Top Ten

April 27, 2016

uOttawa bucks trend with partial divestment from fossil fuels

The University of Ottawa’s board of governors has approved a plan that will see the university reduce the carbon footprint of its investments 30% by 2030. The new plan will also reportedly reallocate $10 M from the university's long-term portfolio to invest in clean technologies. While Concordia University has also pursued partial divestment, the Canadian Press notes that this strategy diverges from those of most other Canadian universities, which have created low-carbon investment funds but have rejected divestment. “uOttawa has made a smart financial and ethical decision that will make a real difference in the fight against climate change,” said Geoff Carter, an organizer with the group Fossil Free uOttawa, adding, “today I’m proud to be a University of Ottawa student.” Hamilton Spectator | Lethbridge Herald | Ottawa Citizen | Fossil Free uOttawa | uOttawa

Canada announces $1 M to support Indigenous youth in trades

Canada has said that it plans to spend more than $1 M to help Indigenous youth train for careers in the trades. The funds will support the Trade Winds program, operated through NAIT, which offers pre-apprenticeship training over a 14- to 16-week period to Indigenous students for nearly any trade. The money will also help the program renovate training spaces, launch new marketing campaigns, and create new outreach opportunities, according to Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault. The funding will also triple Trade Winds’ enrolment from 135 to over 400 students, which Boissonnault believes will provide many Indigenous youth with “a chance that they might not get otherwise.” Edmonton Journal | CBC

Half of 2009 Ontario PhD grads working in academia, says HEQCO study

A new study by HEQCO on the career outcomes of Ontario PhD graduates has found that half of the doctoral students who graduated in 2009 are working in academia, and another 35% are currently employed outside the academy. Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail touches on many aspects of the discussion around the size, funding, and changing strategies of Canada’s PhD production. Chiose explains that the study’s results also suggest that PhDs who hope to teach will need to attend a leading institution for the best opportunities. “Everybody wants to hear what happens to PhD graduates,” said study author Linda Jonker, “we hear that they can’t find jobs, but this [study] sheds light on where they are working.” Globe and Mail | HEQCO | Report

UCalgary, Student Union issue conflicting statements following MacHall mediation

The University of Calgary and the school’s Student Union have issued conflicting releases since mediation efforts ended last week over the disputed ownership and management of the MacEwan Hall campus building. The Student Union issued a release on Monday claiming that UCalgary was attempting to “confiscate revenues from the facility” by terminating the SU’s operating agreement four years before the end of its term. UCalgary disputed this claim and others, stating that if it assumes the management of MacHall, “the SU will continue to run all of the businesses it owns and operates in Mac Hall, and collect the revenues.” The SU has since issued another release contesting UCalgary’s response. The Calgary Herald reports that a court date has been set for May 5, 2016 to hear the SU’s injunction to block UCalgary’s move to assume management of MacHall. Calgary Herald | UCalgary | SU (1) | SU (2)

NAIT celebrates opening of new Heavy Equipment Technology building

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has officially opened its Heavy Equipment Technology Building. The building was acquired from the former City Centre Airport—previously owned by Alberta—and has been renovated to allow the institute to expand its heavy equipment education offerings by as much as 60%. “A highly skilled and educated workforce will be key to help lead our province towards economic recovery,” said AB Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt, “this new facility at NAIT is a tremendous resource for apprentices and instructors and is helping to meet industry needs by expanding access to training for heavy equipment technicians.” NAIT | Edmonton Journal

Concordia alum, former cab driver gives $1 M for scholarships

Concordia University has received a $1 M donation from Hardeep Grewal, an alumnus of modest origins who today is president and CEO of a major food and restaurant company based in Los Angeles. Born to a farming family in rural India, Grewal moved to Montreal on a student visa in 1972 and supported himself by driving a taxi. In a donation presentation this week, Grewal highlighted how Concordia’s flexibility with course scheduling helped him succeed in finishing his degree. “Concordia understood my situation,” said Grewal, “they took me in.” The $1 M donation will be used to fund scholarships for graduate MBA students at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. Montreal Gazette | CBC | Concordia | Journal de Montréal

York Faculty of Environmental Studies opens new centre and EcoCampus in Costa Rica

York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies has opened its new Lillian Meighen Wright Centre and EcoCampus in Costa Rica, allowing students to pursue hands-on experiential learning in a rainforest setting. The centre houses indoor classrooms and laboratories, an outdoor Indigenous classroom, an arboretum, and botanical gardens; and will serve as a hub for education and research on topics such as Neotropical conservation and eco-health. York President Mamdouh Shoukri said that “through this new site, York’s students and faculty will have an enduring impact on Neotropical research and community-based conservation.” York

Lakeland Community Mental Health certificate approved for credential

Lakeland College’s newly named Community Mental Health Certificate program has been officially approved by Alberta Advanced Education, allowing students to receive credit for completing the program as of July 1, 2016. The program was introduced in 2014 to educate professionals on supporting those experiencing mental health challenges, and consists of nine courses and a practicum component. “Our students who are already taking the program will now receive a Government of Alberta approved credential,” says School of Human Services Chair Joanne McDonald, “to have that stamp of approval from the government is important for the college and our students.” Lakeland

Prof-turned-admin lists top five ways to kill faculty morale

“I know firsthand how department chairs can make faculty lives easier,” writes Rob Jenkins for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “and I also know what they do (all too often) that makes faculty lives more difficult.” Jenkins highlights a set of five “faculty morale killers” that midlevel academic managers are often guilty of: micromanagement, trust issues, hogging the spotlight, assigning blame, and blatant careerism. The author concludes that instead of falling into these common traps, “effective leaders try to create a workplace where people are comfortable and fulfilled, where they feel valued and believe what they’re doing has meaning.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Two student associations suspended from QC solidarity group

The Student Association of the Cégep de Saint-Laurent and the Student Union of CEGEP Marie-Victorin have been suspended from Quebec’s Association for Student Union Solidarity—ASSE, reports La Presse. The Saint-Laurent student association passed a decision in February to withhold dues payments to the ASSE to protest the unwillingness of other member organizations to meet the feminist principles adopted by the federation. In 2013, the ASSE officially stated that it would “fight for feminism for the abolition of patriarchy, against all forms of oppression and discrimination.” The Student Union of Marie-Victorin, on the other hand, was reportedly suspended for refusing a request by the ASSE to examine the group’s financial books following a demand for increased dues payments. La Presse