Top Ten

May 18, 2017

Mental health can benefit from a “stepped” approach: MUN counselling centre director

Peter Cornish of Memorial University says that PSE may not face a mental health crisis so much as a “crisis of access.” In an interview with University Affairs, the director of MUN’s counselling centre argues that today’s students are no more mentally ill than those of the past. Rather, Cornish notes that “what’s happened is that ... people want more support to make their lives better and are feeling stressed.” He goes on to describe how MUN has introduced a “stepped” care system to provide more and better access to mental health supports for students. In this system, students understand from the beginning the different levels of support “intensity” they can access. “There’s an assumption that therapy is meant to be all supportive and easy,” adds Cornish. “In fact, it works better when people are ready for a bit of struggle.” University Affairs

CAUT writes to Minster of Science to implement Naylor Report recommendations

The Canadian Association of University Teachers reports that it has written to Canada’s Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan urging the government to act on the recommendations of the Fundamental Science Review. Also known as the Naylor Report, the review's final report calls for a funding increase of $1.3B for basic, non-targeted research in Canada, along with a more balanced allocation of funding across the three federal research granting agencies. “The final report is a comprehensive, evidence-based blueprint to ensure better outcomes for Canadians from federal investment in science,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “I am writing to thank you for your leadership in calling for the Fundamental Science Review…and for your commitment to correcting the diversity of the Canada Research Chairs Program.” CAUT

Traditional manners should return to the professor-student relationship: NYT contributor

“Insisting on traditional etiquette is ... simply good pedagogy,” writes Molly Worthen for the New York Times, adding that “it’s a teacher’s job to correct sloppy prose, whether in an essay or an email.” Worthen pushes back against what she sees as an increasing casualness in the way PSE students communicate with their professors. While there might be some benefits to curbing the professor-student hierarchy of bygone decades, the author notes that there can be a fine line between casualness and outright disrespect, and that this line might be crossed more often with professors “who are young, nonwhite and female—some of whom have responded by becoming vocal defenders of old-fashioned propriety.” “Explaining the rules of professional interaction is not an act of condescension,” concludes Worthen. “It’s the first step in treating students like adults.” New York Times

UCalgary offers first combined Engineering, Commerce bachelor’s in Western Canada

Students at the University of Calgary will no longer have to choose between a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce, thanks to a new combined program that the university says is the first of its kind in Western Canada. The university launched the program earlier this week with support from a $5M gift from Clayton and Linda Woitas and family. A UCalgary release states that the BSc(Eng)/BComm combined program aims to “train a new kind of leader by leveraging the strengths of the world-class business and engineering education offered at the University of Calgary.” “Just as Alberta’s economy is diversifying and growing, so too is the demand for agile, creative problem-solvers who can work across different disciplines,” said UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. “Graduates of this new hybrid program will be equipped with a broad skill set to support their success in a wide range of careers.” UCalgary

Lower-paying jobs are less likely to be replaced by computers than well-paid ones: US report

Many low-paying jobs are at a lower risk of being replaced by computers than high-paying ones, according to a recent US report. The Toronto Star reports that the study in question looked at the lifetime earnings of PSE graduates and found that while those who studied finance, engineering, and computer science made the most money after graduation, these fields face a greater threat from automation than lower-paying jobs in counselling, social work, and early childhood education. “Investment banking is next on the chopping block,” says Amy Webb, founder of a technology consulting firm, adding that engineering will also face similar threats as “the next iteration of artificial intelligence is artificial intelligence creating software for itself.” Toronto Star

TWU to build new residence to keep up with growing enrolments

Trinity Western University has announced that it will build a new residence for the first time since 1992 in an effort to keep up with growing enrolments at the school. The university reports that it has partnered with a contractor to design and build a three-storey building with “west coast-inspired design features” that will accommodate up to 132 students. “A sure sign of our university’s success is the addition of a new residence hall building to accommodate increased enrollment,” says TWU President Bob Kuhn. “Our growth in the past three years provides clear evidence that TWU offers students a unique and attractive blend of excellent education, sincerely caring faculty and staff, and vibrant student community in a beautiful setting – right where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean in beautiful British Columbia.” TWU

Are spurned departments likely to hire someone who has turned them down in the past?

What is the likelihood of a university offering a tenure-track job to someone who had declined the same job before? Karen Kelsky explores this question for Chronicle Vitae, noting that that a candidate is unlikely to be offered the same job again if the same faculty members make up the hiring committee. “Even if they don't carry a grudge, there will probably be a sentiment of having been to this particular dance before, and the offer will probably go to someone who did not turn them down after 20 Skype interviews and three campus interviews.” For this reason, Kelsky recommends that anyone thinking about applying for a job they have turned down in the past should gather as much information as possible about the hiring committee, in addition to having a good explanation as to why they turned the job down the first time. Chronicle Vitae

Lakeland, Athabasca reaffirm college-university pathway commitment

Lakeland College students will continue to enjoy access to university-level programming from Athabasca University, thanks to the renewal of an educational partnership that has existed between the schools for 13 years. The partnership commits the schools to collaborate on assisting students with the completion of an Athabasca degree while at Lakeland. The college’s students will specifically be able to complete a bachelor of commerce or bachelor of management degree in two years through Athabasca after taking Lakeland’s business administration diploma program. After transferring their Lakeland credits, students can take university-level courses to earn a degree in an area of their choice. Athabasca courses are offered primarily online, although a Lakeland release notes that some face-to-face courses are offered at the college’s Lloydminster campus. Lakeland

Have MOOCs really gotten rid of any professors?: IHE contributor

“If MOOCs are a sort of robot, then why haven’t the MOOC robots taken the faculty jobs?” asks Joshua Kim for Inside Higher Ed. Kim notes that when MOOCs first came on the PSE scene, enthusiasts argued that once schools discovered the magic formula for running these courses effectively, they would scale MOOCs upward until they eliminated the need for all but a few expert professors. The author introduces three theories or “guesses” as to what has happened with MOOCs since the initial enthusiasm emerged around them. The first guess is that MOOCs actually have replaced professors and the author has not noticed; the second is that MOOCs have helped those professors who have learned to use them to complement traditional in-class teaching; and third, that MOOCs are “growing the postsecondary pie” by making it available to new audiences rather than clawing back on existing in-class teaching. Inside Higher Ed

NWCC to close Houston Learning Centre

Northwest Community College has announced that it will close its campus in Houston, British Columbia on June 30, 2017. An NWCC release states that the decision was not made lightly, but was ultimately undertaken because enrolment at the Houston Learning Centre had declined “to the point where keeping the doors open is no longer economically viable.” “We know and appreciate the exceptional amount of work the staff, faculty and community have put in to make the Houston campus a success,” said NWCC President Ken Burt. “We routinely hear of the terrific work our staff are doing there and are proud of their efforts. We are hopeful that in time, demand will return sufficiently to reopen the doors.” The closing date has been selected to ensure students studying at the campus will have time to complete their studies. NWCC