Top Ten

December 13, 2019

SaskPolytech receives largest donation in its history, renames school of construction

Saskatchewan Polytechnic will rename its school of construction the Joseph A. Remai School of Construction in recognition of a $5M gift from the centre’s namesake. SaskPolytech President Larry Rosia notes that technology-driven changes have disrupted the way work is done, for both better and worse. That is why it is so important, Rosia added, for donations like Remai’s to be spent on excellent facilities, which are crucial to student success. “It feels like we (are) kind of noticed, that we are important to the industry and that we deserve the best we can get,” added Mark Bahnmann, a level-three apprentice in carpentry studying at SaskPolytech. Saskatoon StarPhoenix (SK)

UBC opposes donor’s appeal of Supreme Court decision regarding name on law degrees

The University of British Columbia is arguing that a man whose $30M donation resulted in its law faculty being named after him should not be allowed to appeal a decision that dismisses his claim that all law degrees conferred by UBC should have his name on them. In November, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favour of UBC stating that the proper interpretation of the words “degree certificate” in the gift agreement meant that Allard’s name should be placed on certificates or parchments granted upon the recommendation of the Peter A. Allard School of Law and not otherwise. In his petition, Allard argued that the court failed to consider the entire agreement in its interpretation of “degree certificate.” UBC states that the questions raised by Allard are “questions of mixed fact and law, rather than questions of law,” and his petition should be denied. Vancouver Sun | Times Colonist (BC)

Are our institution’s learning communities real or a charade?: Opinion

Learning communities are often created to improve academic success, raise retention rates, enhance student satisfaction, and ease students’ transitions to higher ed. However, do learning communities fulfil their creative mandates? asks Steven Mintz. Reviewing a variety of learning communities—such as linked classes, freshman interest groups, and meta majors—the author argues that if learning communities are to be more than “clusters of linked classes,” faculty must provide students an integrated education experiences governed by collaborative efforts amongst colleagues. “Faculty must envision their role and responsibility more broadly as mentors and architects of a broad range of learning experiences inside and outside the classroom,” concludes the author. Inside Higher Ed (International)

MacEwan considers tuition hikes up to 9.7% in wake of AB funding cuts

The Edmonton Journal reports that MacEwan University’s board of governors will consider a proposal to increase tuition next week by an average of 7% — the maximum allowed by the province — in September after its provincial funding was cut by $9.1M in the October provincial budget. Under the proposed hikes, domestic students in 23 of 63 programs at MacEwan would see increases between 9.6% and 9.7%. “Our first priority is our students and preserving the quality of the academic experience,” said MacEwan spokesperson Allan Linklater in an emailed statement on Wednesday, noting that tuition for MacEwan remains low compared to other institutions in the province. Edmonton Journal (AB)

University environment impacts the role of the president: Opinion

“Is the president’s job harder than it used to be?” asks Clara M Lovett. According to the author, a president’s responsibilities, such as providing ethical and intellectual leadership, have “not changed appreciably in the past 20 years.” However, the increasing “corporatization” of the university environment has altered conceptions of what kinds of skills a president should have to be a successful leader so that financial savvy, political skills, and fundraising experience are characteristics that are now typically prioritized in searches for university presidents. Although a privileging of such skills presents some benefits for higher education, the author questions if this new corporate environment “has encouraged risk aversion and short-term thinking among presidential appointees who feel they have to hedge their bets against possible short tenures.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

QC unveils scholarship program to address provincial shortage of teachers

The Government of Québec has launched a new education scholarship program to address the province’s shortage of teachers. As part of the QC Ministry of Education’s $16M budget, 2,600 scholarships will be awarded to teaching students by the end of this month. According to the Journal de Montréal, students in their first, second, and third years of their bachelor degrees will receive $7,500 scholarships, while those enrolled in their fourth and final year will receive $3,600. Through this initiative, QC aims to attract new students to teaching programs and encourage those already enrolled to graduate. Journal de Montréal (QC)

UWaterloo to advance industry-driven quantum technologies through new program

A research initiative led by the University of Waterloo has announced the launch of a new program to advance new and impactful quantum technologies, or fields of physics and engineering such as quantum computing that rely on the principles of quantum mechanics. A release notes that the Quantum Alliance (QA) program will be part of the UWaterloo-led Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT) research initiative, and that it will bring together a collaborative community of researchers, world-class infrastructure, and TQT’s unique Quantum Innovation Cycle for the advancement of impactful quantum technologies. UWaterloo (ON)

Early-career academics can benefit from joining a board: Opinion

Why should early-career academics join a board? asks Karl Schwonik. Although early-career academics often have innumerable commitments, the author suggests that sitting on a board of directors can be fulfilling work for a variety of reasons. For example, becoming a board member can be personally fulfilling, can allow one to participate in the enhancement of local communities, and contribute to the creation of a well-rounded portfolio. “Adding a board position takes time and resources but has numerous personal and professional benefits such as fulfillment, commitment to community and career progression,” concludes the author. University Affairs (International)

On the needs of professors in designing online education

“What would happen if we were to change how we think and talk about online learning and put the needs of the professors on par with those of the students and the schools?” asks Joshua Kim. According to the author, students, universities, schools, and programs would benefit from considering faculty needs in online program development because education is a relational, as opposed to a transactional, activity. A relational model of teaching requires that professors are well supported and compensated so that professors will be able to invest more in their students. “It is much better, and more efficient, for institutional leadership to grasp what faculty want (security, autonomy, support, respect, etc.) and then design the online programs to deliver on those desires,” concludes the author. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Industry applauds new ON Rapid Skills pilot project

Local and national industry leaders are celebrating news of an Ontario pilot project aimed at rapidly responding to the changing skill requirements of the automotive and advanced manufacturing workforce, reports the Windsor Star. The $3M Rapid Skills project will be seeking proposals to receive funding for retraining programs for laid-off, at-risk, or underutilized workers until the end of January 2020. Organizations eligible to apply for Rapid Skills funding include Ontario’s colleges, universities, and private career colleges, as well as employers, industry associations, unions, workforce development partners, First Nations governments, Indigenous Institutes, not-for-profit organizations, and school boards. Windsor Star | (ON)