Current News In BC PSE


Weekly News Roundup


Week of November 29 – December 3, 2021

SFU Faculty Association audit of decanal and university staffing

At a recent general meeting, former SFU Faculty Association President Dr. Mike Sjoerdsma presented the findings from an audit of faculties, analyzing the composition of employment at the faculty level as well as at the university.

BC | SFUFA | Audit


Petition demands B.C. notify public of COVID-19 exposures, outbreaks at post-secondary institutions; VCH says no to UBC’s requests for on-campus symptomatic testing

A group of faculty associations wants British Columbians to be notified about any potential COVID-19 exposures at post-secondary institutions. The Vancouver Island University Faculty Association has launched a petition demanding the Ministry of Health immediately begin posting COVID-19 exposure, cluster, or outbreak event notifications that have occurred at a post-secondary campus on the regional health authorities’ websites.

Meanwhile, at the UBC Senate meeting in November, President Santa Ono said UBC had asked Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) to open a symptomatic COVID-19 testing site on campus, but the health authority allegedly declined. With the closure of the rapid testing clinical trial, the only testing on campus is the university’s mandatory program for asymptomatic individuals who are unvaccinated or have declined to report their vaccination status. Some students have turned to the UBC Urgent Care Centre to get tested, although this is not encouraged by VCH.

BC | Chek News | Ubyssey


UBC COVID-19 – Important update for faculty and staff in health care settings

The BC Provincial Government recently published an updated Public Health Order requiring workers in certain health care settings to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work in a designated facility.



Faculty Association calls on TRU to place senior administrators on leave while improper conduct allegations investigated

It has been 10 months since a dozen current and former employees at TRU came forward with allegations of discrimination and harassment — allegations that are only now being made public. The group alleges that Matt Milovick, the university’s Vice-President of Finance and Administration, and Larry Phillips, TRU’s Associate Vice-President of People and Culture, have partaken in damaging conduct that accusers say is a “pattern.” TRUFA is now calling on the university to put Milovick and Phillips on leave while an investigation takes place. President of CUPE 4879 Lois Rugg, who represents staff at TRU, calls the allegations “very troubling.” She has sent a message to the membership, saying the union will be pushing for a thorough investigation.

BC | CFJC Today | Kamloops This Week


Dr. Eduardo Jovel appointed interim Director of the First Nations House of Learning

Dr. Eduardo Jovel has been appointed as the Interim Director of the First Nations House of Learning, effective December 1, 2021. He joins FNHL at this time while Dr. Margaret Moss, Associate Professor, UBC School of Nursing, and Director, First Nations House of Learning, temporarily steps into the role of interim Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion.



On benefits for faculty over the age of 65: Is it discrimination?

An eight-year long fight between Okanagan College and its faculty association over benefits for senior staff is dragging on, with the union seeking to set a precedent that could impact collective agreements across B.C. Back in 2008, the BC Human Rights Code was amended to outlaw mandatory retirement ages. But for faculty at Okanagan College, benefits for life insurance and long term disability continued to terminate at age 65, under policies purchased by the school. The union argues that has resulted in college instructors over the now-arbitrary age of 65 receiving fewer benefits than less-experienced colleagues, despite having more knowledge in their field.

BC | Castanet


Calls for TRU to waive non-disclosure agreements for all future harassment cases

The TRU Faculty Association feels the university should scrap non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for all future harassment cases. TRUFA President Tara Lyster, who represents all faculty on campus, wants TRU to reach out to other former employees who previously left under severance agreements. The association also wants the university to ban or waive NDAs for all future harassment complaints. The university confirms it has waived the NDAs for the dozen current and former employees that have anonymously come forward with allegations of sexist, racist and bullying behaviour by senior administrators Matt Milovick and Larry Phillips. The allegations have not been proven.

BC | CFJC Today


First Nations learners gain more post-secondary supports

First Nations students have increased access to post-secondary education programs in their own communities because of new government funding provided to First Nations-led institutes throughout B.C. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, in partnership with the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) and First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), provided $4 million to support the core operating costs of 10 First Nations-led institutes, so they will be better equipped to deliver post-secondary education and training programs through the pandemic and beyond.

BC | BC Gov News


Lawsuit of the week: UBC sues New York-based company after its own dies in freak guacamole machine explosion

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is suing New York-based Elmhurst Systems LLC for the return of a deposit on a food processing system the company allegedly never delivered due to the death of the company’s owner in a freak accident involving a guacamole-making machine.



SFU Gallery curator resigns after accusations of falsely claimed Indigenous ancestry

Vancouver curator Cheyanne Turions resigned this November from her position at SFU Galleries due to controversy over her identity. Turions previously self-identified as having Indigenous ancestry, but on April 19, 2021, reported on her blog she has no Indigenous ancestry. Kim TallBear, professor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, expanded on the significance between genetics and Indigeneity in an interview with CBC. “We construct belonging and citizenship in ways that do not consider these genetic ancestry tests. So it’s not just a matter of what you claim, but it’s a matter of who claims you.”

BC | The Peak


Ready, set, skills: National competition coming to Vancouver

Canada’s most talented post-secondary students and apprentices will compete at the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) in Vancouver in May. Scheduled for the Vancouver Convention Centre, SCNC is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country. More than 300 competitors from all regions of Canada will participate in 37 skilled trade and technology competitions from May 26-27.

BC | BC Gov News


New Chair, Vice Chair for Okanagan College Board of Governors

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has a new Chair and Vice Chair. Juliette Cunningham, who has served as Vice Chair since November 2019, has been elected Chair. Dale Safinuk has been elected Vice Chair.

BC | Okanagan College


Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences releases report on the role of HSS disciplines

The Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences released its new report, Think Big: How the social sciences and humanities are building a better Canada. As we continue to emerge from the global pandemic, Think Big has a single, overriding message for Canada and its elected leaders: we must recognize and support the vital contributions of the humanities and social sciences. The knowledge and skills gained through these disciplines will help drive Canada’s COVID-19 recovery and contribute to a better future for people across the country and around the world. The report highlights some of the most important ways that Canada benefits from disciplines stretching from philosophy, sociology, economics and modern languages to history, literature, political science and the visual arts.

National | Federation HSS


Reflections from the second National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism

University leaders need to recognize that each of us is at a different stage in our journey toward equity, justice and self-determination, and that racism within the academy cannot be swept away with one brush. Dr. Pamela Sugiman shares reflections from the second national forum.

National | University Affairs


What the pandemic taught us: mental health is a necessary condition for learning

Faculty invested considerable time and effort in the summer of 2020 shifting courses to an online format for the fall. To support students during the pandemic, instructors were encouraged to be more flexible with deadlines and adopt course policies that explicitly accommodated students in different time zones and whose home environment may present challenges for online learning. In many ways, the key takeaway from all of these events was the importance of considering our students’ mental health when redesigning our courses for online delivery.

National | University Affairs


StatsCan Enrolment Day 2021

Statistics Canada released its annual enrolment report for 2019-20. Higher Education Strategy Associate’s One Thought blog breaks down national and provincial enrolment trends for universities and colleges; domestic and international students; enrolments by major field of study; and Canadian demographic trends that influence enrolments.

National | StatCan | Higher Education Strategy


CAUT officially lifts censure of U of T over faculty of law hiring scandal

On November 25, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council officially lifted its censure of the University of Toronto over a hiring scandal that erupted in September 2020 at the Faculty of Law. The censure was imposed in April 2021 over concerns that U of T had violated its commitments to academic freedom. The CAUT announced in a tweet that the censure has been lifted in “recognition of actions taken, including new language in uni [sic] policy to prevent donor influence.”

National | CAUT | Education News Canada | The Varsity


Colleges are hiring. But do people want to work there?

The labor shortages won’t last forever, but a lot of people don’t see working in higher education as desirable as it once was. People are tired of being squeezed. My biggest worry — apart from the long-term loss of talent and institutional knowledge — is that colleges aren’t taking advantage of this moment to learn. “Other duties as assigned” has long been shorthand for the extra work built into higher-education jobs, but after the last two years, volunteering on nights and weekends in the dining hall is a bridge too far. A university that has been listening and learning would know that.

International | Chronicle