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Paper

ePortfolios should not be an afterthought

Participants of an E-portfolio Forum during the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting were warned “not to get caught up in the hype” of electronic portfolios, which allow students to store assignments and reflections on their educational experience. The general consensus coming out of the forum was that although e-portfolios can help academic officers guide students to degrees and help students find employment, institutions should not invest in the tool for the sake of keeping up with the trend. Instead, the studies conducted on e-portfolios and best practices shared at the forum suggest that the tool will only be valuable if institutions have a clear outcome in mind for e-portfolios, and if students understand how to use them to their full potential when job hunting. Inside Higher Ed