Top Ten

January 16, 2017

ON court allows uOttawa faculty’s challenge over executive pay raises

An Ontario judge has ruled that a legal challenge to salary increases at the University of Ottawa will go ahead, reports the Ottawa Citizen. The challenge issued by the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa argues that pay raises given to UOttawa’s vice-president of research and dean of the School of Medicine violated Ontario’s public sector wage freeze. The university, however, argued that the court did not have jurisdiction over the case because only the province had the authority to challenge such pay raises. Presiding Justice Giovanna Toscano Roccamo reportedly sided with the APUO last week, in a decision that the Citizen suggests could set a precedent for future challenges at other public institutions such as hospitals, school boards, or municipalities. In an emailed statement, the university said that it “strongly believes it has an arguable case and has filed a notice of motion to ask the Court to set aside the decision.” Ottawa Citizen

Student associations criticize lack of survivor inclusion in QC consultations

Two Quebec student associations released a joint statement last week voicing their disappointment over an alleged lack of sexual assault survivors being represented in upcoming provincial consultations. The groups expressed their support for the consultations, yet AVEQ Spokesperson Kristen Perry added that “in the current public consultation process proposed by the government, we have seen no indication of adequate space or resources being provided for the direct participation of survivors and groups that work with survivors.” Both associations say they plan to continue pressuring the province not only to include the voices of more survivors, but to allocate more funding and resources to groups that are already working to prevent sexual violence and support survivors on and beyond campus. NationTalk | AVEQ (Joint Statement)

UWindsor to benefit from enhanced science, innovation training

The University of Windsor will be the site of a new $30M Science Research and Innovation Centre, thanks to the support of nearly $15M from the federal government. Students, teachers and researchers will collaborate inside labs at the new facility to “turn discoveries into products” and allow these products to “get into market faster,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains. UWindsor President Alan Wildeman echoed Bains’ comments, adding that the school’s capacity to carry out research is “going to benefit greatly from this investment. From cancer research to new materials, there is a broad range of scientific expertise at the University of Windsor.” ON | Canada | Windsor Star | CBC

“The time of fighting is done”: U of T Scarborough to create Tamil studies fellowship

The University of Toronto Scarborough has received a $2M gift from philanthropist Ravi Gukathasan to support a post-doctoral fellowship in Tamil studies, along with several scholarships and a digital archive of Tamil history. Metro reports that Gukathasan grew up in northern Sri Lanka before moving with his family to England in 1974 and later to Scarborough, where he became one of only two Tamil students attending Scarborough College. “I want this campus to be a star when it comes to the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, its culture, its language, its perspective in the world,” said the now-CEO of Scarborough-based company Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd. “The time of fighting is done, and I truly believe that our people need to be proud of our culture and our history.” Metro

Identifying, treating student depression through mobile devices

Mobile technology offers postsecondary institutions an unprecedented ability to scale their mental health supports for students, write Mi Zhang, David Mohr, and Jingbo Meng for The Conversation. The US-based researchers discuss how a new mobile phone technology is providing students with the ability to measure their wellbeing in real time by tracking their location, social activity, interaction with their phone, and exposure to ambient light. But perhaps an even greater feature, the authors add, is the technology’s ability to send students targeted support messages when the software identifies certain patterns of depressive behaviour. The authors conclude that “by finding ways the many sensors on smartphones and smartwatches can shed light on people’s daily lives and habits … we can help college students stay healthier and reduce the workload on overtaxed professionals at the same time.” The Conversation

UWaterloo to build $88M engineering centre

The University of Waterloo is poised to build a state-of-the-art engineering facility in order to advance research and meet demand from expanding enrollments. Titled Engineering 7, the seven-storey building will benefit from more than $36M in investment from the federal government. The building is currently under construction and its slated to cost $88M to build, with a scheduled opening in the spring of 2018. The centre will be home to the university’s growing biomedical and mechatronics engineering programs, and will support research on disruptive technologies such as machine intelligence, mobile robotics, autonomous vehicles, and wearable biomedical devices. “Engineering 7 is more than a building,” says Faculty of Engineering Dean Pearl Sullivan. “It epitomizes the future of engineering education and the preparation of students to experience early, innovate early and incubate their ideas early, right from first year.” Canada | UWaterloo

PEI to work with UPEI, Holland to match graduates’ skills with employers’ needs

PEI has announced that it is integrating its employment assistance services to better support a skilled workforce that meets the needs of the island's employers, reports CBC. The effort will reportedly strive to ensure that service is more consistent, reduce duplication, and improve assessment tools and access to training. A major aspect of the plan will be the creation of new centres across the island that will collaborate with Skills PEI, the University of Prince Edward Island, and Holland College to make sure that students graduate with the skills that employers need most. CBC

WLU to improve energy efficiency, add new space to support entrepreneurs

Wilfrid Laurier University is set to renovate and repurpose its Peters Building and improve overall efficiency at its campus with the support of new funding from the Ontario and Canadian governments. The combined government investments will total more than $17M and will help the school provide new research and teaching labs, as well as more space to train entrepreneurs and management leaders in the technology and finance sectors. Finally, WLU will use the funding to reduce energy costs by an estimated $1.4M per year, resulting in a 30% reduction in overall energy expenditure. “The Lazaridis Hall project will enhance Laurier's ability to help Canada remain a global leader in entrepreneurship and the management of technology enterprises,” said WLU President Max Blouw, adding that “the energy management funding will enable Laurier to build on our Sustainability Action Plan by increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and leading by example.” Canada | CBC

Department chairs must learn to be patient with selves to avoid stress

“Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that being kind and patient with myself was self-indulgent. I am unlearning this now,” writes Professor Plainspoken on the ways to avoid stress as a department chair. Reflecting on previous stressful experiences with paperwork, teaching schedules, and room assignments, as well as the maxim that “the best way to reduce stress is to stop screwing up,” the author explains that learning to let mistakes go and forgiving yourself are the best ways to reduce stress in these situations. The author concludes with the suggestion that, “should you become chair, you cannot afford not to be kind and patient with yourself.” Inside Higher Ed

UQAT receives $5M in infrastructure for First Peoples Pavilion

Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue has received $5M combined funding from the Quebec and Canadian governments to expand the First Peoples Pavilion at its Val-d'Or campus. The First Peoples Pavilion was established in 2009 and serves to provide training for Aboriginal students and conduct research on Aboriginal issues and concerns. “The Government of Canada is working to ensure that Inuit and First Nations youth have access to a high-quality education that will allow them to gain the skills they need to join the labour market,” said Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. “The expansion of the First Peoples Pavilion will not only provide a learning space that is culturally adapted to the needs of Indigenous students but also offer students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, a unique space to meet and learn from each other.” Canada | UQAT