Top Ten

February 18, 2014

Alberta institutions must improve financial reporting, AG report says

The Alberta College of Art and Design has once again received word from the province’s Auditor General Merwan Saher that the college needs to improve its financial oversights and reporting. The auditor general’s report, released last Thursday, found ACAD staff had expensed food, travel and private events, often with little evidence to justify the costs. The report recommends ACAD “strengthen its controls” over these employee expenses.  ACAD President Daniel Doz says, “The college continues to work hard at implementing a plan developed 3 years ago in order to ensure that ACAD acts on the recommendations." Saher’s report also found Olds College and Northern Lakes College failed to provide accurate financial statements in a timely manner and had not addressed outstanding recommendations. Calgary Herald | Full Report

uMontréal acquires next-generation x-ray diffractometer

The Université de Montréal has acquired the world's first next-generation x-ray diffractometer, which will be used to analyze the molecular structure of materials. The instrument, which will be installed by the end of February, is part of a $5.6-million infrastructure project at uMontréal funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Quebec government, and other partners. “Not only is the laboratory essential for the success of our own innovative materials research program, but it will also benefit all researchers in Quebec through our open facility that will provide access to this unique instrument,” says Chemistry Professor Michel Lafleur, who will lead the project. uMontreal News Release

UPEI launches 2013-18 strategic plan

The University of Prince Edward Island has released its 2013-18 strategic plan, which outlines its strategic priorities: improving the student experience, fostering growth and development of its communities, developing a research culture of exploration and discovery, and achieving long-term sustainability. UPEI’s 5-year plan is the result of widespread consultation among campus community members during the Future Directions visioning process and the Dare to Dream initiative. UPEI News Release | Full Report

McMaster opens storefront office to foster community-engaged research

McMaster University has opened a new research office, called the Action Research Commons Hamilton (The ARCH), in a Hamilton storefront, which aims to foster community research partnerships. The space can be used by any McMaster researcher, or by researchers from other institutions affiliated with the university. McMaster has signed a 5-year lease agreement with Homestead Christian Care, the owners of the building. “We hope that The ARCH will provide both scholars and community members with an opportunity to engage with and learn from each other and that it will help to nurture relationships that deepen and enhance community-engaged scholarship in Hamilton," says McMaster Dean of Graduate Studies Allison Sekuler. McMaster News Release | Hamilton Spectator

Lakehead creates President’s Advisory Council on Economic Development

Lakehead University has established a President’s Advisory Council on Economic Development (PACED), comprised of regional industry and business leaders, to advise the university on how to play a greater role in the economic development of the Simcoe County, ON area. “Council members will help me determine where our university can best contribute to Orillia and Simcoe County, and how to measure that success,” says Lakehead President Brian Stevenson. Stevenson recently created PACED Northwest to guide Lakehead’s economic development activities in that region of Ontario as well. Lakehead News Release

Leaked survey suggests employee frustrations with NRC

A leaked survey obtained by Postmedia News reveals 3 out of 5 employees at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) are frustrated by decisions made by senior management. The NRC responded to the negative results of the survey, saying the dissatisfaction stems from ongoing restructuring at the agency. In 2012, the NRC cut its budget and created a “concierge service” for business, shifting away from its former mandate of doing general scientific research on public policy issues. However, the NRC says the concierge service is just one of the services it provides for industry. “Communicating in a time of change is not always an easy task and often creates uncertainty,” says NRC spokesman Charles Drouin. He says the agency is also building and rolling out about 40 new research programs while gradually reassigning staff. He suggested that it would take time for people to see the full benefits.

PSE institutions must take international student mental health into consideration

Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf suggests in a recent blog that as PSE institutions increasingly aim to increase their international student populations they should make sure they are aware of the unique mental health needs of these students. Woolf points out that these international students can suffer from homesickness, language barriers, isolation and perceptions of not belonging. He also suggests that while Canadian students are increasingly open about mental health issues and more likely to confide in friends or university staff, international students may not be; “as such, they may well be harder for the system to ‘catch’ before they find themselves in serious trouble,” says Woolf. These issues must be taken into account when institutions plan for international student enrolment, he concludes. CBIE Blog

Merit-based awards often go to “better-off” students

Research on merit-based awards like the Loran Scholarship suggests they often go to better-off children with wealthier parents, reports the Globe and Mail. Children from higher-income families are 10% more likely to win a merit-based scholarship than students from low-income families, according to a 10,000-student survey recently conducted in Ontario. “The evidence is consistent that needs-based scholarships are far more effective than merit scholarships,” says Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers James Turk. Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation (CMSF) Executive Director Franca Gucciardi says the selection process for the Loran Scholarships, which the CMSF administers, looks at more than grades, though there is a minimum average of 85%. Volunteers review the backgrounds of the students and select winners based on the context of their income background, Gucciardi explains. Globe and Mail

Pearson launches open badge platform

The Pearson publishing company has launched an open badge platform called Acclaim, which will allow PSE institutions to recognize student achievements and learning outcomes with badges that can be shared online. Acclaim will use the Mozilla Open Badge standard, and will work with academic institutions and credentialing organizations to offer diplomas, certificates and other professional credentials as open badges. “Open badge-earners have complete control to display them wherever they choose—on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or website—to prove their credentials,” reads a Pearson news release. “This allows potential employers to quickly and easily verify the qualifications of job applicants.” Pearson News Release | Chronicle of Higher Education

MIT accidentally sends students emails saying they were accepted

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has apologized after accidentally sending students emails that said they had been accepted to the university when they hadn’t. MIT explained that the problem was caused by an email error. The email, which contained information not regarding acceptances, was sent to both prospective students and students who had been accepted early. All the emails contained an automatic footer that read, “You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT!" Admissions Counsellor Chris Peterson told students, “I am incredibly, incredibly sorry to everyone who received this and read it and felt the mixture of confusion/elation/frustration it must have engendered. We send out dozens of emails to hundreds of thousands of people and try to do it perfectly every time. We didn't this time, and it's my fault, and I hope you'll forgive me." Detroit Free Press