Top Ten

April 4, 2016

SNC-Lavalin, Innisfree file $330 M lawsuit against McGill University Health Centre

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc and partner Innisfree have filed a $330 M lawsuit against the McGill University Health Centre and Quebec over cost overruns on the construction of a new $1.3 B hospital. The engineering company is seeking compensation for additional construction and design costs that it says were incurred due to “the numerous instructions and changes made by the [McGill University Health Centre] as well as the value of the additional work it requested.” SNC-Lavalin claims that it has negotiated these costs with MUHC for the past two years, but that the negotiations “have not been fruitful.” Globe and Mail | Journal de Montréal | SNC-Lavalin

WesternU’s Ivey Business School receives $3 M to create Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab

Western University has received a $3 M gift from Scotiabank to create the Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab at the Ivey Business School. The funding will act as part of a collaborative partnership between Scotiabank and Ivey to generate thought leadership and develop future talent in the digital space. This partnership will include research projects, internships and field study opportunities for Ivey students, and co-sponsorship of digital events. “In this day and age, it’s impossible to separate our digital strategy from the bank’s overall strategy,” said Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter, “digitizing our customer interfaces, our distribution channels and our internal processes are all critical to delivering on our overall vision to provide a consistently excellent customer experience.” WesternU

Globe challenges “moral high ground” of students calling for fossil fuel divestment

“Students who prefer to occupy the moral high ground don’t have to look far for a cause to rally around,” writes the Globe and Mail, as seen among “students who insist universities should lead the fight against climate change rather than support polluting industries.” The editorial cites recent petitions and protests by Canadian university students demanding that their institutions divest from fossil fuel companies. Yet the Globe argues that such students “are in an enviable position to voice their hopeful ultimatums without the constraints and occasional hypocrisies of real-world responsibility.” The piece concludes by challenging the comparisons that students have allegedly made between divestment from fossil fuels and the divestment campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. “Fossil fuels are different,” states the article, “society will need them for years to come, and there is no way for the entire planet to ditch them entirely and immediately without widespread harm.” Globe and Mail

uCalgary receives donation of full EMI Music Canada archive

Universal Music Canada has reportedly donated the complete EMI Music Canada archives to the University of Calgary. This collection contains over 18,000 video recordings, over 21,000 audio recordings, and over 2,000,000 photographs and documents that include album cover art, song lyric drafts, and artist exchanges. "The EMI Music Canada Archive is one of the most culturally significant collections of the last century to be acquired by a research library," says uCalgary Vice-Provost of Libraries and Cultural Resources Tom Hickerson, who estimates that it will take three years to fully move the collection to uCalgary. EMI Music Canada will also reportedly provide substantial funding to support the preservation and management of the collection. uCalgary | CTV News | Calgary Herald

Students scrambling to repay $700 M in OSAP overpayments

Ontario has overpaid postsecondary students more than $700 M in financial aid over a five-year period, according to the Toronto Star. The two main reasons for this overpayment are allegedly the under-reporting of students’ or parents’ income, and early withdrawal from studies. Students forced to repay the overpayments have reportedly been “left scrambling,” as they cannot apply for future aid if they fail to reimburse OSAP for overpayments. Tanya Blazina of the Ministry of Training, Collleges and Universities notes that “the unrecoverable overpayments represent only about half of one per cent of OSAP’s annual funding.” Gabrielle Ross-Marquette of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, however, says that this situation highlights a “systematic problem” in ON student aid. Toronto Star | The Record

Rising student application numbers do not equal success

“Even as colleges proudly report more and more applications, at many places the yield—the percentage of accepted students who enroll—has been declining,” says Eric Hoover in a critique of the value of application counts. While application growth can be an easy measure of success, Hoover warns that “plenty of students apply to colleges they have no intention of attending.” Thus, the size of the applicant pool may have no relation to the resulting size or quality of the class. Many universities and colleges have sought to better understand the conversion of applications into enrolment through tools such as the Acceptance Declined Study. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

uOttawa Student Federation announces layoffs, cutbacks

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has announced that the organization will make reductions in staff and future events in an effort to deal with a “significant cash shortage.” A release from the Federation states that the two main causes for the shortfall are the ongoing subsidization of members’ Health and Dental Insurance Plan and the intentional adoption of a budgetary shortfall in 2015-16. The reductions will include temporarily laying off 24 staff, leaving 16 positions vacant, and reducing the hours in three positions. “We deeply regret placing members of our staff in a precarious situation in which a number of staff will be temporarily facing layoffs,” the SFUO statement added, “We understand the significant impact this has on their daily lives.” Ottawa Citizen

WLU becomes second Canadian institution to be named international “changemaker”

Wilfrid Laurier University has become the second institution in Canada to be named an international “Changemaker Campus” by Ashoka U. The designation recognizes WLU as a leader in social entrepreneurship and social innovation education, and qualifies the school for membership in an international network of 37 colleges and universities. “We are honoured to receive this important designation,” said WLU Provost and Vice-President Academic Deborah MacLatchy. “Laurier has a long history of integrating academic excellence with experiential learning, social purpose and community engagement.” The new designation will apply to all of WLU’s locations. WLU

ON doubles funding to St Clair metal cutting program to meet regional skills need

St Clair College and the Canadian Association of Mould Makers have received $640 K from Ontario to lead two precision metal cutting programs in the 2016-2017 school year. The funding was provided in response to an increased regional need, as CBC reports that there is an ongoing demand for skilled CNC programmers and operators and general machinists in the area. "The metal cutters and manufacturing industry is a bright spot in the Canadian economy today and still has room to grow," said CAMM President Jonathon Azzopardi, "programs like the pre-apprenticeship program are helping to make this success story happen by attracting new talent and training our next generation work force." Windsor Star | CBC | CTV News

Does it matter if PSE is “overrun by liberals”?

“Everybody loves diversity,” writes Russell Jacoby for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “it means decency and openness and we can’t get enough of it.” But what happens, he asks, when conservatives demand more representation in the academy in the name of diversity? Jacoby outlines attempts by conservatives in the US to demonstrate an imbalance in the political views of college faculty, which often lead to a demand for some sort of affirmative action directed toward right-leaning intellectuals. For these individuals, “left-wing unanimity distorts research and teaching.” But Jacoby concludes that this argument does not stand up to scrutiny, not because conservatives are wrong about a current imbalance, but because Jacoby thinks that the very argument for diversity itself should be questioned. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)