Top Ten

July 8, 2019

International students injured in Thunder Bay house fire

International student safety is top of mind for student representatives and staff at Lakehead University and Confederation College in the wake of a house fire last week, reports CBC. Investigators stated that six to ten international students from Lakehead and Confederation were injured in the fire, leaving one in stable but critical condition. "I think there needs to be stronger bylaws. But on the other end, I think international students need to be told that there are certain rules and regulations, and occupancy in the house has to meet the limits,” said Farhan Yousaf, VP of Finance and Operations of the Lakehead University Student Union. Thunder Bay's Manager of Licensing and Enforcement Doug Vincent added that safety bylaws are in place, but that enforcement can be a challenge. CBC (ON)

Cheating probe finds SaskPolytech apprentices had access to exams

22 electricians have had their journeyperson certificates cancelled or suspended following an investigation into cheating at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in Moosejaw. CBC reports that the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission, along with a third-party investigation firm, found that apprentices were given access to level exams and Red Seal interprovincial certification exams. The penalties range from two to six months, during which none of the electricians will be allowed to work in Saskatchewan. CBC adds that the school fired an instructor whom it says had been giving out answers to the exams. SaskPolytech and the SATCC report that they are working on ways to prevent academic misconduct in the future. CBC (SK)

Dummit: Canadian universities have a viewpoint diversity problem

Leftism in Canadian universities has put democratic debate at risk, writes Christopher Dummit. The author cites the “grievance studies hoax”—in which three “academic outsiders” successfully published several articles that took exaggerated, ostensibly left-leaning positions on topics related to race, gender, and animal ethics—as evidence of the leftist bias in the academy. According to Dummit, “including perspectives that might otherwise be excluded” during hiring processes affords one possible solution. Additionally, funding agencies need to fund research “aimed at discovering the truth” rather than research that confirms a preexisting perspective. National Post (National)

Retired McGill professor accused of illegally shipping computer chips to China

Authorities from the US are seeking to extradite a retired McGill professor who stands accused of conspiring to export computer chips to China, possibly for military use. The Montreal Gazette reports that Ishiang Shih was indicted in early 2018 along with his brother, Yi-Chi Shih, who was recently convicted for offences similar to those of which Ishiang Shih stands accused. The lawyer who defended Yi-Chi Shih told the Gazette that the case involved several trumped-up charges and a misleading prosecution strategy. According to an unnamed source, the US has asked Canada to extradite Ishiang, who retired last year. Montreal Gazette (QC)

How to successfully steer a leadership transition: Sutton

Reflecting on her 20-plus years of experience with higher ed leaders, Bethany Zecher Sutton offers several tips for dealing with leadership transitions. The author starts by recommending that a new leader be asked to identify their core commitments in writing. Additionally, it is important for professionals within the institution to let go of the past and be willing to move forward, as a leadership change can bring about other unanticipated changes. Distinguishing fear from fact is also crucial, Sutton adds, as uncertainty can generate unfounded speculation or rumours. Professionalism can also be tested during a transition, so Sutton recommends remaining mindful of being one’s “best” professional self. Finally, the author suggests keeping one’s emotions in check and taking a transition as an opportunity for career assessment. Inside Higher Ed (International)

UFV announces new Digital Manufacturing diploma to meet industry need for digital talent

The University of the Fraser Valley has announced a Digital Manufacturing diploma program that will cover topics such as 3D modelling and printing, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, fabrication strategies, and more. “Gone are the days when any unskilled labourer could get a job at the local factory,” says John English, UFV Dean of the Faculty of Applied and Technical Studies. “Nowadays, manufacturers are on the lookout for employees with a high-tech skill set.” The program will be available in 2020. UFV (BC)

Universities are just as guilty of following trendy ideas as the broader public: Fleming

While the university community might like to believe that it is immune to the temptations of trendy ideas, it is just as guilty of indulging this temptation as any other group, writes Chris Fleming. If anything, the author writes, the myth that the university is a bastion of rational thought makes the institution all the more susceptible to what is fashionable. In diagnosing this problem, Fleming notes that the lure of the trendy appeals to two conflicting motives that inform academic research: the desire to express original thought and the desire to be part of a crowd. Combined with the rising pressure to produce a high volume of research, the author adds, these impulses remind the academy that it is no less trendy in its thinking than the general public. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

UMontréal, SEEUM-SCFP 1185 reach agreement, mark end of strike

A labour dispute between the Université de Montréal and the Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP) is coming to an end. Members of the union have been without a collective agreement since April 2015 and on strike since March 2019. They accepted the conciliator’s recommendations by a narrow majority, although the Union criticized employer representatives for maintaining their positions for the duration of negotiations. Sylvain Chicoine, president of SEEUM-SCFP 1186, stated that they would have preferred to have reached a negotiated agreement. Journal de Montreal (QC)

Ways to introduce more student-centered learning into a large lecture course: Davidson

Even when tasked with teaching a very large lecture course, there are many ways to enhance student-centered learning, writes Cathy N Davidson. One such way, the author notes, is to redesign the course syllabus. “Online or printed out, traditional college syllabi look about as enticing as a terms-of-service agreement,” Davison notes. A second tactic, the author adds, is to clearly communicate to students why it is important for them to learn what is being taught and how it will be useful to them. Third, a professor can reframe punishments in positive ways, as is the case with one professor who recast his school’s plagiarism policy as a brief document titled, “How to Protect Your Academic Credibility.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Olds receives support from ATB for smart farm, AgSmart expo

Olds College has received a pledge of $250K over five years from ATB Financial to grow the College’s high-tech smart farm, and sponsor AgSmart, a two-day ag technology expo where farmers will be able to experience the latest innovations first hand. “We know the industry is rapidly changing with technology playing a growing role and we are proud to support initiatives like the Olds College Smart Farm that harness technology and innovation in such an integral sector,” said ATB CEO Curtis Stange. “This will further position Alberta and its producers as leaders and keep them competitive while producing world-class products. “ Olds (AB)