Top Ten

March 8, 2019

No evidence to justify closed searches for senior admin: OCUFA report

A new report from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations states that closed searches for presidents and senior administrators are becoming more common at the expense of collegial governance. OCUFA notes that the report on collegial governance was undertaken “in response to an increasing level of concern among the OCUFA member associations regarding the ways in which universities are being governed and the erosion of collegial governance at Ontario academic institutions.” Among its findings, the report noted a “marked tendency” towards closed searches for presidents and other senior administrative positions over the past 20 years, adding that within all of its interviews, “no evidence was cited for the value of closed searches.” OCUFA (ON)

UManitoba suspends $1M study after information breach

CBC reports that a $1M study byPeter Jones, a University of Manitoba professor under investigation for fiscal malfeasance and sexual misconduct, has been suspended because the personal health information of over 400 participants has been breached. According to the letter to participants from the university's access and privacy office, an audit found that data was being stored off-site, without encryption, allowing the potential for it to be accessed by a third-party company. UManitoba Spokesperson John Danakas said there is “no evidence” that the data has been inappropriately accessed. The study was originally intended to run for four years and look for correlations between lifestyle and chronic diseases like diabetes. CBC |Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

Snyder: University research partnerships need to better harness IP, talent for good of Canada

“Canada, for all its advances in research and development, routinely gives away huge chunks of its intellectual property rights to foreign multinationals — often through the very academic institutions that it pays to develop innovative new technologies and concepts,” writes Jesse Snyder. The author cites several experts who believe that “lax rules around Canada’s university R&D programs have limited the potential economic outputs of those efforts, which have fallen well short of political ambitions.” While adequate innovation-related funding appears to be available, the author adds, Canada continues to fall short of securing research partnerships that create greater economic benefit throughout the country. Ottawa Citizen (National)

MB will not change vet funding

A spokeswoman for Manitoba’s Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen said that the provincial budget will not include any funding changes for placements into the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan. Because of a longstanding arrangement between Canada’s Western provinces, MB’s pre-veterinary students are only allowed to apply for the USask program. Even with 15 seats reserved for MB students, the Sun adds, only 26% of the province’s applicants are accepted. Western College Dean Douglas Freeman said the institution has been in discussions with government officials in MB, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan for about two years over a new funding arrangement. The Sun reports that MB pays $6M a year to the program. Brandon Sun (MB)

Douglas students to enjoy refreshed learning space thanks to $4M investment

Douglas College has announced that it will invest $4M to provide a more engaging and connected study and learning space for students at its New Westminster Campus library. The college reports that when complete, the new library will feature a defined collaboration space, quiet study and group project areas, updated finishes, and new furniture. “Douglas College is continuously exploring ways to make our students’ experience more productive and engaging,” said Douglas President Kathy Denton. “The new space will be brighter and will integrate with today’s latest technology.” Douglas (BC)

OPSEU skeptical of Canadore’s third-party investigation into harassment allegations

“[W]ithout any worker input into the selection process,” the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says it has “little faith” in a third-party investigator assigned to look into allegations ofsexual harassmentat Canadore College. According to the North Bay Nugget, the college announced it was hiring the investigator upon learning of the allegations, filed by an anonymous complainant to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, through lawyer Gillian Hnatiw. 50 Canadore employees have since approached Hnatiw “about the college’s toxic work environment,” Bay Today adds. In an email to the Canadore community, President George Burton said “[t]he College is in the process of responding to the formal HRTO complaint and will file its legal response in due course.” North Bay Nugget | Bay Today (1) | Bay Today (2) (ON)

Accessibility and cutting-edge research define $19M upgrades at MTA

Mount Allison University has completed two major on-campus projects thanks to nearly $19M in funding from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Strategic Investment Fund and the Province of New Brunswick. An MTA release states that the money supported renovations to the Gardiner Building, which features research facilities for life and environmental sciences, and the Barclay Building, home of the university’s Chemistry and Biochemistry department. “These infrastructure updates have taken dated, fixed-purpose spaces and transformed them into modern — and more importantly — flexible spaces that can be easily adapted to meet different needs and uses, even those we have yet to imagine,” said MTA President Jean-Paul Boudreau. MTA (NB)

Durham, NEXT Canada deliver AI mentorships

Durham College and NEXT Canada have jointly launched the NextED AI Business Strategy & Application Course. A Durham release states that the eight-week course focuses on the development of a disruptive AI technology and hands-on applications of AI to a specific business problem. The program will also include a mentorship component. “DC’s AI Hub mentors will bring expertise in really diverse sectors, including customer service, health, real estate, shipping and logistics, agriculture, digital media, finance and education,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, Dean of the college’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Delivering these mentorship services as part of the NextED course capstone project is an exciting opportunity to further demonstrate and strengthen DC’s leadership in the Canadian AI ecosystem.” Durham (ON)

Calgary restores summer hiring program for youth

Calgary’s city council has voted to reinstate a summer hiring program for students, reports CBC. Sagar Grewal, President of the University of Calgary Students’ Union, wrote a letter in support of the motion. “Increasingly, students are expected to have this relevant experience upon graduation in order to get even the most entry-level position,” he said. CBC states that the unemployment rate for youth ages 15 to 24 increased from 10.1% five years ago to 13.8% last year. Males in this age bracket have been particularly hard hit, adds CBC, with unemployment for this group jumping from 11% in 2014 to 16.5% in 2018. CBC (AB)

RRU takes the reins for climate resiliency project

Royal Roads University is leading a $2M, multi-partner project that aims to address the current and future challenges of climate change. Funded by Natural Resources Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise program, the project supports training activities to help organizations, professionals, businesses and communities adapt and accelerate their climate resilience. “Professional organizations in BC have made it clear they are committed to ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also building the necessary capacity to effectively adapt to the unavoidable risks posed by the changing climate. This project will discover where specific knowledge and skills gaps exist, and design practical training to help professionals meet these challenges and increase regional adaptation uptake and capacity,” said project Lead Robin Cox. RRU (BC)