Top Ten

March 29, 2017

CAUT prepares to launch investigation into resignation of McGill centre director

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has announced that it plans to launch an investigation into the recent departure of Professor Andrew Potter from his role as Director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada. In a letter to McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier, the CAUT said that it was concerned about the circumstances of Potter’s resignation and how they might relate to academic freedom at the school. “Principal Fortier has said that academic freedom is not a consideration in this case because Professor Potter held an administrative position with the University,” explains CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “This flies in the face of the well-established principle and practice that administrators who also serve as academic staff enjoy the full protection of academic freedom.” CAUT

Olds receives $16M from couple

Olds College has received a $16M donation from philanthropist David Werklund and his partner, Susan Norman. The Olds Albertan reports that the gift marks the largest personal donation ever made to an Alberta college or technical institution, and that the provisions put on the funds will help to ensure that the gift ultimately has a cumulative impact of $32M. Werklund’s donation begins with $2M in cash, supplemented by a matching component that will see Werklund provide one dollar for every three raised, up to $4M. The final element will be a $10M estate gift that will ensure the sustainability of the institute over time. “Mr. Werklund and Ms Norman’s generous donation will accelerate engagement, innovation and technology adoption within the agriculture and food industry, and open up new agriculture enterprise in Alberta and around the world,” said Olds President Tom Thompson. Olds Albertan | Olds

U of T finds asbestos in labs, raises concern with CUPE, faculty, students

The University of Toronto has found dust containing asbestos in multiple labs in its medical sciences building while undergoing renovations. Asbestos is “common on campus,” as it was applied to many buildings built after the Second World War until the 1980s, according to Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president of operations. Mabury further noted that the dust has only been found in the building’s research tower and not in any common areas, classroom lecture areas, or teaching areas. U of T has a policy to remove asbestos from any room undergoing significant renovation. The Globe and Mail notes that the U of T Faculty Association, the U of T Graduate Students’ Union, and CUPE 3902 have raised concerns with the institution's communication on the issue. Globe and Mail | CBC | Toronto Star

Careers classes improve employment odds for students, says UK study

A study comparing the successes of students who complete a module on career planning and those who do not has found that the former group is 40% more likely to be recruited for a job directly out of school. The career planning module in question saw students explore work opportunities, develop their CVs, collaborate with other undergraduates on work-related projects, and undertake a 30-hour work placement. Apart from being 40% more likely to find graduate employment, participants in the career planning module were 32% less likely to be unemployed six months after graduation. Times Higher Ed

CBU to create search committee for new president

The chair of the board of governors at Cape Breton University has announced that a search committee for the school’s new president will be formed by the end of April. CBU Board Chair Amrose White added that the committee will also be asked to develop a profile for a candidate who is expected “to lead [CBU] in the next five, 10 years.” The committee will reportedly hire a search firm by June, and then “reach out to community, stakeholders within the university and outside, to develop a profile for that president.” “Every decision that comes across the table needs to be with the students at heart,” added CBU student union president Roy Karam. “We need a president who's focused on international students and aboriginal students as well.” CBC

“Politics, power, money” are the reasons Canada has no Arctic university: Saul

“Canada remains the only circumpolar country without fully-fledged universities in the Arctic,” said essayist and author John Ralston Saul at a recent speaking engagement in Iqaluit. Saul criticized the decision not to pursue a university in Canada’s Arctic, a decision that he says “marginalizes northern culture, and the full role of the Inuktitut language in the development of Northern expertise.” Saul argued that one of the reasons Canada does not create a university in the Arctic is because centres of Arctic expertise and funding are currently located in the country’s south, and that there are vested interests that want to keep them there. “I cannot think of a system more likely to reinforce the wealth and the influence of the southern universities—a system in which they get to shape and, in effect own, programming developed through the colleges,” added Saul. Nunatsiaq

UPEI, Holland sign pair of MOUs in China

The University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College have signed Memoranda of Understanding with postsecondary schools in China during a recent trade mission to the country’s Hainan province. The mission came in the wake of Prince Edward Island’s recent renewal of a cooperation agreement with Hainan. One of the agreements signed this week will see UPEI partner with Hainan University's Centre of Island Studies of the State Oceanic Administration to establish a research network on island economies. The other will see Holland collaborate with Hainan College of Vocation and Technique and Hainan Technician College to develop mutually beneficial programs for their students, faculty, departments, and research institutes. CBC

Looking to community engagement, not international rankings to know university’s true value

“There are three main problems that make international rankings a poor mechanism for assessing, improving or differentiating any but the top few dozen universities in the world,” writes Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter for World University News. The first issue Petter notes is that current rankings systems use indicators that disproportionately benefit the world’s biggest and wealthiest universities. Second, Petter argues that rankings are relative and only indicate the relative position of schools to one another rather than a stable value. The third problem is that even while rankings might effectively differentiate the top 50 schools in the world, Petter argues that the rankings become much less reliable once one gets outside the top 200. Petter concludes by arguing that a school’s level of engagement with its local community and its needs is a much better differentiator than its ranking in an international system. University World News

Anti-racism group at McMaster to release report, calls to action

McMaster University student Sarah Jama says that she hopes that an anti-racism group she helped organize will inspire concrete action in the Hamilton community when it releases a collaborative report this Friday. The report will feature a set of demands from the group and other grassroots initiatives that will be used to assign specific tasks and responsibilities in the effort to combat racism. Categories for immediate action will include police brutality, racism against Aboriginals, hate crimes, and gentrification of the city's marginalized neighbourhoods. The initiative and report were reportedly put together by Jama and social worker Sara Adjekum “using a community-based participatory research approach” that was intended to engage the Hamilton community in conversations about race. Hamilton Spectator

ULethbridge, Lethbridge students collaborate in fashion design

Students from the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College recently collaborated on “Mapping the Body,” an artistic project intended to push students’ technical abilities and artistic talents in the realm of fashion design. Lethbridge News Now reports that the collaboration builds on the success of a diploma-degree pathway agreement that currently exists between the institutions. Event creator and co-curator Jorge Sandoval of ULethbridge notes that some of the students’ designs “are very social and political in their themes. Others are more abstract, and we have all of these beautiful pieces.” Co-curator and Lethbridge College Instructor Brenda Bradley adds that “the students that decided to become part of the exhibition are the ones that have been dying to do something more creative. They're the ones who really just want to do something fun.” Lethbridge News Now