Top Ten

August 12, 2015

Post-retirement salaries for university presidents is the new norm, says CAUT

According to Robin Vose, President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), continuing salaries for retired university presidents has become the new normal. “It is not terribly shocking. We’ve seen this all over the place,” he said. In an interview with CBC, Vose highlighted the agreements with former Dalhousie University President Tom Traves and former St Francis Xavier University President Sean Riley, both of whom have continued to receive full salaries after retiring from their positions. In a separate story, the Globe and Mail is reporting that Arvind Gupta will continue to receive his full salary while he is on leave next year, after his sudden resignation as President of UBC. CBC | Globe and Mail

Elections Canada launches pilot program to boost student voter turnout

Elections Canada has launched a pilot project across 40 universities that aims to increase student participation in this fall's federal election. The project will establish on-campus elections offices that will allow out-of-town students to vote in their home ridings. A reported 38.8% of eligible voters aged 18- to 24-years-old voted in the 2011 election, which was well below the national average of 61.1%. Under the current system, students wishing to vote in their home ridings must travel to those ridings or send their ballots by mail. CBC

STU pulls welcome logo after discovering it is identical to Lion King logo

St Thomas University is in need of a new logo for its Welcome Week festivities after discovering that the one it had developed was identical to the logo used by Disney’s The Lion King for 15 years. Jeffrey Carlton, a spokesperson for the university, said that the likeness escaped everyone’s notice. Coastal Graphics, the design firm responsible for the logo, said that it was an “oversight” on their part. The logo has only been used digitally; no merchandise has been ordered. STU Students’ Union President Megan Thomson said a new logo is in the works, noting that “it will be another lion, but definitely different.” CBC

uToronto, uWaterloo join White House initiative to bolster diversity in engineering

The University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo have joined with 90 US engineering schools to encourage more diversity in the field of engineering. The two schools announced their commitment to the initiative by signing a letter shared by the White House as part of its first ever “Demo Day.” This commitment will involve recruiting more women and underrepresented minorities into the schools’ engineering student and faculty populations; it also requires the schools to help foster a culture of inclusiveness within the engineering profession as a whole. uToronto

Millennials should move home to get ahead, says financial expert

Christine Romans, Chief Business Correspondent for CNN and author of the new book Smart Is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials, is saying that the best economic move cash-strapped young people can make is to move back home with their parents. She disputes the stigma surrounding this decision as a “failure to launch,” disagreeing with financial commentator Kevin O’Leary’s assertion that moving home deprives young adults of the “chance to realize [their] potential.” According to StatCan, 25.2% of young adults aged 25 to 29 were living at home in 2011, more than twice the proportion from 30 years earlier. She cautions, however, that the decision to move home needs to be part of a long-term plan to realize concrete financial goals. CBC

New book tackles corporatization in higher ed

The problems associated with the corporatization of Canadian universities are nothing new, according to a new book by Claire Polster and Janice Newson, titled, A Penny for Your Thoughts: How Corporatization Devalues Teaching, Research, and Public Service in Canada’s Universities. The book is a compilation of essays and articles that the authors have written since the early 1990s, and they address many of the issues associated with the “crisis” of corporatization, including the objectification and commodification of knowledge, commercialization of research, and demand for “flexible” part-time labour. University Affairs

Microcredentials could pave the way forward for online education providers

Udacity and Coursera have both recently announced industry partnerships to develop microcredentials—termed “nanodegrees” and “microdegrees” in each respective organization’s parlance. In both cases, the online education provider works with an industry partner, such as Google or Instagram, to create a narrowly-tailored series of courses designed to develop a particular career skill. The credentials respond directly to a perceived industry need and serve as proof that the holder has demonstrated competence in skills identified as necessary to success by the industry partner. A recent Brookings Institution report said that offerings like these are part of a trend that could result in “a radical shakeup of higher education.” Campus Technology

UK business schools invest, reap more with alumni relations, surveys say

Universities and business schools in the UK and across continental Europe are reaping strong benefits from their alumni relations offices, according to two surveys that examined 84 universities and business schools across 12 European countries. The findings were published in the latest results of the annual International CASE Alumni Relations Survey for Universities (ICARS) and the International CASE Alumni Relations Survey for Business and Management Schools (BICARS). The surveys noted a divergence between university and business school spending on alumni relations, with business schools covering 8,076 alumni for each full-time member of alumni relations staff and an operating budget of £47,450, compared to 25,382 alumni and £10,952 for universities in general. CASE

Effective PSE learning assessment prevented by "established oligopoly," says academic

According to an academic who worked on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO), attempts to measure what students learn in PSE around the world are being hampered by an “established oligopoly” of institutions. Now that Universities Canada, the UK government, and the American Council on Education have all expressed reservations, many observers believe that the OECD will be forced to abandon the project, which is reported to have cost $13 M. “What we’re seeing happen,” said Hamish Coates, an Australian academic who led the AHELO feasibility study, “is essentially the legacy providers, who are very dominant in the research space, trying to prevent new information about education coming to light.” Times Higher Education

“Credit inflation” creates significant spike in authors listed on scientific papers

There has been a considerable spike in scientific reports whose author counts exceed 1,000 people, according to the Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The Wall Street Journal also reports that some scientists have taken to counting the authorship of certain articles by the “kilo-author.” The WSJ goes on to suggest that this explosion in the number of names attached to scientific articles has several causes, which include the increasing complexity of experiments and the number of specialized tasks associated with them. However, it adds that there is a potential problem in the way that “mass authorship makes it harder to tell who did what and who deserves the real credit for a breakthrough—or blame for misconduct.” Wall Street Journal