University Watch

(Gazette, Jan. 23, 1997)

New think tank established

EDMONTON, ALTA. -- You've heard of the C. D. Howe Institute and the Fraser about the Parkland Institute? The Parkland Institute is a new Alberta-based think tank established recently at the University of Alberta to counterbalance prevailing views. Sociology professor Gordon Laxer, one of the co-founders of the institute, and its director, was quoted in the Jan. 10, 1997, University of Alberta Folio as saying "We think there's been a one-sided view of the economy and society dominating the public debate." The institution has funding of $16,000 per year for three years from the Faculty of Arts, and has received some in-kind support and donations from individuals and organizations. Plans are under way for the institution to apply for a major collaborative research grant.

Simon Fraser suffers claw-back

BURNABY, B.C. -- The government of British Columbia is clawing back $548,000 from the operating grant promised Simon Fraser University (SFU) for the current fiscal year (1996-97). According to Simon Fraser News (Jan. 9, 1997), many expected the claw-back to be much worse given the provincial government's "monstrous" $750 million shortfall; $548,000 represents less than half of one per cent of SFU's operating grant of $119 million. However, the government is also pulling $1.1 million from a program designed to encourage donations to SFU. The matching program, as it is known, gave SFU access to $2 million in 1996-97 -- funds which allowed donors to double their impact; a $1,000 donation became a $2,000 donation, for example, through the matching program. Government has now retroactively pared the $2 million in matching funds to $850,000.

Child Study Centre to close

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The University of British Columbia's (UBC) Child Study Centre will close June 30 according to the Jan. 9, 1997, issue of UBC Reports. The facility is an interdisciplinary centre for research in child development and early childhood education. "This decision has not been taken lightly," Faculty of Education dean Nancy Sheehan was quoted as saying. "In spite of the high quality of its programs, the Child Study Centre is unable to fulfil adequately the three components of its mandate: research, program demonstration and training, and leadership for the early childhood education field." She said an absence of a representative population of children -- including those with special needs, the absence of an undergraduate degree program in early childhood education at UBC, and a lack of financial support for research and program development made it difficult for the centre for fulfil its mandate. The decision to close the centre, which was established in 1961, was made following an extensive external review. About 150 children aged two to five currently attend the centre's preschool and kindergarten programs.

Cost-recovery program proposed

LONDON, ONT. -- The University of Western Ontario is proposing a full-cost recovery masters of business administration program at its Richard Ivey School of Business in 1997-98. According to the University of Western Ontario's Western News of Jan. 9, 1997, the plan has already received approval in principle from the provincial minister of Education and Training, and will be presented to the university's Senate and Board of Governors later this month. The business school's PhD and undergraduate programs would continue to be supported by the central university operating budget. The direct operating costs of the MBA program would be fully funded through tuition from the students, and indirect costs covered by a transfer of a portion of revenues from the school's executive education programs. According to Western News, Western's president, Paul Davenport, feels that only a limited number of programs should be privatized, and said no other programs at Western are under active consideration for full cost-recovery.