Top Ten

December 21, 2016

WesternU students find support in letters from alumni

First-year students at Western University are finding a new source of encouragement and inspiration thanks to the Kind Mail Project, a campaign in which WesternU alumni send a note of advice or encouragement to the student living in their old residence room. WesternU says that it expected only 200 alumni to participate when the pilot project was approved during the 2016 exam season. Yet in less than three days, that number rose to more than 1,400. The Globe and Mail writes that the campaign’s success “marks a change for alumni-relations networks, particularly in their interactions with younger members.” The article goes on to highlight how the campaign is a welcome development in light of the growing levels of stress reported by postsecondary students in Canada. Globe and Mail

UNB to reinstate women's varsity hockey following lengthy legal battle

The University of New Brunswick has announced that it will reinstate varsity women’s hockey following a lengthy human rights battle, reports the Canadian Press. The university cited funding issues when it first downgraded the team to a sports club in 2008, yet its decision was challenged by former player Sylvia Dooley, who alleged that the decision amounted to discrimination based on sex. The NB Labour and Employment Board agreed with Dooley’s argument earlier this year and ordered the school to reverse its decision. The university responded by seeking a judicial review, but later appointed a task force to implement the board's decision. UNB Vice-President George MacLean says the university will hire a full-time coach, provide resources and equipment, and begin recruiting players to create a competitive varsity team for the 2018-19 season. Guelph Mercury (CP) | CBC | UNB

Sault students to pay out of pocket to fund mental health services after expiry of ON funding

Students at Sault College will still have access to mental health services in January 2017 supports thanks to a student-led decision to make up for a shortfall in provincial funding, reports the Sault Star. Ontario has reportedly provided more than $1.2M in support for mental health and related services at Sault since 2013, yet the funding is set to end in March 2017, prompting students to pass a vote to pay an additional $28 per year to make up for the impending shortfall. The fee will cover services such as mental health counsellors, First Nation elders in residence, psychologists, and a Canadian Mental Health Association mental health educator. “The services are really great,” says student Melissa Cutler. “I know they help a lot of people. You'd be surprised how much they actually help you get through the school year and keep your grades up and support you.” Sault Star

How scholarly-communications experts can benefit your university

As opportunities for creating and disseminating research knowledge become more diverse with many new digital options, hiring a scholarly-communications officer can be an investment in a better future for the institution, according to Pamela Samuelson in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “While these professionals’ assistance in shaping institutional information policies has been invaluable, even more significant is the role that they can play in achieving bottom-up changes in the culture of scholarly communications.” The author describes how scholarly-communications officers aid their institutions in a multitude of ways, including reviewing publishing contracts and potential points of negotiation; discussing fair-use issues, grant obligations, and other concerns with research authors; and advising graduate students on matters related to their dissertations. Chronicle (Subscription Required)

Niagara receives over $7M to support advanced manufacturing network

Three colleges and one university in Ontario are set to offer manufacturers a “single window” for their research and development needs, thanks to a $7.3M investment from FedDev Ontario. The funds will be used to help Niagara create the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation in partnership with Mohawk College, Sheridan College, and McMaster University. The network will aim to support research and development for manufacturers and encourage them to adopt new and disruptive advanced manufacturing technologies. The project is expected to create or maintain 186 high-quality jobs, result in 170 new prototypes, and lead to the commercialization of as many as 85 new products. St Catharines Standard | Niagara 

UManitoba to reimburse students for bus pass expenses incurred post-strike

The University of Manitoba says that it plans to reimburse students who have been told that their fall bus passes would not be honoured in January. The University of Manitoba Students' Union says that it was told that fall U-Passes would not be extended after a three-week faculty strike pushed the end of the Fall Semester into the new year. “For us it became obvious that to the students pay for extra busing costs for circumstances beyond their control just didn't sit well with us,” said John Kearsey, vice-president external at UManitoba. UManitoba's student union president Tanjit Nagra added that covering the extra expense is “a really nice thing for the university to do and it will help a lot of students” in light of the stress caused by the strike. CBC

Conestoga to undergo expansion, construction of new institute at Waterloo campus

Conestoga College has announced that it will be undergoing a $43.5M expansion to its north Waterloo campus. The expansion will include the construction of new Institute for Culinary & Hospitality Management; a Centre for Advanced Learning that will over expanded information and communications technology programming; and a new Access Hub that will benefit students, newcomers to Canada, job seekers, and area employers. “It'll look like a post-secondary institution of 2018,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits of the new building design. Conestoga is funding two-thirds of the expansion, with the remaining $15.8M contributed by the federal and Ontario governments. CBC | Conestoga | Waterloo Region Record

Canada should capitalize on "perfect storm" of research talent recruitment: UA contributor

“The perfect storm of political upheaval has happened from an academic recruitment point of view,” writes David Kent for University Affairs, citing Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as factors that may drive more highly talented researchers to Canadian universities. While researchers often consider salary an important factor when weighing competing offers, Kent writes that these decisions are impacted by a number of other concerns. “In the Trump, post-Brexit world, Canada starts ticking a lot of boxes in comparison to other places,” the author concludes. “Universities in Canada need to consider this set of circumstances swiftly and attract the best and brightest into long-term positions with real institutional commitment to their future success.” University Affairs

UCalgary votes in favour of residence fee freeze

The board of governors at the University of Calgary has voted in favour of a freeze on residence fees at the school, along with a 12% decrease on four bedroom units in two upper-year buildings. The board has also approved a slight increase for meal plans, select surface parking lots, and the Teaching Resource and Wellness Parkade at its Foothills campus. “One of our main priorities is to ensure that students have a positive and cost-effective experience, and that they have access to a wide variety of accommodation and services while they live with us at the university,” said Randy Maus, UCalgary's associate director, Residence Services. UCalgary

TRU saves half a million through energy management

Thompson Rivers University has been recognized as an energy conservation leader after saving $500K in combined utility costs in 2016. A TRU release states that the school has accumulated more energy savings as a percentage of total consumption than any other postsecondary institution in British Columbia. The school has tracked its savings for the past seven years as part of BC Hydro’s Energy Manager Program. “I appreciate your dedication to energy management best practices,” BC Hydro Marketing Manager Jim Nelson wrote in a letter to TRU President Alan Shaver. “[T]aking a strategic approach to continued reductions in energy use which will help students to learn about the importance of being smart with power.” TRU