Top Ten

March 7, 2017

UOttawa dean of medicine warns faculty against expressing “politically charged sentiment”

Professors at the University of Ottawa’s faculty of medicine have expressed confusion and concern after the faculty’s dean reportedly circulated a memo warning faculty against making “personal or demeaning attacks on celebrities or politicians.” In the memo, UOttawa Dean of Medicine Jacques Bradwejn also advised faculty against expressing “politically charged sentiment” on social media accounts that identify them as a member of the faculty. Bradwejn said in an email to the Ottawa Citizen that the memo “was meant to remind our faculty members that they hold a leadership position in our society and that with it, comes the great responsibility to uphold tolerance and professionalism.” Amir Attaran, a law professor who is cross-appointed to the faculty of medicine, told the Citizen that the memo's instructions would not hold up if they were challenged. Ottawa Citizen

Universities adapting as humanities enrolments decline

“Over the last decade, students have fled the humanities,” writes Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail, adding that in response, “universities have cancelled individual courses, or entire specialized humanities programs.” Chiose cites data from Statistics Canada to argue that the downward trend in humanities enrolments is unlikely to reverse itself in the near future, and that faculties and departments are now pursuing permanent adaptations to address the issue. “I think students are searching for connections between the content of their university courses and the significant real-world problems they see playing out every day,” said Frank Harvey, the dean of the faculty of arts and science at Dalhousie. “I remain convinced that a liberal arts degree can help them make a difference.” Chiose goes on to explore some of the ways that arts and humanities departments are looking to keep their courses relevant for students worried about their career prospects after graduation. Globe and Mail

Women much less likely to be reappointed deans: Canadian study

Women are much less likely than men to be reappointed as faculty deans in Canada, according to a new study by Eric Lavigne, a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. The study analyzed almost 300 appointment and reappointment announcements between 2011 and 2016, and found that 71% of reappointments were men and just 29% were women. “Women are obtaining these positions in the first instance, but these roles do not seem to hold enough of an attraction for women deans to stay on,” said Lavigne. Times Higher Education reports that in Lavgine's yet to be published study of the “maple career ladder,”  the author also finds that ethnic-minority academics are less likely to be reappointed dean than their white peers. Times Higher Education

UNB to classify students banned by US as refugees

The University of New Brunswick is preparing for the possibility of a new United States travel ban by declaring that it will treat applicants from affected countries as “refugees.” CTV News reports that the decision means that students from affected nations will have their applications expedited, their application fees waived, and their spaces in UNB residences guaranteed. They will also benefit from special assistance in transferring credits from US-based institutions. Other Canadian universities have already said they would waive applications fees for students from countries hit by the ban. “I think they are lucky to be accepted at UNB and I’m sure UNB will be a better place for them,” said Raghad Agha, an Iraqi student who is studying at UNB. CTV News

Trent, Katimavik partner on Indigenous youth programming

Trent University and national non-profit organization Katimavik have signed an agreement that will see the two parties collaborating on a number of initiatives in order to foster intercultural learning between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. In particular, Trent has committed to supporting the relaunch of Katimavik’s Indigenous Youth in Transition program, providing Katimavik access to its educational expertise and service in order to develop better learning approaches and tools, become a formal teaching partner for IYIT programs, and collaborate with Katimavik on ways to accredit Katimavik volunteers’ development experience. In return, Katimavik will promote Trent as a preferred place of learning for Indigenous youth and aid Trent in recruiting Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, in addition to providing Katimavik volunteers for Trent’s not-for-profit organizations. NationTalk

BCIT receives funding to replace, upgrade Burnaby Campus electrical system

The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Burnaby Campus has received a ‘jolt’ of funding from British Columbia and Canada that will allow the institution to take on a $46.9M upgrade of its existing electrical infrastructure. BCIT will use the funds to replace its 60-year-old electrical receiving station that powers about half of the Burnaby Campus, including all of the trades education programs based on-campus, in order to ensure uninterrupted operations. BCIT President Kathy Kinloch commented that the funding “also empowers us to move forward with campus planning and developments to enhance student learning and success.” BCIT | BC

HEC Montréal opens new Sales Institute

HEC Montréal has announced the creation of the Sales Institute, which is reportedly the first university-level centre in Canada devoted to the field of sales. The Institute will reportedly bring together professors and researchers from HEC with six partners from the private and co-operative sectors. An HEC release states that the goal of the centre is to foster a “sales culture” in Quebec and throughout Canada in order to help both reach their economic potential. “HEC Montréal is acting as a pioneer by creating the first university body devoted to knowledge transfer, training and research in sales,” says HEC Director Michel Patry. “Sales is a misunderstood field that is nonetheless an integral part of the manager’s role. What’s more, there is a clear need for this kind of institute.” As part of this new emphasis on sales, the school has introduced a mandatory course on business development into its BBA program, and will be offering various training opportunities for executives and organizations. HEC

Carleton, Brock reach tentative deals with TAs, contract faculty

A strike action by contract faculty and teaching assistants at Carleton University only lasted an hour before a tentative deal was reached yesterday, reports CBC. CUPE 4600, which represents about 1,800 teaching assistants and 1,000 contract instructors, reportedly pursued the strike action due to concerns about salaries and job security. A Carleton release states that classes have resumed and the school is operating as usual. The St Catharines Standard reports that Brock University has also reached a tentative deal with its contract faculty and teaching assistants after two full days of negotiations working with a provincially appointed mediator. CBC | CTV News | Carleton | St Catharines Standard (Brock)

Confidential report criticizes Victoria College’s offer on property tax payment

A confidential report by Toronto city staff alleges that Victoria College used false arguments to offer the city much less money than it should owe in property taxes, reports the Toronto Star. While the report has not been made public, the Star reports that the document advises Toronto city councillors to reject the school's “unacceptable” proposal to pay the city $500K in payments that are not legally required due to the school's legislative exemption from paying property taxes on its land holdings. “Further negotiation and discussion are required to see if the city can reach a satisfactory agreement. Failing that, the treasurer and city solicitor recommend the city approach the province for legislative change,” the report states. Toronto Star

How a US school separates demographics from destiny in student retention

“Students’ demographic markers often offer some of the strongest clues about whether they ultimately succeed or fail in college,” writes Audrey June for the Chronicle of Higher Education, but officials at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro say that combining “hard-core data analysis with an emphasis on the human touch” can help institutions overcome demographic trends in student attrition. The strategy includes identifying key student groups that are at a higher risk of dropping out, as well as the creation of a “Students First Office,” which serves as a first responder for any academic, social, or financial challenges a student might be facing. Chronicle (Subscription Required)