Top Ten

December 15, 2014

BC revokes approval of TWU law school

British Columbia has revoked its approval of the proposed law school at Trinity Western University. BC Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk had previously informed TWU President Bob Kuhn that he was considering revoking his consent. “The current uncertainty over the status of the regulatory body approval means prospective graduates may not be able to be called to the bar, or practise law, in British Columbia. This is a significant change to the context in which I made my original decision,” Virk said in an emailed statement. Kuhn said that he was disappointed with Virk’s decision. “It is difficult to conceive of a justifiable basis for the Minister to have revoked his approval of the school of law program. As a private Christian University, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs. We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values,” said Kuhn in a statement. Kuhn added that “we remain committed to having a School of Law … There are such important rights and freedoms at stake that we may have no choice but to seek protection of them in court.” The revocation of consent means that TWU will be unable to enrol any students in the proposed program. Globe and Mail | CBC News | TWU News Release

HEC Montréal receives $1 M donation to create professorship and scholarships

Lallemand Inc has donated $1 M to HEC Montréal to create the Lallemand – Marcel and Roland Chagnon Fund. The donation will help establish a professorship in international business and international exchange and entrepreneurship scholarships to further strengthen HEC Montréal’s global business research and initiatives. Research conducted in the Department of International Business enables Quebec businesses to create and maintain global business networks. “By encouraging access to higher studies through scholarships, Lallemand is paving the way for international success for future managers fascinated by the interdependence of nations, the strategic issues related to internationalization and innovation, and global social development,” said HEC Montréal Director Michel Patry. The donation was made as part of the Campus Montréal fundraising campaign. HEC Montréal News

uAlberta offers open-access journal hosting to any Canadian scholarly journal

The University of Alberta Libraries has announced that it will offer open access e-journal hosting services to any Canadian scholarly journal. uAlberta has for the past 8 years offered hosting services through its Open Journal Systems software, but has restricted access to publications with an editorial relationship or historical link to the university. However, it has now opted to open up the service to journals from across Canada in the interest of making research more accessible. “As the national landscape for scholarly communication shifts away from subscriber-driven business models, we believe it is the right time to expand our capacity and extend the offer of our existing infrastructure to all academic journals based in Canada,” said uAlberta’s Chief Librarian Gerald Beasley. uAlberta News Release

Proposed private student residence in Guelph concerns residents

Some Guelph residents recently attended an open house to express concerns about a proposed student residence near the University of Guelph. The private 6-storey residence is in the very early stages of planning, but area residents are worried about neighbourhood destabilization and increased noise and parking congestion. Guelph lacks an official city plan that addresses purpose-built student housing, and therefore may have to deal with the building as it would any new residential property of that size. UoGuelph’s Manager of off-campus living Kathryn Hofer said that the university believes there is currently enough off-campus housing to meet the needs of students, and they don’t expect any large enrolment increases in the near future. There are 2 purpose-built private student residences set to open in September 2015 in the Guelph area. Guelph Mercury

uToronto team uses Watson technology to create AI-based legal research assistant

Researchers at the University of Toronto are developing a new computer-based legal research assistant. Ross, as it is called, was developed by a team of students who were allowed to work with IBM’s Watson supercomputer, perhaps most famous for its victory against 2 champions on television quiz show Jeopardy! uToronto is one of 10 universities—and reportedly the only one outside the US—that were given remote, cloud-based access to the Watson technology. The team fed the system a massive amount of Ontario corporate law decisions and statues, and can now ask questions and receive a response, complete with citations of pertinent legal cases, relevant readings, and a percentage indicating the computer’s confidence in its answer. Ross can also notify legal researchers when a new relevant case is entered into its database. “When we are short of time, we just say it is Siri for lawyers,” said Ross computer engineer Jimoh Ovbiagele. The IBM program that helped the Ross team launch its tool is set to expand to 100 universities in 2015. Globe and Mail

McMaster PhD grad develops for research equipment

A McMaster University PhD graduate has developed what is being described as the“ of research equipment.” Brandon Aubie and researchers at the Biointerfaces Institute came up with their software when they realized that they had equipment that researchers were not taking advantage of. “While trying to promote our equipment and services to both McMaster and external users, we realized that it would be incredibly valuable to have a centralized database of resources available on campus, where people could easily search and find what they needed,” Aubie said. He created QReserve, a website that allows facilities to list their equipment and expertise. Scientists can view profiles and find sites that match their needs. So far 11 institutions have signed up to participate in the database, which operates out of The Forge, an accelerator run by McMaster and the Innovation Factory. McMaster News

McGill Deputy Provost calls for integration of arts across all disciplines

Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning at McGill University, argues in an essay for University Affairs for deep integration of the arts across all faculties. Dyens says that it is imperative to develop skills that “are unique to humans and can complement, not just duplicate, what machines already do very well and will soon do almost perfectly.” He says that art should be understood as “a life-enhancing mechanism” that can help solve critical challenges. Dyens discusses how aesthetic ideas of form and beauty bear a relationship to medical matters, and suggests that the art can help stimulate bodily reactions that can promote tolerance, innovation, and longevity. He further notes that art serves as a device that can help unite unusual elements and foster interaction across complicated populations; it can also help manage and share massive amounts of data. “Art does that which machines cannot do, or don’t do very well: selecting and understanding what is useful through the clutter … binding unusual elements together, and creating flexible, malleable, and adaptable survival and innovation tactics.” Dyens calls for an overhaul of the education system that would see the integration and penetration of art across all disciplines including STEM fields, medicine, and business. University Affairs

Study finds that almost all US teens are sleep deprived

A new study has found that more than 90% of US high school students are chronically sleep deprived. The study is based on data from US government surveys conducted in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Just 7% of girls and 8–9% of boys reported getting the recommended 9–10 hours of sleep each night. Girls were also found to be more prone to getting fewer than 5 hours of sleep per night. Race was also a factor: black teenagers were found to be more likely to get 5 or fewer hours. The study also showed that sleep patterns worsened as teens grew older, with 95% of US high school seniors not getting enough sleep. “I don’t believe there’s one culprit,” said the study’s lead author Charles Basch. “For some children it’s too much homework, for some it’s health problems like asthma. For others it may be anxiety or depression, or the prescription medications they are taking for such conditions. Recreational drugs can be a factor, as can having electronics in the bedroom.” However, Basch did single out early school start times as a significant contributor. Winnipeg Free Press

US National Academy of Sciences calls for changes to postdoc employment practices

A new report issued by the US National Academy of Sciences examines the rise in the number of postdoctoral researchers in the US. The report is critical of structural factors that have led to the growth in postdoc positions, which, it points out, are often underpaid, under-mentored positions. The report’s lead author Gregory A Petsko says that postdocs have changed dramatically in the last decade, with funding bodies facing budget crunches and scholars facing a challenging tenure-track job market. Petsko noted that there is a significant lack of data around postdocs, with some institutions not even being able to estimate how many postdocs they have employed. Petsko and his team did their own research and found that the number of postdoctoral researchers grew by 150% between 2000 and 2012, eclipsing both the growth in graduate students and in tenured and tenure-track faculty positions. The report issues several recommendations, including calls for better tracking of postdocs, term limits of 5 years, and the creation of university staff scientist positions. Inside Higher Ed

Study finds that women college students in US less likely to be victims of sexual assault

A new study from the US government shows that women on campus are less likely than nonstudents to be victims of sexual assault. The report also found that college women are less likely to report incidents to police. The report, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found an average of 7.6 cases of rape and other sexual assaults for every 1,000 college-aged non-students, and 6.1 incidents per 1,000 college women. In 2013, the rates for college and non-college students were nearly identical. Overall, the incidence of rape and other sexual assault declined for college students, but the report’s authors said the change was not statistically significant. Some researchers say that the results show that the risk of sexual assault on campus has been exaggerated. “When a student has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, there are historically problems with the way they’ve been treated, but that doesn’t mean colleges are these pits of violence,” said Callie Marie Rennison, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Colorado at Denver. Canadian PSE institutions have recently been re-examining their approaches to sexual assault on campus. Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Report