Today's Top Ten

May 24, 2016

MUN will not raise tuition in face of $12 M budget shortfall

Memorial University has announced that it will not increase undergraduate tuition for the upcoming school year despite a $12.4 M budget deficit. At a Board of Regents meeting last week, MUN President Gary Kachanoski said that the needed savings will come from a $4.1 M cut to administration, a $1.3 M cut to MUN’s travel budget, and $3 M in savings from a new attrition plan. Nearly 80 students and community members had rallied outside the board meeting to protest any potential tuition increase, and MUN Student Union Executive Director Renata Lang expressed her group’s support for the outcome, noting that “it’s definitely a victory.” CBC reports that MUN will need to find $26.5 M in savings by 2019-20 to balance its budget. CBC | CBC (Protest) | Telegram | MUN

ON institutions sign seven agreements with West Bank partners

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and representatives from the province’s postsecondary institutions have signed seven new agreements for education and innovation initiatives with political and economic leaders from the West Bank. The group travelled to the West Bank as a delegation, and an ON release describes the specific initiatives and their Canadian participants, which included McMaster University, York University, the University of Windsor, and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and Munk School of Global Affairs. OCAD University has also announced the signing of an MOU with the Jerusalem-based Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. ON | OCADU

AB struggles with spike in student employment grant applications

The Alberta government has only been able to approve half of this year’s applications to a program designed to financially assist employers in hiring students, reports Metro. Last week, AB Labour Minister Christina Gray announced that roughly 3,000 summer jobs would be funded through the Summer Temporary Employment Program this year, at a cost of $10 M. Gray noted that the province was surprised by the number of applications it received, stating that “the problem we had here was just so much enthusiasm and excitement for the program.” Metro

UPEI students want written feedback to influence tenure and promotion decisions

The University of Prince Edward Island’s Student Union is asking that the school expand the visibility and influence of student evaluations on teacher performance. Under the current rules governing the school’s Student Opinion on Teaching Surveys, only numerical aspects of a professor’s evaluation are available for external review by chairs, deans, or other administration, while written feedback goes only to the professor. The Student Union is asking that this qualitative feedback also be available for university review in the consideration of tenure and promotion. The university has replied that such a change would require amending the school’s collective bargaining agreement with faculty, and that they have communicated the students’ ideas to the Faculty Association. CBC

Ryerson praised for commitment to diversity in light of namesake’s views

Senator Murray Sinclair lauded Ryerson University and universities across the country in general last week for pledging to adopt many of the TRC’s recommendations. Sinclair pointed out that Egerton Ryerson, the institution’s namesake, believed that Indigenous children were “inferior to white children, that every child was entitled to education except Indigenous children,” and added that a “commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is what his namesake (the university) now stands for.” Economics Professor Eric Kam agreed that the institution had “a responsibility to right the wrongs of our namesake, and make sure each of our 40,000 students feels safe and welcome here.” Toronto Star

QC researchers oppose National Institute for Excellence in Education, call it “useless”

A group of 70 Quebec researchers has denounced the proposed creation of a National Institute for Excellence in Education for the province, alleging that the new organization would be “useless.” The group’s primary contention is that schools require the agility to respond to localized problems without having strategy dictated to them from the top down. “The intention behind this is to be centralized,” says Thérèse Laferrière, director of the Centre for Research and Intervention on Academic Achievement at Laval University, “yet the minister wants to decentralize education in schools.” Laferrière also explained that Quebec already has a High Council of Education, whose mission is to advise QC’s Minister and the Ministry of Education on key issues. La Presse

“Leave the country”: one prof’s advice to new humanities PhDs

“I am writing from Ecuador to offer this advice to new PhDs in the humanities,” writes Professor Scott Gibson: “pack your bags.” Gibson recounts the story of how his frustration with the process of applying to US-based colleges led him to look at other parts of the world for tenure-stream work. While a move might not be desirable for everyone, Gibson highlights the benefits of a clean and simple interview process, especially in contrast to the process of applying to countless jobs in your own country. Gibson discusses how a position outside of his home country yielded better compensation than in the US, had a minimal negative impact on his research agenda, and helped him to regain a sense of purpose in his work. Chronicle of Higher Education

uWindsor professor emeritus gives school $1 M for new gathering place

A professor emeritus and Faculty of Business alumnus from the University of Windsor has donated $1 M to support a new “crossroads and gathering place” on the university’s main campus. The donation was announced at a groundbreaking event for the new space, which uWindsor President Alan Wildeman said will be officially named the David A Wilson Campus Commons in honour of the donor. In addition, Wilson’s donation will support scholarship and awards endowments at the school. Wildeman praised Wilson’s loyalty to the university, noting that, “his contributions are all the more remarkable since he moved from Windsor many years ago and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. He has never forgotten his community and the University of Windsor. By giving back, he is making both a better place.” uWindsor

UQTR, BVSM, and City of Shawinigan partner on new course

L'Université du Troisième Âge at l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), the City of Shawinigan, and Watershed Saint-Maurice (BVSM) are partnering to offer a new course titled “La santé environnementale des lacs et des rivières” (Environmental Health of Lakes and Rivers) in September 2016. The course is designed to train students in limnology by teaching them how to identify problems that these bodies of water face, such as blue-green algae. The course includes learning how to test water quality, sample biological materials, and other data collection activities that will include field trips to lakes and rivers, and laboratory sessions. UQTR

Elsevier’s purchase of social-science hub is “Kinda like Satan buys the Vatican,” says expert

The publishing giant Elsevier has purchased the Social Science Research Network, an online community that support the free sharing of academic work between scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Initial reaction to the purchase on social media was “fierce and frustrated,” reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Prominent education innovator George Siemens referred to the deal as being “Weird. Kinda like ‘Satan buys the Vatican.’” Analysts have noted that the purchase is part of a shift in strategy that Elsevier has made since at least 2013, where online piracy of copyrighted materials is forcing the company to shift its focus away from publishing and to “play a more prominent role in the larger ecosystem of academic communication.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required) | Inside Higher Ed | Elsevier