Top Ten

October 10, 2014

NS to hold new round of consultations on role of university system

Nova Scotia is launching a new round of public consultations into the role of universities in the province. The government will reach out to students, faculty, campus staff, university Presidents, businesses, and the international community to collect ideas on how universities can help improve the provincial economy and keep young people in NS. “Nova Scotia universities are among the top in the country in terms of bringing in international students. So we’re at the forefront of that, but it’s to make sure that there’s a good alignment between the needs of the province and what universities are providing,” said Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan. Among the issues to be considered in the consultation process is how to make higher education more affordable for students. The latest round of consultations follows a report submitted to the province 4 years ago by economist Tim O’Neill, who recommended tying operating grants to population growth, government spending growth, or GDP, as well as exploring mergers, private-public partnerships, and tuition increases. The sessions are expected to lead to the release of a “vision paper” in early 2015. NS News Release | ChronicleHerald

OCADU faculty, administration at odds over President’s renewal, curriculum expansion

Faculty and administration at OCAD University are apparently at loggerheads over the institution’s renewal of its President’s contract. OCADU’s senate, which consists primarily of faculty members, last week passed a vote of non-confidence in the Chair of the committee responsible for the decision to renew President Sara Diamond’s contract for a third term. “Everyone needs to trust the process and people did not trust the process,” said faculty association President Charles Reeve. Faculty and administration have been at odds since 2013, when administrative plans to restructure some faculties were met with resistance. Since Diamond’s tenure as President began, OCADU has been expanding its curriculum to include visual and critical studies and entrepreneurship education, and has grown to expand beyond the bounds of the iconic Sharp Centre building. Diamond said, “I genuinely think there was real friction between the senate and the board of governors and I can absolutely assure you that as President I take that very, very seriously … The kind of change that I have been leading across the institution has met with success and has been able to provide resources across all faculties.” Globe and Mail

UBC to increase housing, food plan costs for 2015

UBC will increase some of its student housing fees by 20% beginning in September 2015. The increase will affect approximately 5,700 of the 9,463 UBC students who live on campus, and amounts to a monthly increase of $105–$140. Students who live on campus year-round will not be affected. UBC’s Managing Director of Student Housing and Hospitality Andrew Parr acknowledged that the increase is substantial, but said that it will remain less expensive than living off-campus. “I don’t want to make light of a 20-per-cent increase … but we feel it’s still well within that at- or below-market structure,” Parr said. After the increase, the average price for on-campus housing will be about $780, compared to between $740 and $860 for off-campus accommodations. UBC students living on campus will also see their food costs increase next year, due to a $285 jump in a capital improvement fee that is part of UBC's meal plan pricing. Parr said the fee will be used to fund student services, financial support programs, and new buildings. Vancouver Sun

HEC Montréal, Mouvement Desjardins partner on International Institute for Cooperatives

HEC Montréal has partnered with Mouvement Desjardins to create the new Alphonse and Dormiène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives. The Institute will promote research into financial and non-financial cooperatives, as well as offer a forum for debate, learning, and the sharing of best practices among those involved in the cooperative movement. It will include the International Observatory on Cooperatives, which will facilitate access to research on cooperatives, and the Centre for Expertise and Knowledge Transfer on the Management of Cooperatives, which will organize knowledge transfer and training activities. “HEC Montréal has long aspired to be an international player in research into cooperatives. Now the creation of this unique institute has made it possible for us to support research into the management of cooperatives worldwide,” said HEC Montréal President Michel Patry. Rym Ayadi will serve as Director of the Institute. HEC News Release

Nipissing opens new Centre for Physical and Health Education

Nipissing University officially cut the ribbon on its new Centre for Physical and Health Education last week. The Centre will offer state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for research and teaching in human movement sciences, as well as for exploring societal and business challenges pertaining to health. One student attending the event said, “with the state-of-the-art labs that exist here, my fellow students and I are able to participate in and conduct some amazing research into human movement and physical activity that has the very real potential of making people and communities more healthy, and able to enjoy a better quality of life.” The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund contributed $1 M to the construction of the facility. Nipissing News Release

Harris Institute recognized by Billboard Magazine as top school for music industry education

Toronto’s Harris Institute has been recognized by Billboard Magazine as one of the top 11 music industry schools. The Harris Institute is the only Canadian school on the list. “The only true measure of a postsecondary school is the outcome for its graduates. We set out 25 years ago to prepare students for lifelong careers in music and that objective is being realized,” said Institute founder John Harris. The Harris Institute offers courses in areas including audio production and arts management. Its alumni have been recognized with 15 JUNO, Grammy, CCMA, Platinum, Canadian Screen, and CARAS awards and nominations. The Harris Institute is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. Harris Institute News Release | Billboard

Postponing retirement has economic, cultural effects on Canadian PSE

Canadians are increasingly working past what was once considered standard retirement age, and the aging workforce is already having a significant impact on the PSE workforce. At Western University, the “salary mass” associated with the institution’s 95 professors over the age of 65 is approaching $20 M; the same number of entry-level faculty salaries would run about half that cost. The number of faculty members postponing retirement has also led to consternation among some part-time instructors, who see the aging professoriate as a barrier to their own ability to secure tenure-track jobs. Most faculty members do retire by 65, and some point out that the faculty members who do stick around into their 60s are often those who have been most productive throughout their career. “Our folks love our jobs … Every faculty member should be able to retire in dignity when they want to. They have a right to stay on if they’re making a contribution,” said Canadian Association of University Teachers Executive Director David Robinson. University Affairs

Scholars call for new approach to social sciences

An article in Times Higher Education calls for a “shake-up” in the social sciences. The article responds to physician and sociologist Nicholas A Christakis’ contention in the New York Times last year that “the social sciences have stagnated” to the point of being “boring [and] counterproductive.” The authors of the article say that, in the UK at least, social sciences departments are, to their detriment, reluctant to embrace new fields of thought; moreover, social scientists have been slow to tackle major topics such as climate change outside of specialist—and often less prestigious—journals. Major journals, the authors say, should follow the example of those in the natural sciences and include more innovative research. They also recommend that journals do more to limit the “puzzling length” of published articles, and to resist the dictates of “fashion” by employing non-academic social scientists as editors. Times Higher Education

University libraries called upon to act as "watchdog" for US government record-keeping

Attendees at the fall conference of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) were told that university libraries must advocate for government openness and electronic record-keeping, or risk becoming mired in a “digital landfill.” Speakers told the assembled members that it may be incumbent upon university libraries to ensure that government bodies are doing their part to keep useful electronic records of their activities. “If you don’t have somebody ensuring accountability, then you’re almost always going to have a problem … I would pressure [the ARL] to consider advocacy and creating consortia with other groups … to see if you can get a place at the table when the specs are made in the first place,” said William B McAllister, Director of Special Projects with the US Department of State’s Office of the Historian. McAllister said that even as an unprecedented amount of data is being generated by government agencies every day, the number of people responsible for maintaining archives has shrunk significantly. Inside Higher Ed 

TWU grad alleges discrimination in job rejection from "viking with a PhD"

A Trinity Western University graduate says she was the victim of discrimination after a Norwegian wilderness tourism company rejected her application because of her Christian faith. In an email to applicant Bethany Paquette, Amaruk’s hiring manager Olaf Amundsen—who identifies himself as “a Viking with a PhD in Norse history”—cited her degree from TWU as suggestive that she would not fit in with the company culture. Amundsen wrote, “the Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition and way of life.” Amundsen resorted to expletives when Paquette signed a subsequent email “God Bless,” describing the phrase as offensive. Amaruk has some unique rules governing its employees; for instance, it prohibits long hair and braids on male workers who are not First Nations or “individuals of Viking ancestry[,] who are free to keep their beard [sic] braided.” Amaruk has issued a statement claiming that Paquette was rejected “solely based on the fact that she did not meet the minimum requirements of the position,” adding that “further discussion after that … would have been a mere expression of opinion.” CBC | National Post