Top Ten

March 23, 2020

Laval creates emergency fund to support students

The Université Laval has announced an emergency fund that will help support the institution’s 45,000 students to get through the COVID-19 crisis. Laval President Sophie D’Amours noted that many students had lost their employment on-campus or in the local community due to business closures. As an expression of solidarity, Laval called on its university foundation and financial aid offices to mobilize their resources and create a fund, adding that they would call upon institutional donors if necessary. D’Amours added that students would need to verify if they had access to provincial or federal government assistance funds prior to accessing the Laval fund. Radio Canada (QC)

Canada funds 49 additional COVID-19 research projects

The Government of Canada has announced the rollout of $25M through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to double the number of COVID-19 research projects funded. The funding will support 49 new projects, bringing the total number of projects to 96. “The additional teams of researchers receiving funding today will help Canada quickly generate the evidence we need to contribute to the global understanding of the COVID-19 illness,” said Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. “Their essential work will contribute to the development of effective vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, and public health responses.” Canada (National)

Seneca launches eyeglass recycling program to support community, sustainability goals

Seneca College has launched a student-led eyeglass recycling initiative to further the college’s sustainability goals as well as provide eyewear for community members that are in-need. iSight asks students to bring in glasses they no longer use and drop them in designated collection bins on campus. “I realized that most of my friends had four to five pairs of eyeglasses sitting uselessly at home while more than one billion people around the world lack access to these resources,” said Seneca Opticianry student Phi Au Thi Tran. “These people include children with the risk of missing their education, the elderly who have lost their sight as they age and countless others who are unable to attain success at work as they don’t have proper vision aides.” Seneca (ON)

Considering the move to mandatory pass/fail amid COVID-19: Opinion

“In normal times, it makes sense to have individual faculty members determine fair assessment,” writes Allison Stanger, “but these are not normal times.” Authors such as Stanger and Lilah Burke argue that all higher ed institutions should convert their courses for the spring semester to mandatory pass/fail to account for the challenges faced by students and faculty alike. Specifically, moving temporarily to a pass/fail system would allow faculty to focus on engaging students in demanding new circumstances and environments and allow students to focus on individual growth and doing their part in a common endeavor. However, Burke notes that some students and faculty have pushed back against pass/fail assessments, especially in instances where students needed GPA values for pursuing graduate education, scholarships, and more. Chronicle of Higher Ed | Inside Higher Ed (International)

On the importance of teaching more than course content in times of crisis

“If you ever wondered what the McDonaldization of education looks like, here we are,” writes Deborah J Cohan. While faculty are being asked to produce education content “fast and hot,” Cohan advocates for higher ed to step back and ask: “is this what we want to consume?” According to the author, it may be more important to model kindness, generosity, vulnerability, and self-care than to ensure courses are online and running seamlessly. “Often, at the end of a semester or even years later, when students share with me what they really got out of my classes, I hear time and time again how it was never really about the content as much as about how I showed up for and with them in moments of great fear, grief, loss, sadness and seismic shifts in their lives,” concludes Cohan. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Schools debate whether to cancel, postpone convocation ceremonies

Universities and colleges across the country are beginning to decide whether to proceed with commencement ceremonies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lethbridge College has decided to cancel its 2020 convocation. The University of Calgary has indicated that graduating students will receive degrees and credentials as normal in June, but has yet to decide if the convocation ceremony will be postponed. In the US, some postsecondary institutions are holding virtual convocation ceremonies or announced plans to combine spring ceremonies with winter ceremonies held later in the year. Medicine Hat News | Calgary Herald  | Campus Technology (AB, International)

Best practices for administrative ‘asks’ on campus

“Knowing what to ask for, and how and when to ask for it, are fundamental skills for an academic leader, no matter your location, institution, rank, or position,” writes David D Perlmutter. To help ensure one’s ‘asks’ have the best chance of a positive reception, the author offers five tips for positioning requests: identify the institutional and campus ‘ask’ culture; be precise; ensure requests represent the needs and wants of the collective; make sure the request is sustainable; and attempt to fit the ‘ask’ into the larger institutional strategy. “Maintaining a good, long-term relationship with people above and below your rank is generally preferable to the success of any individual ask,” concludes the author. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Considerations for presenters, conveners moving in-person conferences online

Currently and moving forward, it is likely that higher ed will see many conferences being cancelled or moved online, writes Alyssa Hillary. Writing from their experience as a participant in several virtual conferences, the author offers tips for participants and organizers alike. They advise participants to keep accessibility in mind when designing presentations. The further encourage organizers to think about which virtual platforms will cater best to the conference's goals, including whether asynchronous presentations and commentary or real-time synchronous meetings would be more suitable to their goals. The author concludes with the reminder that “that this [digital conferencing] isn’t what you expected to be doing, and that now is not an easy time. Judge yourself and others accordingly.” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Queen’s to proceed with hiring new track coach despite protests

Global News reports that Queen’s University will hire a new track coach to replace Steve Boyd, despite the protests of athletes. Boyd was fired last month after making comments on social media about the Scott-Thomas case at the University of Guelph, which in turn saw several Queen’s athletes create a petition to reinstate the coach and engage in dialogue around the decision. Some of the coaches’ former students have additionally stated they will refuse to compete if Boyd is not reinstated. “The university made a principal decision,” said Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane. “We will live with the consequences and I hope the students will want to continue and pursue their athletic careers here.” Global News | Canadian Running (ON)

Tips for demonstrating budget feasibility in one’s grant proposal

Even for the seasoned applicant, grant proposals can be a mystifying process that requires applicants to account for and weigh many different variables related to their projects. Letitia Henville focuses on four areas of the budget that reviewers consider when evaluating projects: ensuring that the budget proposal is in line with norms of the discipline; verifying that there is nothing in your budget that is not included in the proposal narrative; checking that the budget aligns with the rest of the research project; and confirming that no necessary expenses have been omitted from the proposal. “A budget that is well aligned with the rest of your application, and that doesn’t include any bad surprises or omissions, will attest to your ability to complete your proposed project successfully,” concludes Henville. University Affairs (National)