Top Ten

November 23, 2015

Canadian universities receive more than $10 M to search for ALS cure

Five Canadian universities have each received grants of over $1 M to search for a cure for ALS. The funding comes from the ALS Canada Research Program, Brain Canada, and a number of ALS societies across Canada. The funding will be disbursed to projects based at the University of Alberta ($2.9 M), Université Laval ($2.5 M), Université de Montréal ($1.7 M), the University of Manitoba ($1.6 M), and the University of Toronto ($1.4 M). Overall, the initiative will commit $15 M to researchers across Canada working to cure ALS. Much of the funding for this initiative will come from the money raised by last year’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” international campaign. “ALS research has come a long way in the past decade,” said uMontréal researcher Christine Vande Velde, “and these research investments can only help further explore answers to this complex disease." ALS Society of Canada | Winnipeg Free Press | uManitoba | Times Colonist 

AB and Canada should forge deeper bonds with OPEC, says new uCalgary report

Alberta and Canada should make more of an effort to build relationships with OPEC countries, according to a new report from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. The recommendations of the report run counter to the opinions of many North American oil stakeholders who have criticized the OPEC member countries for intentionally flooding the global oil market. Yet report author Robert Skinner said that these views were unfounded. “It’s not some kind of nefarious geo-political scheming,” he said, adding that OPEC countries have simply followed market forces to guide their decisions. Financial Post | Report

CAUT finds that Brock violated academic freedom

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has concluded an investigation it began in 2013 into alleged violations of academic freedom at Brock University. The ad hoc committee found that Brock’s handling of complaints made under its Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy violated the academic freedom of five individuals and has called upon the university president to publicly apologize. According to the report, respectful workplace policies have become more common across North America, but because their purpose is to “regulate expression … they must put respect for academic freedom and freedom of expression front and centre.” CAUT | Full Report

OCADU launches $60 M “Ignite Imagination” fundraising campaign

OCAD University has launched its “Ignite Imagination” fundraising campaign, which aims to raise $30 M from private sources and additional $30 M from public and government sources over the next six years. The university has already raised roughly $15.6 M from private sources. The campaign is focused around four pillars: enhancing student experience, fostering faculty innovation, enriching academic programming, and building and renewing infrastructure. “By 2018, OCAD University will be transformed through campus expansion in the heart of Toronto’s creative district and through enhanced student experience,” said OCADU President Sara Diamond. OCADU | Campaign Website

uAlberta receives $3 M for colorectal cancer research

A team of cancer researchers at the University of Alberta will receive $3 M over three years from the Alberta Cancer Foundation to support research on colorectal cancer. The team, led by Michael Weinfeld, aims to block the ability of cancerous tumours to repair themselves after chemotherapy or radiation treatment. “This research could make current treatment for colorectal cancer more effective and could help reduce the dosage of the current drugs we use,” said Weinfeld. uAlberta | Alberta Cancer Foundation

WesternU releases governance review task force report

Western University’s Governance Review Task Force has released its report to the board of governors. Noting that it “has been a very difficult year for Western,” the task force found an “opportunity to review governance policies and procedures.” The report makes a total of 22 recommendations in three areas: relationships with the community (9 recommendations), structure of the board (9 recommendations), and role of the board (4 recommendations). The report found that the board often acts without sufficient dialogue; “one of the most common observations [they heard] was that the Board appears disconnected and insulated,” said the report. London Free Press | Full Report

UBC suspends head of creative writing department

UBC announced last week that it had temporarily suspended the head of its creative writing department while the university investigates allegations made against him. No details have been released about the nature of the allegations directed toward UBC Professor and novelist Steven Galloway, but the university has stated that it is “conscious of not compromising the process going forward.” The creative writing department’s Interim Co-Chair Annabel Lyon said she was shocked by the news, adding, "as someone relatively close to this on the inside, you know, I think we all need to talk a step back and remember that confidentially is owed to many people involved." UBC’s Dean of Arts Gage Averill has reminded the university and the public that at this time, the allegations made against Galloway have yet to be investigated. National Post | CBC | Toronto Star

Durham to partner with Vietnamese college on post-harvest production

Durham College has signed a five-year contract to work with Vietnam’s Hau Giang Community College (HGCC) to develop a technical vocational program in the sector of post-harvest production. Canada will fund the project, which will be undertaken by Durham’s School of Science & Engineering Technology and Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment in partnership with Agriteam Consulting Ltd. The goal of the project is to have HGCC benefit from Durham’s expertise in in the areas of food and pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and food sciences. “It was an honour to host the rector, vice-rector, and dean from HGCC,” said Mark Herringer, Executive Director of International Education at Durham. “We’re looking forward to many more opportunities for both institutions to work together as DC shares its experiences combining the areas of science and technology with post-harvest production.” Durham

Does diversity training in PSE work?

Demand for diversity training is rising for many reasons, writes the Chronicle of Higher Education, but questions linger over whether or not it works. Many PSE officials often turn to diversity training to address mounting tensions or moments of crisis, especially with the recent protests over race relations at the University of Missouri. Yet the fact remains that diversity-education programs have existed for many years now “without appearing to have solved much of anything,” writes the Chronicle. In 1997, for example, a Bryn Mawr College study estimated that 81% of colleges had tried holding workshops for students to discuss their experiences of racial bias. While students reported experiencing positive effects in these workshops, the Chronicle concludes that “only recently have researchers begun to know if the workshops actually change how people think and feel.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Gender pay gap shrinks at UK universities

New information from the UK’s Office of National Statistics has revealed that women working full-time in higher education were paid 11.1% less than men, which is 2.4 percentage points lower than this same figure for the previous year. For all higher education staff, the gap shrunk by 1.3 percentage points to 14.7%; this compares to 19.2% for the wider economy. University of Northampton Vice-Chancellor Nick Petford, who has chaired a working group on gender pay, said that these figures show that higher ed is “making real progress in tackling the gender pay gap.” Times Higher Education