Top Ten

September 9, 2019

Dal researchers issue report on institutional history, links to slavery, racism

Researchers at Dalhousie University have published the findings and recommendations of a study on the institution’s history of racism and links to slavery. The report explores the beliefs and practices of the institution’s namesake, Lord Dalhousie, as well as the province’s more general involvement in the slave trade. Based on these findings, the report calls for various forms of reparations, such as an apology from Dalhousie and a provincial memorial of the slave trade. "The challenge now is for the university to implement the recommendations we put forward here," stated lead author Afua Cooper. Dal states that it has received the report and “apologized for its namesake’s views and actions on slavery and race and the impact those have had on its community.” CBC (NS)


NorQuest president announces plans to leave six months prior to end of contract

NorQuest College President Jodi Abbott has resigned and will leave her position next January, six months before the end of her contract. The Edmonton Journal notes that Abbott is the sixth major post-secondary institution leader in Alberta to leave their position in the last few years. The Journal also situates Abbott’s departure within the broader context of executive compensation in AB higher ed, noting that new rules brought in by the previously governing NDP would have brought Abbott’s 2018 compensation of $485K in salary and benefits to a maximum possible base salary of $267K. “[Abbott] has been instrumental in transforming the college to the vibrant and exciting place it is today,” noted NorQuest board chairwoman Carla Madra. Edmonton Journal | NorQuest (AB)

Gannon: Teaching online courses improves instructor pedagogy

“When it comes to online teaching and technology,” states Kevin Gannon, “many academics.... expect it’s where good teaching goes to die.” However, the author argues that online pedagogy might help instructors not only to hone their digital education skills, but also their teaching craft in general. Gannon identifies three aspects of online teaching that made him a better instructor in many settings: course design and assessment, rethinking one-on-one communications with students, and being explicit about course logics, goals, and aims. “It may seem obvious that what makes one a better teacher in one particular setting makes them a better teacher, period,” notes Gannon. “But without thinking about why that’s the case, you miss an opportunity to critique and modify... the way you operate in a classroom.” Chronicle of Higher Education (International)

ON initiates deal to build province’s first French-language university

The Government of Ontario has indicated that they have half the funding, $126M, necessary to build the province’s first French-language university. Provincial representatives are now asking Ottawa to contribute the other half of the funds. ON has laid out the proposal in a request that was reportedly sent to the federal government Thursday morning. The Montreal Gazette reports that the initial cost was estimated at $83M when the plans were initially announced in 2017. The project is expected to take eight years to complete. Montreal Gazette (ON)

Queen’s, Karta Initiative collaborate to provide educational opportunities for Indian students

Queen’s University has entered a long-term contract with The Karta Initiative, an international charitable organization aiding students from emerging economies. The partnership will allow talented, low-income youth from rural India to study at Queen’s. “This partnership is part of our wide-ranging efforts to promote increased access to Queen’s for youth across Canada and around the world,” states Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. The agreement, effective through August 2033, will allow Karta scholars to connect to Queen’s staff regarding experiential learning opportunities, social activities, academic advising, and peer mentoring. Queen’s (ON)

Chatbots in higher ed: “helpful” or “creepy”?

Chatbots now operate in much broader capacities within higher ed, reports Lindsey McKenzie. While post-secondary institutions initially applied this technology to specific areas, like IT or financial aid, chatbots are now used in areas like academic advising and student counseling. The author acknowledges that while chatbots can provide quick answers to and redirect student questions, industry experts worry that such software might be over-extended to stand-in for crucial and sensitive kinds of human-human interaction. The author also discusses the specific concern of personalization. “The line between helpful, personalized information and creepiness is a difficult one to walk,” noted Bryan Alexander. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Universities require long-term, predictable support to perform their transformative role: UNB president 

“Recent commentary on the role, value and accountability of universities in New Brunswick have painted a picture that universities are over-funded, unaccountable, and not preparing students for the future,” writes University of New Brunswick President Paul Mazerolle in an editorial pushing back against such a view. The author argues that universities play an important role in fostering job growth, social mobility, innovation, and competitiveness. Mazerolle offers figures to support UNB’s economic contribution to its province and speaks more broadly to the social transformation made possible by strong, predictably funded universities. UNB (NB)

QC institutions receive funding to create centre in the Laurentian region

Cégep Lionel Groulx, Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, Université du Québec en Outaouais, and the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue have received $250K to create a centre in higher education in the Laurentian region. The regional centre will enable communication between levels of higher education; facilitate the co-construction of diversified study paths that promote student accessibility and degree completion; and foster collaboration between school boards, school communities, and the municipal sector. QC Minister Sylvie D'Amours stated that the centre will help youth to reach their full potential through training, learning, and skills development opportunities. UQO (QC)

Canadore unveils functional genome lab, receives support for research park development rezoning

Canadore College has formally launched what The Nugget describes as “the first functional genome lab at an Ontario college.” The facility is a collaborative effort of the college and The DNA Company, and features leading-edge technology such as DNA sequencers. The facility will open new doors for students, staff, and medical professionals and researchers. A proposed new research park that would be led in part by Canadore has also made recent progress, as the committee of the City Council of North Bay has recommended that the lot be rezoned to allow for the development. The Nugget | The Nugget (ON)

Support staff strike at UQAM

Support staff of the Université du Québec á Montréal went on strike as of September 3rd. A major issue prompting the strike is salaries. Union officials report that the offer presented to UQAM support staff is lower than those obtained by other employees in the Québec university sector. "The money on offer is not enough," states union president Louisa Cordeiro. "We work very hard. We have students at heart, the university too, but we deserve better because we are in the middle of university activities.” La Presse | CTV News (QC)