Top Ten

March 23, 2015

McMaster business profs ask court to overturn 2013 suspensions

Some former and current professors from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business are applying to have a court overturn a university tribunal’s 2013 decision to suspend 5 faculty members and reprimand a sixth. The faculty members say that they were punished for publicly criticizing a number of administrative decisions, including the 2004 appointment of Paul Bates as Dean. The tribunal ruled that they had harassed other faculty members and interfered with tenure and promotion decisions in an effort to force Bates out, and found that their activity had no relationship to speech protected by academic freedom. In a statement, McMaster said that “the process that was followed was fair and balanced and we will staunchly defend it as the court considers the application,” while James Turk, former Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Professors (CAUT), which is paying for the professors' application, described the process as “an embarrassment in a democratic society.” The case has broader implications as well, and could serve to test whether university disciplinary decisions can stand up to legal scrutiny. In August, the Hamilton Spectator released thousands of pages of documents associated with the case. Globe and Mail

Manitoba announces $4 M expansion to MITT

Manitoba has approved $4 M in funding for a major expansion of the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology. “This expansion will double the institute’s capacity to train apprenticeship-track industrial welders and give young people more opportunities to learn and develop the skills they need to get the good jobs that are available right here in Manitoba," said MB Minister of Education and Advanced Learning Peter Bjornson. He also emphasized that MITT has a key role to play in the province’s plan to add 75,000 skilled labourers to the workforce by 2020. MITT President Paul Holden said, “this investment is a significant step towards supporting our new mandate. An expansion to our campus will give us greater capacity to work with our secondary, postsecondary, and industry partners to provide state-of-the-art skilled trades training to career-focused students." Last year, MB contributed$500,000 to add more than 4,000 square feet of classroom space to MITT. MB News

India provides $2 M in scholarships for PhD students wishing to study at UBC

India has committed close to $2 M to fund scholarships for students who want to study science and engineering at UBC. The program was developed with India’s Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and will provide $96,000 each to 20 PhD students from India to cover their living expenses while at UBC. The agreement, reportedly the first of its kind to be signed between SERB and a Canadian university, was conceived of by UBC President Arvind Gupta during a recent trade mission to India. “This scholarship will bring some of India’s bright, young talent to UBC,” said Gupta. “I hope this is the first of many collaborations with the Science and Engineering Research Board to create new opportunities for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and young scholars in both of our countries.” The program will run from 2016–17 to 2020–21. UBC News

uOttawa's Telfer School of Management receives $1.5 M gift

The University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management has received a $1.5 M gift from alumnus Camille Villeneuve. $350,000 of the donation will support the Camille Villeneuve Fund for Entrepreneurship, which will help grow existing programs that provide students with start-up support. $150,000 will be allocated toward the existing Camille Villeneuve Student Activity Fund, which supports student delegations representing uOttawa at case competitions, academic conferences, seminars, and workshops. Finally, a $1 M bequest will go toward the Dean’s Strategic Priorities Fund. “We are profoundly thankful to Mr Villeneuve for his generous gift. This investment will help to enhance one of our strategic priorities—the student experience—by providing Telfer students with the means to make a difference in our community and beyond,” said uOttawa President Allan Rock. uOttawa News Release | Ottawa Citizen

Centre for Experiential Learning launched at BVC

Bow Valley College launched the BMO Centre for Experiential Learning on March 19. The Centre will provide students at BVC’s Chiu School of Business with the opportunity to develop soft skills that can only be attained in an immersive learning environment. The Centre will also help promote engagement between students and prospective employers. The Centre was made possible by a $250,000 donation from BMO Financial Group. “The BMO Centre for Experiential Learning will focus on the critical decision-making skills and problem-solving abilities students need to become strong ambassadors for their workplaces. Together we are preparing students to communicate effectively and have successful interactions so they can be job-ready when they graduate,” said Susan Brown, Senior VP, Alberta & Northwest Territories at BMO Bank of Montreal. BVC News Release

WLU says its new professional programs will be a "game changer" for industry

Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business & Economics has announced 2 new part-time professional programs at its downtown Toronto MBA campus in a move that it says is a “game changer for the industry.” The first program is a part-time, alternate weekend Master of Finance (MFin) degree, while the second is a double-degree option that combines the MFin degree with an MBA. The programs are designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the schedules of busy professionals wishing to advance their careers. They offer an immersive, case-based curriculum organized around the Laurier Integrated Core. Students will be provided with breakfasts and hot lunches on Saturdays, and all textbooks, case materials, and Graduate Student Association Fees are included in the total tuition cost. The MFin program has been accepted into the CFA Institute Recognition Program, described by Businessweek as “the gold standard of the investment management field.” WLU News Release

Scholars offer plan to make Canada run completely on renewable energy

More than 70 scientists, engineers, and economists have released a 56-page policy document in which they argue that Canada can move entirely to renewable energy by 2035. The document notes that 77% of Canadian energy is already produced without burning fossil fuels, meaning that a complete shift to clean forms of energy is well within reach. The document proposes improvements to Canada’s east-west electrical grid that would allow hydroelectric power sources in Quebec, Labrador, British Columbia, and northern Manitoba to more efficiently provide energy to the rest of the country; it also recommends introducing a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system and calls for a stop to subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. In related news, the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN), a network of researchers in the area of sustainability and education policy based at the University of Saskatchewan, have launched a national survey to determine how sustainability is being addressed in formal education across Canada. Globe and Mail | Victoria Times-Colonist | SEPN Survey

Inside the development of eCampusAlberta’s quality rubric for online courses

The WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies (WCET) has published a blog post detailing the ongoing development of eCampusAlberta’s quality rubric for online courses. eCampusAlberta Executive Director Tricia Donovan says that in 2012, eCampusAlberta reviewed its original quality suite of materials, which consisted of the organization’s Essential Quality Standards, Quality eRubric, Curricula Assessment Scorecard, and Course Review and Report Process. They evaluated the existing suite against more than 40 online course quality standards, and reviewed the literature around existing quality standards, existing quality assurance principles, and online learning processes. While they determined that the eCampusAlberta suite was consistent with other established quality standards, they did identify a number of areas that would benefit from enhancement. A year after implementing the revised suite, eCampusAlberta conducted another evaluation process and then adapted their course review approach further to make it more open and constructive. They also plan to share the results of an evaluation survey this spring. The blog post provides links to eCampusAlberta’s Quality Suite of materials. WCET Blog

More labour action on the horizon as institutions struggle with inadequate funding

Toronto Star reporter Robin Levinson King argues that stagnant PSE funding and austerity budgets mean that the kind of labour strife taking place at the University of Toronto and York University is bound to continue. The article describes a “pressure-cooker atmosphere” in which institutions are forced to continually attract more students and grow programs while cutting labour costs. While ON has increased operating grants to its universities by 86% since 2002, per-student funding is now at the lowest level in the country. When adjusted for inflation, it has not increased since 2007. These conditions force administrators to find alternate sources of money, including increased tuition fees, reduced graduate student funding, or cuts to labour costs. Students end up getting caught in the middle: institutions offer graduate students tuition rebates, grants, and on-campus work, but funding packages are not keeping up with financial pressures. Unfortunately, without adequate, predictable funding from the government, there is little relief in sight. “This challenging fiscal context shows no sign of abating—and indeed, may be further exacerbated by the demographic projections which suggest overall university enrolments may flatten or decline for a period of time over the next several years,” said Gary Brewer, York’s VP Finance and Administration. Toronto Star

South Carolina institution uses "profit-sharing" plan to address salary compression

Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina has introduced a new way to address the issue of salary compression: it has adopted a kind of profit-sharing plan in which staff and faculty are rewarded when the institution successfully improves its student retention numbers. In 2 years, the institution has paid out close to $2.5 M to qualifying employees, thanks to increases to its retention rate. This year, it has put aside $400,000 each for faculty and staff, as well as $150,000 for merit bonuses. The money will become available if the annual retention rate increases from 67 to 68%. If it improves to 69%, the amount of money increases as well, to $500,000 for decompression and $200,000 for merit pay. The program was designed by the institution’s faculty members, who realized that to address salary compression, they would need to find funding that wasn’t already earmarked for some other purpose. University President David DeCenzo said, “if the university does well, it’s the administration’s and the board’s belief that we need to share with those who play a role in making the institution successful.” Inside Higher Ed