Top Ten

November 27, 2015

ON computing consortium receives $65 M from IBM

The Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) has received $65 M from IBM Canada Ltd, which will enable it to expand its focus to include mining, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and digital media, as well as double the number of postsecondary institutions in the consortium. The consortium is jointly led by the University of Toronto and Western University, and now consists of 14 postsecondary institutions plus Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). “This latest investment will enable SOSCIP to add new areas of research focus. It will also support more opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellows to gain skills and experience in high-tech settings,” said uToronto President Meric Gertler. uToronto | Western

SFU library receives film collection valued at $1.8 M

The Simon Fraser University Library has received a donation of a film collection from Vancouver-based Force Four Entertainment valued at $1.8 M. This is the largest donation received by the institution to date. “We’re very honoured that SFU sees value in our collection and we’re grateful that it will be preserved for the future,” said Force Four’s John Ritchie. “I think it’s a tribute to the crews, directors, producers, and all the people who have contributed to films and television programs in the collection through the years.” SFU

Petition calls on government to keep Athabasca University in Athabasca

Nearly 900 support staff, faculty, and community members signed a petition to ask that Athabasca University remain located in Athabasca. A report released in June suggested that insufficient funding and changing enrolment patterns experienced by Athabasca could lead the institution to close its doors by 2017. The institution has relied increasingly on out-of-province student enrolment in online programs, reportedly resulting in less funding from the government. A reported one-third of the 1,100 workers from the institution live in Athabasca. Mike Dempsey, Vice-President of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, explained that the institution's closure “would be a huge loss to the community.” Edmonton Journal

PSE leaders named among Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women

The Women’s Executive Network has released its 2015 list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, and a strong group of Canadian PSE leaders has made the list. This year’s honorees include Jodi Abbott, President and CEO of NorQuest College; Kathy Kinloch, President of the British Columbia Institute of Technology; Rhonda Lenton, VP Academic and Provost at York University; Sabine Mai, Professor of Physiology at the University of Manitoba; Cheryl Regehr, VP and Provost of the University of Toronto; and Blaize Horner Reich, Professor at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. WXN | NorQuest | YorkU | uManitoba | SFU

Ten steps to become a leader in science

In a recent piece for Maclean's, Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute outlines the ten steps that Canada should take in order to become a leader in science. According to these steps, Canadian research must be careful in its choice of areas of scientific investment, opting for those where a new breakthrough can be made rather than attempting to follow in other researchers’ tracks. Smolin encourages research groups to encourage diversity among its scientists in favour of building “a Canadian scientific community that looks like Canada.” He strongly encourages research groups to embrace risk, to encourage and directly support young scientists with the resources they need, and to be honest about the results and progress made in their research. Maclean's

There is reason for hope in face of NS university troubles, writes CBU President

There is reason for hope amidst all of the seemingly bad news facing PSE in Nova Scotia, writes Cape Breton University President and Academica Forum contributor David Wheeler. Responding to the difficult conclusions of a recent report from the NS Auditor General, Wheeler argues that “positive change may finally be on the way” in the form of new policy initiatives. For example, he applauds the recent efforts by the One Nova Scotia Coalition to establish PSE institutions in the province as “anchors for regional economic and social development and innovation.” He also finds encouragement in the province’s recent decision to eliminate “emergency funding” for universities, which Wheeler argues has often served as a method of putting NS universities on an uneven playing field. Chronicle Herald

Trent, Peterborough sign MOU to create research park

Trent University has signed an MOU with the City of Peterborough to move forward with the creation of the 85-acre Trent Research and Innovation Park, to be located on Trent’s East Bank. The centre, located on Trent land and developed in partnership with the city, will both capitalize and work to commercialize the research of the university while providing co-op and employment opportunities for Trent students. “The Trent Research and Innovation Park has the potential to transform the community the same way the formation of Trent fifty years ago did,” said Trent President Leo Groarke. Trent

uOttawa prof advises students against pursuing a career in science

Stephen Ferguson, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and a career investigator with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, is advising students not to pursue a career in science “due to the dismal outlook we are facing.” Ferguson’s dismay is due in part to recent changes at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Ferguson, who has many scientists in his family, also said that he has “actively pushed [his] own children away from science.” Many other scientists told the Ottawa Citizen that the CIHR changes pose a fundamental threat to their research. Ottawa Citizen

More diversity, more innovation

PSE institutions are acting against their long-term interests when they fail to introduce a sufficient amount of diversity into their staff and faculty, writes Willemien Kets for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author goes on to argue that she and her research colleagues have found growing evidence for the connection between diversity and high-performing research teams. Citing a study from 2014, Kets argues that research teams with more diverse members routinely receive more citations on their publications than teams with less diversity. Further, Kets’ own mathematical modelling demonstrates that more diverse groups predictably produce more unorthodox and innovative ideas than less diverse groups. When it comes to promoting diversity within a PSE institution, Kets’ conclusion is simply, “stop hiring people who look like you.” Chronicle of Higher Education

When are tuition discounts too high?

Is a high discount rate on tuition a sign of clever strategy or of desperation, asks Kellie Woodhouse of Inside Higher Ed. Simply put, it can be both. Woodhouse goes on to examine how some colleges have successfully raised revenues through the targeted use of discounts. Yet these discounts for first-year students have sometimes gone as high as 60% since the recession of 2008, as more families begin to question how they will send their children to college. Woodhouse concludes that in some cases, colleges are not able to “discount” their way out of financial trouble, as these discounts can grow so large that they stop increasing net revenue for their institutions. “Among colleges that do close,” Woodhouse writes, “expect to see a trend: growing discount rates paired with shrinking enrollments. Inside Higher Ed