Top Ten

February 7, 2019

Canadian researchers receive $56M boost from governments, industry

Canada’s federal and provincial governments, in addition to industry and research partners, have pledged over $56M in support of 37 research projects across 16 universities. A release states that the Canadian government’s contribution of $22M will support genome research. “Genomics research is driving innovation across many sectors: including health, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, mining, energy and the environment. These exceptional projects we are investing in today encourage strong research partnerships and will help our economy and communities thrive,” said Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan. The remaining funds will boost innovation in sectors such as health, agriculture, natural resources, and the environment, adds the release. Canada (National)

Second Indigenous prof resigns from UManitoba

Citing frustration with administrative barriers, Barry Lavallee has announced his resignation as Senior Physician and mentor in Ongomiizwin education at the University of Manitoba’s School of Medicine. Lavallee alleges that the school's administration chose to conceal systemic problems rather than confront them. “I've got to do something else rather than face a wall that's seemingly impossible. And the wall has people's faces on it who smile at you,” he said. UManitoba President David Barnard said he is concerned by the issues that both Lavallee and former Provost of Indigenous Engagement Lynn Lavallée—who resigned in December of 2018—have raised. “We're committed to Indigenous engagement here,” said Barnard. Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

Dal law faculty questions Mackinnon’s remarks on blackface

A group of law professors at Dalhousie University want the school’s top brass to take a clear stance on blackface, reports the Canadian Press. Their concerns have arisen amidst interim President Peter Mackinnon’s remarks about the topic in his 2018 book, University Commons Divided. "In this book, Mr. MacKinnon characterizes the practice of blackface as ‘frequently, though not always, viewed as racist,’” reads a letter signed by 28 members of Dal’s Schulich School of Law. “These statements have caused us concern about how Dalhousie's policies could be applied to similar facts, should they arise here.” Schulich Professor Kim Brooks added that Mackinnon conflates freedom of expression with racism when he claims that “reasonable people differ” in their opinions on blackface.CBC (CP) (NS)

UQTR receives electrifying donation from Hydro-Québec

The Université du Québec à Trois Rivières has received $1.8M from Hydro-Québec. A release states that $1.2M from the investment will support two new industrial research Chairs, while the remaining $545K will go toward research scholarships and grants in UQTR’s Engineering program. Rector Daniel McMahon said that the donation will enable UQTR’s researchers and students to pursue research and field work that improves the efficiency of energy management, distribution and production. André St-Onge, President of the UQTR Foundation, added that the partners will continue to work toward ongoing initiatives with Hydro-Québec. UQTR (QC)

Saudi losses significant, but not catastrophic: Friesen

While post-secondary institutions across Canada have experienced fairly significant declines in Saudi students since last year’s diplomatic stand-off, the numbers are not as bad as initially feared, reports Joe Friesen. According to Paul Davidson, President of Universities Canada, the federal government quickly engaged with the Saudis to alleviate initial tensions. As the Saudis’ stance softened, Davidson explained, more and more students were permitted to stay. However, the withdrawal’s impact has varied from institution to institution. Friesen states that large universities such as U of T, Queen’s, UAlberta, and York experienced declines of 45-55%, but smaller universities such as Lakehead, VIU, and MSVU all lost well over 50% of their Saudi students. Globe and Mail(Subscription required) (National)

UNB offers unity through new Indigenous program

The University of New Brunswick has launched Mawoluhkhotipon: Ally and Safe Space Program to enhance cultural awareness of Indigenous peoples. “This program was developed in close collaboration between members of the campus community and Elders and Indigenous community members,” said Dan Nagel of the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences. A release states that faculty from Nursing and Health Sciences worked with third-year nursing students to create and refine the educational components of the program. A UNB release states that the university’s Council of Elders gifted the name Mawoluhkhotipon—or “togetherness in space”—and that it represents the goals of the Ally & Safe Space Program. Nation Talk (NB)

How to navigate trust in the classroom

Rob Jenkins writes that “[e]arning students’ trust requires us to do two things—be trustworthy ourselves and demonstrate that we trust them.” To be trustworthy, the author offers an informal “code of conduct” that includes a clear syllabus, consistent office hours, avoiding favoritism, and keeping personal political opinions separate from political arguments in the classroom. Trusting students, Jenkins adds, can be more tricky. The author acknowledges that some students will inevitably abuse trust, but notes that the actions of those few non-trustworthy students should not preclude the potential benefits of trusting those who will appreciate and respond to an instructor’s trust constructively. Chronicle (International)

UQAM accelerates careers with new program

The Université du Québec à Montreal has launched a new Career Accelerator that will allow students and graduates to quickly acquire the necessary practical and interpersonal skills they need to join the job market. A UQAM release states that participants who complete the free program will receive a certificate from the RBC Foundation and ESG+. UQAM ESG+ Dean Komlan Sedzro explained that the Accelerator aims to enable students to develop a network that can contribute to their personal and professional success. UQAM (QC)

Renovating a library space on a limited budget

Taking on a multi-million-dollar library makeover is not always an option for colleges and universities, but there are other, measured approaches that can help an institution incrementally work toward its goal of a digital commons. Dian Schaffhauser discusses how a US university developed a digital commons on a single floor of its facility by engaging in careful consultation, identifying ways to bring together funds, and piloting new structures, furniture, and ideas to see how it was received by students before investing further. “We've had to scale back and that's been OK. I don't think any of us have treated that like a failure,” said Library Director Megan Lowe. “It's just being able to adapt to what our resources are and what our spaces are and what our students want and need.” Campus Technology (International)

Harassment complainants not told that Concordia prof exonerated

Two former creative writing students from Concordia University say they were recently surprised to learn that a professor they accused of sexual harassment had been cleared of any charges in September of 2018. Ibi Kaslik, one of the complainants, said that she approached Concordia Associate VP of Human Resources Carolina Willsher about the matter last month. According to Kaslik, Willsher declined to disclose any details because of privacy concerns. It was only after a lawyer emailed CBC on Monday stating that the professor had been cleared that Kaslik and the other complainant learned of Concordia’s decision. “They haven't actually done a process that is transparent,” said the second complainant. In a statement to CBC, Concordia praised the two women for coming forward. CBC (QC)