Top Ten

April 15, 2020

NSERC launches College and Community Innovation Program for COVID-19 research

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has launched the College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19. The goal of the program is to accelerate the transfer of applied research on topics of immediate relevance to the COVID-19 outbreak from colleges and polytechnics to local community organizations and partners. Successful applications will garner up to $75K per project for up to one year. Applications will be accepted until June 1st, pending availability of funds. NSERC (National)

As end-of-term looms, schools roll out compassionate grading policies

Several schools across the country are instituting “compassionate grading policies” in light of changes made to courses amid the pandemic. Holland College, for example, has introduced a number of academica accommodations to support students including, but not limited to, allowing students to opt for a Credit Awarded designation rather than a numerical grade. The University of Prince Edward Island will deal with grades on a case-by-case basis, and reports that, instead of creating a blanket pass-or-fail system, students who are concerned about their grades should turn to their instructors to come up with a plan. Niagara College released a policy stating that students who are in courses with face-to-face delivery requirements will receive an incomplete grade for those classes and will receive their final grade when classes resume. The college also noted that students who have not completed a course in the winter term will automatically receive a withdrawal note on their transcript that will not impact GPA. CBC | Niagara (PE, ON)

UCalgary, UAlberta launch province-wide study of the effects of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19

University of Calgary and University of Alberta researchers have launched a province-wide study to investigate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as an early intervention for those who test positive for COVID-19. Supported by Alberta Health Services Strategic Clinical Networks and the Government of Alberta, Alberta HOPE COVID-19 will recruit over 1,600 people who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 to determine whether a five-day treatment of the drug can prevent hospitalization for those at highest risk of developing a severe illness. “We will be targeting Albertans who have an underlying medical condition which has proven to contribute to the worsening of symptoms, and eventual hospitalization,” said principal investigator of the study Luanne Metz. “Managing Albertans entirely in the community will ensure that hospital resources are available for those who are severely ill and others who require medical attention for conditions other than COVID-19.” UCalgary (AB)

Maritime schools institute student financial supports

Several postsecondary institutions across the Maritimes have established student relief funds to ease financial stress caused by the pandemic. Mount Saint Vincent University has established a fund to provide emergency bursaries to support students now and in the fall term. Saint Mary’s University, the Université de Moncton, and the University of New Brunswick have been working to help students by providing information regarding university and governmental financial support options, while Dalhousie University has already provided emergency bursary funding to over 400 students. “It is important to offer support and show our solidarity with the most vulnerable members of our student community,” said UMoncton interim president Jacques Paul Couturier. Global News (NS, NB)

Identifying the best recession strategy for your institution: Opinion

While many institutions are working to conserve money, cut expenses, and put major initiatives on hold amid the pandemic, others are seizing the opportunity to make strategic investments. Paul N Friga outlines five common business tendencies that emerge during recessions and suggests how each translates into an action for higher education. For those who are most focused on survival, Friga recommends that institutions seek differentiation in terms of offerings and strategies. “As economic headwinds become stronger, college leaders must avoid predictable, knee-jerk reactions and craft the right strategies for their campuses,” concludes Friga. Chronicle of Higher Ed (subscription required) (International)

Grief-response to non-traditional end to school year is “typical”

King’s University College professor Carrie Arnold has released a video discussing students’ potential grief reactions as the non-traditional school year comes to an end. Arnold explains that at a time when many students expected to be celebrating accomplishments, some will undergo a grief response. In the video, Arnold provides tips for how to have a “Good Goodbye,” such as gathering virtually with loved ones to celebrate achievements, and email those who made a difference in your school year. “Be creative, connect with us, and be sure to celebrate,” said Arnold. King’s UC (ON)

Best practices in advancement talent recruitment from three universities

The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education has interviewed Directors working in advancement talent management at the University of British Columbia, the University and Toronto, and McGill University about best practices, innovations, and challenges. In relation to best practices, interviewees highlight the importance of people-focused plans that acknowledge both individual and group strengths. Notable innovations in employee engagement and recognition include peer-nominated awards programs, immediate recognition of achievement, and the implementation of leadership development programs. The directors additionally discuss challenges related to generational differences, staff retention, and management training. “In this era of intense competition for the best talent, take note and adapt these ideas to your advancement human resources operations,” concludes CCAE. CCAE (National)

York’s Schulich School launches webinar series on lessons from the pandemic

York University’s Schulich School of Business has announced the creation of a webinar series that will draw out lessons from the new realities generated by the pandemic. Each webinar in Shaping the Post-Pandemic World will be hosted by a thought leader from Schulich’s faculty who will present their insights and then open up discussion with participants. The first webinar, “COVID-19 – A New Test for Corporate Social Responsibility,” will examine and draw insights from both encouraging and less successful examples of companies’ policies and actions in recent weeks. York (ON)

Canadian students work to bring supplies, volunteer aid to their local community

Students at several Canadian postsecondary institutions have continued to take up volunteer and community support efforts. Fanshawe College Horticulture Technician students delivered over 90 hydrangea plants to a local long-term care home. The plants were originally scheduled for sale, but were delivered to the McCormick Home instead to brighten up the facility. McGill University student and Sudbury resident Alexandra Millar launched a volunteer group called Greater Sudbury Community COVID-19 Response and Relief focused on picking up and delivering groceries and essentials. At Thompson Rivers University, in addition to several departments that donated PPEs to local health care providers, the Culinary Arts program provided prepared and frozen food to the Kamloops Hospice and delivered fresh produce to the Kamloops Food Bank. Fanshawe | CBC | TRU (ON, QC, BC)

Contract faculty ask institutions to avoid balancing budgets “on their backs”

“Non-tenure-track professors – academe’s most vulnerable faculty members – are asking their institutions not to mimic the virus’s cruelty by balancing vanishing budgets on their backs,” writes Colleen Flaherty. Alongside tracking various petitions launched by contract faculty that asking for appointment extensions up to one year, Flaherty outlines the advice that adjuncts are providing to institutions regarding the role and status of contract workers amid the pandemic. Key demands from sessional instructors include offering instructional and technical support, additional compensation for moving their courses online, and assurances that their contract renewals will not be negatively affected by the pandemic. Inside Higher Ed (International)