Top Ten

April 29, 2015

NS protesters march in opposition to Bill 100

Protesters marched at Cape Breton University and at Province House in Halifax on Monday to express their opposition to Nova Scotia's controversial Bill 100. The demonstrators said that the bill could take away university employees' right to strike, should an institution claim financial difficulty. "This bill is unconstitutional," said Marc Lamoureux, President of the Saint Mary's University Faculty Union and of the Association of NS University Teachers. Lamoureux said that the bill could also stifle the ability of faculty to criticize university actions. NS Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan said that the bill's provisions around collective bargaining are meant to be used only as a last resort. Chronicle-Herald | Metro News

Dal apologizes following welcome email mix-up

Dalhousie University has apologized after inadvertently sending a congratulatory email to 900 students who had not been accepted to the institution. The email was intended to congratulate students who had already been accepted and to invite them to a welcome session; however, the message was also sent to students on a waitlist and to some whose applications are still under review. Acting Registrar Mairead Barry said that the message was sent as a result of human error. Dal sent a follow-up email apologizing for any confusion and clarifying that the welcome email did not constitute an offer of admission. CBC

Fanshawe names School of Building Technology for Donald J Smith

Fanshawe College's School of Building Technology will be renamed the Donald J Smith School of Building Technology. The naming was announced Monday along with a donation of $1 M from the Smith family in support of Fanshawe's building and construction program. Don Smith, who passed away in 2013, was a founding partner of construction firm EllisDon and had long been a supporter of the college. In 1992 he became the first recipient of an honorary diploma from Fanshawe, and in 2008 he served with Joan Smith as an honorary co-Chair for the college's $15 M capital campaign. Fanshawe News Release | London Free Press

Beckett School of Music given to WLU

Rather than sell the Beckett School of Music to the highest bidder, owners William J Labron and Lynn McRuer have given it to Wilfrid Laurier University. WLU will begin operating the school as part of its new Laurier Conservatory of Music in fall 2015. The school currently serves over 1,000 families across the region and over time it will be more tightly integrated with WLU’s music faculty. “This is a transformative step forward for our Faculty of Music,” said Glen Carruthers, Dean of WLU’s Faculty of Music. “The Beckett School has a tremendous reputation across the country for top-quality musical instruction and we will build on this tradition of excellence.” WLU News Release | Waterloo Region Record

Should institutions police professors' use of social media?

An article in University Affairs examines the need for guidelines to govern Canadian faculty members' use of social media. Jared Lenover, Conference Director for PSEWEB, a PSE-focused digital marketing conference, said that "we want faculty to be on social media, to be participating and sharing." Lenover contends that guidelines can be more effective than strict policies in this regard. Experts say that the situation in Canada is very different than it is in the US, where the American Association of University Professors recently released a report criticizing the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its handling of the Steven Salaita case. Salaita's offer of appointment was withdrawn, reportedly due to remarks he made on Twitter. University Affairs | Inside Higher Ed

UBC researchers work with BC school to understand student stress

Vancouver Technical Secondary (Van Tech) has teamed up with researchers at UBC in order to better understand the well-being of its students. With about 1,600 students, Van Tech is the third-largest secondary school in Vancouver. The research, led by Elizabeth Saewyc at UBC’s School of Nursing, shows that nearly 70% of students do not feel rested and 25% report not having enough food to eat; one-third of students reported that they regularly engage in non-suicidal self-injury. In response, the school has created the Vancouver Technical Wellness Initiative, which could become a template for other schools dealing with similar challenges. Globe and Mail

British economist describes "Generation Katniss"

The perspectives of young women born between 1995 and 2002 are framed by their experiences of recession, global conflict, and government mistrust, says British economist Noreena Hertz. Hertz surveyed more than 1,000 teenaged girls from the United States and England, concluding that "this generation is profoundly anxious." She has dubbed it "Generation Katniss," after the protagonist of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series. 75% of respondents to Hertz's survey said they were worried about terrorism; 66% were concerned about climate change; 70% feared accumulating debt; and 85% were anxious about finding a job. Only 4% said they trusted corporations to "do the right thing." However, Hertz also noted that respondents were strongly committed to social and economic equality. Washington Post

Report calls for redefinition of STEM workforce

A report issued by the US National Science Board (NSB), a branch of the National Science Foundation (NSF), says that traditional definitions of STEM jobs are outdated. Data show that while 5.4 million US workers held jobs classified as STEM occupations, 16.5 million said that their job required at least a bachelor-degree level of expertise in STEM subjects. NSB Chair Dan Arvizu said that rather than fixating on the supply of and demand for the STEM workforce, educators and policy-makers should focus on building a "STEM-capable workforce." "New industries and the growing importance of STEM skills in jobs not traditionally thought of as STEM means that we must revisit what we mean by a 'STEM worker,'" he said. University World News | NSF News Release | Full Report

Communication between faculty and administrators important in tough economic times

As US colleges and universities struggle with challenging economic times, effective communication between faculty and administrators is especially important, says a recent article in Inside Higher Ed. Faculty opposition to strategic plans and administrative actions has increasingly focused not on the changes themselves, but on how they are communicated. “There seems to be ... a simmering level of mistrust between faculty and administrators,” said Stacy Cordery, a history professor at Monmouth College, in Illinois. “The worst thing the administration can do is to stop communicating, to shut down and not make any attempt to communicate with the faculty.” Inside Higher Ed

Federal research priorities called into question

While last week's federal budget was met with generally positive reviews from Canada's PSE community, some research advocates are concerned about the government's priorities. Globe and Mail public health reporter André Picard argues that "what the budget provided is not more money for science, but subsidies for big business under the guise of scientific investment." Picard says that rather than pursuing the quickest return on investment, the government should allocate tax dollars to those areas in which industry is not investing. "The government is now sending the message that it's only interested in funding science that aligns with its ideology. That will suffocate, not bolster, innovation," Picard concludes. Globe and Mail