Top Ten

August 21, 2019

HEQCO sees departure of president, board chair, top staffers

The president, board chair, and two senior staff of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario are leaving their posts, reports the Globe and Mail. The Globe notes that the departures come at a time when the Ontario government is looking to shift toward a more performance-based funding model for post-secondary. Outgoing HEQCO President Harvey Weingarten, however, told the Globe that HEQCO has been “writing about performance-based funding or outcomes-based funding for about four years now. So we’re actually quite pleased the government is on it.” Other departing members of HEQCO include Nobina Robinson, who was named chair of the board on May 30th of this year; Fiona Deller, senior executive director of research and policy; and Martin Hicks, executive director of data and statistics. Globe and Mail (ON)

UBC to undertake $20.4M expansion of bioenergy heating plant

The University of British Columbia will undergo a $20.4M expansion to its Bio-energy facility (BRDF) with the support of $7.6M from the federal government’s low-carbon economy fund. A UBC release notes that the BRDF provides heat to campus buildings by re-purposing clean wood waste from other outside processes and sources. The expansion is slated to eliminate an average of 14,500 tonnes of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions per year and save more than $1M in annual operating costs. “The investment in this expansion is a major component of UBC’s Climate Action Plan and greatly assists in advancing toward UBC’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 67 per cent (below a 2007 baseline),” said John Madden, director of sustainability and engineering for UBC Campus and Community Planning. The Province | UBC (BC)

New course at WesternU will ask students to reflect on the origins, mission of the university

The debate over the purpose of a university education is as old as universities themselves, and a new course at Western University will look to help students understand how their own educational journey fits into this broader historical context. This Winter term, English and Writing Studies Professor Jane Toswell will teach “This University,” a new course intended to be an academic look at what universities are, and are not, against the backdrop of WesternU itself. “Universities are the longest-standing institutions, probably the most important institutions, coming out of Europe,” notes Toswell, adding that, “Students don’t realize we’re part of a very long sweep of history about what we are doing as a university and what the purpose of university is.” WesternU (ON)

Queen’s changes website copy suggesting white men not eligible for visiting scholar fund

Queen’s University has corrected a website in the office of the principal that for several years has advertised a special fund for visiting scholars as open only to people who are not white and male, reports the Ottawa Citizen. Since at least early 2016, the website for the Principal’s Development Fund, which pays for hotel and travel for visiting scholars, read: “This fund is to support academic visits by women, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities.” The school noted that this implied discrimination against white men has not in fact been taking place, citing several white men who have recently received the funding. Ottawa Citizen (ON)

Why universities should drop the business major: Neem

Higher education not only needs to stop judging programs by the business outcomes of their graduates; they need to eliminate the business major altogether, writes Johann N Neem. The author predicates his argument on three main points, which are: business programs do not necessarily lead to higher salaries, they produce lower student-learning outcomes, and they ultimately exist in contradiction with the ethical and intellectual purposes of a university education. “A [university] graduate ought to be a different kind of person than someone who did not attend [university],” contends Neem, adding that “The issue is not just skills, but character.” Chronicle of Higher Education (International)

Langara changes name of publishing program to reflect changing times, value of grads

Langara College has changed the name of its Publishing program to the Digital and Print Publishing program to better reflect the breadth of the existing curriculum and the employment opportunities that have been gained by program graduates. “We are delivering the same high-quality curriculum to our students but the new name gives employers in the industry a more accurate representation of the skills possessed by our graduates,” said Creative Arts and Industries Division Chair, Darren Bernaerdt. Langara notes that the change was made after a comprehensive program review. Langara (BC)

How academic leaders can remain committed to lifelong learning

Many post-secondary leaders will emphasis the importance of lifelong learning when speaking to students at their institutions, but how often do they reflect on the importance of such learning in their own positions? This is the question posed by S Georgia Nugent in an essay reflecting on the importance of academic leaders cultivating a thirst for learning. Nugent offers three key pieces of advice for maintaining this thirst in a leadership role, which include reading books on academic leadership, but also maintaining a keen interest in people and how they interact with one another. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Largest study to date on trans, gender-nonconforming students finds higher levels of depression, mental health issues

Gender-nonconforming and transgender post-secondary students are four times more likely to report mental health issues compared to the rest of their peers, according to a new US-based study which is reportedly the largest to date focusing on this population of students. Almost 80% these students reported having at least one mental health issue compared to 45% of their cisgender peers. 58% of gender non-conforming and transgender students screened positive for depression, while less than 30% of cisgender students did. "Every college needs to have trans-experienced therapists, if not at least one trans-identified therapist, and should have at least one support group specifically for trans students," notes Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Post-secondary leaders gather in YK to enhance focus on reconciliation

Post-secondary school leaders from across Canada recently gathered in the Yukon to share ideas and gather knowledge about how they can effectively infuse their institutions with Indigenous knowledge and history. Representatives from 31 colleges and universities were in the territory last week for the "Perspectives on Reconciliation" institute, a program hosted by Yukon College, Vancouver Island University, and the McConnell Foundation. Yahoo News reports that key takeaways from the event included insights on how to revise an institution’s mission statement, and a re-examination of policies that could either intentionally or unintentionally create barriers for Indigenous students. Yahoo News (YK)

Partnership to give UWindsor Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences students course credit for entrepreneurship program

A new partnership will provide students in the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences course credit for completing the EPIC Discovery Program of the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre). Students enrolled in the course Ways of Doing will reportedly receive mentorship, workshops, and other resources to help them validate their ideas. The course connects students with community partners to participate in hands-on learning to explore career interests, navigate human networks, and develop the opportunities that students find valuable to their futures, says instructor Tim Brunet. UWindsor (ON)