Top Ten

August 10, 2016

Former UBC board chair speaks out one year after Gupta’s departure

One year after the resignation of UBC president Arvind Gupta, former university board of governor’s chair John Montalbano says that he still faces a dilemma. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Montalbano says that a series of non-disclosure clauses regarding Gupta’s resignation have prevented him from responding to a string of what he deems to be inaccurate accusations. Montalbano resigned from his position in October 2015 following pressure from UBC’s faculty association, which called for full disclosure about Gupta’s departure. UBC Business Ethics Professor James Tansey told the Sun that Montalbano’s critics should have known that neither side could comment on the matter, adding that “there was not much basis for a fair debate.” Vancouver Sun

Edmonton PSE institutions look to usher in new era of interdependence among schools

Six Edmonton PSE institutions are collaborating to encourage a shift away from the culture of differentiated, independent schools to one of complementary and interdependent schools, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada. The report explores how the new collaboration will pursue a set of place-based goals: addressing access barriers for Edmonton residents, making the city a worldwide destination for learning, and enhancing community infrastructure to support lifelong learning and regional economic development. The involved schools are Concordia University of Edmonton, The King’s University, MacEwan University, NAIT, NorQuest College, and the University of Alberta. Conference Board | Report

We need to better understand what skills matter post-graduation, says uOttawa researcher

The myth that PSE no longer holds long-term financial benefits for students is based on false assumptions about student outcomes and the nature of existing employment opportunities, writes researcher Ross Finnie in the Ottawa Citizen. Finnie cites data showing that PSE leads to higher incomes even among graduates of the “oft-maligned” humanities and social sciences, and argues that the most important priority moving forward is “to better understand the more general skill sets that open a range of employment opportunities and career paths over time.” These skill sets include numeracy and literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, and what Finnie deems to be more “transferable” skills, such as being an effective communicator, team player, and innovator. Ottawa Citizen

Cumberland CEO lays out three priorities for ongoing indigenization of institution

Cumberland College’s CEO Tom Weegar says that he has three key priorities for indigenizing his institution in the coming months: launching an elders-in-residence program, hiring Indigenous recruiters to recruit on-reserve students, and bringing in more Indigenous guest speakers to trades and business classes. The Saskatchewan-based college announced two years ago that it would commit to indigenize its procedures, culture, and policies. Efforts have included creating a First Nations and Métis Advisory Council, adding ceremonial components to campus events, integrating Aboriginal curriculum components in the Adult Basic Education Program, and signing the Indigenous Education Protocol. Nipiwan Journal

Stress management strategies could help boost student success

Postsecondary students are suffering from higher stress levels than ever before, yet we have done little to learn about the strategies to help them manage it, writes Karen Costa for Inside Higher Education. Costa cites several theories and research findings, including some recent studies suggesting that meditation and other contemplative practices can improve student success. Education has done well to promote the value of pedagogical techniques like active learning, Costa writes, but for many students, stress is a massive obstacle to such learning. “If what science knows and what education does were to meet, stress management would become part of the fundamental fabric of our learning institutions, allowing active learning to meet its intended targets,” the author concludes. Inside Higher Education

Is lack of clear career path an advantage for humanities students?

Having a hard time explaining what jobs they can get with their degrees can work to humanities graduates’ advantage, writes Anne Krook for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. “Because humanities degrees most often do not lead to a specific employment path, people with those degrees are forced, early and often, to articulate what skills they have, and they get good at it quickly, because they have to in order to get a job,” the author argues. A related advantage is that these graduates are less likely to define themselves by the jobs they have. With graduates likely to hold many jobs over the course of their careers, Krook encourages them to focus on the skills they have and to develop new ones rather than trying to slot themselves into a once-and-for-all career. HEQCO

Brock parent expresses concern over chaplain’s homophobic comments

The parent of a Brock University student has raised concerns about a volunteer chaplain at the school who once compared homosexuality to having cancer, reports CBC. A YouTube video from 2012 allegedly shows Mustafa Khattab telling students at the Edmonton Islamic Academy that “for me, someone who is a homosexual is like someone who has diabetes or someone who has cancer or AIDS.” Khattab has reportedly told CBC that he regrets making his previous comments. Brock Spokesperson Dan Dakin said that the school questioned Khattab about his comments when he was appointed volunteer chaplain, and that Khattab apologized then and pledged to sign an agreement to respect all university policies protecting the rights of individuals. CBC

Students need to better understand the role of a professor, writes CHE contributor

“I wonder if college students today truly understand the nature of their relationship to professors,” writes Rob Jenkins for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Jenkins argues that over his 31-year teaching career, he has seen the lines defining the professor-student relationship become increasingly blurry. In response to this shift, Jenkins lays out several points that he thinks all postsecondary students should know: a professor does not “work for” a student; a student is not a customer; and a professor is not a high school teacher, boss, parent, BFF, or adversary. Jenkins concludes by laying out point-by-point what he is willing to do for students before adding, “All in all, that’s not a bad deal.” Chronicle of Higher Education

BC mayor proposes VIU partnership with Chinese institutions

A BC mayor has publicly called for the creation of an educational partnership between Vancouver Island University and a newly built Chinese university, reports the Powell River Peak. Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa believes that new agreements between VIU and Zhuanghe businessperson Shih-tao Lu’s school in China, as well as Sino Bright School, could give Canadian students more opportunities for international study in China and increase the number of international students coming to Powell River. The city and Tla’amin (Sliammon) First Nation recently signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese cities of Zhuanghe and Dalian, and Formosa says that he plans to meet with VIU President Ralph Nilson next month to discuss the plan. Powell River Peak

Polytechnics Canada highlights applied research, polytechnic advantage for Innovation Agenda

Polytechnics Canada has called for Canada to commit more resources to applied research at the country’s polytechnics and colleges. In a recent submission for Canada’s Innovation Agenda, the organization endorsed an innovation strategy that recognizes how science, innovation, competiveness, and productivity are distinct goals that cannot all be achieved through a single approach. “Confusing all of these goals is a recipe for underperformance,” the submission adds before highlighting the role that polytechnics and colleges can play in performing research that addresses practical problems and possesses clear commercial value. The submission concludes by calling for Canada to create a “balanced ecosystem” of innovation the supports applied research in tandem with the more curiosity-driven research traditionally performed at universities. Polytechnics Canada