Top Ten

October 20, 2014

uSask appeals decision on presidential tenure veto, seeking clarity on governance

The University of Saskatchewan has filed an appeal of an arbitrator’s recent decisionagainst granting the institution’s President the power to veto tenure decisions. According to a press release, uSask is seeking clarification of the decision, which it says suggests that the uSask board of governors' power is derived from the faculty collective agreement rather than the University of Saskatchewan Act. Interim Provost Ernie Barber said, “with the exception of this issue raised in this case, the Act and the collective agreement work together in a system of collegial governance. We want to be certain that the authority of the Act is not eroded. We think there is value in the balance that we have had and we need clarity on this issue to ensure balance into the future.” uSask says that “permanent appointment” as referred to in the Actincludes tenure and that the Act takes precedence over the faculty collective agreement. Barber emphasized that uSask’s position has always been about seeking clarity on governance. uSask Faculty Association President Doug Chivers said, “it seems to me to be a terrible waste of university resources to chase down legal minutiae that could result in further internal unrest, as well as additional scrutiny of the university by the international community over academic freedom.” uSask News Release | StarPhoenix

Postscript: February 7, 2015

The University of Saskatchewan has withdrawn its appeal of Arbitrator Andrew Sims' ruling that the university president should not have the power to veto tenure decisions. uSask had launched the appeal in order to clarify certain principles of governance under the University of Saskatchewan Act. Interim uSask President Gordon Barnhart said that withdrawing the appeal at this point will offer the university the opportunity to allow the new tenure processes agreed upon in the collective agreement to work, as well as leaving open the possibility for a future, principle-based debate. "The university still stands by the collective agreement with the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association and I believe the new processes will improve our ability to deal with future cases," Barnhart said. uSask News Release

Sheridan plans $67.3 M expansion of Mississauga campus

Sheridan College has revealed plans for a $67.3 M expansion that will add 31 new classrooms, 29 new studios, labs, production space, and faculty and administrative offices to its Mississauga campus. Plans for the new 220,000-square-foot facility also include a “creative campus complex” with a central meeting space, research and leadership centres, and a gallery of student work. The expanded campus will open up space for up to 3,200 additional full-time students. “Our investment in Sheridan’s Hazel McCallion Campus expansion project will help students access innovative, state-of-the-art programs that will help them pursue their passions and learn the skills they need to compete in the competitive global economy,” said Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi. The Record

Research Infosource ranks top 50 Canadian research universities

Research Infosource has released its annual ranking of Canada’s top 50 research universities. The top 5 institutions in the rankings remain unchanged compared to last year’s list. The University of Toronto took top spot in the rankings, followed by UBC, the Université de Montréal, McGill University, and the University of Alberta. The organization designated 3 institutions as Research Universities of the Year: uToronto for medical/doctoral universities; the University of Waterloo for comprehensive universities; and Ryerson University for primarily undergraduate universities. The rankings also highlight international research collaboration, as determined by the number of publications published from 2008–12 that were co-authored with researchers from outside of Canada. In this category, the rankings recognize McGill University, the University of Regina, and Saint Mary’s University. The report notes that total research income at Canada’s 50 leading universities is continuing to experience slow growth, increasing by just 1.1% in the 2013 fiscal year; however, many individual universities did report strong year-over-year research income growth. Research Infosource News Release | Montreal Gazette | Full Rankings

McGill releases sustainability strategy

McGill University has released its new sustainability strategy, entitled "Vision 2020." The strategy, produced after 2 years of consultation with more than 1,500 students, faculty, and staff, identifies 14 specific goals that are intended to help the institution cultivate its commitment to sustainability. Among the strategy’s priority actions are creating a working definition of “sustainability research” and mapping the presence of such research at McGill, developing a networking platform to facilitate collaborative sustainability research, creating and implementing a sustainable labs program, identifying and facilitating applied student research opportunities, renovating underused indoor and outdoor spaces into community gathering spaces, collaborating with Montreal to turn McTavish Street into a pedestrian-friendly corridor, and adopting green building standards that incorporate the LEED credit system. McGill also plans to develop an energy action plan, develop a framework for monitoring and reporting on sustainability performance, convene a public consultation into the terms of its Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility, establish an advisory council on sustainability, and appoint a Senior Advisor on Sustainability. McGill News | "Vision 2020" Document

Conestoga Applied Health Information Sciences degree receives CHIMA accreditation

Conestoga College’s Bachelor of Applied Health Information Sciences degree program has reportedly become the only 4-year undergraduate degree program in Canada to be accredited by the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA). The accreditation is valid for 6 years and has been awarded following an extensive review process. CHIMA accreditation means that graduates of the program will be able to challenge the examination required to become certified health information management professionals. “We are delighted to receive this validation from CHIMA, which recognizes the quality of this unique degree program as well as the skills and knowledge of our graduates,” said Marlene Raasok, Executive Dean of the School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services at Conestoga. Conestoga News Release

Report says MUN's Harris Centre could play role in NL public policy and governance

A new report says that Memorial University is in a strong position to promote a new approach to public policy and governance in Newfoundland and Labrador. The report specifically cites the role of MUN's Harris Centre in facilitating discussion and debateon topics including policy development, local and regional governance models, and best practices. The authors of the report, MUN political science professor Russell Williams and political science MA student Lucy MacDonald, suggest that the Harris Centre could foster a more collaborative style of governance. “The Harris Centre is a key mechanism for rethinking public policy and governance structure. Through its ongoing workshops, research and public sessions, the Centre can facilitate policy learning, be a conduit for new ideas and bring local, national and international players together all with a goal of improved public policy and governance for the province,” said Williams. MUN News Release | Full Report

Socio-economic conditions affect education and skills in Canada's territories

Canada’s territories are falling behind the provinces in the areas of education and skills performance, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report on education and skills performance in the territories. The report identifies significant attainment differences between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in the territories, and notes that “socio-economic conditions and cultural factors” have a strong influence on education levels. The report also indicates that available data on adult skills in the territories is limited, and that many traditional skills still practiced by Aboriginal peoples in the North are not accurately measured by international assessments or by Statistics Canada surveys. Further, the report indicates that critical infrastructure issues further impede the delivery of education services. Yukon is leading the territories in high school, university, college, and apprenticeship attainment, and has the highest concentration of college graduates aged 25 to 64 in Canada, with 23.5% of the territory's working-age population having a college diploma. Conference Board News Release | Full Report

Organization aims to improve quality of scientific publications in Canada

Canada is now home to a branch of the EQUATOR Network, an international editorial body that provides guidelines for how scientists publish their discoveries and that works to improve the trustworthiness of biomedical journals. EQUATOR works to correct poor reporting on scientific research, including the failure to publish significant results, the publication of misleading results, and improper reporting of results. Another problem the organization seeks to correct is the release of conflicting versions of research results, especially where some results are published in a more visible forum. EQUATOR says that its reporting guidelines will help mitigate some of these problems. “We are saying that everyone needs to pull together to improve the quality of the evidence that is out there,” said Doug Altman, Director of the Centre for Statistics in Medicine at the University of Oxford. Ottawa Citizen

Texas State Technical College system bases budget requests on student employment

The Texas State Technical College system has adopted a “returned value” formula to determine most of the instructional money it requests from the state. The system tracks wages of all of its students who have taken at least 9 credits, and calculates how much they make above the minimum wage. This figure is used to inform—though not dictate—TSTC’s budget submission to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. TSTC Chancellor Michael L Reeser says that the new formula is also influencing how the college plans new degree and certificate programs, and that he intends the system to extend  to apply to faculty pay as early as the spring. However, he adds that the system’s approach is not likely to work at all institutions. “The niche that we fill in higher education is narrow. This wouldn’t be appropriate for others,” he said, noting that TSTC’s mission is to train skilled workers for high-demand jobs. The TSTC example may provide a useful case study as the US implements gainful employment regulations and many institutions invest in measuring students’ labour-market outcomes. The Chronicle of Higher Education(Subscription Required)

"Sex week" events cause controversy on US campuses

“Sex week” events, which offer students a safe setting for sex education and conversations about sexuality and relationships, are popular at some US colleges and universities but backlash from some parents, alumni, and politicians are making some institutions reconsider offering such programming. In Tennessee, state politicians passed a bill condemning the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s sex week and demanded that administrators pull the event’s funding. Administrators refused to completely ban the event, saying that doing so would violate students’ freedom of speech. At East Tennessee State University, sex week organizers were denied funding by the student senate, who were concerned about financial repercussions at the state level; the University of New Mexico, meanwhile, issued an apology for its campus sex week, saying that some of the titles for its sex week events were inappropriate. Proponents say that the events help students learn how to healthfully navigate sexual relationships, with seminars on gender identity, safe sex, and emotional and mental health. Inside Higher Ed