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Margin Notes

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | March 02 2009

An interesting study missed my notice when a pre-publication version was posted on the Web last fall. However, the full, peer-reviewed article, “The Effects of Aging on Researchers’ Publication and Citation Patterns” is now available in the journal PLoS ONE and is well worth a look. The study, by researchers at Université du Québec à […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | February 25 2009

An interesting report came out mid-February that sought to identify gaps in Ontario’s postsecondary education system. The report, Degrees of Opportunity: Broadening Student Access by Increasing Institutional Differentiation in Ontario Higher Education, was commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and was authored by Glen Jones and Michael Skolnik, both professors at the […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | February 23 2009

As readers can see from the previous post, below, the “Professor vs. Dr.” poll has closed. We had an excellent response, and the results were very close: 47 percent for the Professor honorific and 53 percent for the Dr. honorific. This seems to vindicate our current practice of using Dr. when referring to anyone who holds a PhD.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | February 09 2009

University Affairs magazine is one of the last print bastions of the polite honorific, such as Mr., Ms., and Dr., and this practice is carried through on our website. We don’t use an honorific with a person’s full name on first reference, but we do use it with the surname in second and subsequent references. […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | February 02 2009

In her typical no-holds-barred style, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente again took on Canada’s university sector, a fairly regular target of her scorn. The Saturday column (“Higher education? Aim lower”) takes a number of her usual pot shots, including her observation that universities “are vast credentialing factories” and that “every kid who’s smarter than […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | January 22 2009

University Affairs – the magazine and website – is published by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. While this relationship means I am privy to some of the inner workings of the association, one thing I have no insider knowledge of is membership applications. AUCC studiously avoids comment on whether an institution has […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | January 14 2009

My previous blog post mentioned the lack of full-time science journalists in Canada. I wanted to follow that up with a few thoughts about what makes for a good research story. Every week I read – OK, skim mainly – dozens of news stories about university-based research posted on university websites, referenced in press releases, […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | January 06 2009

Universities increasingly feel the pressure from research funders (i.e., governments) to disseminate the results of their research activities. As well, the granting councils are starting to include a requirement for grant recipients to communicate their discoveries with the public. It is therefore ironic that, according to veteran science writer Peter Calamai, the number of dedicated […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | December 16 2008

For many years, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (publisher of University Affairs) has argued that the earnings premium of a university degree is about $1 million over a lifetime compared to a high-school education. I was wondering if AUCC still holds to that view, and indeed they do. Right there on pg. […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | December 10 2008

In this job I’ve met most of Canada’s university presidents at one time or another, and I’ve often thought many of them possess the types of skills that would serve them well if ever they decided to take a run at politics – diplomacy, an engaging personality, excellent communications skills, intellect, the ability to balance […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | December 05 2008

I came across a term recently that I was unfamiliar with: knowledge diplomacy. A quick Google search suggests the term was coined a decade ago by author Michael Ryan, but the context in which I saw it was a commentary by Université de Montréal rector Luc Vinet in the Montreal Gazette. He writes: Knowledge diplomacy, […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | December 01 2008

A few things caught my eye recently concerning the “net generation” – today’s youth who have grown up immersed in the digital world (a.k.a., the Millennials). Some have worried that these digital natives are socially and intellectually disengaged, self-absorbed and, well, just plain lazy, wasting untold numbers of hours texting, surfing the net, etc. Well, […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | November 25 2008

The university rankings season has finally come and gone – good riddance. In Canada, we had Maclean’s 18th annual rankings (could it really be 18 years already?) and the seventh incarnation of the Globe and Mail’s University Report Card, this year retitled the Canadian University Report. There is also the Times Higher Education – QS […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | November 17 2008

The recently released Enquête sur le corps professoral québécois : faits saillants et questions, published by the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU), presents an interesting snapshot of the current state of Quebec’s professors. University Affairs has a news story on the report elsewhere on our site, but what I wanted to focus […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | November 11 2008

You’ve probably heard about, or even experienced, the phenomenon of “helicopter parents,” a term often used somewhat pejoratively to describe over-attentive parents unable to let go of their university-bound kids. Well, an interesting new monograph by the Association for the Study of Higher Education suggests we cut today’s parents – and their children – a […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | November 05 2008

This past Sunday, Nov. 2, I spent several hours in the company of this year’s 3M Teaching Fellows in Montebello, Quebec. The 3M fellowships are the highest honour in Canada for teaching excellence in postsecondary education. As part of their reward, each year the 10 new honourees are brought to this lovely resort about an […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | November 03 2008

It was hard to miss the front-page headline in today’s Globe and Mail: “Universities eye ‘painful’ cuts in wake of crisis.” The article states that universities “could be forced to cut student aid, scholarships and funding for various programs as early as next spring because of multimillion-dollar losses in their investment holdings.” This is just […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | October 30 2008

There’ve been a number of interesting reports and news items about the merits of university research in the last week or so, including a rather startling piece suggesting the government shouldn’t be funding research at all (I’ll get to that one in a minute). First, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada last week […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | October 21 2008

A new Canadian report on student course evaluations – the bane of many university faculty members – concludes that they are valid and useful instruments. However, the report also finds that there are “significant barriers” to the effective use of such evaluations, including: • Persistent myths and misconceptions about variables affecting evaluation results; • Unclear […]

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | October 15 2008

Well, we now know how each of the federal parties did in last night’s election, so let’s take a look at how two university-based election forecasters made out. The two are the University of British Columbia Election Stock Market and the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) Federal Election Tracker […]