Top Ten

March 16, 2017

Ryerson, Sheridan apply to bring university campus to Brampton

Ryerson University, in partnership with Sheridan College, is the only university to have submitted a formal expression of interest in expanding a university campus into Brampton, reports the Toronto Star. The expression of interest came in response to a request put out by the provincial government, which was looking for institutions interested in creating a university campus in the area. The Star reports that ON also received an expression of interest from Wilfrid Laurier University, in partnership with Conestoga College, to expand to Milton. “We have a pretty exciting vision of what both of these places will be,” said ON Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews. “Now, we’re reviewing the proposals and we’ll soon get to work with those partners to make these a reality.” Toronto Star

Removal of scale at Carleton gym sparks “increasingly hostile sniping” across Canada, US

The decision to remove a scale from the gym at Carleton University has sparked backlash from critics across North America who describe the decision as a way to “shield snowflakes from a truth which makes them uncomfortable.” Carleton’s Manager of Wellness Programs says that the decision to remove the scale was not based on complaints, but on a belief that “being fixated on weight has [no] positive effect on your health and well-being.” Other trainers based in the Ottawa area have argued that Carleton should work to educate gym members on current fitness trends rather than removing the choice to track one’s body weight. Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Alheli Picazo argues that the fallout from the scale’s removal may in fact have the opposite of the intended effect, as “the increasingly hostile sniping between sides over the merits of the scale suggest the university has only served to create an even more unsympathetic environment for those already unsure of taking part.” Toronto Star | CBC | Ottawa Citizen

ON invests $77M in scientific research

Ontario has announced that it will support 75 projects at leading institutions across the province to help scientists discover new technologies, treatments and cures for diseases while creating high-quality jobs for people in the province. The announcement was made earlier this week at Queen’s University, which will receive $4.5M of the funding to explore cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to generate renewable energy. An ON release notes that other initiatives supported by the funding will work to develop new health technologies, support modern facilities and equipment, and promote the use of genomics to solve health issues such as common childhood cancers. ON | Kingston Whig-Standard (Queen’s)

How some US admissions departments are reducing fatigue by working smarter

Admissions officers in some US colleges are using teamwork and collaboration to make reviewing applications more efficient, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. At one college, admissions officers have gone from reviewing applications from their own recruitment territories to reading in pairs, discussing each application as they go and making notes along the way. By cutting down on the time and energy spent on the “first read,” which is traditionally carried out alone, these professionals have significantly increased their productivity. This same practice of collaborative application review has spread outward into “committee-based evaluations,” which the Chronicle describes as a significant shift in the nature of admissions work that allows admissions officers more time to pursue professional development work while reducing fatigue. Chronicle (Subscription Required)

UCalgary receives $1.5M from school’s inaugural head of economics department

The University of Calgary’s Department of Economics received a $1.5M donation from the late Professor Frank Anton’s estate. Dean of the Faculty of Arts Richard Sigurdson explained that the donation would go towards supporting the Dr Frank Anton Distinguished Lecture Series in Economics, as well as the previously established John M Dalgarno and Dr Frank Anton Memorial award for full-time students registered in a thesis-based graduate program in the preferred area of agricultural economics. UCalgary notes in a release that Anton played a leading role in the development of the institution when it declared autonomy from the University of Alberta, and fathered the Department of Economics, taking on the role as first department head in 1967. UCalgary

OCUFA argues for the continued importance of books, libraries in the digital age

“Recent discussions within libraries across the country have highlighted faculty anxiety and displeasure with the fate of university libraries,” write Janet Miron and Joan Sangster for the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. The authors argue that preserving space for books published in diverse time periods is necessary for teaching students how to seek out different kinds of solutions to different questions. Further, they note that converting old texts to digital formats will inevitably lead to the loss of books that are no longer considered relevant at this moment in history. The authors focus on current conversations around the use of library space at Trent University before adding that “for many of us, the consequences of not preserving, enhancing, and maintaining both digital and physical collections are deeply troubling.” OCUFA

When administrative culture seeps into faculty mindset

“It's become a new annual tradition: Whenever a faculty member retires, the rest of us circle the wagons to begin the delicate process of justifying why our department still needs the position,” write Andrew Carlson and Matthew Filner for Chronicle Vitae. The authors argue that a new form of “administrative creep” is causing faculty to increasingly take on an administrative mindset in which “creeping administrative work sends the message that our academic institutions serve a narrow purpose—conveying degrees as quickly as possible—rather than the deeper, more important goal of educating citizens.” The authors go on to highlight a number of different ways that faculty members are influenced by administrative approaches to higher education. Chronicle Vitae

MD/PhDs should not be treated differently than professionals with “just a PhD”: UA contributor

“It is high time that we stopped investing in MD/PhDs as if they were a special class of worker entitled to more than someone with ‘just a PhD,’” writes David Kent for University Affairs. Kent argues that medically trained scientists are a critical component of the biomedical research community, but adds that those holding an MD/PhD designation do not deserve to be treated as a special class of professional. Kent rejects the argument that doctors would not undertake a PhD if they were not paid more, adding that “if we happen to lose a few people along the way who are only in science or medicine for the salaries, prestige and career progression, then so be it.” The author concludes by outlining several issues stemming from the special treatment of MD/PhDs and how policy can address them. University Affairs

UVic to offer first-in-Canada certificate in Indigenous nationhood

A first of its kind program in Indigenous nationhood at the University of Victoria will now offer a graduate certificate to those who complete the program. The new certificate program trains students at an advanced level to examine the challenges and opportunities facing Indigenous nations in their efforts to revitalize their political and legal traditions and governance structures. Students will encounter case studies, forms of knowledge, and theories related to the political, legal, economic, and social realities of Indigenous nations and peoples. “There are calls for leadership and knowledge coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” says Program Director Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark. “This multidisciplinary program trains students to be ready to do that work.” UVic

ON invests $2.6M to improve online, technology-enabled learning

Ontario has announced that it will invest $2.6M to help project teams across the province develop new and innovative approaches to online and technology-enabled learning. 45 recipients from universities and colleges across Ontario will receive a broad range of research and innovation grants through eCampusOntario to explore technology-enabled learning and highlight best practices in student engagement. Examples of funded projects include a study of the use of gaming as a teaching method in science-based fields; evaluation of the impact of virtual simulations as a means to prepare nursing students for clinical practice; and the creation of an online space for Indigenous students to virtually gather, record and engage in stories from local Elders. ON