Top Ten

November 22, 2021

Nearly 50 institutions sign Scarborough Charter to improve inclusion, ensure Black flourishing

A total of 46 postsecondary institutions across Canada have signed the Scarborough Charter and pledged to develop action plans for Black inclusion and respect certain principles to ensure Black flourishing. With over 200 publicly funded colleges and universities in Canada, University of Toronto Scarborough Principal and charter committee chair Wisdom Tettey noted that more institutions are expected to sign in the future. Institutions that have signed the charter will be expected to develop a plan to foster Black inclusion that is in keeping with the principles outlined in the document. CBC (CP) | Calgary Sun (Subscription Req.) (National)

McMaster places scientist on leave following investigation by academic integrity office

McMaster University has reportedly put scientist Jonathan Pruitt, an evolutionary ecologist who holds a Canada 150 Research Chair, on leave following an investigation by the university’s office of academic integrity. The Globe and Mail reports that Pruitt has been accused of falsifying data, has had several co-authored research papers retracted by journals, and has had his PhD dissertation marked as “withdrawn” by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. McMaster University public relations manager Wade Hemsworth stated that undergraduate students taught by Pruitt are being supported through a transition to a new instructor, while supervision is being provided to junior members of Pruitt’s lab. “We don’t yet know how long [the] process will take,” said Hemsworth. CBC | Globe and Mail | Hamilton Spectator (ON)

SK implements changes to modernize postsecondary legislation

The Government of Saskatchewan has introduced The Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training Act, 2021. The new act is intended to modernize legislation related to postsecondary education and the skills training sector. It will apply to all postsecondary institutions receiving government funding, and will update the minister’s responsibilities and powers, centralize grant-making authority to postsecondary institutions, and reflect current practices and requirements related to accountability and reporting. “Modernizing the Act was accomplished in collaboration with the post-secondary sector,” said SK Advanced Education Minister Gene Makowsky. “The new Act will ensure a consistent level of oversight and accountability across a diverse set of post-secondary education and skills training institutions that receive public dollars.” SK (SK)

UNB celebrates opening of new CARE research facility, creation of Fulcrum advisory board

The University of New Brunswick has officially opened a new research facility focused on advanced prosthetics and rehabilitation. The Centre for Adaptive Rehabilitation Engineering (CARE) will allow researchers to use state-of-the-art technology in several specialized laboratories, including a Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment. “UNB’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering exemplifies some of the best qualities of university research: a progressive confluence of knowledge, innovation and leadership over decades, addressing complex and important challenges faced in our lives, all the while teaching and training the next generation of experts,” said UNB President Dr Paul J Mazerolle. UNB also recently announced the creation of a Fulcrum advisory board comprised of industry leaders that will help strengthen relationships between academia and industry, and enhance the university’s contributions to innovation and facilitating economic growth. NB | UNB (1) | UNB (2) (NB)

UoGuelph launches Sexualities, Genders and Social Change degree

The University of Guelph has launched a new multidisciplinary degree program called Sexualities, Genders and Social Change (SXGN). The program will cover topics including feminism, colonialism, race, and masculinity, and will incorporate teaching and methodologies from the arts, humanities, and social sciences. “The launch of the SXGN program is particularly timely,” said UoGuelph professor Dr Karyn Freedman, who was on the committee that developed the program. “Issues connected to sexuality and gender are always pressing but especially so right now, given the heightened social and political climate on these matters.” UoGuelph (ON)

Foster excitement about research among students from the beginning: Opinion

In a recent article from Times Higher Ed, John Ross argues that postsecondary institutions should “strike early” to cultivate research capacity and excitement about success in students who show research potential. Ross says that postsecondary institutions should provide research opportunities earlier on in an effort to engage students from the beginning of their postsecondary education. The author discusses how some institutions have developed special, smaller programs that select students with research potential and prepare them through mentorship and supervision by accomplished researchers. To support these efforts, Ross says that faculty who are working closely with undergraduates should also be rewarded and have their work recognized in the promotion process. Times Higher Ed (Sub Required) (Editorial)

Georgian announces plans to expand growth through international student enrolment

In an article for Simcoe, Georgian College President MaryLynn West-Moynes discusses the college’s plan to expand its growth by focusing on the international student market. West-Moynes points to data that indicates that the number of graduates from the region will not return to its previous level until 2031, and that in order to support the economy, Georgian must go beyond the domestic student population. Housing availability, a sense of belonging, and access to transportation and employment are key factors that are expected to affect Georgian’s ability to recruit international students. West-Moynes says that Georgian will be implementing an enrolment management strategy to examine current programs and future jobs, and that its board will support a $10M investment in digital innovation to ensure students gain the skills needed to succeed in their careers. Simcoe.com (ON)

ULFA members rally to draw attention to postsecondary cuts, stalled negotiations

The faculty association at the University of Lethbridge has rallied to voice concerns about the “damaging cuts to post-secondary education, concerning issues currently under negotiation and their negative impacts for the Lethbridge community.” The Lethbridge Herald reports that the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) has been without a contract for over 500 days, and that ULethbridge is asking members to take a retroactive wage cut. ULFA president Daniel O’Donnell said that bargaining has been slow, and that ULFA will enter mediation at the end of the month to speed up the process. ULethbridge has responded by drawing attention to the constraints that the Government of Alberta has put on postsecondary education. Lethbridge Herald | Global News (AB)

Conestoga, SFU launch micro-credentials, VCC shares upcoming program

Two institutions in Canada have recently launched micro-credential programs, and the Georgia Straight reports that more are on their way in British Columbia. Conestoga College has launched a micro-credential that will help learners connect teaching practices and Indigenous knowledge. The Awareness of Indigenous Values, Identity and Spirit program will teach learners about the pedagogical impact and relevance of Wampum Belt teaching, traditional medicines, residential schools, and more. Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business and KPMG in Canada have partnered to create a micro-credential graduate program focused on providing KPMG practitioners with data analytics and visualization skills development. Vancouver Community College is also reportedly developing a micro-credential in ecommerce, and VCC Dean of Continuing Studies Adrian Lipsett noted that emerging areas such as clean energy and sustainability offer ample opportunity to develop more micro-credentials. Conestoga | SFU | Georgia Straight (BC | ON)

Supporting students by developing department handbooks: Opinion

Department handbooks are tools that can be used to support graduate students and should be improved to protect them, write Isabella Whitworth, Christopher Dade, Emma Eisenbraun, Marie Fiori, Kendra Hanslik, and Lauren Schrader. The authors argue that creating consistent and transparent policies through department handbooks will help protect grad students from abuse and harassment. They provide recommendations on how to develop student handbooks, including creating clear expectations around conduct for graduate students and faculty, outlining the process for reporting grievances, and integrating diversity initiatives into handbooks. The authors also recommend having student-elected representatives on department committees and creating a list of mentor and mentee training requirements. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)