Top Ten

April 28, 2017

USask to examine senior administrators’ salaries to address operating grant reduction

University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff says the institution will be “seriously looking at” the salaries paid to its top administrators to address the 5% reduction to its operating grant in the most recent provincial budget. “What’s really important is trying to figure out how, of course, we can best handle the budget, and you want to send a signal from senior administration,” Stoicheff said in an interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix earlier this week. Stoicheff has reportedly not specified whether the university will ask members of its eight unions to accept a pay cut similar to the 3.5% proposed for all government employees by the province. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

SFU launches Canada’s “most powerful academic supercomputer”

Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer has found a home at Simon Fraser University. Known as Cedar, the advanced research computing (ARC) system will aim to assist many of Canada’s world-class researchers across a variety of fields. The launch of Cedar at the new SFU Data Centre on the Burnaby Campus is the product of a partnership between SFU, Compute Canada, and their regional partner WestGrid. “We are honored to be one of the four new national advanced research computing systems that will provide Canadian researchers access to the latest technology and expertise they need to make transformative scientific discoveries,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “SFU is a distinct leader in ARC and Cedar will place us in the world’s top 100 supercomputer installations.” SFU | Inside HPC | EP&T | Scientific Computing World | Daily Hive

“Lowballed” enrolment projections should not excuse decreased funding: OCUFA

Ontario’s forecasts for declining university enrolments must be “taken with a grain of salt,” writes the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, since these projections can have a significant impact on university funding levels. An OCUFA release states that despite ON projections, “fall enrolment in 2016 increased by 2 per cent province-wide,” and that “with the exception of 2014, the trends suggest enrolment will continue to grow.” The release adds that even in cases where demographic shifts result in declining enrolments for some schools, setting enrolment forecasts at lower-than-actual levels “will certainly compound the effect of declining enrolments where they do occur.” OCUFA forecasts that the gap in university funding between ON and the average for the rest of Canada will widen to 37% in the current budget year. OCUFA

RRC looks to spur economic development with new $95M Innovation Centre

Red River College is set to attract an additional 1,200 students to its Exchange District with the construction of a new $95M Innovation Centre. A Manitoba release notes that the $95M will be comprised of a $40.6M investment from the Canadian government and $54.8M from RRC, which plans to launch a major fundraising campaign in the coming months. The release adds that RRC’s new centre will be the first of its kind in Western Canada and will work to stimulate economic development and further growth in its surrounding community. “This is a major step forward for the future of Red River College,” said RRC President Paul Vogt. “It represents a modernization and a new approach to teaching and partnerships while still doing what RRC does best – providing job-ready grads to industry and helping drive economic growth.” MB

Polytechnique Montréal, UMontréal collaborate to launch first of its kind health technology institute

“What if researchers, physicians, engineers, patients, students, equipment vendors, and public health system stakeholders all worked together to devise the medical technologies of tomorrow?” asks a new release from Polytechnique Montréal. This is the question behind the founding of the TransMedTech Institute, a collaboration between Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, and a number of additional partners. The release notes that the project is the only one of its kind in Canada, and that it is dedicated to accelerating the design, development, and implementation of new diagnosis and treatment solutions for cancers, cardiovascular illnesses, and musculoskeletal disorders. The Institute will benefit from $60M in funding from its partners, as well as a $35.6M grant from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund. Polytechnique Montréal

Minister Duncan weighs forcing universities to move on CRC gender equity

Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan says that she is open to forcing universities to make more progress in closing the gender gap in the Canada Research Chair program. The Canadian Press reports that earlier this week, Duncan addressed a group of Canadian university presidents and expressed frustration over current statistics on the number of men and women filling the CRC program positions. Calling them “dismal” in an interview with the CP, Duncan added that “there were two times more men nominated than women. … The bar isn't moving and that can't continue.” The minister added that if the numbers do not improve, she is open to forcing universities to change them, although she reportedly has not specified how the government would do so. Ottawa Citizen (CP)

Lakeland to build Dairy Learning Centre with $16.6M investment

Lakeland College will work to support the training and labour needs of the dairy industry with the creation of a new Dairy Learning Centre. The Centre will benefit from a nearly $6M investment from the Canadian government, which combined with more than $10M from Lakeland will create an overall investment of $16.6M. The new centre will feature a traditional milking parlour and a robotic milking system, and will also focus on cow comfort for higher output production. The centre will also focus on animal care, safety, and transition cow management. Lakeland is reportedly the only postsecondary institution in Western Canada with a dairy specialization as part of its animal science technology program. A federal release notes that the college will also renovate its current cattle and sheep facility into an Animal Health Clinic featuring a modern surgical suite and increased lab spaces. Canada | Lakeland

Higher education is not to blame for the blocking of speakers, controversial events: THE contributor

It has become routine for students to try to disrupt and block controversial campus events, writes Darren Linvill for Times Higher Education, but the author adds that “[just] as routine have become the claims that higher education is the root cause of such behaviour.” Linvill rejects this argument as a form of scapegoating, arguing that students’ desire to shut down opinions contrary to their own is the product of a broader culture in which “we are able to unfollow anyone who posts ideas counter to our own.” Linvill cites research suggesting that faculty have little or no effect on the political ideology of their students, adding that “students don’t come to us as blank slates. They come to us with powerfully preformed attitudes and beliefs; I wish that I had the level of control over my own students that critics seem to think I have.” “We live in self-constructed echo chambers,” Linvill concludes. “The impulses fostered by our polarised, filtered culture may be too ingrained to be overcome, but the costs are too high for us not even to try.” Times Higher Education

UBC, Max Planck, University of Tokyo partner on quantum materials research and innovation

The University of British Columbia has announced that its partnership with the Max Planck Society will expand to include the University of Tokyo, creating the Max Planck - UBC - UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials. The institutions have committed to forge research collaborations across all three institutions, as well as exchange opportunities for scientists and students at the partner institutions. “I am thrilled that UBC researchers will be working alongside top scientists from Max Planck and the University Tokyo to create knowledge for a better future,” said Andrea Damascelli, scientific director of UBC’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute. UBC

Ryerson, Canadian University of Dubai partner on creative education hub

Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communication and Design and the Canadian University of Dubai have announced an international partnership that will see the development of a Creative Incubator in the Dubai Design District and the launch of a new Faculty of Communication and Design at CUD. “This is an exciting partnership for us in a global city known for its innovation and creativity,” says Ryerson Faculty of Communication and Design Dean Charles Falzon. “This collaboration represents an opportunity for us to mobilize talent, ideas and global connections in order to advance cultural industries in both countries.” The new faculty is expected to attract students from over 100 countries. Ryerson