Top Ten

May 25, 2017

Academic journalism to find new home in Canada

An international news organization powered by academics and funded by universities will soon arrive in Canada, reports the Toronto Star. The Conversation Canada will join the network of other countries in which The Conversation currently operates. Created in Australia in 2011, the outlet partners academics with professional journalists to ensure that academic insights become accessible to the broadest possible audience. “I think it was shortly after Brexit and of course with the rise of Trump in the States that the sites really took off,” says David Estok, vice-president of communications at the University of Toronto. “There was this recognition of a real need for high-quality, analytical, what we’re calling academic journalism.” The Conversation Canada is set to start up in summer 2017. Toronto Star

URegina announces layoffs, elimination of vacant positions in response to budget cuts

The University of Regina announced layoffs this week in response to a recent cut to its funding by the Saskatchewan government. A university release states that the cuts will include eight layoffs, the elimination of 11 vacant positions, and a reduction of hours for three vacant positions. These cuts come in addition to the 13 university-supported positions at URegina's University Club, which received layoff notices in April. In total, 35 positions have been affected by budget reductions, including those at the University Club. “We are losing some very important members of our University family—people whose services to our students and our community will be missed,” said URegina President Vianne Timmons. “Without adequate government funding, our ability to support student success, produce innovative research and contribute to the economic health of our province will be eroded.” Regina Leader-Post | URegina

Universities must learn from, respond to populist criticism: U of T professor

“For many, universities do not represent opportunity or self-realization, but instead elite self-regard and academic exchanges in which they see no relevance,” writes Mark Kingwell for Academic Matters. The author argues that universities must learn from the rise of anti-academic sentiment and acknowledge the role they have played in this trend. Speaking to the common belief that academics are closed off from day-to-day life, Kingwell notes that “[sometimes], like many of us, all I want to do is go to the library and make notes for an article or critical notice, which I am certain will not be read by more than a few like-minded colleagues.” But if academics continue to choose this option, the author adds, enrolments will continue to decline and public denunciations of university as an ivory tower will become even more common. Academic Matters

Confederation president speaks on the need for colleges to adapt

Colleges need the ability to adapt quickly is they are going to survive in an era of enrolment challenges and changing demographics. This was the message that Confederation College President Jim Madder delivered earlier this week, adding that schools like Confederation—located in Thunder Bay—will need to attract students from southern Ontario as the population of young people in their region declines. Madder noted that over the past three years, Confederation has been able to double its number of students from the south while enrolling 634 international students from 18 countries. Confederation is also reportedly hoping that the opening of the Minowaadiziiwin Wellness Centre and a coming tech hub will attract even more students. “One of the characteristics of a college is constantly looking at what it’s doing, how it’s doing it. Is it in the right place?” noted Madder, stressing the importance of continuous improvement at his school. tbnewswatch

Using first names is an important part of an open campus culture: IHE contributor

“My conclusion is that the more confident, secure, and calm an institutional leader feels about her or his authority, the more likely they will want to be called by their first name,” writes Joshua Kim for Inside Higher Ed. The author writes that calling colleagues and leaders by their first name creates a leveling effect that promotes the sharing of information. Further, Kim argues that academic leaders who speak with staff using first names are also more likely to exhibit a vital sense of curiosity and to ask questions about the operations of the school. “I do understand why some presidents, provosts, or deans would want to be addressed by title,” Kim notes, but adds that “values such as modesty, listening, and collegiality seem to be reinforced when leadership, faculty, and staff all speak to each other using given names.” Inside Higher Ed

Cégep de Sept-Îles receives investment of $2.7M for research, innovation infrastructure

Cégep de Sept-Îles will have new opportunities to support research and innovation activities, thanks to a combined $2.7M investment form the governments of Canada and Quebec. A federal release notes that the school will use the funding to optimize the energy performance of the heating systems in all of its buildings and to improve the thermal resistance of its main building’s envelope. “With this innovative project, Cégep de Sept-Îles confirms its leadership in matters of energy efficiency, an area in which much research and development is taking place,” said Sept-Îles Director General Donald Bherer. The Government of Canada is providing $1.32M of the investment, while Quebec is providing $1.42M. Canada

Nipissing becomes home to StatsCan Research Data Centre

Researchers at Nipissing University will now have local access to confidential, large-scale survey data from Statistics Canada through the new Research Data Centre located on the university’s campus. Researchers from Nipissing and those visiting the university will now be able to study data collected from a long list of surveys to help them explore a wide variety of Canadian social and economic issues. Funding for the project was secured by David Zarifa, Canada Research Chair in Life Course Transitions in Northern and Rural Communities and associate professor of Sociology at the school. “Thank you to the federal and provincial governments for their investment in Nipissing University,” said Nipissing President Mike DeGagné. “This funding is a boon to our faculty, our students and our local community.  It enhances our capacity to conduct research exploring a wide variety of Canadian social and economic issues on a range of topics.” Nipissing | Bay Today | MyNorthBayNow

Ottawa surprised by high number of Canada Summer Jobs funding requests after predicting shortfall

It could be considered a “bit of a miracle” that nearly 42,000 businesses have applied to hire a student through the Canada Summer Jobs program, reports the Canadian Press. The number surpasses the amount of applications received last year, even as federal officials predicted earlier this year that applications would fall short of the government's goals. The expected shortfall was the driving force behind the Liberals’ decision in January to extend the application period for an extra two weeks, giving federal officials and MPs more time to promote the program in regions where applications were coming up short. The CP reports that it is not yet clear how many jobs will come from the applications, as employers sometimes withdraw from the program despite being approved for funding. BNN (CP)

Mother receives honorary degree after accompanying quadriplegic son to all his MBA classes

A Southern California university awarded an honourary degree this week to the mother of a quadriplegic student after she accompanied him to every class and took notes for him throughout his Master of Business Administration. Retired elementary school teacher Judy O’Connor pushed her son onstage in his wheelchair during commencement proceedings last Saturday at Chapman University in the Los Angeles. Once she was onstage with her son, O’Connor learned from the ceremony’s announcer that she would also receive an MBA from the school, an idea initially conceived by her son. When asked prior to the ceremony about her time in class, O’Connor remarked, “I’m a geek. I love being in school. I’m not going to lie. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” National Post (AP)

“Living lab” clinic among spaces to benefit from $2.2M investment in UPEI

The University of Prince Edward Island has received $2.2M to renovate two spaces that support research by professors and students at the school. $1.53M will be used for renovations at Memorial Hall, which is home to the university’s psychology research activities. Additional renovations to UPEI’s Clinic for Patient Oriented Research will expand the school's “living lab” clinic with $673K of the investment. The university says the patient-oriented aspect of the project is important because it will provide a great space for more of the community to visit campus and see the work being done there. CBC