Top Ten

June 11, 2018

Athabasca gets $4.9M to set new institutional direction

Athabasca University will receive a one-time $4.9M grant from the Government of Alberta to pursue a new direction, reports the Edmonton Journal. “We have said all along that once the finances were in order and they had a solid direction to go, government would invest in Athabasca and we are making good on that,” said AB Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt. “We’ve been very pleased with how things have progressed.” AU President Neil Fassina said that the funds will primarily go towards implementing a five-year information technology strategy to shift to a cloud-based environment, improve security protocols, and other updates; the development of a student delivery framework; and implementing the university’s new strategic plan. Edmonton Journal

26 Canadian institutions represented in QS Rankings 2019

Hot on the heels of the THE World Reputation Rankings and Centre for World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings 2019 have been released. QS explains that the rankings are based on six metrics: Academic Reputation, Employer Reputation, Faculty/Student Ratio, Citations per Faculty, International Faculty Ratio, and International Student Ratio. 26 Canadian institutions were represented in the rankings overall, with seven landing in the Top 200: The University of Toronto (#28), McGill University (#33), the University of British Columbia (#47), the University for Alberta (#109), McMaster University (#146), Université de Montréal (tied for #149), and the University of Waterloo (tied for #163). QS (Rankings) | QS (Method)

NSCC faculty, professional support staff vote on self representation

CBC reports that Nova Scotia Community College’s faculty and professional support workers are voting on whether or not to end their relationship with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and become self representing. “We answer to a different [cabinet] minister, our funding model is different [and] our contract is with the board of governors of the community college,” explained NSCC Business Faculty member Ferne MacLennan. “To the best of our knowledge, we're the only college group that's represented by a P-12 union in the whole country.” The cast ballots must see a vote of 50% plus one to make the change. CBC

USask, postdocs headed to mediation for first collective agreement

The University of Saskatchewan and the Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 40004 are headed to mediation for their first collective agreement, according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. PSAC Local 40004 is calling for a better deal for approximately 200 postdoctoral fellows, which PSAC regional vice-president Marianne Hladun describes as higher wages and improved benefits. USask vice-president of people and resources Cheryl Carver said that 95% of USask postdocs make more than the minimum annual stipend of $35K, and noted that the university’s recent offer included a health and dental benefit plan for postdocs. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

A former provost reflects on leaving PSE for consulting

“I didn’t want to be in a situation where I had to constantly worry,” writes Terri E Givens about her initial decision to transition from working as a professor to working as a provost. Yet three years after making this choice, the author notes that she felt burned out by her new administrative role. She then describes how she left to pursue her passion in educational technology by becoming a consultant in this area. In doing so, Givens notes that “what I have learned over the last three years is that one of the most important yet underappreciated resources for academic administrators is the data that we can gather in our programs and how important that data is to the ability of our institutions to thrive in a changing environment.” Inside Higher Ed

Suzuki controversy should inspire solutions rather further critique: Fitzgerald

The controversy surrounding the University of Alberta’s decision to award an honorary degree to David Suzuki has created division when it should be inspiring solutions, writes Mark Fitzgerald, chairman for Canada’s Oil and Natural Gas Producers. Fitzgerald highlights the ways in which Canada’s oil and gas industry is working to create innovations that will help create a lower-carbon future for Canada. “Despite the University of Alberta’s controversial choice, we will continue to invest in math, science and engineering programs in Alberta and across our country,” the author adds, noting that “the climate change challenge needs multi-disciplinary thinking and scientific solutions and Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is central to that work.” Edmonton Journal (1) | Edmonton Journal (2)

Renewing staff, cutting costs at the heart of new MUN retirement incentives program

Memorial University of Newfoundland has set aside $8M for a voluntary retirement program that targets eligible academic and non-academic staff members. CBC reports that MUN has seen its operating budget from the provincial government slowly decline over the years. “We're into kind of a dark, challenging place, trying to maintain the integrity and quality of our programs, to which we're committed,” said MUN Provost and Vice-President Academic Noreen Golfman. Golfman added that part of the incentive is to remove some of the high salaries paid to long-serving, full professors, and open opportunities for the next generation of postsecondary educators. CBC

Canada’s largest cannabis company donates $2.5M to create UBC professorship

“Cannabis prohibition has just been a tremendous failure,” says University of British Columbia Professor Evan Wood. Wood holds the first professorship in Canada aimed specifically at researching the role cannabis can play in addressing the opioid overdose crisis. The two-year position is aimed at producing concrete statistics on the use of cannabis in treating opioid addiction. Canopy Growth Corp, Canada’s largest cannabis company, has announced it will donate $2.5M to establish the position, which will be called the Canopy Growth Professorship in Cannabis Science, and will support the position through the Canopy Growth Cannabis Science Endowment Fund. UBC

UQAM, McGill, UMontréal support French immersion programs for Brazilian universities

Close to 700 students based in Southern Brazil will be able to participate in French second language immersion programs that will be offered with support from the Language School of the Université de Québec à Montréal, in collaboration with McGill University and Université de Montréal. The programs will be offered to students from seven universities in the state of Paraná in Southern Brazil, beginning in August 2018. Professors and teachers from the three institutions have offered language and educational training workshops to Brazilian teachers. For the Government of Paraná, this project is part of a goal of internalization of state universities and aims to foster partnerships with French-speaking countries. UQAM

How heritage programming can help boost study abroad numbers for minority students: Pruitt

Attracting PSE students to study abroad programs can be a challenge, writes William N Pruitt III, but increasing minority participation in these programs is often even more challenging. The author notes, however, that one effective way of encouraging minority students to participate in study abroad is to offer a “heritage program.” These programs provide students with opportunities to pursue a study abroad opportunity that relates directly to that student’s personal history and culture. The article provides a number of examples of these types of programs. Inside Higher Ed