Top Ten

March 19, 2020

Some schools asking students in residences to move out to help ‘flatten the curve’

Some postsecondary institutions are requiring students to move out of residences amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In Ontario, students at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Guelph, McMaster University, Brock University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto have been asked to move out as soon as possible. The institutions have also indicated closure dates for their residences that will apply to all students except for those with exceptional circumstances. Memorial University in Newfoundland is also asking students who can leave residences to do so by Sunday to limit student numbers on campus. CBC | The Star  CBC (ON, NL)

Eastern, Windmill Microlending partner to support newcomers in business ventures

Eastern College has partnered with Windmill Microlending, a charitable organization that offers microloans to help skilled immigrants and refugees continue their careers in Canada. Windmill provides low-interest microloans of up to $15,000 so immigrants can obtain the Canadian licensing or training required to continue their careers. “Our partnership with Windmill Microlending will enable us to assist new Canadians in acquiring additional funding to start their new careers,” said Eastern President Stuart Bentley. “Eastern College believes education is essential, especially to those who need help pursuing and developing their careers in Canada. We are honoured to have the opportunity to provide those options to our students.” Eastern (NS, NB, NL)

U Sports bans in-person recruiting for 3 weeks

U Sports has issued a three-week ban on in-person recruiting, effective immediately in all 12 sanctioned sports. The ban will prevent all in-person recruiting visits and events for Canadian universities, as well as travel arrangements can be made with prospective student-athletes. "U Sports believes that this is the most prudent action to take to protect the health and well-being of prospective student-athletes, their families, coaches and university staff,” said U Sports chief sports officer Lisette Johnson-Stapley. The Times Colonist reports that the group has already cancelled its men’s and women’s volleyball and hockey championships. Times Colonist (National)

UPEI AVC launches pilot program offering pet care to owners on social assistance

The University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College has announced a new pilot program that will provide pet owners on social assistance with care for their animals. The AVC Cares Clinic is run by fourth year students at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, allowing the institution to provide a public service while also giving students a hands-on learning experience. "Everybody's pet is important to them. They're part of the family, and when you haven't an ability to access veterinary care it can be incredibly frustrating," said Heather Gunn McQuillan, the hospital's director. "This provides an opportunity for Islanders who otherwise would never have been able to access care to be able to get in and see a veterinarian for their preventative care needs." The clinic was supported by a grant from PetSmart. CBC (PE)

Professor creates light-hearted parody track of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”

A professor in the US has produced a tongue-in-cheek version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” for teachers moving to online learning. The song, which remains true to the melody and timing of Gaynor’s original track, includes new, online teaching-themed lyrics that are ringing true with many instructors. Michael Bruening, the creator of the song, said “I just wanted to bring a little levity to what I know is a stressful time for faculty everywhere making this transition.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Interprovincial mobility rates for certified tradespeople up in Western provinces: StatsCan

A report by Statistics Canada on interprovincial mobility rates for certified trades people has found that mobility is most pronounced in Western Canada. Specifically, in 2017, 1,330 of the 36,000 apprentices that completed their training in 2016 had moved to another province within a year of certification. Although greater fluctuations have been seen over time, the report highlights that interprovincial mobility rates rose in Alberta from 2009 to 2014, and British Columbia attracted increasing numbers of newly certified journeypersons from 2014 to 2017. Some of these changes can be explained by the falling of crude oil prices from 2014 to 2016. StatsCan (National)

McGill students, professor stuck in Morocco

A group of five McGill geology students and their professor are stranded in Morocco. The Montréal Gazette reports that the Moroccan government announced late Saturday that it was prohibiting flights to and from Canada, but provided no start date. McGill Earth & Planetary Sciences Professor Anthony Williams-Jones stated that the flight the students were booked on departed, despite being “told by the Canadian embassy that all flights to Canada were cancelled. “We now know that they were ill-informed.” McGill has since booked flights for the group to leave Morocco on March 23rd, but Williams-Jones stated that the group faces concerns about the recent federal announcement that Canada is closing entry to foreigners, especially since one of the students is on a student visa. “I’m not coming back to Canada until Canada can guarantee that all of my students can come into the country,” he stated. Montréal Gazette (QC)

The benefits of recognition of prior learning

Regardless of the course or program that it counts towards, recognition of prior learning can foster a positive psychological consequence in learners, writes Catherine Courchesne. Courchesne explains how the Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe and Cégep Marie-Victorin have seen students and graduates express how having their prior learning recognized gave them pride and bolstered their confidence. France St-Amour, the coordinator of Marie-Victorin's centre d'expertise en reconnaissance des acquis et des compétences, added that the confidence students gain from the process goes with them when they appear before potential employers. Journal de Montréal (QC)

Academic freedom in the face of crises

In light of the fast changes institutions are making and concerns about how the decisions will impact long-term relationships, University of Waterloo Professor Shannon Dea discusses how to navigate the potential conflicts between protecting academic freedom and the need to ensure safety swiftly. Dea acknowledges the concerns raised by several faculty and faculty unions about the way institutions have transitioned away from on-campus learning, as well as fears that institutions will use the opportunity to justify additional online learning in the future. Noting that a fast initial transition is necessary to ensure campus safety, Dea calls on administrators, faculty associations, and collegial bodies to convene for a less rushed deliberation about next steps after the transition is complete. Once institutions have made the decisions necessary to keep people safe, “our commitment to academic freedom and collegial governances should bring everybody back to the table in good faith to do more careful, consultative planning for how best to defend the university’s core values.” University Affairs (National)

Demystifying, democratizing tenure processes

The tenure process can be a stressful and mystifying process for many faculty, writes Kamden K Strunk. How, then, can institutions create a better process for candidates and institutions alike? Some of Strunk’s key recommendations for moving toward humanizing tenure and promotion include: starting the tenure process from a presumption of worth rather than a presumption of unworthiness; pre-determining what kinds of evidence would defeat the ‘worthiness’ presumption, and reforming the tenure and promotion hearing/presentation process so that it is about recognizing the worth of our colleagues rather than critiquing their flaws. While the author acknowledges that deeper work at the institutional level is needed for a better tenure system, “faculty can, and should, find ways to demystify and democratize their tenure and promotion processes” in the meantime. Inside Higher Ed (International)