Top Ten

June 7, 2016

“Such an amount is unheard of”: QC music technology centre receives $17 M

A new $17 M grant is set to “shape the future of music” at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology, according to McGill University. The CIRMMT was established by McGill, Université de Montréal, and Université de Sherbrooke in 2000 and has since become a centre for both musical performances and research. The $17 M will be used to renovate and connect the McGill-based Multimedia Room in the Schulich School of Music and Université de Montréal’s concert hall, Salle Claude-Champagne. Principal investigator and McGill Professor in Music Technology Marcelo Wanderley notes that “such an amount ($17 M) is unheard of for research centres in music or the social sciences.” McGill | McGill (Français)

1000 Women: A Million Possibilities set to raise third $1 M donation for NorQuest students

A new fundraising campaign run by 1000 Women: A Million Possibilities has been kicked off for NorQuest College with the goal of meeting a third $1 M target for the purpose of providing bursaries to help students pay tuition. “The need is critical right now,” explained Campaign Chairwoman Sheila Witwicky. “The current Learner Access Bursary has just this month been depleted. The bank is empty.” According to the Edmonton Journal, the movement began seven years ago when a group of women mentoring NorQuest students raised $1 M for the Million Possibilities Endowment Fund. Their second $1 M objective targeted the creation of a safe, affordable, and convenient child care facility at the Singhmar Centre for Learning. Edmonton Journal | NorQuest

New US data show stagnant job opportunities for humanities professors

The proportion of US faculty members based in the humanities has remained flat over the past fifteen years compared to significant gains for some other areas of study, according to new data from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The data also reveal that listings for new positions in these fields have declined by 31% since the 2007-08 academic year. Since 2004, the overall share of faculty members in the humanities remained stable between 11% and 12%, while the share of faculty working in health sciences, for example, rose from 11% to more than 16%. Inside Higher Ed notes that the release of these numbers has “left many graduate students depressed about their prospects and professors worried about the futures of their disciplines.” Inside Higher Ed | Report

TWU goes to top ON court over law school accreditation

Trinity Western University will this week appear in Ontario’s Court of Appeal to contest a decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada to deny accreditation to TWU’s new law school. Diana Mehta of the Canadian Press notes that the university is currently pursuing similar cases in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. At the centre of these disputes is TWU’s controversial “community covenant” or code of conduct, which the institution requires all of its students to agree to. The covenant reportedly obliges students to abstain from all sexual intimacy that “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” a provision that critics have said is discriminatory. TWU has argued that it is being discriminated against for “protecting the members of a minority religion in our pluralistic society.” Globe and Mail (CP) | Christian Post

Bias in Canadian granting bodies may put small universities at a disadvantage, says new report

“Future science funding at small schools in Canada will decline precipitously in the next decade, if skews are left uncorrected,” according to researchers from seven Canadian universities. In a recent article on the consequences of research grant evaluation, the researchers note that success rates for funding applications are consistently lower for applicants from small Canadian institutions and that “such skew may be driven by systemic bias arising during grant proposal evaluation and scoring.” The report recommends that Canada’s major scientific granting councils adopt blind review policies to conceal the institutions behind research applications, while noting that “small institutions can improve their research success by more strongly supporting productive researchers and developing competitive graduate programming opportunities.” Plos One | Trent

uSask president contests description of school’s reserves by SK minister

“We are not sitting idly on a pile of savings,” says University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff in response to a provincial minister’s claim that the school should use its “significant reserves” to address changing costs. After presenting the new SK budget, which included no new funding for uSask, provincial Finance Minister Kevin Doherty stated that the school was “sitting on significant reserves so we’re asking them to take a look at how those reserves came to be and to utilize those, if they make that choice to utilize those reserves—that’s their decision.” Stoicheff has responded that the school’s reserves, which sit at 10% of its $1 B annual budget, are at a level consistent with that of other reputable universities. StarPhoenix

uMontréal and Trudeau Foundation receive $1 M from Chinese donors

Businessmen Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng have donated $1 M to the Université de Montréal Faculty of Law and the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. uMontréal explains that the fund will be used to create the “Bin Zhang-Niu Gensheng Fund for the Trudeau Foundation” and the “China-Canada Fund for Bin Zhang-Niu Gensheng Scholarships,” and that the amount put towards grants will primarily be used for Quebec students wishing to study in China. “Chinese academics and judges want to know our laws and opinions. They are curious and want to innovate,” said uMontréal Vice-recteur aux affaires internationales, à la Francophonie, à la philanthropie et aux relations avec les diplômés Guy Lefebvre. Eurekalert | La Presse | uMontréal

Unhappy students take to social media, petitions regarding Western homecoming crackdown

“Western’s decision to move its Homecoming in a bid to crack down on booze-fuelled debauchery has drawn a swift backlash,” reports Dale Carruthers of the London Free Press. Carruthers reports that there have been a variety of responses to this announcement, including the online sale of “Save HoCo” shirts, negative commentary by students and alumni on social media, and the development of an online petition demanding that the institution reverse its decision that accrued nearly 800 signatures. “It’s not particularly surprising given that it’s such a large part of so many people’s lives,” commented Western Vice-President of Student Experience Jana Luker, later adding that “there’s a lot more people that are probably supporting (the decision), but they’re not going to be vocal about it.” London Free Press

$1.7 M uOttawa donation to support new technology for mental health research

The University of Ottawa has announced that it will donate $1.7 M to the Brain Imaging Centre at The Royal, one of Canada’s leading mental health care, teaching, and research hospitals. A release from uOttawa states that researchers at the school’s Brain and Mind Research Institute will now have access to a new PET-fMRI machine that will reportedly be “the first of its kind in Canada solely dedicated to mental health research and neuroscience.” “One in five Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, and young people are particularly vulnerable,” says uOttawa President Allan Rock. “I am confident that uOBMRI’s strong partnership with the Royal will open new doors for mental health research in Canada.” uOttawa

UAlberta cancels widely lampooned “spoon-bending” workshop

The University of Alberta has cancelled an event at which doctors were supposed to learn how to bend spoons with their minds, reports CBC. The cancellation was announced after the event became the subject of widespread online criticism and humour. The seminar, titled "Spoon Bending and the Power of the Mind," had been organized by UAlberta’s Complementary and Alternative Research and Education program as part of a seminar series for doctors. “There is absolutely no physical way you can bend a spoon with your mind,” argues UAlberta professor of health law and science policy Tim Caulfield. “That's why it's so frustrating that it's being presented in this legitimate way at a science-based institution.” CBC (1) | CBC (online response) (2)