Top Ten

April 4, 2017

U of T poised to lead AI field in collaboration with new Vector Institute

Toronto’s Vector Institute officially opened last week with a mandate to make Toronto a global leader in the research and development of artificial intelligence. A University of Toronto release notes that the independent institute will strive to create more graduates in “deep learning” than any other institute in the world. The release adds that Vector will draw on the expertise of U of T’s deep learning team to conduct research with the support of $50M from the Ontario government and an additional $40M to $50M as part of the federal government’s Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. “What an amazing moment,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “The governments of Ontario and Canada and our industry partners deserve huge credit for the visionary leadership represented in today’s announcement.” CBC | U of T

ON to invest additional $50M in colleges

Ontario has announced that it will invest an additional $50M into the province’s publicly assisted colleges in order to assist a number of “major initiatives that enhance student learning.” Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews announced the new funding yesterday at George Brown College, specifying that the funds will be used to implement specialized teaching software, new lab and shop equipment, and efforts to modernize existing classrooms and labs. The ON government adds that some of the money will support the Northern Colleges Collaboration, a partnership between the six public colleges in Northern Ontario that aims to improve access to PSE in the province's North. CBC

UBC raises Reconciliation Pole to honour victims of residential schools

The University of British Columbia has installed a 17-metre totem pole that will serve as a reminder of “the strength and resilience of the countless children victimized by the residential school system,” reports the Globe and Mail. Carved by Haida Nation hereditary chief James Hart, the Reconciliation Pole benefitted from the artistic contributions of Indigenous artists from across Canada. “My hope for the pole is that it moves people to learn more about the history of residential schools and to understand their responsibility to reconciliation,” said James Hart. “The schools were terrible places. Working on the pole has been difficult but I have loved it too. We need to pay attention to the past and work together on a brighter future.” Globe and Mail

Peterson accuses SSHRC of political motives after being rejected for funding

University of Toronto Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson has stated that his recent rejection by a federal funding body was an act of politically motivated punishment. Peterson, who has generated controversy over his refusal to use genderless pronouns, told Postmedia that his rejection for funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has served as “a convenient opportunity” for the federal agency to “make their displeasure with what I’m doing known.” SSHRC Spokesperson Julia Gualtieri has stated that all grants are awarded through a merit review process, and that “past funding is not a guarantee of further funding.” Gualtieri added that the names of the committee members who reviewed Peterson’s application will be publicly posted once all applicants have been notified of this year's funding decisions. National Post

Universities must lead fight against fake news, writes MRU leader

“For all of us who value academically rigorous and peer-reviewed information, we are staring down a rising tide of troubling developments—the scourge described by many people as fake news,” writes Michael Quinn, Mount Royal University’s associate vice-president of research, scholarship and community engagement. Quinn notes that fake news is as significant a problem for Canada as it is for its neighbours to the south, yet adds that there is hope in research showing how universities can “inoculate” people against the misinformation they encounter. This effort is greatly enhanced, Quinn adds, when universities create more opportunities for professors to engage with the public and for undergraduates to perform independent research. Calgary Herald

CNC gets new campus in Vanderhoof

The College of New Caledonia Vanderhoof campus will be moving from its current leased location to its newly purchased set of buildings on 2.38 acres of land. The new campus will see a variety of CNC's programs, including those in the trades, consolidated in one location. “Our college is very responsive to the communities that we serve,” said CNC President Henry Reiser. “We are excited to be investing in Vanderhoof, and re-locating to the heart of the community. It will be a welcoming place for our students, community members and partners.” The British Columbia government has provided CNC with funding to purchase the property for approximately $1.7M, and will reportedly assist with the renovations and upgrades. Students are expected to begin occupying the campus in Fall 2018. BC | CNC

AB institutions weigh possibility of province-wide sexual assault survey

Representatives from Alberta’s universities and colleges met last week to discuss the benefits of a joint campus climate survey on sexual assault, reports the Edmonton Journal. The meeting came in the final session of a two-day symposium hosted at the University of Alberta, and has led the Journal to suggest that the institutions may move forward with the joint survey. The schools involved reportedly discussed how campus climate surveys are a common and effective way for universities and colleges to collect data on attitudes, behaviours, and the incidence of student sexual assault that help form the foundations of strategic plans. The Journal adds that a jointly-designed survey would give the institutions that ability to compare results across different institutions. Edmonton Journal

McGill receives funding for agri-food innovation consortium, farm management program

McGill University has been awarded a $5M grant for the “Consortium de recherche précompétitive en transformation alimentaire” at the school's Macdonald Campus. This consortium will reportedly help businesses in the food transformation industry become more competitive through increased research and development, as well as new technological innovations. “This Consortium will promote scientific entrepreneurship, talent development, and industrial partnerships and commercialization,” commented Rosie Goldstein, McGill VP, Research and Innovation. “McGill is eager to promote these collaborations in order to encourage innovation in research and to make meaningful advancements that will benefit the world.” McGill also received $3.8M for the three-year Farm Management and Technology Program, which will provide strategic training through the Macdonald Campus for English-speaking farm-business operators. McGill ($5M) | McGill ($3.8M)

Lakehead to create new facility for northern research, innovation

Ontario has announced that it will provide funding to support a new facility at Lakehead University to boost research and innovation, increase lab space, and create 67 new local jobs. A Lakehead release states that the centre will make a meaningful contribution to regional economic development by assisting local businesses with commercializing their products. “Lakehead is proud to be one of Canada’s fastest growing regional research universities,” said Lakehead President Brian Stevenson. “We thank the province for investing in this project and helping us increase our research capacity, which will provide space for our talented researchers and students to conduct work in modern new labs with state-of-the-art equipment.” Lakehead

NIC to offer advanced aquaculture training with help from BC

North Island College will begin offering advanced aquaculture training next year at its Campbell River campus to meet increasing demand from the industry for skilled workers. The Times Colonist reports that British Columbia is contributing $600K to the college to implement the program and promote careers in aquaculture to First Nations, high school students, and others looking for work. The new advanced training will reportedly build on the programming that NIC already offers in the field of aquaculture technician training. “These upper-level aquaculture programs are designed with local students and employers in mind,” said NIC Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives Randall Heidt. “They recognize the skills students already have and provide opportunities for them to develop strong careers in their own communities.” Times Colonist | BC Local News