Top Ten

May 9, 2017

U of T professor to lead Uber research group on driverless car technology

Uber has tasked a University of Toronto professor with leading a new Toronto-based research group devoted to driverless car technology, reports the Toronto Star. The Advanced Technologies Group will be led by U of T Computer Science Professor Raquel Urtasun, who holds a Canada Research Chair in machine learning and computer vision. Uber says that it plans to hire dozens of researchers and engineers in the coming years, and that it will make a multimillion-dollar, multi-year commitment to the Vector Institute. “The University of Toronto has long been considered a global leader in artificial intelligence research,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “That’s why we’re so pleased to see Professor Raquel Urtasun, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of machine perception, take on this incredibly exciting role.” Toronto Star | Bloomberg | Metro | Wired | Business Insider

Harvard launches program aimed at training Indigenous communities for financial success

Harvard Business School held its first annual Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities program last week. The program aimed to provide professionals from Indigenous communities with enhanced skills and ideas for managing their business and resources. The Globe and Mail reports that over 60 Indigenous people from across Canada and the US attended the four-day course, which featured classes on practices and governance strategies, and saw attendees brainstorm new solutions to the issues facing their home communities. “It’s a great way to collaborate with their peers … And together through this collaboration there’s ways to work together, there’s ways to share best practices,” said Meagan Hill, a Mohawk member of the Six Nations. Globe and Mail

USask, professor respond to allegations of inappropriate Monsanto ties

The University of Saskatchewan and one of its professors state that they have done nothing wrong in their communications and collaborations with the agri-business company, Monsanto. CBC reports that these comments come in response to allegations leveled by Gary Ruskin of US Right to Know, who shared 700 pages with CBC documenting Monsanto’s communications and involvement with academics, including Peter Phillips, a distinguished professor in the U of S Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. CBC reports that the documents in question show that Monsanto “coached Phillips on social media and public relations strategies,” “enlisted Phillips to help solve its problems with U.S. government agencies,” and “edited U of S academic articles with no public mention of the corporation’s role.” Phillips and the university have stated that all of their dealings with Monsanto have been transparent, that no money changed hands, and that academics have a mandate from universities and granting agencies to collaborate with industry partners. CBC

RRU, Songhees Nation sign MOU over future of RRU land

Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University have signed a memorandum of understanding that provides a framework for how the groups will work together regarding the future of Royal Roads’ property. The Royal Roads property is located in the Traditional Territory of the Lekwungen, but is presently owned by Canada and managed by the Department of National Defence. A recent DND decision found that the property was in surplus of the DND’s needs, and the Department has entered discussions with Songhees Nation and other First Nations about the future of the RRU property. RRU states that for the Songhees Nation, this property is key to the process of reconciliation and an important part of reaching a modern-day treaty settlement. RRU

UNBC president faces questions about email seen as supporting BC Liberals

University of Northern British Columbia President Daniel Weeks has faced recent criticism after sending an email to the UNBC community that some perceived as giving a political endorsement to the BC Liberals. The Prince George Citizen reports that Weeks sent a message highlighting his support for a BC Liberal proposal to increase STEM graduates at UNBC. Not long after, Weeks received a letter from CUFA-BC President James Johnson stating that the platform in question was also supported by the provincial Greens and NDP, and that Weeks’ comments “could fairly be interpreted as an endorsement for the re-election of the Liberal government.” Weeks did not wish to comment further, but did respond with a letter to the CUFA-BC saying that it is his policy to remain impartial on political matters. “Providing you an update was not intended to be an endorsement or to express support for any particular party,” wrote Weeks. Prince George Citizen

Australian university creates clear expectations for career development with incoming students

“We’re not preparing people to be students here, but professionals—we are saying ‘you are a professional and you need to think of yourself as one,’” says Attila Brungs, president of the University of Technology Sydney. Brungs, who is also a former manager at McKinsey and a trained research chemist, notes that part of his school’s orientation program is an event that sees incoming students put on shirts and ties for a professional photo shoot. Brungs states that this helps create clear professional expectations for students on day one of PSE. UTS has also integrated internships into its curriculum and provided space for on-campus business startups to provide students with a broad range of opportunities to think more strategically about their careers as they move through PSE. Times Higher Education

ECUAD, Two Rivers Gallery partner on launch of Omineca Arts Centre in Prince George, BC

Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Two Rivers Gallery have partnered on the launch of the Omineca Arts Centre in Prince George, BC. The centre reportedly aims to enhance regional capacity for arts and culture through events, exhibitions, residencies, workshops, educational programming, and research. “This project space has catalyzed new energy from the Prince George community, and we feel incredibly proud to be part of this new chapter,” said Kate Armstrong, Director of Living Labs at ECUAD. The project was initiated by an emerging group of artists, curators, and community organizers who are based in Prince George, in collaboration with the university and gallery. ECUAD

“Professionalization of social media” is making students miserable: Chronicle

“I think of myself, my name, as a brand,” says a young woman in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, describing the way in which she makes sure to always appear professional on social media. Donna Freitas writes that students like this one are being driven by fear to become more vigilant about how they appear on social media, but adds that “while that shift has been good in some ways, they, and we, have lost something in the evolution.” Freitas notes that the idea of treating one’s personality as a “brand” online cannot coexist with the message of “be yourself,” which leads many students to lead more anxiety-driven, alienated lives. “At stake in our conversations and teaching about social media are not only the future of our students but also their happiness—and their capacity to be vulnerable, too,” the author concludes. Chronicle of Higher Education

Dal to build new concert hall with support of $5M private donation

Dalhousie University has announced that it will build a new Halifax-based concert hall, thanks to the support of $5M from local businessman and Holocaust survivor Morris Strug. The future performance space will be part of a planned $27.7M expansion to the Dalhousie Arts Centre, and will be accessible to both the Fountain School of Performing Arts and the broader arts community. “This will be a wonderful boost to our music students,” says Jacqueline Warwick, director of the Fountain School of Performing Arts. “For years, we have sought other venues for student recitals and concerts. Now, we can have them rehearse and perform in a hall whose acoustics are specifically designed for that kind of fantastic sound.” Metro

Ryerson hospitality, tourism management program receives Tourism HR Canada accreditation

Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management says that it has become the first university-level program in Canada to be accredited by Tourism HR Canada. The accreditation has come specifically through the SMART Accreditation Program, which provides postsecondary institutions an opportunity to demonstrate that their program meets or exceeds industry standards while offering benchmarks that tourism educators can use to improve their programs. “We are honoured and proud to be the first university program in Canada to receive the SMART + Premium accreditation from Tourism HR Canada,” says Frederic Dimanche, director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “This accreditation re-affirms our school’s commitment to providing the education and experience to empower our students to be nimble and agile business leaders in today’s fast-paced tourism economy.” Ryerson