Top Ten

December 8, 2016

Queen’s to examine racism, diversity, inclusion

Queen’s University has announced that it has implemented a six-person committee of faculty, students, and staff to review past reports related to racism, diversity, and inclusion at the university and to make recommendations for change. “The feedback we’ve received from faculty, staff, students, and our governing bodies is that this committee should not be yet another group to examine these issues at Queen’s,” says Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “I’ve heard those concerns, and understand them. What is needed is an implementation team that will work quickly to identify past recommendations that have not yet been adopted, determine why they have not, and identify the way forward.” A report outlining priorities, suggested timelines, and measures to evaluate the success of implementing recommendations is expected to be submitted in March 2017. Queen's

École Polytechnique massacre remembered by staff, students across Canada

Postsecondary institutions across Canada held events this Tuesday to mark the 27th anniversary of the 1989 massacre that killed 14 women at École Polytechnique. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, survivor Heidi Rathjen said that with respect to gun control, the country has moved backward since the event: “In many respects, the law today is weaker than it was in 1989; in fact, it’s weaker than it was in 1978, and it’s weaker in some respects than (gun control laws) in the United States.” The Montreal Gazette editorial board also marked the day with an essay arguing for continued vigilance in fighting misogyny. “The annual commemoration reminds us to continually evaluate the advancement of women and confront the forces that endanger women’s progress,” the editorial states. “It must never be forgotten that the 14 victims of Polytechnique, killed 27 years ago today, were targeted because they were women.” Montreal Gazette (Rathjen) | Montreal Gazette (Editorial) | Ottawa Citizen

Torontoist showcases mental health efforts made by Toronto-based PSE institutions

The Torontoist has released an article highlighting how three universities and three colleges based in Toronto are working to support student mental health issues. The piece focuses on what programs and events the schools offer on top of existing counselling programs that are available on most campuses; it examines the efforts of Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, York University, Humber College, Seneca College, and George Brown College, as well as collaborative efforts between the institutions. Among these collaborative efforts is Mindfest, an event organized collaboratively between OCAD University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto that includes information sessions and a club night to help raise students' awareness of the mental wellness programs available to them on their home campuses. Torontoist

WLU launches new crowdfunding platform, HAWKstarter

Wilfrid Laurier University has launched HAWKstarter, a new crowdfunding platform that will provide support to projects being led by WLU students, staff, and faculty. “The launch of HAWKstarter is exciting for Laurier as it provides an innovative and accessible way for our university community and our greater community to support and celebrate the important initiatives happening on our campuses every day,” said Rob Donelson, WLU vice-president, development & alumni relations. Current projects supported by HAWKstarter include projects dedicated to helping the WLU Faculty of Education train over 1,000 Haitian teachers and supporting refugee students at WLU. WLU

NorQuest president responds to questions from MLAs on security breach

NorQuest College President Jodi Abbott met with Alberta MLAs this week to answer questions about an alleged fraud and security breach at the college between 2008 and 2012, reports CBC. At the meeting, Abbott reportedly revealed to an all-party committee that the college recovered $1.6M through an out-of-court settlement with its former information technology manager, who had allegedly stolen private information regarding NorQuest staff from the school’s server. When asked why the school did not immediately inform staff and faculty about the privacy breach, Abbott explained that the staff members targeted by the breach were fully informed and that legal counsel had advised the college that there was a “low risk” of harm to other staff or faculty members. Abbott also said the college was told that “broad disclosure of the privacy breach would hinder both the criminal and civil investigations.” NorQuest has issued a public release detailing the facts of the incident and NorQuest’s response. CBC | Edmonton Journal | NorQuest

The “why” matters just as much as the “how,” “what” of teaching: Bishop’s professor

“I no longer expect students to learn at the same rate or excel in the same ways,” writes Jessica Riddell when describing how she returned to teaching after a three-year hiatus. Riddell notes that she used this hiatus to explore new education leadership projects, an experience that ultimately left her feeling that her “assiduously prepared” lectures and “meticulously detailed” handouts no longer held the same relevance for students. Instead of treating her students as future graduate scholars, Riddell says she now “collaborates with students as they build their capacities to lead enriching and diverse lives” by exploring the fundamental question of why both students and instructors are at a university. “Looking at all my scholarly activities through this new lens has made my re-entry into the classroom an incredibly enriching and integrative experience,” the author concludes. University Affairs

Camosun TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign exceeds $5M goal by 30%

Camosun College reports that its TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign has exceeded its fundraising goal of $5M by as much as 30%, raising $6.5M over 24 months to support skilled trades education. The TRADEmark Campaign marks the the first-ever major capital campaign undertaken by the college’s Camosun Foundation. A major force in the campaign’s success was a recent $800K contribution from Babcock Canada. The overall funds raised will now supplement an additional $30M investment by the British Columbia government. “Together, we have established Camosun College as a trades education powerhouse,” said Campaign Co-Chair Murray Farmer. “These sophisticated and well equipped facilities are coming on line at a time when a new generation of skilled trades people is urgently needed to begin to replace the current highly experienced cohort of trades professionals - 68% of whom will retire in the next 10 years.” Camosun | Camosun (Babcock) | Times Colonist

The perils of having professors treat campuses as commuters do cities

Many professors relate to their campuses like commuters relate to cities, write Thomas J Pfaff and Robert Sullivan, who argue that “this metaphor can illuminate some of the cultural problems on many campuses, including the general mistrust between faculty members and administrators as well as the concerns over the corporatization of the university.” Most professors, the authors argue, go to campus to accomplish specific work and immediately leave when this work is done, much like commuters. This relationship with campus detaches professors from campus culture, which the authors say “is a culture in which we do not participate, about which we are almost entirely ignorant and which we often publicly disdain.” The authors blame this situation in part on a lack of accessible public spaces on campuses. “Administrators commute just as we do,” the authors add. “But like commuters to a separate company, they are mostly housed in their own building,” and the result is a culture in which faculty and administrators are much less likely to find common ground. Inside Higher Ed

How to survive your first year: IHE contributor offers tips for new department chairs

“Being a new chair is difficult under the best of circumstances, and [especially when] you’ve become chair during a tumultuous political moment,” writes Kerry Ann Rockquemore for Inside Higher Ed. To this end, the author lays out concrete strategies for new chairs to succeed in their first year: engage a new set of mentors, sponsors, supports, and communities; seek external training; find a small group of positive peers who will meet weekly; and do not be too self-critical. “Yes, it’s harder than you imagined and you didn’t receive the training you needed to be successful,” concludes the author. “But since you’ve made the commitment, why not arm yourself with the resources you need to grow into what can be an exciting new leadership role?” Inside Higher Ed

Celebrating metrics means celebrating only what can be measured, warns Guardian contributor

Institutions of all kinds have become obsessed with performance metrics, writes Peter Scott for The Guardian, but the author notes that “there are two big problems with ‘performance.’ The first is the well worn principle that the moment you begin to measure something, you change it—and, even more worryingly, it changes you.” Scott also warns that focusing on what can be measured will sometimes lead organizations to prioritize unimportant things simply because they are measurable. “The harder we try to measure performance, the more we may undermine true worth,” Scott adds before stating his case for a remedy: “First, to resist the macho cult of performance with its acronyms and action plans. Second, and far more important, to find alternatives based on sharing good practice rooted in trust, professionalism and collegiality. Because, rightly, we all want to do better.” The Guardian