Top Ten

September 5, 2014

Stephanie Forsyth steps down as RRC President

Stephanie Forsyth, President of Red River College, has stepped down as of August 31, the college’s board of governors announced on Wednesday. According to a statement, Forsyth stepped down due to “personal and family reasons” and “through mutual agreement with her and the board of governors.” Forsyth’s resignation comes less than 4 years after she signed a 5-year contract with the institution. Board Chair Richard Lennon said, “the President approached us, and we had a discussion, and we moved from there … The terms of departure we aren’t sharing. That’s an HR matter … it was by mutual agreement that we parted ways.” Forsyth’s tenure as President has been the subject of some controversy. In April she took to her personal blog to refute reports of a $2-M deficit and a “mass exodus” of employees. Manitoba Education Minister James Allum told CBC at the time that the province planned to investigate “issues related to human resources and financial management” at the college; that process is still ongoing. Allum said that he was informed of Forsyth’s departure two weeks ago but offered no further details, stating only that “we look forward to working with the new president and to continue to build and grow a dynamic, innovative college that’s built on excellence.” CBC | Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2)

McGill opens new dentistry facility

McGill University is celebrating the opening of its new Faculty of Dentistry facility, bringing pre-clinical and clinical training, community-based research, and administrative operations under one roof for the first time in the faculty’s history. The new $18.3-M facility provides modern clinical facilities and active learning spaces for students, and will serve as a hub for the outreach and collaboration initiatives conducted by dentistry students and researchers. McGill currently operates 4 satellite clinics that provide affordable and free oral health care to Montreal’s low-income population. “The challenge is to anticipate the needs of our students and patients for the next 20 years. I believe that in creating this new facility, the Faculty is meeting this challenge and we will have a greater impact on the community than ever before,” says Jeffrey Myers, Associate Dean Clinical Affairs. McGill Reporter

Lack of R&D spending hurts Canada in WEF rankings

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Canada 15th out of 144 countries in its annual world competitive index. Canada has dropped one spot from last year’s ranking, due in part to its performance in innovation. WEF Chief Economist Jennifer Blanke said that Canada “really gets the basics right” but did not score as well on advanced measures, including spending on research and development. The country was 27th in the world in private-sector R&D spending, and 19th in university/industry collaboration. Moreover, Canada ranked just 48th in government procurement of advanced technology, seen as a key driver of technological innovation. Canada also underperformed in the WEF’s assessment of education and training, finishing 23rd in secondary enrolment and 45th in postsecondary enrolment. Globe and Mail

Moody’s says Canadian universities must be able to raise fees to attract international students

Moody’s Investors Service says that Canada’s provincial funding model could have a negative effect on the country’s ability to attract international students. According to Moody’s, controls on tuition increases at the provincial level have made it difficult for universities to raise fees to the level necessary to meet demand for higher education; as a result, “inability to appropriately invest in facilities could become a comparative disadvantage.” Moody’s says that universities may increasingly have to consider private partnerships to better attract international students. The report claims that programs that have raised tuition fees to market levels, such as McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, have actually seen an increase in enrolment. However, not all universities are interested in international students solely as a source of revenue: some seek to achieve the right “mix” of students on campus, said Jennifer Humphries of the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE), while others have in mind the history and traditions of their campuses. Globe and Mail

Dal restructures senior admin around provost model

Dalhousie University has restructured the roles of its senior administration. Many of the changes focus on the role of its Provost. While the duties of the provost have long been considered part of the portfolio of the vice-president, they have not been as fully exercised at Dal as they are at many other Canadian research-intensive universities. By implementing “the provost model," Dal says that it will enhance the integration of university planning and resource allocation. “By emphasizing the provost’s responsibilities, we ensure that our academic priorities drive decisions around allocating resources, renovating or adding new facilities, and other similar concerns. It makes our planning between academic and administrative units more integrated while providing a clearer and more efficient decision-making process,” said Dal President Richard Florizone. Dal’s current Provost, Carolyn Watters, will stay on in the role, with her title changing from “Vice-President Academic and Provost” to “Provost and Vice-President Academic.” Dal News

Regulation changes make medical marijuana studies more accessible to Canadian researchers

Canadian university researchers are increasingly turning to the medical marijuana field as regulation changes have made it easier to access funding and support. The federal government recently shifted the production of medical marijuana from Health Canada to commercial companies, which are able to fund university-level research that often struggles to gain federal research dollars. Mark Ware, Director of Clinical Research at the McGill University Health Centre’s pain clinic, pointed out that there is a lack of data around the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, which can be explored through clinical trials. “The opportunity is tremendous right now … the possibilities have never been better,” he said. Medical marijuana studies are not limited to pain management, with researchers also looking to study the effects of marijuana in the treatments of a variety of afflictions, including osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis symptoms, nausea in cancer patients, anxiety, epileptic seizures, and eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Steven Liss, VP Research at Queen’s University, noted that research opportunities exist beyond the clinical and include biology, chemistry, engineering, bio-security, and agro-business. University Affairs

Northern SMA focuses on applied research, partnerships with Aboriginal communities

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Northern College and Ontario emphasizes the college’s support for applied research through the Northern Office for Applied Research and Innovation (NOARI), its participation in the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation, and its work with Hydro One and other small and medium enterprises. Northern is also recognized for its delivery of programming in mining-related fields and its partnership in establishing Impact Benefit Agreements between local Aboriginal communities and industry. The SMA recognizes Northern’s demonstrated expertise in blended technology-enabled and experiential learning, as well as its small class sizes. The college is further cited for its efforts to incorporate Aboriginal perspectives into its learning environment and its collaboration with the Aboriginal Council on Education, Elders, and community leaders in northeastern Ontario. The agreement also highlights Northern’s participation in the Northern Colleges Collaboration and its partnerships with Laurentian University and Algoma University. 4 proposed program areas for growth are named in the agreement: veterinary sciences, wellness and health sciences, mining, and technology/trades. Northern SMA

uWindsor SMA highlights entrepreneurial education, regionally focused research

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with the University of Windsor. The SMA says that uWindsor supports regional economic development through its focus on research that fits the needs of the area, including border challenges, automotive technology, wastewater management, and the Great Lakes. uWindsor is also cited for its support for entrepreneurial education: more than 1,000 students have engaged in entrepreneurial activities since 2011, and 17 spin-off companies were created last year alone. The SMA notes uWindsor’s teaching strengths as well, mentioning the institution’s support for peer mentoring through the Fundamentals of Academic Writing program and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Mentorship Program. uWindsor is also recognized for its support for open learning and co-operative education, and its high level of teaching quality. The SMA identifies 5 proposed program areas for growth: health and wellness; law, education, and philosophy; engineering, science, and computing; creative arts and digital media; and business, political science, and international borders. uWindsor SMA

uWisconsin receives approval for CBE program

The University of Wisconsin System has received approval from the US Department of Education to offer a self-paced, competency-based education (CBE) program. The new arts and science associate degree is a form of CBE called direct assessment, which is not based on a traditional credit-hour standard. The degree will add to existing competency-based programs offered by uWisconsin within its UW Flexible Option, most of which are certificate programs. Students enrolled in the new CBE program will be eligible for federal financial aid; uWisconsin is the first publicly funded institution to receive such approval. The US government recently waived some federal aid requirements for certain institutions in order to allow them to test CBE programs. The Clayton Christensen Institute recently said that online CBE is the innovation most likely to disrupt the PSE sector. Inside Higher Ed

Canadian PSE institutions offer students wide range of cool courses

The Huffington Post has profiled what it says are the “coolest classes in Canada.” The article features courses at colleges and universities across the country, ranging from a class in brewing science at the University of King’s College in Halifax to a course on maritime piracy at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Many of the courses use popular subject matter to introduce students to concepts in mathematics, literature, history, or information technology. Multiple classes focus on Harry Potter, while others offer students the chance to study in-depth social media phenomena, winemaking, hockey, and even evil. Some classes give students the opportunity to study abroad: Memorial University’s “British Drama in Performance,” taught by former This Hour Has 22 Minutes star Mary Walsh, will have students taking in plays in London, UK, while McGill University’s “Hot Cities of the World Tour” offers “a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to Mongolia and South Korea.” Huffington Post