Top Ten

March 9, 2017

CAUT calls for UOttawa dean of medicine to retract comments about faculty expressing political views

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has issued a statement condemning an email sent by the University of Ottawa's Dean of Medicine that warned faculty against expressing their political views in public. “One of the key components of academic freedom is the right of faculty to exercise free speech without the university’s censorship or reprisal,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Historically, the majority of the most famous academic freedom cases involve professors who were unfairly sanctioned for their public comments and actions.” Robinson has asked that UOttawa ask its dean of medicine to retract his comments and to reassure faculty that no action will be taken against those who exercise their academic freedom. CAUT

Trent president backs DNA lab in dispute with Subway over chicken sandwich findings

Trent University President Leo Groarke says that he stands behind his school’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, which generated headlines around the world last week when it reported that the chicken used in Subway chicken sandwiches contained only 50% chicken DNA. Subway has since stated that its internal testing shows that the chicken strips contain 99% chicken DNA, yet Groarke says that he accepts and defends the findings at his school: “At Trent we are proud to champion independent research. Defending good science is one of the key roles of universities in society. We are proud of the work of our Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, its faculty and staff. It is important to stand up for sound scientific findings, particularly when they are unpopular.” Peterborough Examiner | Trent

University students not taking time to exercise even when given incentive: UBC study

First-year university students experience a sharp decline in their mental and physical health, even when they are given pedometers to encourage exercise. This is the conclusion of a recent study performed at the University of British Columbia, which gave pedometers to half a group of first-year students to track their steps and aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps. The study found that the students given pedometers did not significantly increase their physical activity compared to those who received no pedometer. Further, it found an overall decline in all students' physical activity, health-related quality of life, and psychological well-being. “It’s a common belief that university students of this age are in the prime of their life,” says UBC Okanagan Research Coordinator Paul Sharp. “But in reality, many young adults are going through a transitional period whereby they are experiencing greater independence, exploring new worldviews in love and life, and developing new health behaviours.” UBC

Ryerson establishes new Jarislowsky research chair in democracy with $2M donation

Ryerson University has announced the creation of a new research chair in the study and advancement of democracy, thanks to a $2M donation from the Jarislowsky Foundation. “Now is the right time and Ryerson is the right place for a Chair to lead the study of democracy and propose new structures and reforms to meet the emerging challenges of society,” stated Foundation President Stephen A Jarislowsky. “Ryerson University’s reputation for innovation and its deep commitment to an engaged citizenship in Toronto and beyond make it a strategic choice for this impactful position.” Ryerson

“Academic elite” must do more to connect with broader publics: Crago

“As universities, we are clearly facing a challenge,” writes Martha Crago, Vice President Research at Dalhousie University. “We need to ask ourselves how we will make our teaching and research relevant, understood and useful to people on both sides of the inequality gap, as well as what to do about that gap.” Crago recounts the experience of living through last November’s US election, and notes that the changing world is introducing new forms of social and political vulnerability that PSE must work to address more directly. Crago also insists that the mission to train critically engaged citizens is more important than ever, adding that, “for the citizenry to elect politicians who are dedicated to the cause of university education and research, we need to make our work, our ideas and our campuses accessible and meaningful to all, not just our students and ourselves.” University Affairs

Keyano, NAIT partner to teach entrepreneurship

Keyano College and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology have partnered to offer current students, high school seniors, alumni, and those interested in entrepreneurship an opportunity to hone their business skills. The schools will jointly offer a free course this weekend at Keyano’s Clearwater Campus with support from Alberta Innovates. Some of the concepts explored will be Lean Startup methodologies, customer discovery, and solution development. Other partners on the event include Community Futures Wood Buffalo and Wood Buffalo’s Department of Economic Development. “We are very excited to be partnering with such great organizations to offer this course in Fort McMurray,” says Nermin Zukic, Chair of Keyano's Business department. “As a College, we want to support local entrepreneurs in their journey to success. Whether that is through one of our business programs or through a free skills workshop like Jumpstart, we want to help businesses in Fort McMurray.” Keyano

USask holds Building Reconciliation Forum in ongoing effort to respond to TRC’s Call to Action

The University of Saskatchewan held a Building Reconciliation Forum earlier this week as part of its ongoing effort to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “We’re taking more progressive steps and being a leader in this area,” says Dallas Fiddler, President of the Aboriginal Students Union at USask. “Institutions are wondering what steps to take and our university is a leader in this area. A lot of other universities are following in University of Saskatchewan’s footsteps.” Fiddler highlights the introduction of more university scholarships, a daycare for students, and USask’s Aboriginal Student Achievement Program as examples of the positive responses the school has made to the TRC’s recommendations. Fiddler adds that “First Nations, Metis and Inuit are the fastest growing demographic in the province, so if we don’t act now, like the university is doing, we are going to face repercussions and problems in the future.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix

In praise of “unreasonably passionate” academics

“What is a career in higher education if not a stubborn failure to let go of our obsessive intellectual interests?” writes Joshua Kim in a defense of wanting to work with “unreasonably passionate colleagues.” Kim praises the academic’s tendency to pursue their career “not out of any rational career calculus,” but out of internal motivation and curiosity. As a professor in the world of educational technology, Kim further points to this drive as the source of positive change in higher education, as these professors are “unreasonably determined to leverage technology to increase postsecondary access, lower costs, and raise quality.” Inside Higher Ed

Red River, MB partner on construction program for newcomers

Red River College and the Province of Manitoba have announced that they have partnered on a new Pathway Program to Construction Skills, one of four employment projects being launched by MB. The program will help participants develop essential language skills, safety training, and basic construction skills before they take part in a paid work placement that will provide students with on-the-job experience. “We commend Red River College for its vision in developing this important program, which will link newcomers with employment opportunities and allow them to develop the skills needed to succeed in the workforce,” commented MB Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart. RRC reports that several industry partners aided in the development of the program. RRC | MB | CBC

MUN Marine Institute to introduce three new graduate programs in fisheries science

The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University has introduced three new graduate degrees in fisheries science. Pending approval by MUN’s Board of Regents, the School of Fisheries will deliver a master of science in fisheries science (fisheries science and technology), a master of science in fisheries science (stock assessment), and a doctor of philosophy in fisheries science beginning in Fall 2017. “Our aim is to produce world-leading graduates who can help us understand how we can be as efficient and selective as possible in harvesting and conservation and do it in a more sustainable manner,” said Glenn Blackwood, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute). A MUN release reports that the PhD program marks the first time the Marine Institute has offered a doctoral degree in its 53-year history. MUN