Top Ten

February 3, 2015

Omar Khadr offered a place at The King's University

Court documents indicate that Omar Khadr, a Canadian man who is awaiting the results of his appeal of 5 terrorism convictions in the US, will be offered a spot at The King's University in Edmonton in order to help him integrate back into the community. Khadr is currently seeking release on bail while the courts settle the convictions, which were specified in a plea bargain made with a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Khadr would study as a mature student, and plans are being made to allow him to study off-campus. University President Melanie Humphreys said that it may take some time before Khadr would be able to resume his studies, but explained that "this offer, should Omar choose to accept, is the logical step after 6.5 years of voluntary teaching service to get his high school degree." Humphreys acknowledged that some may oppose the offer, but said that "this is the best way to keep our community safe—to be in a relationship ... It's not a decision we took lightly and it's based on relations with people who know him well."  Edmonton Journal

UNB President meets with students, staff amidst law faculty upheaval

University of New Brunswick President Eddy Campbell held a series of closed-door meetings last week with concerned law students, faculty, and staff after Dean of Law Jeremy Levitt was placed on administrative leave and Associate Dean Janet Austin resigned her position. The CBC says that it has obtained documents that suggest "a troubled relationship" between Levitt and senior faculty members. According to the CBC, some faculty at a recent department meeting questioned the processes employed recently to hire full-time faculty members; the CBC documents also suggest that some faculty were dissatisfied with recruitment practices for the dean's chair and were concerned about the high turnover rate for the position. Moreover, retired Supreme Court Justice Gerard LaForest resigned as the law school's scholar-in-residence last month for undisclosed reasons. UNB has not offered any further information on the situation; a spokesperson said that "these are internal matters and we will not be commenting on them at this time." CBC (1) | CBC (2)

Ontario college presidents unanimously endorse policy framework on sexual violence

The presidents of Ontario's 24 public colleges last week unanimously endorsed a framework for a uniform Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Protocol. Each institution will now begin to consult with local groups before announcing finalized policies by March 31. "There's an absolute and fundamental belief in the college system that this is our responsibility," said Linda Franklin, President of Colleges Ontario. Franklin said that most colleges had sexual assault policies in place, but admitted that they were often difficult to find and navigate. The new framework is intended to help victims find support immediately. It offers definitions, identifies points of contact, lists available support options, and specifies academic accommodations as well as the responsibilities of staff. The colleges are also asking the province to support plans for a 24-hour hotline for victims of sexual assault and to consider regulatory changes that would under certain circumstances allow law enforcement officials to share more information with PSE institutions. Colleges Ontario News Release | Toronto Star | Policy Template

Dal, McGill join $18 M project to improve agriculture education in Ethiopia

Dalhousie University's Faculty of Agriculture will lead a 6-year, $18 M project funded by the federal government to help Ethiopia enhance its colleges' agricultural education programs. Dal will work with McGill University, the Mennonite Economic Development Associates of Canada, and Jimma University College of Agriculture in Ethiopia on the Agricultural Transformation through Stronger Vocational Education (ATTSVE) project. The project aims to help move Ethiopia toward a market-focused agricultural system that is better poised to support the country economically while meeting the needs of farmers, youth, and the agriculture industry. "This international development project in Ethiopia, one of the largest in Dalhousie University's history and the largest for our Faculty of Agriculture, will allow us to make world-class contributions to a global issue by sharing agricultural expertise to support economic growth and alleviate poverty," said Dal President Richard Florizone. Dal News

HEC to offer first-in-Canada aerospace MBA

HEC Montréal will begin offering a new MBA program in September that is reportedly Canada's first to focus on the aerospace industry. The English-language AeroWorld MBA will be delivered in collaboration with experts from the EBC AeroWorld institute. Jacques Roy, Academic Director of the program, explained that the program will be especially valuable to the many managers in the aerospace industry who come from a scientific or technical background but want to develop their skills as they move into team or project management roles. "An MBA will give them the skills they need to be more comfortable in these roles and speed them along their career paths," he said. Business Standard | HEC News Release

Queen's offers "major maps" to help students navigate programs

Queen's University has announced that it has developed "major maps" for all 44 of its undergraduate programs, reportedly making it the first Canadian university to embark on such a project. The maps provide students with information on academics, extracurricular activities, networking, international opportunities, and career development. They are designed to assist students before, during, and after their degree by helping them choose a program of study and understand their career options and potential learning opportunities, as well as guiding them to think about how to translate their skills into the labour force. "The maps are not prescriptive; rather, they offer suggestions and ideas, recognizing that the student body is not a homogeneous group. Furthermore, students will experience any number of things that will impact their lives. The maps will hopefully assist them as they make adjustments along the way," said Miguel Hahn, the project lead and a career counsellor at Queen's. Queen's News Release

Parents campaign to save George Brown daycare

George Brown College has announced that it will accept private donations from those hoping to help save its non-profit daycare at Scotia Plaza. Last month, George Brown had said that it would be unable to issue tax receipts to donors who contributed to a  parent-organized fundraiser that was launched to keep the centre open. Now, the college has added a link to its webpage to facilitate the donation process. The daycare's 25-year, rent-free lease expired last June, and organizers of the fundraising campaign estimate that they will need $2.5 M to secure a new 10-year lease. George Brown VP Mark Nesbitt emphasized that while the college wants to consider all options to keep the Centre running, it cannot "accept Scotia Plaza parent donations under the promise of reaching a deal with [the landlord] that we have no control over." If the Centre does close, the donations will go toward supporting the college's other daycares. Toronto Star

OCUFA pre-budget brief calls for full-time hires, support for contract faculty

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has published its pre-budget brief to the province's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. In its submission, entitled Strong Universities for a Strong Ontario, OCUFA calls on the government to increase per-student public investment; to hire 8,640 new full-time faculty members, in order to bring the province's student-faculty ratio in line with the Canadian average; to improve working conditions for contract faculty; to work with the university sector on regulatory frameworks governing the transition of single-employer pension plans to jointly sponsored pension plans; and to ensure that the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan offers a secure retirement income for contract faculty. OCUFA emphasizes to the province that higher education provides a strong return on investment and says that the only way to ensure quality and accessibility in PSE is through strong public funding. OCUFA News Release | Full Submission

StatsCan data show women more educated, but work force remains gendered

Results from Statistics Canada's 2011 National Household Survey show that women have surpassed men in overall educational attainment. The data show that 65% of working-age women have some PSE, compared to 63% of men. Moreover, the higher the level of education, the greater the gap between women and men. For instance 62% of respondents aged 24–34 with a medical degree were women. However, significant gender lines remain when it comes to the kinds of jobs held by women and men. Women continue to dominate in areas such as child care and nursing, and make up the majority of administrative assistants and cashiers. Men, meanwhile, make up more than 90% of those people working in truck driving, carpentry, welding, and as electricians. The data also show that close to two-thirds of Canadians who responded to the survey had postsecondary qualifications, up from just over 60% in 2006. Victoria Times-Colonist (CP) 

Plunging price of oil has some students and grads reconsidering their options

An article in the Globe and Mail considers the impact that the drop in oil prices is having on efforts to attract students and graduates to the industry. Counsellors and industry officials are reporting that many students who had flocked to what they had believed was sure to be a lucrative field of study are having second thoughts. Engineering programs that focus on oil have grown in popularity over the last several years, but now some in the industry are concerned that they will lose top graduates to other sectors. Companies that just months ago were facing a shortage of highly qualified candidates are now laying off workers. Some current students are concerned enough that they are considering shifting to mechanical engineering or other specializations. Recruiters for oil companies like Exxon are continuing to market to young people, but find themselves answering more questions about the stability of the industry than they had to just a few months ago. Globe and Mail