Top Ten

February 8, 2019

City embraces local innovation with $8.5M donation to UCalgary

CBC reports that the City of Calgary has awarded $8.5M to the University of Calgary in support of its Life Sciences Innovation Hub, an incubator for startups and small businesses in sectors as varied as agriculture and biomedical engineering. “This funding is critical to the development of our new Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the University Research Park, a place that accelerates cross-disciplinary projects in discovery and innovation,” said UCalgary President Ed McCauley. UCalgary estimates that 20 to 40 companies per year could be fostered at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, creating as many as 3,100 jobs in Calgary over the next 20 years. CBC |Calgary Herald |UCalgary (AB)

“It is so warm and inviting”: KPU teams up with engineering foundation for FNMI initiative

Kwantlen Polytechnic University will host the Verna J Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program in 2019. According to a release, the initiative supports educational opportunities and activities outside of the classroom for First Nations, Metís, and Indigenous students through research mentorship. “We are very pleased and honoured to be partnering with the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation,” said KPU Associate VP AcademicSteve Cardwell. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for Indigenous youth.” The partnership will feature activities such as computer-aided design and drafting, insect collection and curation, laboratory research on insects that prey on greenhouse and agricultural crops, re-indigenizing Logan Creek floodplain with native species, and turf management. Nation Talk (BC)

McGreevy: The casualties of shrinking teaching loads among tenured US faculty

The question of teachings loads at major research universities is rarely asked “because it’s in no one’s interest to ask it,” writes John T McGreevy. The author explains why all university stakeholders except students themselves have reasons for not challenging the downward pressure on teaching loads that exists among US departments looking to attract top scholars. The author argues that a 2-1 teaching load (two courses in the Fall semester and one in the Winter) has become commonplace at many schools even as institutions face unprecedented financial difficulties. One of the casualties of this trend, McGreevy adds, is the connection between residential liberal arts education and research, as top research professors move toward increasingly lighter teaching loads in the US. Chronicle (Subscription Required) (International)

Lu: McGill varsity athletics Redmen name not “benign”

In response to McGill President Suzanne Fortier’s recent announcement that she needs more time to reflect on a proposed changeto the school’s varsity athletics team name, The Redmen, McGill Professor Catherine Lu looks to debunk the claim from some circlesthat the name is historically benign. Lu notes that the school’s teams have historically incorporated Indigenous imagery and references in a way that solidifies the associations between the name and its racist connotations, a narrative that one cannot erase by focusing solely on the name's origins. “McGill must change the Redmen name,” Lu concludes. “The difficulties of this task, given the strong feelings of some who cling to the name, cannot be a reason to avoid or delay doing the right thing.” Montreal Gazette (QC)

NAIT doubles campus to accommodate significant growth

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has announced that its main campus will double in size now that it has purchased 13.27 hectares of land from the city, along with 4.8 hectares immediately north of campus. “Our pace of growth over the last five years has been very, very significant as we continue to meet those critical labour-market demands for the province,” said NAIT President Glenn Feltham. NAIT stated that a student residence and a skills centre are slated to be among the first planned developments on the newly purchased land. Edmonton Journal |NAIT (AB)

URegina Faculty Association requests mediator; students call for tuition freeze

The University of Regina Faculty Association has asked the Saskatchewan government to appoint a mediator for contract talks that began in April of 2018, reports CBC. The Association’s request follows calls by the URegina Students’ Union to freeze tuition. According to a recent Maclean’s article, URegina is Canada’s fourth-most expensive institution for Canadians living away from home. The university said it sympathizes with students, but added that their fees make up 40% of operating costs. Provost and VP Academic Thomas Chase also cited a 5% cut in the university’s 2017-18 Operating Grant, while SK Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor questioned the university’s tuition structure in light of the fact that it continues to receive the fourth-highest level of government support in the country. CBC|CTV (SK)

Langara launches creative industries school with ArtU San Francisco

Langara College and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco have jointly a creative industries school in Vancouver. The two parties will collaboratively train students for careers in gaming and film in order to meet local industry demand for skilled artists, with a special focus on technology-related creative arts such as VFX and 3D modelling. “These programs will train a workforce needed to fill high demand jobs in this important sector,” said Langara Vice President, External Development Ajay Patel. “We are really excited to work with the Academy to deliver high level programming in the creative arts for games and film.” Langara (BC)

Bridging the gap between technological innovation and technical pedagogy

Universities and governments need to quickly develop actionable strategies to close the growing gap between technological development and technical education, writes Paolo Garcia. Because undergraduate curricula need to teach students good fundamentals rather than inundating them with novel developments and innovations, the author says, the solution to balancing a strong foundation with job-readiness is two-fold: First, universities must orient students in technological fields toward diverse learning experiences; then they must provide more advanced training beyond the undergraduate level. Although technology is surpassing technical education, pedagogy is catching up, Garcia concludes. Electronic Products and Technology(The Conversation) (National)

New education initiative provides crucial opportunities for rural Albertans

Campus Alberta Central, the regional rural education service partner between Red Deer College and Olds College, has established a presence in the Alberta town of Sundre. Iaian Park, Business Development Manager for RDC’s School of Continuing Education, told the Sundre Roundup that such initiatives are crucial because Alberta’s potentially deadly winter storms can prohibit rural people from accessing educational or career paths they would otherwise pursue. “The establishment of a post-secondary learning centre will not only bring about local workforce development, but will also in turn increase investment within the community,” added Jon Allan, Sundre’s Economic Development Officer. The Roundup adds that CAC will consult with the people of Sundre before finalizing its course offerings. Sundre Roundup (AB)

Harris: The zero-sum game of faculty productivity

Productivity tips and tricks can be helpful, writes Michael S Harris, “[b]ut efficiency for efficiency’s sake or to free up time for administrivia is pointless.” To navigate the sometimes blurry line between productivity and busy-work, the author suggests approaching time as a “zero-sum game” such that saying “yes” to a project or task implicitly means saying “no” to another. Harris admits that the dynamic of this trade-off can be anxiety-inducing for junior faculty, who might be torn between two or more opportunities that appear equally vital for a tenure file. The author suggests that junior faculty seek out administrators or senior colleagues for advice if this is the case. Inside Higher Ed (International)