Top Ten

October 4, 2016

Western receives $45M for facilities devoted to collaboration, innovation

Western University has received $45M from the federal government to support the construction of two new facilities. Combined with a matching $45M from Western, the funds will support the construction of the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building and The Three C+ Innovation Centre. “There are certain things we can do as leaders, as administrators to make it easier for people to come together. That is through facilities,” said Western President Amit Chakma. “Most institutions struggle in bringing people together. Those who are successful in doing so will be the leaders of tomorrow.” This week, Western also announced a $1M donation from the Fairmont Foundation which will be used to support the university’s Wellness Education Centre. London Free Press | London Free Press (Video) | Western

MUN endorses new PhD pathway to encourage Aboriginal student participation in graduate program

Memorial University of Newfoundland has recently endorsed a new doctoral pathway that aims to encourage Aboriginal students to participate in the university's graduate programs. The MUN Gazette reports that the program will "follow a cohort model of learning" by creating peer learning communities among students and creating a clear path to postgraduate studies, complete with milestones to guide the process. “We believe this is a first-of-its-kind pathway in Canada and a positive step towards addressing the needs of current and prospective Aboriginal students,” said Catharyn Andersen, special advisor to the president on Aboriginal Affairs. “Our hope is that it will help to encourage Aboriginal students to explore post-graduate options and careers that they may have never considered before.” The pathway will be piloted through MUN's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. MUN Gazette

MacEwan considers international student tuition increase to support study abroad

MacEwan University is considering an increase to its tuition fees for international students in order to better support domestic students studying abroad, reports CBC. A draft proposal reportedly suggests that the school should implement a 10% increase in international student fees for fall 2017-18 and an additional 5% increase for fall of 2018-19. The Edmonton Journal adds that the proposed changes could result in the creation of $2.5K entrance bursaries or scholarships for as many as 230 students, and the same amount for up to 120 MacEwan students studying abroad. “Tuition is not a small dollar item anymore and so when you look at these models for tuition, you don’t want to be too high; we want to be accessible to students (and) at the same time, you don’t want to be too low,” said MacEwan Provost John Corlett. Edmonton Journal

PEI higher ed institutions receive $20M in federal infrastructure support

The governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island have announced that they will together invest nearly $21M in postsecondary infrastructure across PEI. A federal release states that along with contributions from the island’s institutions and private donors, the funds will total more than $23M for the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College. Nearly $6M of the combined funds will be used to renovate UPEI’s Dalton Hall building, with the goal of transforming it into an eHUB and Student Success Centre. The changes will reportedly support work-integrated learning and the development of an experiential learning hub, with the aim of recruiting and retaining young people to grow the province's population. CBC | The Guardian (Charlottetown) | Canada

Questions emerge over training, experience of instructors teaching mandatory Indigenous courses

While mandatory Indigenous course requirements are a positive step forward, challenges remain in how institutions will deliver these courses effectively and ethically, say students from Lakehead University. Along with the University of Winnipeg, Lakehead is one of the only institutions in Canada to have made the completion of a course on Indigenous issues mandatory for all students. Yet as fourth-year Lakehead undergraduate student Kayla Tanner notes, “I'm being taught by a non-Indigenous instructor and this professor, I feel, is perpetuating those stereotypes that we're talking about.” Lakehead Interim Vice-provost of Aboriginal initiatives Peggy Smith says that the school is conscious of these concerns and that it welcomes ongoing collaboration, adding that the school has committed to hiring an Indigenous curriculum specialist who will support faculty in meeting the learning outcomes for its Indigenous content requirement. CBC

UAlberta alumni endows $2.5M professorship in construction

University of Alberta alumni Greg Christenson recently announced the creation of a $2.5M endowed professorship to be established in the university's Nasseri School of Construction Science and Engineering. “I’m more interested in the whole spectrum of development, from the raw land all the way to densification, to building a community, to creating something more than buildings,” commented Christenson, whose charitable foundation is establishing the Christenson Professorship in Building Sustainable and Healthy Communities. UAlberta Engineering Dean Fraser Forbes added that “the Christenson Chair establishes a legacy of advancing the engineering and science of community building, giving generations of engineers the tools they need to improve the ways our communities and cities work.” Edmonton Journal | UAlberta

Four ways to address the real challenges in PSE

“Higher education faces challenges that are real and inescapable,” writes Steven Mintz for Inside Higher Ed, “[but] many of the points that the critics make are certainly overblown.” Mintz argues that while higher ed faces new pressures from disruptive technologies and changing student expectations, its biggest challenges stem from rising costs associated with health and retirement benefits, plant maintenance, and operations. To address these challenges, Mintz offers four possible strategies for institutions: create a more differentiated and customized experience for students, increase funding for institutions that serve a large number of low-income students, place more emphasis on skill development in curricula, and find a way to attract and serve untapped groups of students. Inside Higher Ed

UNBC strengthens ties, signs MOU with Lheidli T’enneh

The University of Northern British Columbia has signed an MOU with the Lheidli T’enneh Nation committing the university and Nation to building new collaborative relationships. The agreement was marked last Friday by a ceremony involving by Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick, a group of Elders, and UNBC President Daniel Weeks. The ceremony saw the unveiling of a new sign at one of UNBC’s campus entrances that reads “House of Learning” in the Dakehl (Carrier) language, as well as an on-campus flagpole that will permanently fly the Lheidli T’enneh flag. “We are happy to continue to collaborate and strengthen our ties with UNBC,” said Chief Frederick. “Today is another example of recognizing the Lheidli T’enneh traditional territory that the University’s Prince George campus is situated within.” UNBC reports that the Elders of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation have “worked tirelessly for the last year sharing their knowledge and expertise” with Rheanna Robinson, UNBC’s Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Relations. UNBC | CBC

AB will likely make decision on tuition freeze by end of month, reports Edmonton Journal

Postsecondary institutions in Alberta will likely learn by the end of this month whether the province will maintain its tuition freeze for another year, reports the Edmonton Journal. The freeze was first introduced by AB’s current NDP government in 2014 as part of an effort to keep PSE “accessible and affordable.” At the time, the government also restricted institutions’ ability to use market modifiers to increase tuition fees relative to the Consumer Price Index, which would have reportedly resulted in double-digit percentage increases in tuition for law and medical students. The province will reportedly brief all AB PSE institutions before making any announcement regarding the tuition freeze. Edmonton Journal

“Smile and nod, but don’t overdo it”: two professors discuss how to live less anxiously in academia

Academics who have grown tired of the demands of their job within the world of “market fundamentalism” might consider ignoring the traditional path of professional advancement altogether, write Carl Cederström and Michael Marinetto for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Whether it is the undervaluing of teaching compared to research, or the celebration of difficult writing for a narrow audience, the authors contend that “we know that this situation is not going to change all of a sudden.” For this reason, the authors recommend that those who are frustrated with the system learn to how to be “left alone” to pursue broader interests and to enjoy the freedoms of academic work. “The trick is to navigate that fine line,” the authors conclude. “Once you get an academic job, you may want to keep a low profile, and just live up to the basic expectations. Smile and nod, but don’t overdo it.” Chronicle of Higher Education