Top Ten

June 3, 2020

Canadian institutions issue statements against racism

Numerous Canadian postsecondary institutions have responded to the racial violence and discrimination that has occurred in the United States, as well as around the world, by issuing statements of solidarity. “The protests this weekend elsewhere in Canada shined a light on racism against Black and Indigenous people and intolerance in our country,” explained Memorial University President Vianne Timmons. “We need to name it and shame it.” Citing higher education’s role in celebrating diversity and mission in fostering inclusivity, several presidents condemned the discrimination and racial violence that has occurred in the United States, in Canada, and around the world. “It is our responsibility, as members of a diverse and vibrant university community, to speak out against racism, to dispel fears and stereotypes, and to condemn discriminatory behaviour,” said UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. Centennial President Craig Stephenson echoed these statements, stating: “We cannot have our black family members, friends, colleagues, or indeed any member of the black community fearful for their personal well-being and safety.” Some institutions have also listed available resources or created new resources for challenging anti-Black racism in Canada, or have called on their community to help name additional steps the institution can take in support. UPEI | MUN | Centennial | Lakehead (National)

From anger and despair to hope and possibility: Fearon

“America was burning last night — after the death of a dream from more than 50 years ago — but today should be an awakening, a turning point for action,” writes Brock University President Gervan Fearon. Drawing on Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, Fearon calls on readers to “work through our actions and choices” to address racial injustice. “We can distinguish ourselves when our actions and choices are grounded in equal rights and justice and, by so doing, we define who we are as individuals, as a nation and as Canadians,” concludes Fearon. “When we do this, we provide a turning point from anger and despair towards a beacon of hope and possibility for all who at times struggle and even lose their way.” Brock (ON)

Fighting racism in higher ed: Opinion

In this piece, Sirry Alang of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania speaks with The Chronicle about how college leaders can respond to racial bias on and off campus. Alang recommends that institutions avoid framing issues of racial injustice as a law enforcement problem or turning a blind eye to the ways racism manifests on their campuses. Instead, Alang suggests that schools clearly communicate anti-racist strategies and initiatives that ensure students of colour are protected, as well as funding critical race and ethnic studies. On an individual level, Alang recommends that people interested in supporting the academe’s role in reducing inequality can call their government representatives, contribute money to anti-racist causes, speak up when colleagues perpetuate inequality, and put up signs “in your house, in your office, that say ‘Black Lives Matter’.” Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

OCAD U hires five permanent Black faculty members to address underrepresentation

OCAD University has announced the hiring of five tenure-track faculty who self-identify as Black people of African Descent as part of a special program under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Angela Bains, Kestin Cornwall, Kathy Moscou, Michael Lee Poy, and Marton Robinson will join the school’s Faculty of Design as of August 2020. Candidates were sought who could demonstrate how their lived experiences as Black people informed their work to intersectional Black communities, and whose theoretical, technical, and making/design expertise fulfilled one or more of the current areas of need within the Faculty. “This is an important announcement within today’s context, given recent anti-Black racism protests and events,” said OCAD U President Sara Diamond. “It shows how OCAD University is working towards structural change and to find ways to address the longstanding underrepresentation of Black faculty at our University.” OCAD U (ON)

SPU partners with CHEO to deliver online program for professional supporting newcomers

Saint Paul University’s School of Ethics, Social Justice and Public Service has partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to develop the National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4) Online Program. The N4 Online program will support service providers who help newcomers to Canada navigate social and health services by teaching participants about ethics, social justice, and how to provide culturally sensitive care. “Our students from healthcare and settlement are already doing amazing and important work,” said SPU Prof Matthew McLennan, “but [in this program] we strive to give them a rich set of additional resources and a structured space to reflect upon ethical issues and judgments, interpersonal communication, cultural competencies, social justice, and aspects of conflict” SPU (ON)

Western Union, Future Laboratory release five profiles of future international students

The Western Union Company, in partnership with the UK-based firm The Future Laboratory, has released a white paper highlighting five international student profiles that will evolve from the shifting attitudes and behaviors of today’s youth. Introducing the five profiles—Social Engineers, Greener Graduates, Mindful Scholars, Digital Learners, and Hybrid Thinkers—the report predicts how academic institutions should adapt to meet future international students’ expectations. “The universities that actively engage with these future international student profiles will inspire exciting innovation in the sector and deliver sustainable growth to future-proof the higher education landscape,” said Western Union head of global payments Andrew Summerill. Financial Post (International)

Students want more information about Fall delivery models, plans

Some students in Atlantic Canada are disappointed with the lack of details surrounding recently released school reopening plans and announcements. Wasiimah Joomun, executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance said the University of New Brunswick’s release “didn't provide enough concrete information for students who are still trying to decide whether the experience will be worth the effort and expense.” Mount Allison University, which also recently announced their Fall delivery plan, will conduct three virtual town halls next week to engage with students and parents. "We're asking them, if they have questions, or concerns or doubts, to please engage with us," said MtA president Jean-Paul Boudreau. CBC (National)

UNB’s CIC signs MOU with Estonian university to combat cyber threats

The Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity (CIC) at the University of New Brunswick has signed a MOU with the Centre for Digital Forensics and Cyber Security at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia to investigate collaboration in combating cyber threats. The agreement will facilitate the exchange of material and resources to benefit both universities’ respective educational needs. “As the malicious actors get more sophisticated and use more complex techniques at a global context, it is so important for higher education organizations and research centres to combine their capabilities and information to equip their students and researchers with better skills to fight against all sorts of cybercrime,” said UNB director of CIC Ali Ghorbani. UNB (NB)

USherbrooke’s Institut quantique joined IBM Q Network as IBM Q Hub

L’Institut quantique (IQ) at Université de Sherbrooke has joined the IBM Q Network as an IBM Q Hub, a designation that the school is scribing as “the first in Canada.” The partnership, alongside financial support from the Government of Québec, will allow the university to expand its quantum computing capacity as an IBM Q Hub, giving members exclusive cloud-based access to IBM's quantum computing systems and software. “The IBM Q Hub at IQ is a tool for both fundamental research and the development of practical applications,” explained IQ Scientific Director Alexandre Blais. “We want to build a quantum community of users where academia, private companies and startups meet and connect.” USherbrooke (QC)

Embracing the digital classroom: Opinion

“As large public institutions go, universities are fortunate in one important respect,” writes Trent University Professor Robert Wright, “they can deliver on their core educational mission in conditions where in-person contact is minimal.” Responding to critiques of the quality of online education and institutional responses to the pandemic, Wright outlines advantages for running lectures and seminars online, such as freeing up space and time for schools to host and students to complete in-person courses or components. “I have to say I am not overly worried about the intellectual welfare of my own students, who will likely be among those sojourning in Zoom classes this fall,” concludes Wright. “I am far more concerned about their prospects in the post-pandemic economy, the grave implications of which are only now coming into view.” The Province (National)