Top Ten

August 28, 2014

Canadian institutions make changes to frosh week programming

Canadian PSE institutions are making changes to their orientation programming in response to last year’s controversies. Following the University of British Columbia’s recently announced changes, Saint Mary’s University has said that it has revised its own frosh week programming in response to last year’s revelation of an inflammatory chant that endorsed non-consensual sex with underage women. The university has introduced a new vetting and training process for Welcome Week leaders, which includes sessions on diversity, mental health, alcohol, and sexual consent. Dalhousie University’s student union is also adapting its orientation week programming. “We, basically, have adapted our training to include a lot of things around sexual assault, sexual harassment prevention. Consent is a huge portion of what we’re going to be covering for first-year students, as well as our leaders,” said Danny Shanahan, Executive Vice-President of the student union. Western University runs a dry event, and requires orientation leaders to sign a contract that says they will abstain from alcohol, illegal drugs, and activities that may “negatively portray academics” at the institution. National Post | CBC News

Nova Scotia student unions to undergo accountability review

Student unions at a number of Nova Scotia universities have agreed to participate in an independent review of their transparency and accountability. Acadia Students’ Union, Cape Breton University Students’ Union, Dalhousie Agricultural Students’ Association, St Francis Xavier University Students’ Union, and Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association will undergo the process, which will examine their democratic processes, their election policies, their approaches to voter and candidate participation, and how they choose which positions will be elected. The review will also take a look at policies, governance, and oversight of persons in power. The results of the report are expected to be released by the consultant, who is a Queen’s University PhD student, in January. Chronicle-Herald

Georgian emphasizes “accelerate success” with new branding

Georgian College has unveiled its new brand, with the theme “accelerate success.” The college has adopted a new leaf-shaped “accelerator” symbol that it says “is an apt metaphor for the enriching possibilities that we help ignite.” In a document detailing its "brand story," the college says that the symbol reflects the college’s legacy and progressive nature; its impact on learning, career, and life in and beyond the classroom; its commitment to environmental stewardship; and its collaboration with its partners and communities. The new brand is the result of extensive research that involved more than 5,100 participants from prospective students and faculty to board members and employers. “The Georgian brand story is one of promise—a promise that real education is a process of transformation and that Georgian is here to help,” said Georgian President MaryLynn West-Moynes. Georgian News Release

Second Conestoga engineering program granted accreditation

Conestoga College’s Electronic Systems Engineering program has received accreditation from Engineers Canada. To achieve accreditation, the program was subjected to a thorough review by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). “We are very pleased to receive this validation from Engineers Canada for our program,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits. “The CEAB accreditation is a confirmation of the quality both of the program and the project-based learning approach, and recognizes the skills and knowledge of our graduates as they begin their careers in engineering.” Conestoga is the first college in Ontario to host accredited engineering programs, and one of only 2 in Canada to do so. The college also offers an accredited degree program in Mechanical Systems Engineering. Conestoga News Release

NBCC eligible for SSHRC funding

Researchers at New Brunswick Community College will now be eligible to apply for major funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). “This eligibility is an opportunity for us specifically to increase the profile of our humanities and social sciences programs … by pursuing research in those areas. This also opens doors to our faculty, staff and students studying these programs to explore research as a means to solve everyday problems that impact our society,” said NBCC’s Director of Applied Research & Innovation, Diane Burt. NBCC’s SSHRC eligibility has the potential to support the college's achievement of 3 of its strategic goals for applied research and innovation, including innovations in teaching, learning and services for students, and social innovation. NBCC News Release

Modern business requires strong communication skills, say recruiters

In response to a survey, corporate recruiters say that they value communications skills ahead of teamwork, technical knowledge, and leadership in their assessment of MBA graduates for mid-level jobs. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey found that recruiters rated communication skills above managerial abilities by a 2-to-1 margin. Other research has found similar results: a York University survey of 845 executives identified leadership and communication as the 2 most important management competencies. This focus on communication skills is the result of changes in the business environment. A more diverse workforce requires clear, accurate language; moreover, leaders at various levels must be able to effectively share information with their peers across the organization. Recruiters also say that students who impress on paper often lack the interpersonal communication skills they need to succeed in business, leaving business schools to develop innovative ways to include communications as part of their curriculum. Globe and Mail

Capilano, WesternU launch new apps for students

As students begin to flock to campus for the start of another school year, several PSE institutions are releasing smartphone apps to make the transition a little bit easier. For example, Western University has released a mobile app that provides students with transit information and maps to campus eateries as well as access to academic tools and information. Integration with WesternU’s online teaching tool, OWL, will allow students to easily access assignments and stay up-to-date on projects. “By leveraging more dynamic data we’ve been able to provide users with real-time information that can simplify how they interact with Western,” said Martin Douglas, an employee with WesternU’s Information Technology Services. In BC, Capilano University has launched “The Cap App,” which lets students see their grades and course schedules, access email, manage library accounts, and view campus maps. “This app highlights the importance of connectivity amongst our student population by allowing students a quick, efficient and easy way to stay up-to-date on their life here at Cap,” said Registrar Karen McCredie. WesternU News Release | CapilanoU News Release

Humber SMA highlights teaching and learning excellence, applied research partnerships

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and Humber College highlights the institution’s broad range of polytechnic education offerings, as well as its particular strength in the development and delivery of degrees. Humber’s innovative relationship with the University of Guelph is also identified as a key area of differentiation. Humber’s areas of strength as specified in the SMA include its focus on applied research and entrepreneurship, delivered through its partnerships with PSE institutions including McGill University, Stanford University, and the Banff Centre as well as multiple parties in the private sector. The HumberLaunch incubator is also cited as contributing to Humber’s support for student and graduate entrepreneurs. Humber’s promotion of teaching and learning excellence through centres and initiatives such as The Centre for Teaching and Learning, the Teaching Innovation Fund, and its Teaching Excellence Standards are also emphasized, as well as its focus on hiring, developing, and supporting faculty with industry experience as well as academic credentials. 5 proposed program areas for growth are listed: transmedia arts and design, community services and social justice, health and wellness, business, and technology. Humber SMA

UoGuelph SMA focuses on agri-food, rural communities, teaching excellence

The University of Guelph’s key areas of differentiation include its strategic focus on food, health, environment and community as well as its special responsibility for agriculture and veterinary medicine, according to the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) the university signed with Ontario. UoGuelph is cited for its continuing support for rural communities, food security, and the environmental sustainability of the agri-food sector in Ontario. The university’s partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs is noted to have yielded a $1.15 B return to the provincial economy on a $55-M investment. UoGuelph is also recognized for the high number of inventions produced in proportion to its research funding. The SMA further acknowledges UoGuelph for its commitment to teaching excellence, as evinced through its leadership in online learning, its co-op program offerings, and its efforts to continuously redesign curricula and improve learning outcomes in partnership with the US-based National Center for Academic Transformation. The SMA identifies 2 proposed program areas of growth: biomedical sciences, including kinesiology; and engineering and computing, with an emphasis on sustainable engineering, biomedical/mechanical engineering, and design. UoGuelph SMA

New project to track North American tenure-track appointments

The Chronicle of Higher Education is launching Academic JobTracker, a pilot project intended to identify who is managing to secure tenure-track jobs at PSE institutions in Canada and the US. According to Senior Editor Brock Read, such data has been historically difficult to obtain, with many relying on anecdotes and rumours rather than concrete intelligence. The initiative—a revival and modernization of the Chronicle’s long-since abandoned Jobtracks listing—will create a database of open positions in 11 disciplines including anthropology, economics, English literature, mathematics, and psychology, and will communicate with departments to identify who won the job. The initiative will collect data on who is doing the hiring, what subfields or focus areas are being sought after, what teaching loads are being advertised, and important application dates. The Chronicle also plans to track where successful candidates studied and what their specialties are, among other details. The initiative aims to put “hard data” behind job market perceptions. The Chronicle of Higher Education