Top Ten

October 26, 2016

uOttawa president pledges to create committees on campus culture, library services

University of Ottawa President Jacques Frémont has stated that his university will be proactive in addressing recent concerns over campus culture and the school’s library offerings. In a public meeting this week, Frémont condemned the hate speech that has been recently directed at uOttawa student Yasmine Mehdi, whose exposé on a student-led pub crawl provoked a series of Islamophobic and misogynist threats online. Deeming the comments “atrocious” and “unacceptable,” Frémont added that “what’s required is a complete change of campus culture, and we see that much work remains to be done.” Frémont also said that he would “immediately” form a committee to consult with library staff and faculty on concerns over the university’s recently announced decision to purchase fewer books and cancel thousands of academic print and online journals. uOttawa

Edmonton Journal contributor calls for “thaw” in AB tuition freeze

“It’s time to thaw the freeze” on university tuition in Alberta, writes Paula Simons for the Edmonton Journal. Simons admits that tuition at some AB institutions is nearly double what it would have been 15 to 20 years ago, yet adds that in the past decade, fees have not kept pace with inflation and institutions are struggling to make up the difference. “A one- or two-per-cent increase next year, to keep pace with inflation, shouldn’t be an insurmountably greater burden for students,” Simons concludes. “It would be a fairer way to amortize the inevitable pain and a way to cushion post-secondaries in what could be a very grim budget year.” Edmonton Journal

BHER points the way forward for WIL in cross-Canada report

The Business/Higher Education Roundtable has released a comprehensive report that outlines best practices and next steps for enhancing work-integrated learning opportunities across Canada. Prepared by Academica Group, the report begins by working toward a common definition of WIL and identifies the key components of WIL programming, barriers to implementation, and best practices. Some of these best practices include designing a WIL experience with outcomes in mind, understanding faculty needs, facilitating reflection, and integrating theory with practice. The report's core recommendations offer specific advice on how to improve data collection on WIL participation, create an outcomes-based evaluation mechanism, and foster co-operation among stakeholders. Supplement | Report

McGill considers outright campus ban on smoking

McGill University is reportedly moving closer to a cross-campus smoke-free policy, including a ban on e-cigarettes, which would make it the first university in Quebec to do so, reports the Montreal Gazette. After garnering widespread support for such a policy through student and staff surveys, the university has now reportedly moved on to a public consultation at its downtown campus. “People may have ideas or improvements to the policy that we want to explore,” said Robert Couvrette, associate vice-principal of facilities management and ancillary services. Couvrette added that If the policy is approved by the board next month, it will be introduced in May and go into full effect in September 2017. Montreal Gazette

Laurentian receives $3M boost from devoted centenarian

Laurentian University has announced that it will name a proposed state-of-the-art facility the Clifford A Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building. The name will honour the late husband of centenarian Lily Fielding, who announced her donation of $3M to the university earlier this week. “I cannot overstate how valuable it was to get this support from Lily Fielding and her family,” said Laurentian President Dominic Giroux. “I can say [with] confidence the building would not have become a reality without your commitment and the support of the Fielding family.” The new building will include collaborative research and development space, innovation and commercialization space, and space for Laurentian's Bharti School of Engineering. Sudbury Star

How to manage a faculty “curmudgeon”

“I am a proud curmudgeon. Whatever hip new thing you’re promoting, I’m probably uninterested,” writes Alex Small for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Small adds, however, that he has worked hard during his career to support the governance of his department, even when it means clearing bureaucratic hurdles and working new buzzwords into lengthy reports. To this end, Small offers three tips for soliciting strong service contributions from faculty curmudgeons: ensure that the stakes of an initiative are real and meaningful to those asked to support it, do not change the rules or goals of an initiative without clear warning, and finally, do not try to win a curmudgeon over to the administrator’s point of view. Chronicle of Higher Education

Mediation between UBC, former student on handling of sex assault reports ends unsuccessfully

Mediation talks between the University of British Columbia and a former student who filed a human rights complaint over the school’s handling of sexual assault reports have ended unsuccessfully, reports the National Post. UBC’s Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay says the university participated in a mediation meeting on Monday, but cannot comment on what took place due to ongoing legal proceedings. The student, Glynnis Kirchmeier, has said that she will proceed with her case to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that UBC did not act on numerous complaints about a male PhD student over long periods of time, resulting in more students becoming victims of sexual violence. “It’s been a year since they promised to do better and I don’t see them incorporating that promise in a way that makes me think that it’s safe to drop the complaint,” says Kirchmeier, who has developed 44 recommendations for how the university could better respond to complaints of sexual misconduct. National Post | Globe and Mail

YorkU creates “York Science Fellows” program with $1M gift

York University has announced that it will create a new postdoctoral fellowship program with the support of a $1M US donation from Jim and Marilyn Simons. The new York Science Fellows program will fund at least 12 two-year postdoctoral fellowships, each valued at $72K per year, including contributions from the Faculty of Science and host faculty members. “On behalf of York University, I wish to express our gratitude to Jim and Marilyn Simons for this generous gift to support postdoctoral fellowships in our Faculty of Science,” said York President Mamdouh Shoukri. “This is a particularly meaningful contribution as it provides the University with the means to attract and retain world-leading science fellows who will accelerate discovery in their fields.” YorkU

Embracing high-impact learning in the classroom

Rebecca Pope-Ruark discusses how high-impact learning may not need an extended period of time to be effective, and touches on three ways to bring this form of learning into the traditional classroom. Pope-Ruark points to the hackathon—“a short, highly intensive (and often caffeine-fueled) event during which software developers and designers work on a specific challenge to solve an often ill-defined problem”—and discusses how the model could be adapted for a history course, design course, or statistics course. The author then discusses the potential benefits of assigning time off for innovation in the form of unprogrammed time that students use to work on personal projects related to course material that is later presented to their cohort. Third, Pope-Ruark suggests that sprint prize competitions, where agencies and companies sponsor a competition to seek an innovative solution to a problem, could provide another training ground for students’ skills. Chronicle of Higher Education

MUN launches “ransomware” awareness campaign

Memorial University has launched a new awareness campaign warning students against the threat of ransomware. This malicious form of computer software is common around the world, yet it rose to prominence earlier this year after the University of Calgary paid hackers $20K to recover locked data. “It only takes one to get into the right person and somebody clicks on a link or opens an attachment and that can launch an attack,” says MUN Chief Information Officer Shelley Smith. “As much as we can be sophisticated with all of the tools that we use, it really does come down to every single individual having to be vigilant.” CBC reports that MUN recently detected the software on two of its computers. In both cases, users were reportedly able to recover their data without paying the hackers. CBC