Top Ten

September 25, 2014

Ontario spends additional $65 M to buy out MaRS building

Ontario has announced that it will spend an additional $65 M to buy out the developer of the MaRS Discovery District's phase 2 building. This brings the total amount that the province has spent on the facility, designed to foster collaboration between scientific researchers and entrepreneurs, to nearly $309 M. Ontario Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid says that the buy-out will help the province “unlock the potential of the … building and ensure that the maximum return on our investment is realized.” He further suggested that the province may have use of the office space in the building, but added that “we’re not ruling anything out,” including re-selling the building in the future. Only one-third of the space in the phase 2 building is currently occupied; the phase 1 building is at capacity and fully leased. The province says that the total purchase price is the fair market value of the building, but critics describe the move as a bail-out. Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fideli warned that the costs associated with owning the building could continue to grow. “We’re talking about hundreds of millions more,” he said. Toronto Star

Ontario announces recipients of CLA, OCEA funding

Ontario has announced additional recipients of funding from the province’s Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLA) program and its On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) funding. The funding includes $6.8 M in CLA funding and $800,000 in OCEA funding for institutions in the Greater Toronto Area. OCAD University received funding to support entrepreneurship engagement on campus, with a particular focus on students from under-represented and at-risk communities; the University of Toronto received funding to establish a central Office of Entrepreneurship; Ryerson University will create entrepreneurship zones to provide training and support to young entrepreneurs; and Centennial College will develop a campus-linked accelerator focused on 8 priority neighbourhoods in Toronto in order to reach students who are most in need of assistance. George Brown College, Humber College, and Seneca College each received OCEA funding. Lambton College has also announced that it has received OCEA funding to launch The Cube, an on-campus entrepreneurial hub. Ontario will invest a total of $20 M over 2 years in the CLA program and $5 M over 2 years in the OCEA program. Ontario News Release | Lambton News Release

MRU opens Centre for Community Disaster Research

Mount Royal University on Sept 19 officially opened its Centre for Community Disaster Research. The centre is reportedly among the first of its kind in Canada; professor Tim Haney, who will head the Centre, says that it will be “the only disaster centre in Canada that focuses only on people, communities, and families, and that brings in the social aspect.” The need for the centre was identified in the wake of the Calgary floods of 2013. “I want to bring together faculty members at Mount Royal who are thinking about doing something disaster-related as well as community managers, government, and researchers to figure out what it is that we don’t know about how to mitigate disaster, how to make our communities more resilient, and what kinds of programs we can develop to meet those needs,” Haney said. He added that the number of annual disasters could double by 2050, emphasizing the need for additional research. Projects to be carried out by the Centre have received funding from several bodies including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, MRU’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability, and The Calgary Foundation’s New Initiative Program. MRU News Release

SIAST is now Saskatchewan Polytechnic

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology was officially “re-launched” yesterday as Saskatchewan Polytechnic. The announcement was made at 4 simultaneous events at the institution’s several campuses. Along with the new name comes a new visual identity, featuring a grey and purple “energy path.” SaskPolytech has also adopted the tagline “tomorrow in the making.” President Larry Rosia said, “as a polytechnic, we are student-focused and employer-driven. What makes us different is our emphasis on applied learning that meets labour market needs, thus equipping students to build rewarding careers.” The road to the re-branding began in 2012 with the expansion of degree-granting authority in SK, which allowed the SIAST to develop applied degree programs; in 2013, the institution became a member of Polytechnics Canada. “We are very pleased to support this historic institution as it becomes Saskatchewan Polytechnic,” said SK Advanced Education Minister Kevin Doherty. SaskPolytech News Release

uSask Students' Union withholds bus pass money during Saskatoon Transit lockout

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) has decided to withhold student U-Pass payments for the duration of an ongoing lockout of Saskatoon Transit employees. “We’ve been very disappointed with our communication with what we thought was a major partner. We’ve had a relationship with Saskatoon Transit for a number of years now with the U-Pass. We didn’t get any heads up about any of this,” said USSU President Max FineDay. “Some students aren’t coming to class because they live way across town. They can’t get to their child’s day care and to class in time.” The USSU will hold back 60 cents per day for each of its 14,780 student members, totaling $8,868 daily as long as the lockout lasts. The organization added that it is investigating ways to return the money to students. Izabela Vlahu, President of the uSask Graduate Students’ Association, said that her organization plans to seek compensation from Saskatoon Transit. CBC

Queen’s Principal announces priorities for 2014-15

Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf has announced his goals and priorities for the coming academic year. Woolf committed to increasing the number of opportunities for expanded credentials, including opportunities for experiential and entrepreneurial learning. Woolf also committed to sustaining Queen’s tri-council success rate, to supporting faculty engagement and development, and to maintaining Queen’s position among Canada’s top universities for faculty awards, honours, and prizes. Woolf pointed to the need to ensure the university’s financial stability by meeting its annual fundraising target, diversifying its revenue, and pursuing long-term sustainability for its pension plan. Woolf further intends to improve the institution's international profile through increased international enrolment at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as through the growth of international collaborations and partnerships. Finally, Woolf committed to promoting and developing top-quality faculty and staff with strong succession planning, well-developed competency models, refined hiring practices, and discussion among Deans around the matter of faculty renewal. Queen’s News

CBU highlights contributions, sets goals in new accountability report

Cape Breton University has released its Accountability Report 2013/2014. The report emphasizes that CBU adds $87 M to the regional economy and is directly or indirectly responsible for close to 1,400 jobs at the university and in its surrounding communities. The report also outlines CBU’s plans to help the province meet its economic goals. CBU’s targets including attracting $6 M in research funds, increasing published research by 50%, and increasing student participation in research by 20%. The plan also calls for the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment to triple its research activity over 10 years. The plan is “positively framed, in terms of our contributions,” said CBU President David Wheeler, “but I think we’re also signaling that we’ve got further to go, and I think as we produce more of these reports in subsequent years, we’re going to be holding ourselves accountable for better and better performance year-on-year.” Full Plan | Chronicle-Herald (1) | Chronicle-Herald (2)

JIBC-developed simulator enables experiential medical training at UBC

An immersive computer simulation technology developed by the Justice Institute of British Columbia is helping students in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine receive experiential training. The training simulation relies on JIBC’s web-based Praxis learning system. Students from various locations can gather to immerse themselves in a multimedia-rich environment, working independently or with other groups to respond to scenarios. The students’ activities are monitored and stored for later review. “The system is highly customizable. And because Praxis is web-based, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine saw a huge benefit in using the technology where you can bring together medical students, nursing students, pharmacy students, and others, and have them all learn and work together on the same simulation,” said Bob Walker, Simulation Specialist at JIBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. JIBC News Release

Study finds that Canadian Muslim women are highly educated but underemployed

A new report suggests that Canadian Muslim women are highly educated, but are also underemployed. The report, commissioned by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), found that 24.2% of Muslim women 15 years of age and older had completed a high school diploma as their highest level of attainment, and 56.7% had postsecondary degrees or diplomas. Of the remaining 19%, many were still in high school. 8% of Muslim women with PSE experience had pursued an apprenticeship or trade certificate; 22.3% had graduated from a community college, CEGEP, or other similar institution; and approximately 40% had attained a bachelor’s degree. 12% had completed a master’s degree, and 1.7% held doctorates. 3% were medical degree holders. The report also found that the number of Muslim women pursuing STEM majors was increasing, and that more Muslim women were pursuing education at community colleges compared to 2001. However, the report also found that many professional Muslim women who possessed international credentials faced difficulties in meeting re-accreditation requirements. Furthermore, in spite of a high level of educational attainment, Muslim women faced challenges in the labour market: 16.7% of Muslim women aged 15 years and older were unemployed, a rate that is double the national average for Canadian women. CCMW News Release | Report Summary

Ageism works against adjuncts applying for tenure-track jobs

A number of court cases in the US have some suggesting that age discrimination may be a significant factor preventing adjunct faculty members from obtaining tenure-track positions. Court cases in Washington State and Illinois, in particular, alleged that ageism played a role in long-time adjunct faculty members getting passed over for tenure-track positions. The Washington State Supreme Court last week overturned a lower court’s decision that had found in favour of Clark College, which had claimed that a “temporary” full-time instructor had been the “lowest-performing” of 4 interviewed candidates. Kathryn Scrivener, the faculty member in question, said that the college’s President had told her that there was a need for younger talent; Scrivener claimed, too, that the President had advocated hiring faculty with no experience. That President has since left the institution. Maria Maisto, President of the adjunct advocacy group New Faculty Majority, believes that while ageism is a significant issue, the cases also reflect a bias against longtime adjuncts. “If you’ve been an adjunct for a long time … the assumption is that you’re a failed academic,” she said. Inside Higher Ed