Top Ten

June 14, 2016

UBC chooses UCincinnati head as new president

The University of British Columbia has confirmed that its next president will be University of Cincinatti President Santa Ono. The son of a former UBC professor, Ono has been president at UCincinnati since 2012 and is widely known for his popularity among both the school's various stakeholders and a much broader social media audience. Ono’s departure would reportedly remove him from a ten-year contract he signed in 2012 that awards him $525K per year in US dollars. Frances Bula and Simona Chiose write that “UBC is clearly hoping Dr. Ono's openness will heal a community that needs to recover and unite,” and outline some of the short and long-term challenges that will await Ono when he arrives at the school. Globe and Mail | UBC

New panel could have major impact on federal science funding

Canada has appointed a panel of experts to conduct “an unprecedented and sweeping review of how it supports university-based scientific research,” reports Ivan Semeniuk of the Globe and Mail. The author adds that the panel’s final recommendations could have the potential to provoke anything from minor changes to a complete overhaul of Ottawa’s funding practices for scientific research. The panel will investigate every aspect of Canada’s funding model while also focusing on specific issues such as the allotment of research funding based on institution size, applicant age and gender, and length of funding period. The nine-member panel is slated to deliver a report to Science Minister Kirsty Duncan in six months. Globe and Mail | Canada

“Our business is changing,” says UManitoba president in wake of library staff cuts

A union at the University of Manitoba says that the school has released 40 workers in the past two weeks and more than 60 overall in 2016, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. Association of Employees Supporting Education Services President Laurie Morris reportedly told union members that the university has cut more than $2M in salaries and 25% of the school’s library staff. UManitoba Public Affairs Executive Director John Danakas, however, says that the school’s overall reduction has only been 3.7 full-time equivalent positions. In a recent interview, University President David Barnard also noted that in the internet age, “it's possible for a student sitting with a laptop” to access information without a librarian. “Our business is changing, just as everyone’s,” he added. Winnipeg Free Press

Dechinta poised to become first “bush university” with degree-granting power

A learning centre located “off the grid” nearly 100 kilometres east of Yellowknife is poised to gain degree-granting authority, reports CBC. The “land-based” learning centre Dechinta currently offers credits for individual courses and a minor in Indigenous studies in partnership with other universities. But last week, NWT’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment stated that it was working on legislation that would allow the centre to grant degrees. Dechinta is also seeking guaranteed core funding instead of having to apply to the territorial government each year. The legislation would also apply to Yellowknife-based College Nordique, reports CBC. CBC

Is “curricular glut” to blame for higher ed’s problems?

The scourge at the heart of many tuition increases and student debt is “curricular glut,” writes Michael Bugeja for Inside Higher Ed, referring to the courses “associated with arcane, duplicative, or outdated subjects” that effectively clog the offerings of many programs and lead to a number of inefficiencies. Bugeja argues that schools will often allocate departmental funds based on “student credit-hour generation rather than on the number of majors,” creating a situation where departments with fewer students can receive more funds than ones with higher enrolment, provided they offer more credit hours through increased curricular offerings. Bugeja concludes that it is time to “understand the impact of curriculum on innovation as well as on practically every aspect of the higher education budget, take responsibility and do something about it.” Inside Higher Ed

Charting a path for first-generation PSE students

“Conversations with students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education reveal seemingly small things that, added up, can make the difference between dropping out and graduating,” writes Emily Deruy for The Atlantic. Some of these issues can be knowing what to pack to live in residence, being in class at certain times, and balancing an academic workload with a part-time job. To illustrate these challenges, the article follows a student from Washington, DC as he successfully navigates into and through PSE while coming from a modest socioeconomic background. The Atlantic

“Is this the way to go?” asks professor targeted by 500-tweet critique

A recent academic debate on Twitter about Shakespeare has raised new questions about the role of social media as a forum for academic opinions, writes Jarrett Carter for Education Dive. In recent weeks, University of Toronto English Professor Holger Syme published more than 500 tweets criticizing what he viewed as a “tremendously awful” new book on the texts of Shakespeare’s King Lear. The criticism reportedly earned Syme a “scathing response” from the book’s author, Professor Brian Vickers, a distinguished senior research fellow at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. In an interview with Times Higher Education, Vickers contested both Syme’s arguments and his platform for publishing them, saying that “he trivializes literary criticism, reducing it to attention-catching sound bites. Is this the way to go?” Inside Higher Ed

Collège Acadie to enjoy new location on Holland campus

The campus of PEI’s Holland College will soon be home to faculty, staff, and students from Collège Acadie, reports CBC. A new partnership between the two institutions will see Acadie offer courses in French under its own banner on Holland’s campus starting this fall. Last year, the PEI government committed $400K to renovate a building that Acadie will rent from Holland. Acadie President Donald DesRoches noted that one of the partnership's major benefits will be to address shortages in skilled tradespeople proficient in both English and French. “What happens sometimes is there isn't a skill shortage in some areas, for English speaking graduates, but there may be a shortage for bilingual,” he added. CBC

Lakehead signs MOU to provide Israel-based study abroad opportunities for grad students

Lakehead University has signed an MOU with Philips Healthcare Haifa to provide new international learning opportunities for Lakehead’s graduate students. The agreement will specifically create an internship program where Lakehead students will work in medical imaging at the Philips Healthcare R&D Centre in Israel. The goals of the program will be to create “employer ready” trainees and to create a new generation of scientists and medical imaging researchers. “These hands-on internships will benefit our students immensely by letting them experience what this technology can do and how it works,” said Andrew Dean, Lakehead University’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation. Lakehead

U of T locks down buildings, police search for masked individual

The University of Toronto and at least two hospitals went into lockdown yesterday in response to sightings of a masked suspect dressed in black, reports the National Post. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders confirmed that several people on U of T’s campus reported seeing a “suspicious” man dressed in black, with a “surgical type” mask and a knapsack. While one caller claimed the individual had a gun, police said that they were unable to determine whether this was the case, adding that a photo from a witness did not show a gun in the masked person’s possession. CBC reports that a second man was taken into custody during the search for the masked individual, but Chief Saunders said that the incident was unconnected to the reports at U of T. The Toronto Star later reported that the police had lifted the lockdown after finding no evidence of a suspicious individual or a gun. National Post | CBC | CBC (man in custody) | Globe and Mail | Vancouver Sun | Toronto Star