Top Ten

January 7, 2016

TWU law school decision to be appealed by BC law society

The Law Society of BC has announced that it will appeal the BC Supreme Court’s legal decision requiring the society to accredit graduates of Trinity Western University’s proposed law school. The society argues that the court erred in finding that proper procedures were not followed in an earlier referendum. The society is calling upon the court to instead address the Charter rights issue raised by the case. “The Law Society believes the interests of the public and our profession are best served by our appellate court addressing and resolving this fundamental constitutional issue,” said Society President David Crossin. The society plans to file detailed grounds for appeal within 30 days. CBC | Globe and Mail (CP) |

Laurentian says decision to remove prof not about academic freedom

Laurentian University has said that its decision to remove psychology professor Michael Persinger from a course does not concern academic freedom. “A faculty member cannot ask a student to sign a document, a memorandum of understanding, as a condition to take his or her class,” Laurentian Provost Robert Kerr told CBC. In so doing, Persinger violated school policy, according to administrators. “I certainly would not have forced them to sign anything,” said Persinger in an interview. “What I did do however was to ensure that if they would feel uncomfortable about my style of teaching or about the content of the course, they would have the opportunity to go somewhere else.” CBC

Students should divest from union, not fossil fuels, writes Post contributor

“I thought the purpose of universities was to research and explore new ideas,” writes Matthew Lau in the Financial Post. Yet he argues that “it turns out this is not the case if the research contradicts the climate hysteria peddled by the left.” Lau goes on to say that campaigns for divestment from fossil fuels fail to acknowledge that such campaigns will neither affect the share price of companies nor do anything to protect the environment. He also argues that the culture of “moral superiority” in Canada's student unions has created an atmosphere that does not allow people to challenge the current consensus of climate science. When faced with the question of divestment, Lau concludes that he would rather divest from a students’ union than from a fossil fuel company. Financial Post

uOttawa to rename volunteer centre in honour of Michaëlle Jean

The student volunteer centre at the University of Ottawa will be renamed the Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement, in honour of the outgoing chancellor and former governor general. “I’m honoured by the University’s touching tribute. … To see my name associated with such a centre, one that fosters community engagement as well as a connection and openness to the world, makes me extremely proud,” said Jean. The Centre, originally inaugurated in October 2011, provides information on volunteering in the region, across the country, and around the world, supporting more than 4,000 placements every year. uOttawa

Missing violin concerto rediscovered at uToronto

A violin concerto by Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen, long thought lost, has been rediscovered by librarians at the University of Toronto. The work is believed to have been performed only once, by renowned Canadian violinist Kathleen Parlow, in 1909. The score for the work was donated to the library after Parlow’s death in 1963, but it was separated from the rest of the collection. “We are delighted that the Halvorsen violin concerto has been found,” said Acting Head Librarian Suzanne Meyers Sawa. “We are so happy to be a part of the restoration of this work to the repertoire, and we look forward to participating in the symposium next summer where we will hear the piece performed for the first time in more than a century!" Toronto Star | Slipped Disc | uToronto

Campus Technology issues predictions for 2016

Campus Technology has predicted that over the course of 2016, the number of public-private partnerships between postsecondary institutions and service providers for managing online degree programs for international students will increase. Online proctoring is also set to become mainstream, and one in 10 colleges will acquire a new constituent relationship management system. The next few years are predicted to be a “matter of trial and error” for the higher education industry. With flat traditional enrolment, low adult numbers, and slow-growing online enrolment, analysts report that successful colleges will be those that are “well branded … willing to grow … [and] niche players with a distinct message that the market values.” In an upcoming piece for the Academica Forum, Cape Breton University President David Wheeler will further explore the ways in which online education and information technologies will transform higher education. Campus Technology

US college presidents reflect on 2015 protests, campus racism

“College presidents can't solve all of society's problems,” writes the Huffington Post, “but they do have a responsibility to join student activists in efforts to address systemic racial bias.” This was the general opinion that emerged from a recent interview the newspaper conducted with three US college presidents: Pomona College's David Oxtoby, Muhlenberg College's John Williams Jr, and Davidson College's Carol Quillen. The three presidents discussed what they had learned from the many campus-based protests of 2015 and especially from the growing awareness around racial conflicts. Ultimately, the presidents agreed that the role of colleges is to create cultures that make it as difficult as possible for individuals to espouse racist or oppressive views. As one president put it, “what I'm talking about is creating a culture where people who come to [college] with racist attitudes don't feel comfortable—they feel uncomfortable." Huffington Post

For-profit colleges in US look to explore restructuring options in face of tightening restrictions

A decline in the power and value of US for-profit colleges has led some institutions to convert to non-profit status to help cope with a changing economic and legislative landscape. At the height of the for-profit college growth in 2010, these colleges enrolled more than one in 12 US students attending a degree-granting institution; yet this number has fallen by 26% since then. The introduction of the “gainful employment” rule has also led to funding penalties to for-profit colleges whose students do not fare well enough on the job market. Some prominent for-profit institutions like Herzing University have made the transition to non-profit status to secure better government funding. Others have transitioned into legal entities known as “benefit corporations,” which are protected from liability if shareholders pursue a public good at the expense of profits. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

UK university leaders’ pay has little connection with schools' prestige

The salaries of university leaders in the UK has little correlation to the prestige of the universities that employ them, according to Times Higher Education. The highest-paid vice-chancellor at any UK university for 2013-2014 was Neil Gorman of Nottingham Trent University (at £623 K), although the school ranked in the 601-800 range for the THE World University Rankings. Leszek Borysiewicz of Cambridge, in contrast, received £344 K despite his school being ranked 4th. The study also found that of the 20 highest-paid leaders in UK universities, only two were women. Times Higher Education

Teaching support centres can spur innovation

Teaching Support Centres can play a vital role in encouraging innovation in teaching and learning at the institutional level, writes Thomas Carey for Inside Higher Ed. He suggests that many teaching support centres currently include a mix of long-term initiatives, short-term targeted projects, and ongoing base activities. Each of these activities present different opportunities and challenges, as does balancing the mix. Carey states that innovation is often underdeveloped, and that its development requires both serious strategy and a willingness to accept failure. He concludes that “the best approaches seem to include separate institutional initiatives for teaching support and for innovation in teaching, reporting to a common executive … who can build the bridges between those units, … and lead in establishing the Innovation Strategy for Teaching and Learning.” Inside Higher Ed