Top Ten

September 24, 2014

uCalgary Institute for Public Health renamed in honour of $12 M gift

The University of Calgary’s Institute for Public Health has been renamed the O’Brien Institute for Public Health in recognition of a $12 M gift from David and Gail O’Brien. The funding will help the Institute attract additional senior-level investigators, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, and will also be used as catalyst funding to help secure provincial and national grants. One-third of the donation will be set aside as an endowment fund for the Institute. “We are hopeful the institute’s work will lead to huge strides in reducing the number of chronically ill as well as the challenges around health advocacy and prevention in Alberta,” said Gail O’Brien. uCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon added, “this gift is an important investment in better health and health care in our local, national, and global communities, coming from highly respected community leaders and tremendous friends of the University of Calgary.” uCalgary News

Ontario universities respond to fall enrolment figures

PSE leaders are responding to recent data that show a decline in high-school direct enrolments to Ontario’s universities. Many experts, including Academica Group’s Ken Steele, have long warned that demographic shifts in the Canadian population would lead to an enrolment decline at many institutions. Although the drop in high-school direct enrolments was partially offset by the number of students returning to school after “gap years,” mature students, and international students, some are wondering about the implications of the numbers on ON’s Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework. York University, which has been campaigning for a satellite campus in Markham, says that it expects the population of 18- to 21-year-olds in York Region to climb by about 19,000 by 2036. “Many of those will need to go to university close to home,” said YorkU VP Academic Rhonda Lenton. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University, says that the situation does not yet amount to a “crisis.” OCADU has expanded its emphasis to include design and digital media, and believes this strategy will allow the institution to attract more students in the future. “It will just take time to reach out to families that haven’t seen design careers as having high employment rates,” Diamond said. Some institutions are relying on international students to make up the difference; however, as Steele has pointed out, there is a tipping point at which the proportion of international students can put a strain on student supports and services. Toronto Star

Vancouver colleges in court over “VCC” abbreviation

Vancouver Community College is suing Vancouver Career College over the acronym “VCC,” claiming that the latter institution is deliberately confusing potential students. The 2 institutions have been sparring over the acronym for years, but the conflict intensified with the advent of social media and digital marketing. In 2009, Vancouver Career College changed its website to VCCollege.ca and allegedly paid to promote itself using Internet search results for “VCC” and “Vancouver Community College”; the career college also began to use the name @VCCollege on Twitter. In his opening arguments on Monday, Vancouver Community College lawyer Chris Wilson alleged that the career college “decided that it would jump on the bandwagon of the reputation of [Vancouver Community College] with this new identity VCCollege.” Vancouver Community College has been operating since 1965, while Vancouver Career College opened in 1996. Vancouver Sun

New uWinnipeg President says institution should be a “magnet for Indigenous students”

Annette Trimbee, the new President of the University of Winnipeg, has promised to emphasize collaboration over competition during her tenure, and to pursue an institutional mission of social justice. At a simple inauguration ceremony, Trimbee spoke of the importance of a deliberate approach to enrolment growth that would focus on Indigenous students. “We can be a magnet for Indigenous students from around the world,” she said. She also emphasized the need for differentiation between uWinnipeg and the University of Manitoba, in order to better serve the province’s needs. “We should collectively talk about our growth plans and make sure they make sense,” Trimbee told attendees. “Growth should be intentional, that’s tied to our core mission. I’m going to be talking a lot about developing leaders.” The University of Manitoba recently released a strategic enrolment plan focused largely on attracting Indigenous students. Winnipeg Free Press

How Ontario universities used digital marketing at the OUF

New data offer insight on how some of Ontario’s universities are using digital marketing tools to reach prospective students. The data, based on the practices of institutions at the recent Ontario Universities Fair (OUF), breaks down universities’ use of data capture, program-specific email, action items in email, and social media integration, as well as how quickly they responded to contacts after the event. According to the report, few universities are taking advantage of customer relationship management (CRM) software or marketing automation, though several featured innovative digital approaches to attracting attention. Nipissing University collected Twitter handles from students for post-OUF engagement, while Queen’s University and York University featured “tagboards” that visually represented social media interactions with prospective students. Other institutions found a low-tech approach to be most effective. Algoma University reported that it saw an increase in leads since switching back to paper-based data collection from a digital method, which it says is more reflective of the institution and the type of student it hopes to attract. Soshal Blog Post

UoGuelph students union concerned about high-end condo developments

Students at the University of Guelph are concerned about the growing number of student-centric high rise condominiums in the city. A 160-unit development is currently under construction, while a second 77-unit building is planned for an adjacent site. These developments were originally intended to be targeted at retirees, but are now being marketed to young people, including students and recent graduates. The UoGuelph’s Central Student Association (CSA) says that they have a few concerns about the developments. First, they say that because the new units are more costly than the average rental in the city, they could drive up rental fees elsewhere. Second, they say that the buildings could promote isolation in the student population. “You’re not moving in with a group of folks you know, so there’s a tendency to stay in a room and feel isolated,” said the CSA’s Local Affairs Commissioner Brittany Skelton. Guelph Mercury

UBC honours Japanese-Canadian student denied admission in 1945 due to War Measures Act

UBC held an admission ceremony on Tuesday for Henry Sugiyama, a student who was denied entry into the university in 1945 due to the War Measures Act. At the time, the War Measures Act prohibited Canadians of Japanese ancestry from living on Canada’s West Coast. Sugiyama instead went to study at the University of Manitoba, the only university that would accept him, where he eventually earned a medical degree and pursued a career as a doctor. “I was lucky in a way. UBC did not have a medical program at the time. If I had gone there, I would not have become a doctor,” said Sugiyama. On Tuesday Sugiyama attended the first class in UBC’s new Asian Canadian and Asian Migrations Studies program, which was created as part of UBC’s effort to recognize its own role in the province’s internment policy. UBC has also awarded honourary degrees to 76 students who were victims of removal. UBC News Release | UBC News | Globe and Mail

Gen Y losing out in income gap between generations

New data from the Conference Board of Canada shows that while the income gap between men and women is shrinking, the divide between younger and older workers is growing. “Age rather than gender is becoming the new divide in our society,” said Conference Board Vice-President David Stewart-Patterson. Young people, he said, “face lower wages and reduced pension benefits even for the same work at the same employer.” Employers frequently offer new hires less pay and reduced pensions. Canadians between the ages of 50 and 54 have 64% more disposable income than those aged 25–29, up from 47% in the mid-1980s. These figures should be cause for concern, said Stewart-Patterson, as they could impact the government’s ability to generate tax revenues as well as economic growth, especially as the baby-boomer generation begins to exit the workforce. He also said that young people will increasingly become “fed up” with their situation. “Younger people are starting further behind, rather than getting ahead, which is where we need them to be,” said Stewart-Patterson. Conference Board News Release | Full Report | Financial Post | Globe and Mail

Particular skill-sets characterize successful major-gifts officers

Major gifts are becoming an increasingly critical fundraising activity for US PSE institutions, but some colleges and universities are having trouble attracting and retaining talent in that field. The average tenure of a major-gifts officer is just 18 to 24 months, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. As a result, many colleges are working on identifying the qualities that mark the best candidates for the role. Among major-gifts officers at US colleges, most can be classified into 5 types: “Cultivator,” “Fixer,” “Adapter,” “Academic,” and “Lone Ranger.” However, research indicates that the most successful combine traits from each of these types, including behavioural and linguistic flexibility, intellectual curiosity, information synthesis skills, and assertiveness. Such persons are adept at "code switching" when pitching to donors of widely different backgrounds and interests, and are also able to successfully unpack and interpret data produced by various institutional offices. The Chronicle of Higher Education

Prof provides video feedback on student assignments with Google Glass

A finance professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business has turned to Google Glass to help him provide feedback on student papers. Michael Gofman uses the technology to record his commentary on student assignments as he reads them; students then receive a short video that reflects his thoughts as he grades the work. “We’re not just showing their grade and what they did wrong, but how they can improve in the future. The technology was the perfect fit for the problem. Using Google Glass to deliver feedback helps students understand the material better,” Gofman said. Students have responded positively to the new approach: Gofman’s student evaluation scores related to the quality of his feedback increased by 38% over his scores for the previous year, when he did not use the technology. “I think the best way to learn through mistakes is by seeing someone explain it to you,” said one student. Campus Technology