Top Ten

December 14, 2015

TWU wins legal decision for law school accreditation

The BC Supreme Court has reversed a decision by the Law Society of BC to deny accreditation for graduates of a proposed law school at Trinity Western University. The Law Society originally denied accreditation over concerns that the law school violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms for requiring prospective students to sign a covenant promising to refrain from all sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage. The 43-page Supreme Court decision was issued Thursday by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson. It defended its ruling TWU by citing the BC Law Society’s “breaching its duty of procedural fairness and neglecting to fully consider the school’s [TWU’s] charter rights.” Critics of TWU have argued that the ruling is insufficient, suggesting that it made its decision based on procedural grounds and not based on the deeper human rights issues at stake. Toronto Star | Global News | VanCity Buzz | The Province | TWU | Law Society of BC

ON universities fear diminishing role of research in wake of ON report

Ontario’s proposed changes to its university funding formula could lead to fewer program options and diminished benefits from research, according to a response published by the province’s universities last Wednesday. Drawing on months of consultation with students, universities, and employers, Ontario’s recent “Focus on Outcomes, Centre on Students” report suggests that universities commit more resources to undergraduate teaching and less to research. Critics of the proposed changes argue that the province arrived at its conclusions by presenting sector stakeholders with a false proposition pitting undergraduate education against research. “Our mission is to find new and better ways to make the research experience available to as many undergraduates as possible. It’s not either-or, it’s both,” said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler, adding that, “if there is a premise circulating in this process that being good at research excellence comes at the expense of undergraduates, it’s a premise that I do not accept.” Globe and Mail

UNBC senate formally opposes chancellor appointment

The University of Northern British Columbia’s senate is formally opposing the process that was used to select former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore as chancellor. A majority of members voted to have UNBC president Daniel Weeks inform the school’s board of governors that it did not sufficiently consult with the senate regarding Moore’s appointment. The appointment of Moore has faced backlash from a number of alumni, students, and faculty members. Brian Menounos, a faculty senator and the Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change, says “a chancellor is supposed to unify a community, not divide it. The amount of controversy this has caused, and division at the university, is really unfortunate.” Prince George Citizen | Globe and Mail

uToronto’s Trinity College receives $1.75 M for mental health program

Trinity College in the University of Toronto has received two alumni donations totalling $1.75 M for mental health initiatives. Anne Steacy has donated $1.5 M to established the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative, which will support core staffing in mental health and wellness, including on-site student counselling. Michael Royce and Sheila (Northey) Royce have also committed $250 K for Trinity’s health and wellness program. “Supporting students goes beyond providing an excellent educational experience—healthy development of the whole person is crucial if we are to enable our students to fulfill their enormous potential. Nothing is more important in this regard than mental health and wellness,” said Trinity Provost Mayo Moran. uToronto

uManitoba signs MOU with Treaty Relations Commission

The University of Manitoba has signed an MOU with the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM), committing to collaborate on a number of issues related to Treaty education. The initiatives include seminars on Treaty issues for students, faculty, and staff; workshops on integrating Treaty awareness into curriculum; and a Treaty Ambassador program for students. “[uManitoba] appreciates the opportunity to work closely with the TRCM as we further enrich our community with Indigenous perspectives,” said President David Barnard. “We feel confident that this MOU will inspire individuals and empower the kind of change that will help us build healthier relationships and stronger communities,” said Treaty Relations Commissioner James Wilson. Winnipeg Sun | uManitoba

Parkland, Sault partner for education project in Tanzania

Parkland College has been selected to partner with Sault College on a new education project in Tanzania. The two colleges will work with Arusha Technical College under the framework of Colleges and Institutes Canada’s Improving Skills Training for Employment Program (ISTEP), a five-year program funded by the Canadian government. The goal is to develop a pre-technology bridging program, with Parkland providing student support, marketing, essential skills, and gender mainstreaming and Sault providing technical expertise and curriculum development. “We are proud to work on this important project and improve the lives of many young people in Tanzania,” said Parkland’s Director of Academics and Student Services Kami DePape. Parkland

Universities can be the catalyst for “real change,” says Royal Roads president

“Canada continues to writhe from a lack of an integrated and co-ordinated national approach to post-secondary education,” writes Royal Roads University President Allan Cahoon for the Times Colonist. Yet he sees hope in the federal government, which must “turn its attention to helping Canadians meet those commitments and solve today’s complex issues, both internationally and domestically.” Cahoon argues that “universities can and should be part of the solution,” but that they need help in the form of “sustained support” for the granting councils and funding to address the more than $8 B in deferred maintenance. Times Colonist

MUN grad students, professors call for cuts to “administrative excess”

Graduate students at Memorial University of Newfoundland have called upon the school to cut salaries for MUN executives instead of reducing services at its library. MUN recently announced that it is considering the cancellation of its subscription to 2,500 academic journals in order to remain within its operational budget. While MUN has cited increasing costs and a high US dollar as motives for the considered cancellation, professors and students at the university see the potential cuts as part of "a troubling trend to put research and graduate studies on the chopping block when budgets are tight," according to Graduate Students' Union Representative Hassan Nejad. The group argues that the university’s budget problems are more deeply connected to administrative costs than research-related costs, as Nejad added, “if our institution needs to find savings, it should be looking to administrative excess, not something as important as access to up-to-date research." CBC

Five reasons not to call life outside PSE “the real world”

Using the phrase “the real world” to refer to life outside university is an undermining practice, according to Alison James. She argues that the phrase falsely defines life inside the university as a pretend world, and the resulting binary devalues a student’s experiences in the academy as being fake or insubstantial. The author warns that the term is often used to justify behaviors that hamper learning, such as giving humiliating feedback on assignments and deeming it a "favour" because it will supposedly prepare students for a much harsher "real world." James urges readers to pick a different term—paid, professional, outside—that better defines what they mean and allows students to embrace the unique and valuable opportunities offered in higher education. Times Higher Education

The difficulty of restoring the “public” in public US college

“Advocates for public colleges know a degree has value beyond increased wages for their graduates,” writes Eric Kelderman for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “now they are trying to convince everyone else.” Kelderman highlights what he sees as a growing movement to expand the value of public colleges beyond the “financial payoff of earning a degree.” Yet at the same time, he notes that US policymakers have become ever more interested in work-force preparation and performance metrics. While many stakeholders seem to acknowledge that public colleges need to serve a broader public good, the author concludes, there seems to be very little consensus over how to accurately measure an institution’s success in this regard. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)