Top Ten

October 2, 2020

URegina launches digital Mental Wellness Hub 

The University of Regina has launched a digital Mental Wellness Hub as part of its Mental Health Strategy. This digital resource is designed to provide a wide variety of services and supports for the campus community, including counselling, peer support groups, information about external services, and emergency assistance details. “Mental health and wellness are such critical parts of our overall health and well-being,” said Interim President Thomas Chase. “With the changes to our learning, teaching and working environment at the University due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a central hub where students, faculty and staff can access mental health resources is absolutely essential.” URegina (SK)

UAlberta explores options to reduce expenses

The University of Alberta must reduce its expenditures by more than $120M within the next three years due to government funding cutbacks, according to a report released by the institution. CBC states that the university’s Academic Restructuring Working Group is considering three scenarios that would see faculties consolidated in an effort to reduce ballooning administrative costs. CBC reports that job losses at the institution are “inevitable,” but that the restructuring is intended to ensure “employees are engaged in meaningful, effective, and efficient work, and that maximal resources are dedicated toward our core missions of teaching and research.” UAlberta political science professor David Kahane criticized the engagement process in the Edmonton Journal, stating that “if senior administrators at the University of Alberta ram through massive changes to the institution without genuinely engaging its communities, this will be to the detriment of future students and the province as a whole.” CBC | Edmonton Journal (AB)

Aurora College students engage in face-to-face land-based learning

Aurora College’s early learning and childcare program students are engaging in face-to-face land-based education through Bushkids, a land-based learning mentorship program that holds weekly outdoor sessions. Early learning and child care program students organize outdoor play for school-aged children and teach outdoor skills including tool use, wilderness skills, risk management, and how to stay warm on the land. “When I applied [to the program], COVID-19 wasn’t around. I thought I would be in class with my classmates,” said Sarah Hopkins, a student in the program. “I’m glad I can get out and meet new people and enjoy the land right now. I love being outdoors. And I just love kids. That’s why I went into this program.” CBC (NWT)

UVic establishes endowed chair in mathematical biology through $3.6M gift

The University of Victoria has created an endowed chair in mathematical biology through a $3.6M gift bequeathed by mathematician Betty Kennedy. “An endowed chair in this area will provide an anchor to mathematical biology at UVic,” says UVic’s Dean of Science Peter Loock. “Betty Kennedy contributed so much to the university over the course of her life, transforming the lives of those whom she taught, worked with and mentored.” $3M will go towards the chair while the other $600K will be added to the existing Betty and Gilbert Kennedy entrance scholarships in engineering, law, math, and music. UVic (BC)

U of T partners with IBM on new mental health virtual assistant

The University of Toronto has partnered with IBM on a new mental health tool. “Navi” is a virtual chat assistant developed using IBM’s Watson that helps students find appropriate mental health resources. Users can access the tool without sharing personal data, enabling anyone in the broader campus community to find mental health resources as needed. “U of T students told us that they wanted a simpler way to access mental health information and services and Navi is an important component of that,” said U of Tvice-provost, studentsSandy Welsh. “We want members of our university community to know that support is always close at hand. With this tool, finding the appropriate resource is fast, user-friendly and completely anonymous.” U of T (ON)

Pedagogical practices that increase online student involvement: opinion

When operating online, postsecondary institutions should encourage interactions between students and faculty, and be cautious of adopting a course content approach, writes Alexander Astin. While the most impactful learning experiences happen through faculty and student contact, Astin notes that this can be difficult to achieve in an online classroom. Astin lists five pedagogical practices that can help students engage in an impactful online learning experience: Emphasizing writing and written feedback, providing narrative evaluations with personal feedback, assigning independent study projects, encouraging participation in faculty research, and making limited use of multiple-choice tests. The author concludes by encouraging instructors to use apps and other features that can facilitate interactions between students or between students and instructors. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Humber, CapU receive donations from Canadian banks for Indigenous education, engagement

Humber College and Capilano University have received donations from Canadian banks in support of Indigenous education and engagement. Humber College received $250K from the Royal Bank of Canada to launch the RBC Grad-Ready Program and RBC Peer-to-Peer Support System, which will provide coaching, peer-mentoring, and skills development opportunities for Indigenous students and graduates. CapU received $450K from the TD Bank Group toward the university’s Indigenous Digital Accelerator program to help Indigenous entrepreneurs develop their skills and create jobs. “The IDA program bridges gaps in digital skills and business training to help Indigenous entrepreneurs break through barriers and succeed in the tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors,” said Doreen Manuel, director of CapU’s Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation. “Fostering successful Indigenous-led businesses leads to vibrant and healthy Indigenous communities.” Humber | CapU (ON | BC)

Georgian, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care partner on research projects

Georgian College has partnered with Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care to conduct two research projects. The projects aim to support health-care workers and address the problems that they face. The Effects of COVID-19 on Health-Care Providers: Opportunities for Education and Support focuses on developing a better understanding of health-care workers during their return-to-work period; whileMindfulness to Combat Health-care Worker Burnout during COVID-19: Evaluating a four-week Tailored Program is an online mindfulness training program that will evaluate how mindfulness programs impact health-care workers. “We are excited to partner with Georgian on these important projects to support health-care workers and anticipate many more collaborations in the future,” said Waypoint VP of Research and Academics Nathan Kolla. Collingwood Today (ON)

Ensuring students have adequate postsecondary advising: Opinion

There is a shortage of advisers and counselors working within postsecondary institutions at the moment, writes Steven Mintz, and students are suffering for a lack of guidance. Institutions have tried to fill this gap through technological fixes including electronic advising and degree maps for each major, but Mintz says that students may still experience problems if they do not have a person to offer them guidance. The author suggests that institutions can address by offering courses that speak to issues around well-being, embedding career selection in lower level experiences, having non-faculty professionals offer courses in areas of their expertise, expanding multicultural co-curricular offerings, and placing students in cohorts. “Let’s re-embrace higher education’s historic role: not just career preparation, but the formation of mature adults,” concludes Mintz. Inside Higher Ed (International)

New continuing education, non-credit programming launched at UMoncton, Fanshawe, UBCO

Several institutions have launched new continuing education and non-credit programs this week. The Université de Moncton has partnered with the Association des administrateurs municipaux du Nouveau-Brunswick to launch a new municipal management training program that is comprised of three blocks of workshops focused on leadership, technical aspects of governance, and operational management. Fanshawe College has launched a 100-hour Essential Skills for Truck Drivers micro credential program, which will help laid off and underutilized workers gain the in-demand skills needed for the truck driving industry. The University of British Columbia Okanagan has launched a free, online training course for frontline workers that teaches how to recognize signs and symptoms of brain injury in survivors of intimate partner violence. UMoncton | Fanshawe | UBCO (NB | ON | BC)