Top Ten

July 17, 2019

U of T joins international team on $4M USD Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to map human liver

A group of University of Toronto researchers are part of a 19-person, international team that has been awarded $4M USD by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to advance understanding of the human liver. “We have been working on building a global team of researchers who are all interested in mapping the human liver in different ways,” said U of T Professor Gary Bader. “This grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative really speeds up the development of the human liver map and allows us to move in novel directions by combining diverse research projects and data into one map.” U of T (ON)

Tugend: What exactly is institutional efficiency, and is it a good thing?

“Debate over efficiency, and what the term really means for higher education, has waxed and waned over the years,” writes Alina Tugend. Tugend notes that the growing use of technology to compare large data sets has created a new urge to compare universities on the basis of efficiency. The author highlights several cases of US-based institutions that have made significant improvements to their institutional efficiency, yet notes that these institutions “tend not to boast” about these improvements for fear of looking like they are shortchanging students. Another common point of contention, the author adds, is the notion of administrative centralization, which appears to create greater efficiency in some cases, and less efficiency in others. Chronicle (Subscription Required) (International)

Kingston partners with SLC to investigate potential downtown campus

The City of Kingston’s City Council has approved a partnership with St Lawrence College to look into the potential of building a downtown campus. Global News reports that the campus would be focused on tourism, hospitality, and the culinary arts. “We’re pretty excited about this,” said SLC President Glenn Vollebregt. “It’s going to be a living lab, a place where students can have experiential learning opportunities, action learning. It’s not going to be a traditional classroom and it’s going to be right in the heart of one of the best tourism cities in Canada.” The Whig | Global News (ON)

UManitoba severs ties with microbiology researcher during RCMP investigation

The University of Manitoba has reportedly cut ties with one of the researchers who were escorted out of the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg earlier this month. Xiangguo Qiu was an adjunct professor at the university and was a member of the team that developed a vaccine for Ebola. UManitoba spokesperson John Danakas stated that Qiu’s non-salaried position "has ended and all students she supervised have been reassigned, pending the RCMP investigation." The Manitoba RCMP and the Public Health Agency of Canada say there is no threat to public safety, and PHAC has added that the situation is being treated as a possible policy breach. CBC (MB)

UQAM receives over $1.2M for Tourism Intelligence Network

The Government of Canada has awarded $1.2M in financial assistance to the Université du Québec à Montréal for the Tourism Intelligence Network, a part of the Transat Chair in Tourism. The funding will go towards a strategy that aims to stimulate growth and diversify the sector through experiences that could attract tourists year-round. “The UQAM’s Transat Chair in Tourism and its Intelligence Network make knowledge and leading-edge expertise available to the Quebec tourism industry,” explained UQAM Rector Magda Fusaro. “New markets, key industry issues, consumer needs and expectations are just a few of the Network’s research subjects, which demonstrate the major challenges in this industry.” Canada (QC)

Why Amazon’s $700M investment in worker training could be good for higher ed: Warner

While some stakeholders see a threat in Amazon’s recent announcement that it will invest $700M in internal training for its employees, this reclaiming of responsibility for corporate training might help universities get back to what they have always been good at, writes John Warner. The author argues that companies’ declining investment in employee training over the last several decades has been a driving force behind the call for more vocational training at the postsecondary level. If companies like Amazon are willing to once again take responsibility for “upskilling” and related workplace training, it will allow universities to refocus on their core mandate of educating rather than training. Inside Higher Ed (International)

TWU to launch BA in game development

Trinity Western University will be launching a Bachelor of Arts in Game Development program in Fall 2019. The program will include four streams: Art design, music and sound, software development, and design. The institution plans to develop courses that “incorporate faith, spirituality, morals, and ethics into business and storytelling practices.” “Gaming is a big part of the cultural landscape – but Christians don’t make up a big part of the industry,” said TWU Associate Professor Kevin Schut, who spearheaded the four-year program. “We want to prepare students to take their faith into the workplace so they can change culture for the better.” Aldergrove Star (BC)

UoGuelph to fight plant disease with support of $1.3M investment

The University of Guelph is poised to help Ontario’s fruit, vegetable, and field crop farmers boost productivity and profitability, thanks in part to a $1.3M investment from the Government of Ontario. The investment, which comes through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, will fund research aimed at developing new practices and on-farm solutions to prevent and control crop diseases and pests and improve production. “Our researchers are committed to delivering solutions and opportunities across the agricultural sector, fulfilling our promise to improve life,” said UoGuelph Vice-President (Research) Malcolm Campbell. UoGuelph (ON)

International students left in limbo after suspension of QC grad program

Some international students working in Quebec have been left wondering what the future will hold after the province suspended a program to fast-track immigration applications from recent graduates of a post-secondary institution. CBC reports that the change also saw the province “throw out” the files of as many as 16,000 skilled worker applicants. The province has said that the program suspension will only last until November, and that recent graduates can in the meantime apply for temporary work permits to bridge the gap. CBC (QC)

How the very notion of PSE has become polarizing in the US

“Defunding higher education is economic madness in red states that are already struggling with out-migration,” writes Kevin Carey, adding, “but that’s the problem with partisan hatred—it transcends self-interest.” The author highlights several recent events in US higher education, including the ongoing saga around massive cuts to public higher ed in Alaska, to argue that support for the very idea of higher education appears to be breaking down along partisan lines. While publicly-funded universities might have relied on tradition and notions of civil discourse to avoid the “partisan forever war” for a while, the author concludes, it appears they have now become an object of polarization. Chronicle (Subscription Required) (International)