Top Ten

February 2, 2022

Research at Lakehead finds groundhog predictions are not reliable

Groundhogs are no more accurate at predicting the arrival of spring than flipping a coin, says a new publication from Lakehead University. Lakehead researcher Dr Michael Rennie and his students worked on a lab project which included the comprehensive evaluation of all groundhog predictions available and compared them with the bloom date of a flower found in all studied regions. The project gave students the opportunity to hone their collaborative research skills and learn about the publication process. The students found that Canadian and American groundhogs were equally good at their job. Additionally, Rennie said that one American groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil – appeared to be a proponent of climate change given that he had a statistically significant propensity to predict early springs. “Maybe he’s trying to get through to the folks who don’t seem to want to listen to climate scientists,” said Rennie. Lakehead (ON)

Institutions receive funding from Canada for Dementia-related projects

The Government of Canada has invested over $9.5M into a variety of projects that support Canada’s national dementia strategy and will focus on raising awareness about dementia and creating inclusive communities. Projects funded by Dementia Strategic Fund include up to approximately $379K for Cégep de Drummondville’s work on stigmatization prevention, $612K for Conestoga College’s work on increasing inclusiveness through social relationships, and $716K for Simon Fraser University’s work on mobility for those living with dementia. McGill University is receiving up to approximately $758K through the Dementia Community Investment to adapt and enhance its Dementia Education Program to fit the COVID-19 context. Canada | Canada (Backgrounder) (National)

McMaster to receive over $32M to create school of biomedical innovation, entrepreneurship

McMaster University is celebrating an over-$32M donation from Alabama physician and entrepreneur Marnix Heersink. The funds will be used to create the Marnix E Heersink School of Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will make McMaster a biomedical innovation, entrepreneurship, and global health hub. The University of Alabama will be creating a parallel program, and McMaster and UAlabama are planning to share program content. “This donation can be considered an investment that will spawn a hub of biomedical innovation in both Hamilton and Birmingham, with hives of start-up companies manufacturing life-saving medical products,” said McMaster Professor John Kelton. “This will completely reimagine both cities’ post-industrial economies.” McMaster | Hamilton Spectator (ON)

QC halts Dawson’s expansion plans, cites need to prioritize Francophone students

The Government of Quebec has reportedly halted Dawson College’s plans to expand, citing the need to prioritize Francophone students. QC had pledged $100M to Dawson in 2020 to construct a new pavilion that would provide spaces for students in health programs. The Montreal Gazette reports that the decision was announced during a meeting on Friday with QC Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann, and that the institution was told to pursue other options to acquire more space, such as renting. David Birnbaum, official opposition critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, said that the decision is insensitive to Anglophones in QC. “This major expansion was needed [and] remains necessary and this government, with an eye on politics and nothing else, has put the boots on that project,” said Birnbaum. Montreal Gazette | CTV News | CBC | Journal de Montréal (QC)

How UBC President Santa Ono is tackling the mental health crisis: Editorial

In a recent article in Times Higher Ed, Rosa Ellis discusses how Santa Ono, President of the University of British Columbia, has prioritized mental health care at the institution. Ellis says that Ono has openly discussed his own struggles with mental health in the past, and has doubled UBC’s mental health budget, appointed a chief student health officer, and installed trained counsellors in student residences. Ono has also focused on data collection on issues such as sexual assault and implemented supports for academics who are beginning their careers. Ono says that self-acceptance was key to his equilibrium: “I came to terms with my feeling of inadequacy. Comparing myself to, you know, people that are exceptional in different things, I came to terms with realising that I have other strings, I have other abilities.” Times Higher Ed (Subscription) (BC)

ACC to expand practical nursing program with new rotating site

Assiniboine Community College has announced that it will be expanding its practical nursing program by opening a new rotating site in the community of Arbog, Manitoba. The site, which is funded by the Government of Manitoba, will help increase capacity in ACC’s nursing programs and address MB’s need for nurses. “The demand for nurses continues to be high,” said ACC President Mark Frison. “Offering rural rotating nursing sites, like this one, helps to address the need for skilled graduates in all regions of the province.” Brandon Sun (MB)

Faculty union at Acadia on strike after rejecting latest offer

The faculty union at Acadia University is on strike after rejecting the university’s latest contract offer. The provincially-appointed coordinator had declared an impasse on January 14th, and an acceptable offer was reportedly not produced after a 14-day cooling off period. Key issues for the union include salaries “that do not fall too far below cost of living increases” and the improvement of hiring processes that increase diversity. The strike includes 350 professors, librarians, archivists, and instructors, and classes and labs have been cancelled while other campus operations continue. “While there is currently disagreement on what the final collective agreement contains, both parties — the faculty association and university administration — ultimately want the best for our students,” said Acadia’s Provost and VP Academic Dale Keefe. CBC (NS)

Alberta Innovates makes investments into projects at UAlberta, UCalgary, NAIT

Alberta Innovates has made several investments into research projects at three Alberta postsecondary institutions. The Alberta Diagnostics Ecosystem Platform for Translation, which is a partnership between the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the Alberta Precision Exchange (APEX), Alberta Precision Laboratories, and DynaLIFE Medical Laboratories, has received $3M to support the development and testing of medical technology. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Centre for Advanced Medical Simulation has received $1.27M to support its immersive healthcare simulation facility which companies will use to develop healthcare and medical technologies. Alberta Innovates has also invested $1.25M in five projects – three at the UAlberta and two at the UCalgary – that will address the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). RD News Now (ADEPT) | NAIT | Alberta Innovates (CWD Research) (AB)

NL anti-racism advocates call for change after video including racial slur circulates online

Anti-racism advocates in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling for change after a video of a Memorial University professor saying the N-word as an example of derogatory language circulated online. CBC reports that the video shows assistant professor Sandrine Jean reading from a slide in which the N-word is spelled out. Social activist Laurabel Mba posted the video online after a student sent it to her. Memorial has apologized on Twitter and said it would start an investigation, and that its response would be informed by the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion. CBC | CTV News (NL)

Requiring PD to encourage growth within an institution: Opinion

Postsecondary institutions should require their staff to participate in professional development (PD) in order to spark fresh new ideas that will promote growth and positive change, writes Aaron Basko. Basko writes that as Omicron declines, people will need PD more than ever to give them the opportunity to produce their best work. Basko recommends that institutions support employee learning initiatives, request that employees participate in a certain number of PD hours each year, and make PD a part of yearly review conversations. The author also encourages institutions to emphasize that PD is important for personal and institutional growth and to provide funding for some or all PD costs. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Subscription) (Editorial)