Top Ten

October 16, 2017

CFI invests $554M in 117 infrastructure projects

The Canadian government has announced that it will invest $554M in in 117 new infrastructure projects at 61 universities, colleges, and research hospitals across Canada. “Our government understands that scientists need to have the best labs and tools if they’re going to make discoveries that will pave the way to a brighter future for all people,” said Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan at the funding’s announcement. “That’s why today’s funding announcement is so important; it gives scientists and their students the opportunity to further their research in areas where Canada has a competitive advantage. The discoveries, innovations and skills developed in these new, state-of-the-art labs will go a long way in improving our lives, our economy and our future prosperity.” CFI

UBC faces human rights complaint over handling of Furlong speech

A residential school survivor has registered a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal over how the University of British Columbia handled inviting the former Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics CEO to deliver a speech on campus. Myrtle Perry claims that UBC discriminated against her and other First Nations peoples by not responding to their concerns about John Furlong in the same way that it responded to the concerns of Furlong supporters. Perry said that she and her brother, Richard Perry, tried to meet with UBC President Santa Ono last winter after Ono reinstated Furlong’s fundraising speech, but Ono allegedly did not respond. Myrtle further stated that by responding to Furlong supporters but not critics like her and her brother, UBC has “provided non-Indigenous people with a service – that of listening, responding and apologizing, but denied the service to First Nations people.” APTN News

Universities introducing term limits for Canada Research Chairs to meet diversity targets

Universities across Canada are introducing term limits for their Canada Research Chairs in an effort to meet new diversity targets established by a court settlement. The federal government told universities in May that they had until December 15th to write an action plan on how to boost the diversity of their nominees, and another 18 to 24 months to follow through on those plans, or else risk losing their research chair funding. The University of Ottawa tells the Globe and Mail that it is now limiting Tier 1 chairs to two terms as a way to get new academics into the program. “This will help our university to meet its equity targets,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, interim vice-president of research. Other institutions that are beginning to voluntarily limit the terms of their chairs include York University, Queen's University, and the University of Montreal. Globe and Mail

Atlantic universities see stable enrolment despite demographic declines

Despite ongoing demographic declines, universities based in Atlantic Canada have seen enrolments remain stable and, in some cases, grow. This is according to preliminary enrolment data released by the Association of Atlantic University, which found that overall full-time enrolment among both undergraduate and graduate students declined by only 0.3% year-over-year. Enrolment among full-time graduate students, however, grew by 2.4% year over year, as did international student enrolment, which grew by 4.3%. “The continued growth in international students choosing to study at universities in Atlantic Canada is a good news story for the future of the region,” said University of Prince Edward Island President Alaa Abd‐El Aziz. AAU

Judge denies judicial review of how UAlberta handled campus anti-abortion demonstration

A campus group that staged an anti-abortion protest at the University of Alberta has lost a court challenge over how the school handled the event. The Edmonton Journal reports that UAlberta Pro-Life was seeking a judicial review of the university’s decision not to investigate the group’s complaint that counter-demonstrators should have been disciplined for blocking its displays in 2015. The group also wanted a review of the university’s decision that the group would have to pay $17.5K to cover security costs to hold a similar anti-abortion protest in 2016. Justice Bonnie Bokenfohr of Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed both applications, ruling that UAlberta Pro-Life was treated fairly and the university was within its rights to require the club to pay for security if it wanted to hold another protest. Edmonton Journal

Faculty, staff emails possibly accessed in phishing scams: Carleton

Carleton University notified faculty and staff last week that their names and email addresses might have been accessed by several email phishing scams in September. The message noted that “neither Carleton University’s systems nor databases were breached and no sensitive personal or financial information was affected” by the phishing campaigns, yet added that names and email addresses may have been accessed. The incidents first occurred on September 24 and 25, when a large number of phishing emails appeared to come from Carleton’s Advancement department. Another phishing campaign occurred on September 28. The campaigns were launched from an account that Carleton had set up with a third-party service provider. Based on the investigation, the school believes the emails were sent because the Carleton account credentials were compromised. Ottawa Citizen

USask veterinary school to lose $8M following AB withdrawal

The University of Saskatchewan has learned that the Alberta government plans to withdraw from a longstanding agreement that will move millions of dollars earmarked for the institution’s school of veterinary medicine to the University of Calgary. Alberta’s decision to withdraw its financial support from the (Western College of Veterinary Medicine) — more than $8M million per year — will certainly have an impact on the WCVM’s programs and services,” said WCVM Dean Douglas Freeman in a statement. The WCVM was established in 1963 by the four western provinces through a cost-sharing agreement. Alberta currently funds 20 seats at the college for a total cost of $8M million. “We will not let the loss of support from one partner jeopardize our college’s value to all western Canadians,” Freeman added. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Undergraduate research is worth the effort of overcoming barriers: Malachowski

“Over the past 30 years, more and more faculty members and institutions have embraced undergraduate research as a way to further faculty research and to enhance student learning,” writes Mitchell Malachowski. The author notes, however, that differing departmental cultures can make undergraduate research much easier to promote in some disciplines than others. Malachowski further notes that in order to further the cause of undergraduate research, advocates will need to overcome the belief that undergraduates lack the skills to contribute meaningfully to research, in addition to tenure and promotion systems that do not reward professors who involve undergraduate students in research. Chronicle of Higher Education

Concordia receives $3.9M for sustainable energy, smart-grid security research

Concordia University has received a gift of $3.9M from Hydro-Québec to support its engineering and computer science faculty with research on sustainable energy and smart-grid security. The funds will also support a number of merit-based student awards. Professor of electrical and computer engineering Pragasen Pillay explains that his research focuses on “special machines for electric vehicles as well as renewable energy technologies, mainly targeting remote communities but also for use in urban environments during emergencies when powerful loads are required.” Montreal Gazette

Lakehead opens new medicine wheel garden

Lakehead University has opened its new medicine wheel garden, which Fort Williams Chief Peter Collins says is “a very inspiring moment for the university and also Fort William in partnership.” The garden is intended to provide a welcoming place for students from all over the world. “You come from everywhere (and) you’re here on our territories and it’s an honour to have your presence,” says Tannis Kastern, a fourth-year Indigenous Learning student and Student Union Board of Directors member. “If you ever need to come and take a break, that is what this place is for. You don’t have to be Indigenous to come and utilize this space.” Anishinabek News