Top Ten

January 19, 2015

uOttawa Heart Institute breaks ground on $200 M expansion and renovation

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute on Thursday broke ground on a $200 M expansion and renovation. The project includes a 147,000 square-foot, four-floor addition to the existing facility, with space for 9 catheterization/electrophysiology labs, 5 operating rooms, and a 27-bed surgical critical care unit; it will also involve the renovation of 59,000 square feet of existing space. “Today marks a historic milestone … Our new facility will not only reinforce our cardiovascular care, research, and training facilities, but will also ensure that our patients continue to receive world-class care,” said Heart Institute President Thierry Mesana. The expansion project is expected to be completed in 5 years. Heart Institute News Release | Ottawa Citizen

Ontario invests $9 M in mental health initiatives for PSE students

Ontario has announced that it will provide $9 M of funding annually for 14 projects to improve mental health services for PSE students. As much as $6 M of that funding will go toward the Mental Health Innovation Fund. 12 of the projects will be housed at PSE institutions; these include a bridging project being implemented by the Aboriginal Resource Centre and Counselling Services at the University of Guelph, intended to engage and support Aboriginal learners experiencing mental health challenges; a Summer Aboriginal Student Transition Program, to be piloted by Trent University, Fleming College, Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, and Niijkiwendidaa Anishnaabekwewag Services Circle; an interactive online curriculum for students being carried out by Cambrian College, Queen’s University, and several other partners; an expansion of the existing Mental Health Hub offered by Sault College and Algoma University; and an intervention program to help high school students with mental health challenges transition from high school to PSE, being developed by the University of Toronto Scarborough. “The investments we are making today in mental health services for postsecondary students will go a long way toward making sure young people in Ontario can truly realize their full potential,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontario News Release (1) | Ontario News Release (2)

FedDev Ontario announces $8 M in funding for AC JumpStart incubator

The Federal Economic Development Agency (FedDev) for Southern Ontario has committed $8 M in funding to the Waterloo region’s Accelerator Centre to establish AC JumpStart, an incubation and mentorship program that will help foster technology startups. Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University will jointly deliver the program, which is expected to work with as many as 180 companies over the next 4 years. Qualifying companies will be eligible for $30,000 in seed capital and can receive mentorship in areas including finance, marketing, sales, human resources, technology, and product development, as well as access to market research and connections to investors. Conestoga President John Tibbits described AC Jumpstart as “an outstanding opportunity.” uWaterloo News Release

BC judge upholds UVic decision to cancel pro-life group's campus booking

A BC Supreme Court judge has sided with the University of Victoria, upholding its decision to prevent a pro-life student group from holding a “choice chain” demonstration on campus. The student group, Youth Protecting Youth, had in October joined with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), who agreed that UVic’s decision constituted a limitation free of the group's free speech. However, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled that the right to freedom of expression as expressed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not apply in a university setting. “It’s quite a narrow and technical point in a way, because it’s not about abortion. It’s about the balance between government and private entities in terms of regulation of free speech,” said UVic Student Society (UVSS) President Nitya Iyer. UVic spokesperson Denise Helm said that the debate was not about free speech but about jurisdiction. “The university has always been clear that freedom of speech is a fundamental value at UVic and a fundamental element of academic and student inquiry.” She emphasized that the group had been prevented from holding its event because it was not abiding by university rules, not because of its views. Victoria Times-Colonist | National Post

UOIT survey says that businesses benefit from working with universities

A survey commissioned by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology suggests that small- and medium enterprises (SMEs) stand to benefit from partnering with universities. The institution’s Social Research Centre conducted the survey to assess businesses’ reactions after partnering with UOIT. They found that most respondents reported being very satisfied with their partnerships, citing UOIT’s good reputation and a sense of mutual trust. Respondents also said they would recommend partnering with Canadian universities in general, noting that access to students was a key benefit. Such partnerships also offer businesses access to subject-area expertise as well as specialized equipment available at universities, while students and researchers stand to benefit from the opportunity to work on real-world problems and issues. These findings complement recent Academica Group research that suggested that local business support organizations can benefit from collaborating with PSE institutions. UOIT News

Queen's creates interim sexual assault protocol

The subcommittee of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group (SAPRWG) at Queen’s University has finalized an interim sexual assault protocol. The protocol will be used until a permanent policy is ironed out. The protocol includes information on existing processes and options for reporting complaints or disclosures, identifies current campus and community support systems and resources, and offers statements emphasizing the university’s commitment to the survivor and to a safe campus environment. The protocol also identifies safe places on campus, places to receive medical assistance, and information on reporting an assault. “The interim protocol is an important step to establishing a comprehensive sexual assault policy with associated procedures. The subcommittee will embark on campus and community consultations through the winter term and plans to present a draft policy and progress report with recommendations for the final policy and procedures by the end of April,” said Arig al Shaibah, Chair of SAPRWG and AD Student Affairs (Student Life and Learning). The Queen's initiative comes after Presidents at all of Ontario's public universities agreed to take steps to address sexual violence on campus. Queen's News Release

uWindsor offers unique Border Management and International Trade Certificate

The Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor will offer a new Border Management and International Trade Certificate program. The program, described as the first of its kind in the world, will be made available in partnership with the Forum for International Trade Training. Students will complete 8 courses to build expertise in areas such as international trade, border management, and cross-border logistics and security. It has been designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals and students working in complementary disciplines. “This is a program that bridges the traditional disciplines and will address emerging trends in international trade while taking into consideration the needs and focus of stakeholders from such areas as government, industry, and academia,” said Bill Anderson, Director of the Cross-Border Transportation Centre. uWindsor News Release

Dal VP calls for federal council on social and cultural priorities

In a piece for University Affairs, Dalhousie University VP Research Martha Crago makes the case for a federal body, modeled after the Science Technology and Innovation Council, that could help Canada articulate strategic priorities for social and cultural issues. Crago notes that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have developed a mechanism to fund Canadian institutions to quickly research and respond to health crises such as Ebola or SARS, and asks if something similar could be implemented to investigate issues such as the murder and disappearance of Aboriginal women, global security breaches, or financial crises. She emphasizes the need for a quick response from the nation’s scholars, and suggests that postdoctoral scholars, whom she says are freer to pursue a timely topic, may be particularly suited for such a role. University Affairs

Lowering law school admissions standards may put students at risk

In an effort to offset a decline in the number of students going to law school, some US institutions are opening their doors to individuals with lower grades and LSAT scores. Historically, an LSAT score of 145 has been considered a line below which candidates are not considered to be law school material; 150 is the average score. However, some US schools saw the median LSAT score among incoming students drop to 144 this year. “Certain schools never would have admitted a student with a 145 LSAT score several years ago. But this year they did and last year they did, and in some cases they are even offering students with that profile scholarships or tuition reductions,” said John K Pierre, Vice-Chancellor of Southern University Law Center. Schools that have lowered their admission standards say that they are creating opportunities for students; however, some are concerned that the practice is unethical and exposes students to a significant risk of failing the bar exam. Inside Higher Ed

Study finds women underrepresented in disciplines that privilege innate brilliance

The journal Science has published a study that offers a new take on the persistence of gender gaps in academia. Princeton University researchers asked faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students whether they felt hard work was sufficient to move forward in their field, or if innate talent or “brilliance” was necessary. According to survey results, those fields in which women were more likely to be underrepresented were those where the prevailing attitude was that brilliance was required. Brilliance was most often cited as a necessary characteristic in fields including philosophy, mathematics, and physics, all of which have student bodies that are predominantly male. However, fields in which the student body is mostly female, including education, psychology, and molecular biology, tended to put less of an emphasis on brilliance. The researchers, led by philosophy professor Sarah-Jane Leslie, suggested that some combination of bias among the discipline’s practitioners and self-selection into a given field may be at play. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | Full Study