Top Ten

April 18, 2022

ON Auditor General releases preliminary report on Laurentian’s insolvency

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has released a preliminary report on the causes behind Laurentian University’s insolvency. The report found that Laurentian’s problems date back over a decade and grew with “poor management of its financial affairs,” capital expansions from 2012 to 2020, and growth in both the size and costs associated with Laurentian’s senior administration. The auditor general also stated that Laurentian’s choice to go through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) could have been avoided with earlier, transparent work with Ministry staff, and was not appropriate for the situation. Ultimately, the Globe and Mail reports, the decision to pursue creditor protection led to nearly 200 job losses, millions in added costs, and damage to Laurentian’s reputation. A future report will include recommendations to increase university financial oversight. Report (PDF) | Globe and Mail | CBC | CAUT | OCUFA (ON)

CNA to receive over $10M for creation of Film and Media Production Centre

The College of the North Atlantic has announced that it will be creating a new Film and Media Production Centre, thanks to over $10M from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Budget 2022. The funding will be used to cover operating costs, equipment, and renovations, as well as the Film and Television Equity Investment Program. The campus will be located in St John’s and will offer programs such as TV and film technical production, creation, post-production, production management, and visual effects. CNA has signed an MOU with the Toronto Film School, the Canadian Film Centre, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in order to allow students to transfer their credits and further their training. Classes will begin at the new campus in September 2022. CBC | CNA (NL)

New programming plans, report in response to expansion of 3-year degrees at ON college

Following the Government of Ontario’s announcement that colleges will be able to offer three-year degree announcement, several members of the sector have shared their plans for future programming. Georgian College announced that, in anticipation of the announcement, it had already begun to develop three-year degrees in hospitality and business that are expected to be available as early as 2024. Northern College President Audrey Penner told the North Bay Nugget that the college is laying the foundation to offer a degree in Welding Engineering. Sault College President Ron Common noted that the college is exploring degree options in aviation, health, and trades programs that the college currently offers as three-year diplomas. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has also released a report reflecting on the possible costs associated with expanding three-year undergraduate degrees to colleges for students, institutions, and government. Georgian | North Bay Nugget | SooToday | HEQCO (ON)

USask receives $2M to support measurement, promotion of sustainable agriculture practices

The University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) has received $2M in funding from the Government of Saskatchewan to support the measurement and promotion of sustainable agriculture practices. The funding will be used to define, accelerate, and communicate how the agriculture sector is contributing to improved environmental outcomes such as climate change mitigation. “Agriculture is a solution to mitigating the effects of climate change, and Canadian agriculture in particular is one of the most sustainable in the world,” said USask GIFS CEO Steven Webb. “We have an advantage we should be proud of, that we need to share globally, and the funding from the province will help yield results that will drive benefits for agriculture, Saskatchewan and Canada’s economy.” USask (SK)

Institutions should bolster their virtual tours to help students get a feel for the institution: Opinion

When designing virtual tours, postsecondary institutions should focus on basic institutional elements such as residence halls, dining halls, and classrooms, writes Matthew Green for Inside Higher Ed. Students struggle to envision themselves in the postsecondary space, writes Green, and want information that will give them an idea of the “feel” of the institution and how they will fit into these spaces. These challenges are compounded by delays in students’ development, as they have missed out on social opportunities and foundational experiences during the pandemic. Green argues that institutions should keep these factors in consideration as they evaluate and design not only virtual tours, but also information sessions, panel discussions, and a high-quality website. Inside Higher Ed (Subscription) (Editorial)

UOttawa Law receives $5M to support the visions of future deans, potential Fauteux Hall expansion

The University of Ottawa has received a $5M gift to support students and faculty members in the Faculty of Law, Common Law section. The funds, which were donated by philanthropists Susan and Perry Dellelce, will be used to create the Susan, Perry, Taylor, and Nicholas Dellelce Legacy Fund and an endowment to support the priorities and visions of future deans. The funds will additionally support the potential expansion and renovation of Fauteux Hall, which houses the law school. UOttawa has established the Susan & Perry Dellelce Dean for the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section in honour of the donors, and this named deanship is reportedly a first of its kind for the university. UOttawa (ON)

Institutions must innovate in response to post-pandemic changes: Opinion

Postsecondary institutions are being forced to quickly evolve in response to changes such as the Great Resignation and demands for remote work, writes Paul Basken. Basken describes how, in the United States, institutions have had to adapt rather than go back to the old “normal” due to labour volatility, worker demands about working conditions, and changes in student demands. US corporations are also embracing postsecondary training for their employees, which is a positive shift for institutions that are provide corporate trainingc. Institutions are also finding that students primarily missed their campus communities in the shift to online learning, and will have to adapt to ensure students still have access to online education after institutions resume in-person education. Times Higher Ed (Subscription) (Editorial)

ULethbridge receives $1M for liberal arts work-integrated learning

The University of Lethbridge has received a $1M gift from Art and Mary Jane Crooks in support of paid work-integrated learning opportunities. The Crooks Work-Integrated Learning Program in Liberal Education will enable students to obtain experience in research, volunteer, or community roles and develop their professional skills before graduation. “We know from years of students participating in co-op work terms or other research or job opportunities, that they’re more professional in their student work and they’ve seen the reason why they’re learning theoretical knowledge,” said ULethbridge School of Liberal Education Dean Shelly Wismath. “They see where it’s used, what it’s good for and how it matters in the community.” ULethbridge (AB)

ON institutions announce changes, extensions to mask, vaccine mandates

As mask mandates at Ontario institutions are set to expire, several institutions have made the decision to extend them due to the current COVID-19 case counts while others will continue to drop requirements as planned. Mohawk College will drop its COVID-19 measures on April 18th and will continue to recommend masks, while the University of Waterloo will lift masking and vaccine requirements on May 1st. The University of Guelph’s mask mandate will be kept in place after May 1st. McMaster University’s mask mandate will stay in place until the end of May in response to case count predictions. Wilfrid Laurier University will also keep its mask mandates until the end of May, but will drop vaccination requirements as of May 1st. UoGuelph | CBC (McMaster, Mohawk) | Global News (WLU, UWaterloo) (ON)

RRU revitalizes food-producing garden as part of “Visions in Bloom” fundraiser

Royal Roads University has announced that it is revitalizing a food-producing garden at the institution as part of the “Visions in Bloom” fundraiser. The garden is located in the same space as the garden of the original owners of the Dunsmuir Estate, and will grow foods traditionally harvested by Indigenous people as well as foods from around the world. It includes a Giving Garden, which will grow foods to be donated to food banks and community organizations. RRU will also be planting more fruit trees and establishing an apiary to help pollinate the garden. “Our vision for food production is grounded in the sustainable principles of planting carefully, never taking more than we need, and sharing what we harvest,” said RRU President Philip Steenkamp. CTV News | RRU (BC)