All Posts Tagged With: "Lakehead university"
Educators have bigger things to worry about
Students looking to spill secrets about crushes or amusing campus escapades have a new outlet on Facebook. “Confessions” pages that post anonymous messages have been popping up at universities, colleges and high schools from Lakehead University to the University of Regina to Western University and as far away as Australia’s University of Adelaide.
The pages are being criticized by educators, who see them potentially leading to cyberbullying if the anonymity is broken. I don’t think they should worry. I think they’re fun, harmless and the risk of names getting out seems low. For the most part, these pages are a much-needed outlet for those wanting to vent or laugh, rather than viciously attack each other. Officials shouldn’t be so worried.
Confessions pages are reminiscent of Post Secret, a popular website that does the same thing. Both allow students to say things they wouldn’t post on personal pages or Twitter. The difference is that confessions pages are specific to certain schools, which may be why they’re getting scrutiny.
What students are talking about today (March 6th)
1. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Frontier Airlines after a group of students did the Harlem Shake mid-flight. One of them said a flight attendant gave them permission. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, the Islamist education minister has condemned a fairly PG-rated version by students there. You may recall that the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian street vendor, inspired the Arab Spring revolutions. After overthrowing their long-time president, Tunisia now has an Islamist government and the more moderate opposition leader was recently shot dead. Speaking of dangerous Harlem Shakes, the right-wing rabble-rouser Ezra Levant did one on Sun TV’s website. He even managed to get at least three young people to do it with him. The Albatross offers it in GIF form. No word yet on what the Islamists think of Levant’s gyrating, but I bet they don’t like it.
2. A student at Lakehead University is holding a “sit-in” outside the presidents’ office because a full course in Aboriginal Studies has been replaced by a partial course in the new law program. “I’ve lost a bit of weight, and certainly I think all of our grades have suffered a little bit at this point, but y’know, until there’s a resolution of the issue, there’s no question, I’m not leaving,” Sebastian Murdoch-Gibson told CBC News. The law school’s dean is defending the changes. Wouldn’t the dean know best what kind of education law students need?
What students are talking about today (February 26th)
1. Lakehead University students say that the school’s decision to change a course that will be offered in the new law program will water down the Aboriginal Studies component, reports CBC News. Lee Stuesser, the law school’s dean, says it will still address First Nations issues and that one reason for the change is that past Ontario law deans have raised concerns about non-law courses taught in law schools. “I felt the best thing to do was to make it a law course because my experience over the years has been that law students like law courses, and if they perceive something’s not a law course, then there’s a large measure of dissatisfaction,” he told CBC. Coincidentally, a new report from Frank Iacobucci, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, says this country needs to urgently address the crisis of Aboriginal under-representation on juries. While on the topic of legal education, Memorial University of Newfoundland has announced it’s exploring the feasibility of a law school in St. John’s.
Universities aren’t doing much to help students plan careers
From the 2013 Student Issue on sale now.
Mike St. Jean is in his seventh year of political science at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. “I still don’t even know what I can do with my degree,” he says. “I can get a job in government or elections, but other than that, the transition seems hard to lay out. I read books and analyze them. What does that mean to the real world?”
It’s not as if it hit him suddenly. The question “What’s next?” is one of the reasons he dropped down to part-time studies in year four of his degree. Another reason was that he needed time for his part-time job and his work with the Argus student newspaper, where he’s now an editor.
Lakehead’s counsellors haven’t helped. He only visited them once, years ago, and was told to consider a master’s in English or an education degree. “I don’t know how many jobs there are for teachers,” he says. What he does know is that a friend who took education moved to England because she couldn’t find work here. A master’s didn’t strike him as a good plan, either; he’s seen multiple master’s graduates and one Ph.D. apply for low-wage jobs at the Subway where he works. Professors are encouraging, but they don’t offer career advice. His parents want to help, but “they think university is about curing cancer and rocket science,” he says. “They have no idea what I’m in.”
Blue Jays trade, essays for sale & bashing Dragon’s Den
1. The Eyeopener at Ryerson University has investigated local “paper mills” that will write student essays for fees. They commissioned one paper on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and found that, in their opinion, the quality wasn’t half bad. Then again, if the immorality and academic consequences of getting caught don’t scare you, the price might: four-pages cost $135.60.
2. The Toronto Blue #Jays are still trending on Twitter, many hours after GM Alex Anthopoulos pulled off what may have been one of the most lopsided trades ever. See fans’ reactions here.
3. Western University neuroscientist Adrian Owen appeared on the high-profile BBC show Panorama last night detailing his revolutionary efforts to communicate with severely brain-injured patients.
College students who transfer to university do well
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Kristy Normore, 23, grew up in L’Anse-au-Loup, Nfld., and was one of 16 in her high school’s graduating class. (L’Anse-au-Loup has a population of 600.) She left to attend Memorial University in St. John’s, but found it wasn’t for her. “Some of my classes had over 300 people,” she says. “I absolutely hated it. No one knew your name.” Formerly a straight-A student, Normore found her marks began to drop. After her first year, she went back home and spent the year planning her next move.
Intent on a career in social work, Normore enrolled at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) in Sydney, “one of the best decisions I ever made.” Classes had 30 people—tops. Tuition was cheaper. She got As again. After two years, diploma in hand, Normore transferred to Cape Breton University (CBU), right next to NSCC, into the bachelor of arts community studies (BACS) program. She graduated in June. Starting university the second time, she felt better prepared. “I was used to helping myself. I found it much easier.”
Women banned, Niki Minaj, “oversharing” and Jack Layton
1. Iran has banned women, who make up 60 per cent of its university students, from 77 subjects including accounting, engineering and pure chemistry. At the University of Tehran, forestry and mathematics are off limits too. Last year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad considered segregating men and women entirely on campuses. Could this new ban be punishment for all the women who protested his apparent election fraud in 2009?
2. An Oklahoma high school valedictorian was denied her diploma because she said the word “hell” during her commencement speech and then refused to apologize. Kaitlin Nootbaar quoted a commencement speech from the Twilight series film Eclipse. “I quoted, ‘They ask us now what we want be and we say who the hell knows,’” she told The Toronto Star. She meant to say “heck.”
Board chair cites conflict of interest rules
Are tuition hikes a “conflict of interest” for students who represent their peers? The chair of the Lakehead University Board of Governors certainly thinks so. A new bylaw requires the three student representatives to leave the room when changes to tuition are discussed and voted upon.
Michael Snoddon, president of the Lakehead University Student Union, thinks that the new bylaw—an apparent oddity among university boards—is unfair. “I think that this change in the conflict of interest bylaw silences students,” he told CBC News. He says LUSU may ask for a judicial review.
Colin Bruce, the chair of the board, said that the new conflict of interest bylaw covers all board members and was developed with legal advice. He said, “any solid reading of conflict of interest will tell you you cannot vote on something in which you have a financial interest.”
Prof. Pettigrew ranks our campus cartoonists
One fond memory of my undergraduate days is of reading the comics in the student newspaper. They lacked the artistry of professional comics in the big dailies but they had a certain joie de vivre that came with, presumably, not getting paid very much (if anything at all).
Since then I have followed university comics mainly when they get involved in controversies, as when the UPEI student newspaper was confiscated by university officials after it published the notorious Danish Mohammed cartoons, or when a community college ran a comic in which Barack Obama looked a bit like a monkey, or when the Saskatchewan student paper ran a comic, reportedly by mistake, showing Jesus in, shall we say, a sexually compromising position.
But browsing student news sites the other day, I became curious as to the state of university comics, so I went looking and found that the tradition was alive and well, and even better than I remember. In fact, I was so impressed that I am inspired to provide my entirely subjective, online-only list of the top five university comics in Canada. Here are my picks.
5. The Daily Snooze, by Jacob Samuel, Simon Fraser
Samuel provides us with quite charming one-off panel cartoons, of the sort one finds in The New Yorker—and provides fewer head scratchers than that redoubtable mag.
4. Ski Ninjas, by Kyle Lees, Lakehead
Ski Ninjas feels like it could have been called Little Orphan Anime. I admire the strong lines and the simple off-beat humour, as in this strip where the joke is essentially that “booze” is a funny word. Which it is.
3. Too Fancy Gents, by Mike Hayes and Amani Elrofaie*, Western
Too Fancy Gents gives us the dialogue of two Oscar Wilde-esque fellows called Monocle and Bowler (perversely, Monocle wears a bowler, and Bowler wears a monocle). Typically our gents (who really are too fancy) sound awfully posh but quickly veer off into accounts of their sexual escapades or drug-fuelled misadventures.
2. Caveman Agent, by Evan Eshelman, York
I must admit, I don’t think I always understand Eshelman’s Caveman Agent (which feels a bit like Ziggy if Gary Larson had drawn it, with a dash of Krazy Kat for flavour), but the drawing is fantastic and the artist manages to catch his main character (is Cavemen his name?) in oddly human moments, as in this panel where he tries to keep his dinosaur from being traumatized.
This one makes me slightly regret my one-winner-per-university rule, though, since York provides several other worthy candidates, including Adventuresome by Keith Maclean, and the very clever Sent from the Moon, by Alison Wight. Let’s call those very honourable mentions.
1. Glamour Pig, by Katherine Johnson, Dalhousie
Glamour Pig is a largely text-based comic with admittedly sketchy drawing, but has just the sort of skewed viewpoint that gives us a new perspective on life (as in one comic where Johnson lists some of the downsides of eye glasses: “Impossibility of repair should damage occur in post-apocalyptic future.”). This is the kind of comic that makes you feel like you have a cool new friend.
If I have missed any worthy candidates, please feel free to link to them below. Meantime, campus cartoon artists: don’t stop now!
*We initially failed to give credit to Amani Elrofaiem, the illustrator behind Too Fancy Gents. We regret the error. Additionally we initially listed Ski Ninjas as Sky Ninjas. This post was updated Jan. 14, 2011.
Aboriginal and Northern students preferred
Canada’s lawyer shortage might finally start to improve. Ontario announced yesterday that it will fund the first new law school to be built in the province in more than 42 years. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. received $1.5-million in funding and hopes to enroll students by 2013.
The new school will be the seventh in Ontario and the first-ever in northern Ontario. The only other new law school announced for Canada since the 1980s is the one under construction at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., which will take its first 40 students in September.
Lakehead president Brian Stevenson said he aims to start with 55 students in 2013, but will accept up to 150 students after three years. The program will have a strong focus on aboriginal law, rural and remote practice, plus natural resource management — all specialties that cater to northern Ontario’s economy. The university will give preference to northern residents and aboriginal applicants.
The academic labour market never gets any breathing room
It wasn’t that long ago when the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada was predicting that we would need tens of thousands of extra PhD graduates. It was reasoned that growing demand for university combined with a mass exodus of baby boomer professors, would create a glut in the academic labour market. The message to government was fund more grad school spaces. The message to students was, forget about all that negative talk of spending five years in a doctorate program only to wind up in temporary sessional appointments. Now is the time to get that PhD.
It is not very novel to point out that, in light of the past year-and-a-half, this scenario seems like a sad joke. Students are indeed piling into grad programs, but largely as a relief from a brutal job market. As financial trouble appears to be dialing down in other sectors, problems continue unabated in the higher education sector. Universities have been making changes in response to economic realities that will ensure that a tight academic labour market will remain the norm long after the overall job market recovers.
As one illustration, the Modern Language Association recently reported that there has been a 51 per cent decline in available English positions over the past two years.
Many institutions have said that they will leave open positions unfilled, which can be accomplished by relying on sessional instructors and eliminating small classes, while they wait to see what their respective provincial governments do with respect to funding.
Some universities are picking fights with faculty unions. And unions are having none of it. At Queen’s, the administration requested that faculty take a two per cent pay cut, which was rejected by a vote of 89 per cent earlier this month. Last week, the Lakehead Faculty Association protested administration imposed furlough days, stating in a release: “Employees should not be made to suffer because administrators are unable to manage university finances.”
Unfortunately, this unwillingness to make concessions may lead to even more drastic measures. Forget pay cuts and furlough days, the days of “voluntary” retirement have already returned. Only a couple of weeks after the faculty union at the University of Alberta agreed to discuss the possibility of unpaid days off, the administration announced that it will be offering voluntary retirement packages, the Edmonton Journal reported on boxing day. The U of A has not ruled out outright layoffs, as have happened at other schools.
For example, the British Columbia Institute of Technology has announced that it will layoff five per cent of its staff in the coming year. Layoffs have been announced at the University of Calgary, and Guelph to name a couple others. We should expect much more carnage in the spring as universities finalize their 2010-2011 budgets. While it is easy to blame the economy, or the government, universities while crying cash poor over the past decade have, apparently, not taken many steps to prepare for downturns.
Though voluntary retirement may seem more humane than outright layoffs, it signals much deeper financial troubles than a simple trimming of the labour budget. Begging people to give up their jobs is never a good sign.
The voluntary retirement package was a common theme of the 1990s that, combined with leaving positions unfilled, led to a 10 per cent reduction in the total number of faculty across the country. It took years for the academic labour market to recover. The hiring spree across campuses during the early and mid 2000s was largely a move to reinstate positions lost during this period. The AUCC thought that this trend would continue well into the next decade. That’s just not going to happen.
This is compounded by the fact that, when given the choice, baby boomers simply won’t retire at the rate we have expected them to. It hardly bears mentioning that one of the great ironies of the recession is that while it has encouraged students to recede into PhD programs, it has also ensured that they might not have anywhere to go when they finish.
Lakehead president makes less money than predecessor did a decade ago
[Note: This story updates an earlier version that had no comment from Lakehead.]
According to provincial salary disclosure and recently released presidential contracts, only one university president in Ontario earned less money than his predecessor in 1997: the president of Lakehead.
Most university presidents have seen their salaries rise quickly over the last 10 years. The University of Windsor increased the total compensation of the president by 185 per cent between 1997 and 2007, and nine other presidents saw their compensation double during the same period.
But Lakehead University is a whole other story. Frederick Gilbert took office in 1998, replacing long-time president Robert Rosehart (who moved on to Wilfrid Laurier, from which he retired last year). After serving the top job for 13 years (1984-1997), Rosehart’s total annual compensation—salary and all taxable benefits—had increased to $250,268. Gilbert’s compensation in 1999 was considerably less than that, totalling $177,811.72. In the years since, Gilbert has received raises—but he still made only $249,267.17 in 2007.
That represents a 0.4 per cent decrease in total compensation over the decade. Taking inflation into account, that means that in real terms, Gilbert made about one-fifth less than he predecessor did 10 years earlier.
“I’m a bit of an anomaly, aren’t I?” Gilbert quipped in an interview with Maclean’s.
Why have salaries effectively doubled over the last decade?
“I think there is a sense that the market is driving this. I think there is also an aspect of it that people will push to get whatever they can from the employer,” said Gilbert. “Whatever the employer is prepared to make available, that’s where the contract winds up.”
For his part, Gilbert said that his salary might reflect the circumstances under which he accepted his post.
“I’m a bit of an anomaly because I came into this position perhaps—and perhaps; this may be unfair—for different reasons that maybe some of my colleagues have. I never aspired to be a president,” he said. ” I was looking to be a senior administrator dealing with academic issues.”
And there is a point where university presidents are making too much.
“Following the industrial model in this regard is not the best way to go. There has to be a little bit more altruism in these positions than you find in industry,” he said, adding that he didn’t know exactly how much was too much.
Gilbert pointed out that Lakehead made a conscious decision not to provide administrative-leave packages to senior administration—a perk included in almost every other Ontario university president’s contract. Deans at Lakehead can qualify for such leave, but they must serve two five-year terms to earn a six-month leave.
Lakehead University Student Union president Richard Longtin attributed the more modest presidential salary at his school to its financial position and the cost of living in northern Ontario.
“Our operations, for many years, were running in the red,” he said, suggesting that might be why Gilbert was paid less upon taking the reins as president. “The cost of living is a lot less than in other cities. As well, we also charge our students pretty minimal compared to other institutions, which results in a smaller pool of money to distribute.”