Top Ten

January 5, 2022

Institutions continue to adjust Winter semester in response to rising COVID-19 cases

Postsecondary institutions across Canada have responded to rising COVID-19 cases by making changes to the delivery of the beginning of their Winter semester to keep students safe. In British Columbia, institutions such as Simon Fraser University, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of Victoria announced that they would begin the semester online. Some institutions in Alberta, such as the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, will complete their first three weeks of instruction online. In Manitoba, Brandon University has delayed the start of classes by a week so that they can move online, while Assiniboine Community College will hold the first two weeks of some programs online. In Ontario, many institutions such as Cambrian College, Canadore College, and Sault College are adjusting their semesters to delay in-class learning. CBC (AB) | Brandon Sun (MB) | CBC (ON) | CBC (BC) (National)

Laurentian requests halt to the execution of speaker’s warrant to force disclosure of privileged documents

Laurentian University lawyers have requested that the Superior Court of Justice stop the execution of a speaker’s warrant that would force Laurentian to disclose confidential documents by February 1st. Laurentian is reportedly questioning if the Auditor General’s Act gives the Auditor General the power to demand the documents, and arguing that the disclosure could harm Laurentian’s chances of restructuring successfully. Laurentian is also requesting advice and direction if it is required to comply with the warrant, since Laurentian says it is prohibited by the CCAA from providing the information. CBC | CTV News (ON)

Aurora completes Phase One of transformation to polytechnic university

Aurora College has completed the first phase of its transformation into a polytechnic university, as the Government of the Northwest Territories has unanimously passed Bill 30: An Act to Amend the Aurora College Act. The passage of this bill will allow Aurora to be created as an arm’s length postsecondary institution with a new governance system. The institution will be governed by a Board of Governors, Academic Council, and Indigenous Knowledge Holders Council. These governing bodies will be guided by recommendations from the Standing Committee on Social Development including the increase of the minimum number and proportion of Indigenous Northerners on the Board, increased Board autonomy, and requirements of consultation with Indigenous governments. NWT (NWT)

Canada provides $67M to support tourism, hospitality sector

The Government of Canada has announced that it will be providing an investment of up to $67M to 24 projects to support Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector. Funding will be provided through the Sectoral Initiatives program and will support training and resources as well as the removal of employment barriers for people who are underrepresented in the labour market. The University of Victoria has received $4.9M through SIP for the Indigenous Community Entrepreneurship Development and Action Recovery program (I-CEDAR), which focuses on providing Indigenous artists, creators, and entrepreneurs with training and skills improvement to help them fill the gap in Indigenous tourism. Canada | Backgrounder | Times Colonist (UVic) (National)

Western President takes medical leave of absence

Western University President Alan Shepard is taking a medical leave of absence after experiencing “an unexpected cardiac issue requiring immediate attention.” Shepard has delegated his duties to Western’s Interim provost and Vice-President (Academic) Sarah Prichard for at least 30 days. “The leadership team will keep the Western community informed about my return to office,” said Shepard in an email to students. “I wish you all the very best for your start to the winter term, and I look forward to seeing you on campus again very soon.” CBC | Western Gazette (ON)

UQAC receives $2.5M for research on exploited aquatic species

The Université du Québec à Chicoutimi will receive $2.5M over five years from the Government of Quebec to renew a research chair focused on aquatic species: the Chaire de recherche sur les espèces aquatiques exploitées (CREAE). The grant’s funding will allow the university to continue to expand its scope and expertise in the area of fishing and fisheries management by supporting UQAC Professor Maxime Boivin and a new faculty member who will specialize in fisheries sciences. UQAC states that QC’s freshwater sport fishing activities are worth over $1B, and that the research chair is part of the province’s responsibility to manage exploited fish populations. UQAC (QC)

Academic associations with upcoming conferences navigate rising COVID-19 numbers

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, academic associations that had planned conferences for early 2022 are facing difficult decisions regarding whether to proceed in person, online, or cancel conferences due to the rapidly-changing situation. Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed describes how the original decisions of some associations, such as the Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association, were partly based on members’ enthusiasm for an in-person experience. The author says that for some groups cancelling conferences would also have a significant financial cost. Some associations have made the decision to transition online, while others will be continuing in person and requiring attendees to follow stringent health and safety rules. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Okanagan receives LEED gold certification for new Health Sciences Centre

Okanagan College has received LEED gold certification for its new Health Sciences Centre located at its Kelowna campus. The building was also designed to the WELL Building Standard, which ensures that the spaces are designed intentionally to support health and well-being. “We have a responsibility to our community to design and build energy-efficient and environmentally responsible infrastructure,” said Facilities Management Director Steve Robinson. “It is often a challenging endeavour, but when the certification is complete, everyone is proud of what has been accomplished and excited about how we can stretch further on the next project.” Okanagan (BC)

Managing the incoming influx of international students: Editorial

Postsecondary institutions need to prepare to manage a future influx of international students, writes Meti Basiri of ApplyBoard. Basiri describes how there has recently been a huge increase in the applications submitted to postsecondary institutions in Canada, with students who had deferred their studies creating a double cohort effect. Many students are still interested in remote learning, and the author encourages institutions to create engaging remote learning experiences. Basiri also recommends that institutions use a variety of techniques to manage the wave of students, including becoming more active in the international student market, prioritizing student support during the application process, and developing long-term remote or hybrid delivery offerings to grow enrolment. ApplyBoard (Editorial)

UWinnipeg professor developing tool kit to prevent extremism in youth

University of Winnipeg professor Kawser Ahmed has received $400K from Public Safety Canada to develop a tool kit that will help Manitoba teachers identify and address extremism in youth. The tool kit will be developed over two years and will focus on educators of students grade 8 and up. The resources will help facilitate discussions with youth who may be reluctant to discuss the things they are seeing online with adults. “Our intention is to get young people engaged in topics and discussions with us one to one — those who are expert in this topic and those who know a little bit more than others,” said Ahmed. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press (MB)