Top Ten

September 9, 2014

Carleton investigates “inappropriate t-shirts”; bans student from campus after sexual assault charges

Carleton University is investigating after photos appeared on social media of students, including frosh leaders, wearing shirts featuring “inappropriate wording.” The shirts apparently derided the existence of campus safe spaces, created as havens where students can be free from sexual harassment and homophobia; however, some have speculated that the t-shirts were intended to protest a university prohibition against swearing during frosh week “There was clearly a party,” said a lawyer who tweeted the photos. “Everyone looked like they were having a good time, but then we noticed a handful of people were wearing different shirts … and all of a sudden the tone for us changed drastically.” Meanwhile, a Carleton student has been charged with 3 counts of sexual assault on campus. Mohamed Daoud was apprehended after a staff member reported that he had inappropriately touched her in an elevator. An investigation found that the accused had apparently assaulted 2 other female staff members. Daoud was released following a bail hearing on Friday, with strict conditions including that he is not allowed on any Ottawa university or college campus. CTV News | Ottawa Citizen (T-shirts) | Ottawa Citizen (Assault)

Postscript: September 9, 2014

A group of Carleton University students who were photographed wearing offensive tank tops have apologized and await word of their punishment. The shirts appeared to mock the university’s Safe Space initiative. The students claimed, however, that the shirts were intended to protest a university rule against swearing during frosh week. In their apology, student orientation team leaders said, “while our intentions were not to harm or disrespect anyone, the T-shirts in question were without a doubt inappropriate, inconsiderate, offensive and disgraceful. Intent is not an excuse for impact and we take full responsibility for the seriousness of our actions.” Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte said, “such behaviour is not acceptable and extremely disappointing to the broader Carleton community. Sanctions will be issued subsequent to individual meetings.” She also emphasized that the event at which the shirts were worn was not a Carleton-sanctioned event and that “the inappropriate action did not undermine the overall effectiveness of Carleton’s orientation programming.” Ottawa Citizen

uWindsor faculty announces plans for one-day strike, rolling job action

The Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) has announced that it will commence job action with a one-day strike on September 15; the union further said that it plans rotating half-day strikes with 2-hour advanced notice to students. If no settlement is reached by October 1, the union said it will implement a full work stoppage at a date to be announced. WUFA described its plan as a “last resort” and said that it is implementing its job action in several phases, “each designed to put pressure on the administration to come back to the bargaining table while minimizing the disruption of [students’] education.” WUFA President Anne Forrest said the decision was forced by the university’s refusal to return to the bargaining table; however, uWindsor President Alan Wildeman said that the institution has always been willing to negotiate. “I’ve been really clear. I’ve communicated very widely about this … We’re not going to go back to the table and bargain with ourselves,” he said. Wildeman claims that WUFA is refusing to acknowledge “fiscal realities.” Windsor Star | WUFA News Release

Postscript: October 3 2014

The University of Windsor and the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) have arrived at a tentative collective agreement, following 2 days of meeting with a  provincially appointed mediator. The terms of the agreement will remain confidential pending ratification. WUFA has informed its members that a meeting and vote on the proposed contract will be held later this week. WUFA had initiated rolling job action prior to the meetings with the mediator. uWindsor News Release | Windsor Star

uCalgary given $5-M donation for mental health support

An anonymous donor has given the University of Calgary $5 M to enhance mental health support for students on campus. The donation will fund the UCalgaryStrong program, which helps students transition to PSE and provides access to online assessment tools, leadership advising, and workshops, as well as bystander intervention training. The funding will also support the expansion of uCalgary’s Leadership Advising Program. The donation was made in response to the April stabbing of 5 young people at an off-campus party. uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon said that the donation will allow the university "to offer a truly holistic student experience, linking community engagement, leadership development, and personal wellness.” Calgary Herald | uCalgary News Release

Dal releases 2014–18 strategic plan

Dalhousie University has published its strategic plan for 2014–2018, entitled “Inspiration and Impact.” The plan outlines Dal’s 5 strategic priorities: enhance the transformative power of teaching and learning; expand the opportunities for research, scholarly and artistic work; catalyze the intellectual, social and economic development of our communities; take our place nationally and internationally; and build our institutional capacities. To achieve these goals, Dal plans to pursue initiatives including strategic program reviews and strategic student recruitment. The university also says it intends to foster undergraduate research, attract and support excellent graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and support research with state-of-the-art facilities and resources. Moreover, it plans to maximize opportunities for students and researchers to work with local and global partners to promote creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The plan also indicates that Dal will develop a new human resources strategy, reduce the deficit of its pension plan, and create a capital plan that focuses on environmentally sustainable development. Dal identifies its priority research areas as ocean studies; advanced materials and clean technology; health and wellness; and governance, society, and culture. Dal Strategic Direction

uManitoba strategic enrolment plan focuses on graduate students, Aboriginal students

The board of governors at the University of Manitoba has approved a new strategic enrolment strategy that focuses on increased graduate enrolment in programs such as science, engineering, agriculture, and medicine. The plan also focuses on increasing the number of self-declared Indigenous students on campus. According to the plan, uManitoba hopes to increase graduate enrolment from 12.9% of students in 2013–14 to 20% by 2023, and Indigenous enrolment from 7.8% of undergraduate students and 4.2% of graduate students in 2013–14 to 15% and 8%, respectively, by 2023. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the ambitious enrolment targets are motivated by the perception that uManitoba lags behind its U15 counterparts in several categories. The plan will also likely lead to a reduction in the percentage of international students on campus as focuses shift elsewhere. uManitoba Vice-Provost of Students Susan Gottheil said that the plan constitutes a “more intentional” approach to enrolment, and adds that “we’d like to encourage more Manitobans to stay in Manitoba.” Winnipeg Free Press

Ontario universities launch professional development website for grad students

7 Ontario universities have collaborated to create a professional development website for graduate students. McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Guelph, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and Western University have launched, which offers free, online training tools to help graduate students looking to build their skills for academic and non-academic careers. “Graduate students have a very different experience at university than undergrads. … Grad students find it challenging to allocate time to consider what’s next, and so universities are offering them this extraordinary free professional development program to take online—in their own time and at their own pace,” said Bonnie M Patterson, President of the Council of Ontario Universities. The website was developed by the Ontario Consortium for Graduate Professional Skills and offers 18 training units on topics ranging from community-engaged scholarship to entrepreneurship. COU News Release | Queen’s News Release

Canadian universities increasingly relying on part-time faculty

The CBC has published a report on the increasing use of part-time faculty at Canadian universities. According to the report, universities are not hiring tenure-track faculty at a rate that is consistent with increasing enrolment, and are making up the difference by increasing class sizes and hiring sessional instructors. At some institutions, part-time faculty members earn just $28,000 for teaching 4 courses. The article notes that Wilfrid Laurier University, for instance, spent less than 4% of its 2012 budget on part-time faculty, who taught 52% of the university's courses that year. "I think there are legitimate concerns about having such a large part-time workforce, but it’s an unfortunate consequence of underfunding the university,” said Laurier’s VP Teaching Pat Rogers. Herbert Pimlott, a professor at Laurier, says that the contractual status of faculty can have an impact of the quality of students’ education, simply because full-time faculty are able to spend more time on campus and are more likely to have their own office space for meetings. Some schools are making changes: the report notes that McMaster University and the University of Waterloo have created full-time, teaching-only positions to reduce their reliance on sessional instructors, while some faculty unions have been able to negotiate better wages, benefits, and job security for part-time faculty. CBC News

St Lawrence SMA emphasizes Aboriginal education, regional support

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) that it signed with St Lawrence College. The agreement identifies as St Lawrence’s areas of differentiation its success in meeting the specific economic, social, and cultural needs of its communities in Brockville, Cornwall, and Kingston. St Lawrence is cited for its support for economic prosperity through its responsive labour force development and innovation initiatives, such as the Centre for Learning and Performance Improvement, the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre, and its relationships with industries along the St Lawrence River Seaway corridor. The SMA further notes that St Lawrence supports accessibility for Aboriginal and first-generation students, as well as crown wards, students with disabilities, and lower-income students. The college’s program delivery agreements with the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) and Ioahi:io Akwesasne Adult Education (IAAE) are specifically highlighted. The SMA identifies 5 proposed program areas for growth: advertising and design, social and community services, traditional business, arts, and construction. St Lawrence SMA

Laurier SMA focuses on teaching quality, entrepreneurship success

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) between Ontario and Wilfrid Laurier University identifies as the institution’s differentiating features its emphasis on teaching quality and student outcomes, its community partnerships, and its research strengths in areas including environment, governance and policy, culture and society, and economics. According to the SMA, graduates of Laurier's School of Business & Economics have started over 1,800 companies, and many serve as senior leaders in the technology sector. The SMA also highlights Laurier’s co-operative education programs, which include the largest business co-op program in Canada, as well as its support for experiential learning through job placement programs. The Faculty of Arts’ first-year seminar courses, capped at 22 students, are also identified as a strength, as are the Residence Learning Communities initiative and the Supplemental Instruction program. The SMA notes that Laurier’s Aboriginal student enrolment has increased by 167% over 5 years, with an extremely high level of reported student satisfaction. 4 proposed program areas for growth are identified in the SMA: business and management; community engaged health; individual and community well-being, and lifespan sciences; cold regions water science and policy; and communications and digital media studies. Laurier SMA

Purdue offers competency-based bachelor’s degree

Purdue University in Indiana has announced that it will create a cross-disciplinary, competency-based bachelor’s degree. The program was proposed by the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, a “transformational engine” in the university’s College of Technology. The Institute spent a year developing the proposed degree, which will organize student learning around themes rather than “seat time.” A cohort of 36 students will take the program beginning this fall, with instruction being delivered by 18 faculty members from the colleges of Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Technology and Science, and the university’s libraries. Students will study under a faculty mentor who will assess and credential students based on demonstrated and documented competencies as they are achieved. “We hope that this degree program will serve as a model for other Purdue academic programs that lend themselves to competency-based education,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. The US government recently waived some federal aid requirements for certain institutions, paving the way for pilots of CBE programs. Inside Higher Ed | Purdue News