Top Ten

July 7, 2017

Canada launches $1.26B fund for public-private partnerships, R&D, and more

The federal government has formally announced a $1.26B strategic innovation fund that will benefit all sectors. This fund is open to all industries and will support four types of innovation activities: research, development, and commercialization of new products and services; growth and scale-up of high-potential firms; attraction of new investments to Canada; and public-private collaborations in developing and demonstrating new technologies. “The Strategic Innovation Fund is designed to reflect the diversity of innovative sectors that exist in Canada and to encourage cross-sector partnerships,” explained Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains. “This fund is an investment in jobs and skills training for Canadians. Putting Canada at the forefront of innovation will equip Canadians with the in-demand skills they need for well-paying middle-class jobs now and into the future.” Canada

UAlberta professors call on university to address pay inequity

The Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta is urging the school’s administration to address pay inequities that affect professors who are women, Indigenous, or a visible minority. A new study released by the group examined data that was available through the Alberta “sunshine list” and found that men on the list earned an average of $181,843, compared to $163,340 for women. Among professors identified as visible minorities, the average pay was $173,900 for men and $164,519 for women. AASUA President Carolyn Sale noted that the analysis was limited because researchers had access only to the “sunshine list” information. The university has since responded with a written statement saying that the provost’s office already has two existing working groups that are focused on identifying gaps in equity. Edmonton Journal

QC principals, rectors face a difficult task

A combination of factors has made the job of university leader particularly difficult in Quebec, writes Jean-François Venne for University Affairs. Since 2015, nine universities in the province have seen their executive leaders either leave during or immediately after their first mandate. Venne reports that QC budget cutbacks have pushed higher ed leaders to alienate many institutional stakeholder groups and to prioritize balanced budgets above other institutional concerns. Venne notes that the open voting processes that govern the selection and appointment of some school leaders in QC might discourage many qualified candidates from risking the public embarrassment of being defeated in a vote. Further, Venne notes that compensation for many rectors in QC is barely above that of many professors. Finally, Venne concludes that one of the biggest challenges to being a university leader in QC is that these officials simply do not garner much support from the QC public. University Affairs

Keyano plans for leaner, upgraded programming in response to AB downturn

Keyano College says that it is preparing for a future with a smaller student body enrolled in upgraded programs at a refurbished campus, reports Fort McMurray Today. The article notes that many of the college’s major building projects remain on hiatus due to the downturn in the Alberta economy. Instead, the campus is focusing on improving everything from washrooms to student housing and existing classroom infrastructure, and pursuing a renewed focus on rural outreach. “We’re not focused on expanding, but on ensuring the institution is in good shape,” said Keyano President Tracy Edwards. “Based on the downturn in the economy, we basically feel our current infrastructure will meet our needs with some upgrades.” Fort McMurray Today

MRU opens doors to Riddell Library & Learning Centre

Mount Royal University has officially opened the doors to Riddell Library & Learning Centre after years of construction and planning that began in 2006. The Calgary Journal reports that the nearly 16,000 square-metre building marks an “extreme upgrade” from the university’s previous library. The new building features four floors that house classrooms, learning labs, group and individual study areas, computer rooms, MRU’s Peer Tutor program, and the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. In addition to the expanded space and resources, the facility provides new technology to assist learning, including treadmill desks and an immersion room for 360 video. Calgary Journal

Ryerson asks for clarification on RSU demand to rename school, tear down statue of namesake

Ryerson University has released a statement saying that it is awaiting clarification from the school’s student union regarding recent demands that include changing the school’s name and tearing down a statue of its namesake. Earlier this week, the Ryerson Student Union released a list of 11 demands that included a demand to rename the school and remove a statue of Egerton Ryerson, on the basis that Ryerson’s ideas contributed to the creation of Canada’s residential school system. “We understand the RSU is meeting on July 19 to clarify this campaign and their internal processes. We await the outcome of this meeting and we look forward to hearing the RSU’s concerns through official channels so that we can work together productively,” reads an emailed statement by a university spokesperson. University of Calgary Professor Emeritus Donald Smith has penned an editorial for the Globe and Mail contesting the notion that Egerton Ryerson was anti-Indigenous. Metro | Globe and Mail (Editorial Response) |Times Colonist | Global News | Inside Higher Ed

UOIT partners with Brazilian educational institute

A new agreement between the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the Brazilian educational institute Lato Sensu Educational Centre (Colégio Lato Sensu) will create new international study opportunities for Brazilian secondary school students. The agreement will see the institutions cooperate in the areas of academic university preparation and pathways, teaching, and collaboration. “Colégio Lato Sensu is a group of highly academic Brazilian schools whose students are prepared for critical thinking and innovative modes of education, which we focus on at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology,” said Joe Stokes, Associate Registrar. “We expect our future collaboration to enrich the lives of the students at Colégio Lato Sensu, as well as the students within our university community.” UOIT

Fear of embarrassment, attachment to old practices prevent adoption of best teaching practices

Anthropologist Lauren Herckis took a year to investigate why an American university was failing to adapt its own research on best practices in teaching into classroom practices, and found that the root of the problem stemmed from the lecturers themselves. Herckis’s research revealed that a key barrier faced by lecturers was a fear of embarrassing themselves in front of students, followed by “a desire to get good [student] evaluations” and an attachment to a “very strong” idea of what constituted good teaching. The article goes on to discuss how the field of “implementation science” used in medicine, which investigates the adoption of best practices by doctors, should be applied to higher education. Times Higher Education

SAIT engineering program receives five-year TAC accreditation

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Engineering Design and Drafting Technology program has received accreditation from Technology Accreditation Canada for five years. The auditors highlighted facets of the program, such as its strong connection with industry and the capstone project showcase, as excellent networking and skills development opportunities for students. “We are very pleased to have achieved TAC accreditation for our Engineering Design and Drafting Technology program, proving it has practical value to our stakeholders and that the skills and knowledge of our graduates are aligned to the requirements of our industry partners,” says SAIT School of Construction Dean Scott MacPherson. TAC

U of T’s Robarts Common to add 1,200 student study spaces

Construction is set to begin this month on a new expansion that will add 1,200 new student study spaces to the University of Toronto’s downtown library. The school reports that Robarts Common will bring the total number of study spaces to 6,000. The addition to the library’s western side will reportedly include a wraparound glass facade and a range of study spaces, from carrel desks to amphitheatre-style tiered seating. The addition will offer 32 meeting rooms, Wi-Fi access, and wireless printing. “It’s entirely devoted to student seating and study space,” says U of T Chief Librarian Larry Alford of the new expansion, adding that “it is very badly needed. At exam times, you see people sitting on the floor in places. There’s just not enough seats.” U of T | Blog TO