Top Ten

April 21, 2015

uManitoba investigating professor involved in controversial stem-cell trial

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the University of Manitoba has launched an investigation into associate professor Susan Hauch’s involvement in a controversial stem-cell clinical trial. Hauch is a longtime business partner of Doug Broeska, owner of Winnipeg-based Regenetek; earlier this year, the Free Pressreported that Broeska had falsified his credentials. This is the fifth investigation underway related to Regenetek, which is accused of charging patients with MS and ALS to participate in clinical trials, a violation of Canadian ethical rules. Hauch has said that she was “duped” and “scammed” by Broeska. uManitoba has refrained from specific comment, as the results of the investigation are pending. Winnipeg Free Press 

Postscript: uManitoba doctor investigated for controversial stem cell research resigns (Sep 16, 2015)

Susan Hauch has resigned from the University of Manitoba following an investigation into a controversial stem cell research organization, according to CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press. John Danakas, executive director of uManitoba’s marketing and communications office, reported that the university will not take any action against Hauch, as she is no longer affiliated with the institution. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press

Algonquin students displaced by fire at off-campus housing complex

A number of Algonquin College students have been left homeless after a massive fire forced the evacuation of a nearby housing complex on Saturday. No injuries were reported, and investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. Algonquin is offering accommodations to affected students. "We're still assessing the number of students impacted but we are both reaching out to those we think might be affected and encouraging anyone who is affected to come forward," said Algonquin Communications Officer Phil Gaudreau. He said that the college is also considering the fact that students are just entering into their exam period.CBC    

Mail-merge error forces TRU to retract acceptance emails

Thompson Rivers University was forced to contact 401 would-be nursing students to retract notifications of acceptance that were sent as a result of a technical error. 504 individuals were told that they had been accepted into the program, which has only 103 open spaces. "We are extremely sorry that this error occurred. Retraction emails were sent to all affected applicants," said Lindsay Harris, interim Registrar. TRU has launched a review of its processes and will make any changes necessary to minimize the risk of similar errors in the future. TRU attributed the mistake to an error with a mail-merge process. Vancouver Sun(CP) | TRU Apology

Nipawin Bible College converts to solar power

Saskatchewan's Nipawin Bible College has reportedly become the first college in Canada to use solar power for all its energy needs. Nipawin recently installed 399 new solar panels, creating an array that spans over 7,000 square feet. It is expected to generate 150,000 kWh of electricity each year. College President Wes Fehr said that the array cost $170,000 to build, but will pay for itself in 10 years. The solar array was built with help from alumnus and board of governors member Ryan Jansen, founder of the green energy company Good Steward Solutions. CBC

UNBC arbitration could set important precedent for other BC institutions

Whatever the outcome of the binding arbitration process between the University of Northern British Columbia and its faculty, it will make history. "Writing a first collective agreement under a certificate from the labour board hasn't happened in this province," said Mark Thompson, a professor at UBC's Sauder School of Business who works on industry relations. Thompson said that the UNBC situation could have implications for Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria, where faculty have also recently unionized. So far, the 2 sides at UNBC are still working to choose an arbitrator. One key issue is compensation; if the arbitrator's decision favours faculty, the institution may have to "resort to creative measures" in order to comply, Thompson said. Prince George Citizen 

Growing number of institutions partner with private developers on residences

Partnerships between public PSE institutions and private firms to build student residences are becoming increasingly common in Canada, reports Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. By partnering with a private firm, institutions hope to reduce their exposure to some of the risks involved in financing and constructing new facilities, in exchange for a smaller percentage of overall rental income. In some cases, however, such projects have led to disputes with local residents over issues including building design, amenities, and mix of residents. Still, a close partnership can help reduce the risk for both developers and institutions. Globe and Mail

Elections Canada should let students vote where they study

In an op-ed for the Montreal Gazette, Vanier College professor Mark Cohen argues that Elections Canada should allow students to cast their ballots from campus. He points to an Elections Canada survey in which most students cited "access barriers" as their main reason for not voting, and says that Quebec's Bill 13—which allows students to vote on-campus for a candidate in their home riding, even if their school is outside of that riding—provides a possible model. Cohen says that a similar move on the federal level would demonstrate to students that they have an important role to play in the electoral system and that their input is valued. Montreal Gazette

Academic decisions should be based on academic grounds, not policy enforcement

In an opinion piece for University Affairs, Mark Mercer considers on what grounds academic decisions should be made. Mercer says that one possibility is on academic grounds; a second, he says, is on the basis of diversity, equity, or inclusiveness. The latter approach, he says, is often enforced by administrative policy. However, he says that such policies "give deans a measure of oversight and control regarding what should, from an academic perspective, be department business." Mercer said there are good reasons to promote diversity within departments, but contends that faculty should be informed about these reasons and left to make decisions that above all serve the ends of teaching, research, and intellectual community, without administrative regulation. University Affairs

Top LSAT scorers less likely to attend law school

According to data from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), roughly half as many students with scores of 165 or higher on the LSAT applied to American law schools in 2015 as did in 2010, possibly reflecting a “persistent slump” in interest in legal education. Earlier this year, some expressed concerns about the effects lower admission standards might have on students’ chances of success. “Four years from now, when those people graduate and take the bar,” says Jerome Organ, who analyzed the data, “you'll have a much smaller percentage who are likely to pass the bar and a much larger percentage that are likely to fail.” Inside Higher Ed | Bloomberg News

Social media helps students adapt to PSE

A new study from a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that social media can serve as a valuable support network for students transitioning to college. Collin M Ruud identified a strong link between social media use and students' sense of belonging to the broader campus community. Students in Ruud's sample who stayed in touch with high-school friends on Facebook felt more connected to their postsecondary communities. Ruud suggests that social media helps students bond with friends making similar transitions at other campuses. The students feel better supported, and as a result are better equipped to adapt to life at college or university. The Chronicle of Higher Education