Top Ten

April 11, 2017

Canada releases report from massive review of federal science funding

Canada has released the results of what has been described as the most comprehensive review of federal science funding in four decades. The Globe and Mail reports that the newly issued report contains 35 detailed recommendations, which include a call for the creation of a senior-level advisory council that would guide the organizations that make up Canada’s federal science funding apparatus. “We really believe that better oversight to ensure maximum value from investments along with significant increases in funding in targeted areas are the way forward,” said David Naylor, former president of the University of Toronto and chairman of the nine-member panel that conducted the review. Globe and Mail | Report

Aga Khan funds $25M Mughal garden at UAlberta

A Mughal garden covering nearly 12 acres was unveiled last week at the University of Alberta thanks to a $25M gift from the Aga Khan. The Edmonton Journal reports that the garden has become the centrepiece of the 240-acre UAlberta Botanic Garden. While the new addition has been inspired by history and Islamic garden traditions, Thomas Woltz, the owner of the landscape architecture firm behind the garden, explains that “the garden from the beginning was not intended to be a garden about faith or religion.” The unveiling of the space was accompanied by the renewal of a memorandum of understanding between UAlberta and Aga Khan University for another five years, continuing the decade-long relationship between the institution and Aga Khan. Edmonton Journal

NL budget forces students deeper into debt: CFS

“Students are facing an uncertain and indebted future” due to changes in student aid announced in the most recent Newfoundland and Labrador budget, writes the Canadian Federation of Students. Last week, the province announced that it would cut Memorial University’s operating budget by $3M, a change that the CFS argues will be felt largely by students in spite of the province’s continuing tuition freeze. The CFS adds that the most concerning aspect of the new NL budget is its remodeling of student financial assistance, which the organization says will push students to rely more heavily on federal loans, which will result in larger debt loads and higher interest rates for students. CFS

SLC students bestow second-largest donation in college’s history

St Lawrence College has received a gift of $2.5M from the Kingston Student Association, an amount that the school says is the second-largest philanthropic gift it has ever received. The donation was made to the school’s ongoing Uncommon Campaign and will be used to support the construction of the school’s Student Life & Innovation Centre. “I’m really proud of the student government, and of the entire student body, for choosing to make such a significant investment in a legacy for future generations,” said SLC President Glenn Vollebregt. “St Lawrence College puts students first and it’s great to see that tradition carried on by today’s students for students of the future.” SLC

MacEwan prepares to open $181M Centre for Arts and Culture

MacEwan University is preparing to open a new arts and culture centre that has been years in the making, reports CBC. The 428,000-square-foot structure is five stories tall and features recording studios, theatres, and a restaurant. Yet while most of the public will experience the space as a recital hall and art gallery, the centre is “first and foremost […] a teaching and learning facility,” says MacEwan Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communication Allan Gilliland. Project Manager Brendan Trayner tells CBC that one of the most challenging aspects of building the centre has been ensuring proper acoustics in the performing areas. “For example, you're a student and you want to do an impromptu performance in the middle of the atrium, you want to make sure it doesn't just sound like an echo chamber,” says Trayner. The centre is set to open in September 2017. CBC

McMaster helps students “Arrive and Thrive” amidst growing PSE pressures

A program at McMaster University called Arrive and Thrive is helping students find relief from stress by exploring hidden and calming parts of the school’s campus, writes Jeff Mahoney for the Hamilton Spectator. The program aims to provide students an escape from “crippling stress, anxiety, substance abuse, [and] loneliness” through a variety of programs that include WIND, or Walk in Nature Days. Hadi Eslani, a graduate business student originally from Iran, tells the Spectator that he has benefited greatly from Arrive and Thrive and hopes it can attract continued funding from the university. “The university takes fire hazards seriously, so why not stress hazards,” says Hadi, who adds that he believes Arrive and Thrive should be a required program for incoming students. Hamilton Spectator

Canada’s AI efforts showcased in NYT

“Canada is not really reaping the benefits from this AI technical leadership and decades of investment by the Canadian government,” according to Tiff Macklem, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Macklem’s comment appears in a recent New York Times article chronicling Canada’s efforts to grow and keep burgeoning businesses in artificial intelligence within its borders. The Times highlights how the country has worked to encourage collaboration between businesses and PSE institutions in this field to spur innovation, with the opening of Toronto’s Vector Institute serving as a prominent example. The article closes with a discussion of how the election of Donald Trump may also help Canada’ s efforts in this regard by driving companies and experts northward. New York Times

Laurentian students voice dismay after referendum rejects mental health services expansion

Laurentian University students are expressing disappointment after a recent referendum rejected a plan to increase student mental health services at the university. The change would have required students to pay a $90 fee instead of $20, and would have supported the hiring of four new counsellors. Some students have asked why a service as essential as mental health care would be subject to a referendum, yet Laurentian Student Life Director Erik Labrosse says that the referendum was necessary due to the nature of the school's partnership with student organizations. Labrosse adds that in spite of the referendum’s result, the school will continue to look for ways to bring in more counsellors. CBC

RRC opens new project space in Innovation Alley

Red River College recently celebrated the grand opening of two new program spaces in an area of Winnipeg known as Innovation Alley, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. The first of the initiatives, ACE Project Space, partners students with entrepreneurs-in-residence to collaborate on new technologies and product development. The second initiative, North Forge, also announced the creation of two new resources for business. “This is about students working hand-in-hand with private industry on real-world projects in real time,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “It provides our students with leading-edge, hands-on training and experience, while providing startups with much-needed technical support.” Vogt added that the school is currently working towards a $90M development project for downtown Winnipeg. RRC | Winnipeg Free Press

BC universities lease campus space to private Chinese high schools

A number of BC universities are leasing campus space to private Chinese high schools with the hope of increasing brand awareness in China, boosting revenue, and increasing international enrollment, reports The Province. The practice has caused friction with faculty and postsecondary students, some of whom have expressed concern with the notion of publicly funded campuses giving up space to private corporations. Thompson Rivers University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University have reportedly agreed to lease campus spaces to these schools, while the University of Northern British Columbia is considering doing the same. Dawn Sutherland, president of Maple Leaf Education North America, calls criticism of the initiatives “overblown” and says that Maple Leaf’s first Canadian school, opened on TRU’s campus, has been “hugely successful.” The Province