Top Ten

July 7, 2015

Former president, dean resign uSask faculty positions

After a challenging year, both Robert Buckingham and Ilene Busch-Vishniac have resigned their faculty positions at the University of Saskatchewan. Last May, Buckingham was fired from his position as Executive Director of the School of Public Health and stripped of tenure. His faculty position, but not his administrative position, was reinstated the following day. The resulting controversy led uSask’s board to fire Busch-Vishniac from her position as President. Last month, she sued the university and the province, alleging unlawful interference and violations of due process. In a letter resigning her position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, she wrote, “in addition to feeling academically isolated, I confess that the trauma I have suffered due to my treatment by the Board and others has made it impossible to simply live an academic life.” CBC | Global News | StarPhoenix

Canada, MB announce $22.1 M for marine research facility in Churchill

The Canada and Manitoba governments will invest $22.1 M to build the Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO), a multi-disciplinary facility where researchers will investigate issues affecting sea ice and arctic marine transportation. The project will be led by the University of Manitoba’s David Barber, Associate Dean of Research in the Clayton H Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources. Funding for the project’s research infrastructure will be provided through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund along with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, which will invest $12.4 M. Manitoba will contribute an additional $9.7 M over four years. The Universities of Calgary and Victoria are also collaborators on the CMO. Canada News Release | uManitoba News Release

CBU partners with Yava on mining research

Cape Breton University and Yava Technologies Inc. will receive $400,000 to continue research into more efficient, low-emission forms of mining. The funds will come from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and will help CBU and Yava design, build, and validate a pilot-scale mining plant to study the treatment of a variety of complex mineral deposits and industrial waste. A matching $400,000 will come from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support a new laboratory at CBU’s Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. Cape Breton Post | CBU News

Climate concerns motivate student sit-ins across Canada

On Friday, students held sit-ins across the country in the offices of four MPs and those of party leaders Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair. The sit-ins kicked off the first of three days of similar action which culminated in the March for Jobs, Justice, and Climate in Toronto on Sunday. On Friday afternoon, nearly 30 students from all four of Toronto’s universities entered Finance Minister Joe OIiver’s office. Students also targeted the offices of Victoria MP Murray Rankin, Beauséjour MP Dominic LeBlanc, and Vancouver South MP Wai Young. Toronto student spokesperson Keara Lightning said, “our demands are … to have a serious plan to freeze tar sands expansion and move into a transition to a justice-based renewable strategy.” Times Colonist | iPolitics

uWaterloo Imprint and Federation of Students clash over office space

Imprint, the University of Waterloo student newspaper, is alleging that the uWaterloo Federation of Students has evicted it from its offices, a charge the Federation denies. According to Imprint Executive Editor Aliya Kanani, the paper received an eviction notice on May 1, with an offer to move into a basement office space half the size of their current location. “To receive termination with no notice, signed by the outgoing exec; I can only conclude it’s personal,” said Jesse McGinnis, Chair of Imprint’s board. Federation VP Operations & Finance Carly McCready says there has been no decision to evict Imprint, and that the negotiations, which are confidential, are ongoing. Waterloo Region Record | 570News | Imprint | Federation of Students

McGill unable to release Dick Pound’s Olympics archive

A combination of funding shortages and legal restrictions are keeping McGill University from releasing any material from the 400,000 pages that were donated to the university by its former Chancellor Dick Pound following his retirement from McGill in 2009. For decades, Pound was an influential figure in the Olympics, where he first appeared as a swimmer in 1960 before eventually becoming a member of the International Olympic Committee. However, Pound’s archives contain sensitive and confidential materials from his days as the head of anti-doping efforts, and the sensitivity of these materials and others has prevented the release of any portion of the 400,000 page archives. Globe and Mail

Dutch, South African universities protest Elsevier’s dominance

Protesting the dominance of academic publisher Elsevier, Dutch universities have begun a boycott. The first step is asking all Dutch editors of journals published by Elsevier to resign their posts. The next step will be to ask peer reviewers to resign, followed by asking Dutch academics to stop publishing in Elsevier journals. The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) is advocating an aggressive open-access policy, in which 60% of publications will be open access by 2019 and 100% by 2024. VSNU was able to reach agreements with other large publishers, including Springer, Sage, and Wiley, but negotiations with Elsevier broke down last year. Separately, South Africa’s universities and government have joined several countries in signing a petition against Elsevier’s sharing and hosting policy. Times Higher Education | Univers | Unlocking Research | Mail & Guardian

Higher ed a “playground” for hackers, say experts

Higher education in North America is a “playground for hackers,” according to IT security expert Chad A Holmes. Inside Higher Ed investigated how a recently detected set of cyberattacks at Pennsylvania State University may indicate an industry-wide targeting of PSE institutions by hackers. Although Penn State declined to comment on the specifics of its cyberattacks, it said that the university faces as many as 22 million cyberattacks every day. Industry experts suggest that this number is normal for an institution of Penn State’s size and that it only takes a single vulnerability to give a hacker access to a system. Ken Westin, a security analyst with the IT security company Tripwire, said, “I don’t want to be the harbinger of doom, but usually when you see one breach, there’s more to follow.” Inside Higher Ed

Trigger warnings receiving mixed receptions from US educators

Two stories from the past week have highlighted the differing approaches that educators and academic stakeholders continue to take toward trigger warnings. On Thursday, Inside Higher Ed reported on a letter written by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to California's Crafton Hills College. The letter raised concerns about an apparently mandatory trigger warning that the college had placed on one of its courses on graphic novels. The coalition's letter said, “we strongly urge the college not to set a dangerous precedent by adopting a general warning or disclaimer for this or any other course.” In contrast, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a recent study of members of the College Art Association and the Modern Language Association found that more than half of respondents had voluntarily provided students with disclaimers about potentially upsetting content in their courses. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Postscript: July 13, 2015

Crafton Hills College has announced that it will not place a trigger warning on the syllabus for its course on graphic novels. The college had originally stated that it would add a trigger warning to the course’s syllabus after one student and her parents complained about the explicit content found in some of the course’s materials. The president of the college said, “upon further reflection, we have all agreed that including a disclaimer on any course syllabus is not a solution. It sets an unhealthy precedent by allowing any one person or group to decide on educational content.” Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Education

U of Texas System creates new database to attract commercial partnerships

The University of Texas System has created a new searchable database to make it easier to build and sustain networks between researchers, facilities, and commercial enterprises. The database, named Influuent, centralizes 15 separate university-based sites, which listed the faculty members working at the nine universities and six medical centres but did not provide a single searchable platform. Stephanie A Bond Huie, Vice Chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives, summed up the University of Texas System’s position by saying, “We need to put ourselves out there. We’re not going to wait for companies to come to us anymore. We’re open for business.” Inside Higher Ed