Top Ten

March 5, 2021

CFI provides over $518M for 102 research projects across Canada

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has announced over $518M in funding for research infrastructure funding to support Canada’s leading researchers. 102 projects from 35 postsecondary institutions and research hospitals will receive CFI funding. The projects include the use of ocean sensors by Dalhousie University to track climate change, a study of medications for expectant mothers and children conducted at Université de Montreal, and an investigation into the use of digital architecture for archives and records at the University of Manitoba to support reconciliation. “Investing in research is an investment in the future of Canada,” said Roseann O’ReillyRunte, President of the CFI. “These projects demonstrate the breadth and depth of Canadian expertise and excellence, and these awards are a tribute to the innovative researchers across the country.” CFI (National)

Canadian higher ed weighs in on “buttergate” controversy

Researchers and faculty across Canada are weighing in on a butter-focused controversy that has been dubbed “Buttergate.” NPR reports that the controversy began with anecdotal discussions around whether Canadian butter was harder at room temperature than in previous years, which some suggested could be linked to palm oil supplements in dairy cows. Dalhousie University Professor Sylvain Charlebois, who was part of the original anecdotal discussion on Twitter, noted in an article for Canadian Grocer that the “most plausible” reason that butter is harder to spread is due to palm oil, as organic or grass-fed better does not seem to have been affected. University of Saskatchewan professor emeritus of animal and poultry science David Christensen has noted that there are other factors beyond palm oil that could impact butter hardness. University of Guelph Professor Alejandro Marangoni has remained sceptical about the discussion, questioning why the dairy industry is investigating “a sensationalist statement that is completely based on zero data, just some feelings.” NPR | CTV News (CP)(UoGuelph, USask) | Canadian Grocer (Dalhousie) | The Conversation (UoGuelph) (International)

QC institutions come under scrutiny for donations from Huawei

The Journal de Montréal has raised questions about significant philanthropic gesture made by Huawei to universities in Quebec, including $5.4M to McGill University, $3.9M to the Université de Montréal in 2019, and $3.3M to Université Laval. Former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya told the Journal that sizable donations are often made to create influence or sway over an institution’s decision, and alleged that several students attending the universities to attain master’s degrees already held doctorates or post-doctorates. UMontréal spokesperson Geneviève O'Meara responded that Huawei has no control over scientific discoveries, receives no deliverables, and does not receive intellectual property. Huawei Canada Quebec Spokesperson Sabrina Chartrand told the journal that Huawei is the co-owner of intellectual property that is jointly created, and that the organization has been putting part of its annual R&D budget toward universities since 2018. Journal de Montréal (QC)

Survey shows COVID-19 has disproportionately affected careers of women and racialized faculty

A survey of tenured and tenure-track faculty working at public Canadian universities has found that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the career progress of women and racialized faculty, writes Jennifer Davis. The author explains that women and racialized faculty had higher stress and social isolation levels, as well as lower well-being. It also found that while men were more likely to see their productivity increase during the pandemic, racialized faculty reported that their research productivity had been reduced. 68% of women reported experiencing caregiving burdens and funding discrepancies. The article calls for universities and governments to take action to rectify inequity and to provide individualized support to faculty who are struggling. The Conversation (National)

CMU launches Centre for Career and Vocation

Canadian Mennonite University has launched its Centre for Career and Vocation. The centre is focused on helping students and other CMU community members to pursue their career paths by bringing together career development and vocational discernment, practicums and work-integrated learning, and vocation-centred advising and curriculum. Students will be able to access the centre’s career advising support and resources, as well as appointments, workshops, peer coaching, and for-credit career development courses. The centre will also support faculty and staff who are developing a common framework for vocational advising and curriculum development. CMU (MB)

Canadian university rankings in QS World University Rankings 2021

26 Canadian universities have been listed in the QS World University Rankings 2021, three of which were featured in the top 50 institutions: The University of Toronto (tied for #25), McGill University (tied for #31), and University of British Columbia (#45). Université de Montréal (#118), University of Alberta (#119), McMaster University (#144), University of Waterloo (tied for #166), Western University (tied for #203), Queen’s University (tied for#246), and the University of Calgary (tied for #246). University of Toronto appeared in the top 25 of each of the QS broad subject areas, with UBC appearing in the top 25 institutions for Arts and Humanities, as well as Social Sciences and Management. Top Universities | Top Universities (subject rankings) (International)

ON postsecondary institutions respond to COVID-19 outbreaks

Several Ontario postsecondary institutions have recently responded to COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities. Fleming College’s president has released a statement on the outbreak occurring at the privately-owned Severn Court buildings, explaining that “we intend to impose the harshest possible sanctions allowed under our Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy in proportion to the role played by each participant” in the unauthorized gatherings that led to the outbreak. Western University is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak at its Essex Hall residence, with seven cases confirmed positive. The Ontario Police College, which has had 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19, announced that it will be completing a second round of testing on “high risk” students and staff before making a decision to reopen. Fleming | Western | The Sudbury Star (ON)

Keyano, MRU will not continue collaborative degree program in environmental sciences

Keyano College and Mount Royal University have decided not to renew an agreement to offer Keyano’s Collaborative Bachelor of Science – Environmental Sciences Degree. The decision was made due to low enrolment, budget challenges, and changing academic conditions. The release states that students currently in the program will be provided with options for their future studies, and that fourth-year students will graduate as planned. “MRU has valued this partnership with Keyano College, and we look forward to collaborating in the future,” said Dr Jonathan Withey, Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology at MRU. “Our immediate interest is to ensure the students enrolled in the program receive the support they need to successfully complete their studies.” Keyano (AB)

Laval uses physical exercise videos to give students breaks during class

Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ) cardiologist Isabelle Nault has developed five miniature videos to encourage students who are studying from home to be more active throughout the day. Faculty members at Laval University have inserted these two-minute videos into the breaks in their class to provide students with an opportunity to take part in physical exercise. The videos cover topics that range from how to adjust workstations properly to moderate-intensity exercises. Journal de Montréal (QC)

PSE communities need time to grieve before going back to normal: Opinion

While postsecondary institutions are eager to go back to in-person classes in the fall semester, they should also take time to grieve what has been lost and what campus community members have been through, writes Beth McMurtrie. The author explains that pushing aside the realities of the last year in order to quickly go back to normal can force people to move on without processing their experiences. McMurtie writes that the postsecondary community needs time to talk about their last year, acknowledge the changes, and consider what lessons can be applied to their future work. Speaking about what has been lost and how the future might be different is critical to allow postsecondary communities to grieve. The Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)