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February 5, 2004
 University Watch

 


University Watch


Taming traffic
OTTAWA – Ata Khan wants to improve your drive home. Dr. Khan, a leading authority on transportation at Carleton University, is engaged in several large projects designed to incorporate intelligence into the infrastructure of highways to make life easier and safer for commuters.

“The idea is to make roads smarter,” said Dr. Khan, “to give people the information in various forms whether by computer, route guidance in on-board navigation systems available in some cars, or overhead changeable message signs.”

Currently Khan is involved in two new projects from the Ontario Ministry of Transport to assess traffic tie-ups and develop methods to alert drivers to long slow-moving queues along major highways under construction and at United States border points.

“Transportation is the lifeline of society,” said Dr. Khan. “Carleton is the only university with a research centre in Eastern Ontario, a graduate program in transportation and we are recognized throughout the country and throughout the world.

Studying public perceptions of profs
CALGARY – If asked to describe a university professor, most Canadians would lapse into the usual stereotypes: he, for only the male of the academic species lives in the public imagination, is bespectacled, dishevelled, absent-minded and aloof. When he bothers at all to descend from the rarefied air of his ivory tower, it’s to dispense arcane wisdom to students he doesn’t particularly understand or care much about.

The roots of this popular caricature are one of the dimensions of academic life explored in a new manuscript by University of Calgary professors Paul Stortz and E. Lisa Panayotidis.

“Although a lot of these stereotypes find their origins in student journalism of the late 19th and early 20th century, they have become deeply ingrained,” said Dr. Panayotidis. “Professors themselves are guilty of helping to perpetuate some of them, but quite frankly these outmoded ideas only serve to hurt the contemporary professoriate.”

Dr. Panayotidis points to a rise in anti-intellectualism – nationally and internationally – and a general lack of understanding in the public’s mind about what it is that professors do. “We have a very strong role to play in the community, but it would help if we were understood better and if some of these historical stereotypes were seen for what they are – stereotypes based in humour and caricature and not necessarily anything rooted in reality.”

Universities reject qualified students
VANCOUVER – An increasing number of qualified British Columbia high school graduates are being rejected by the province’s universities because of a shortfall in funded positions, Simon Fraser News reports. A study prepared by SFU’s office of analytical studies, prepared annually by analyst Joanne Heslop, says “access to B. C. universities for B.C. Grade 12 graduates continues to deteriorate.”

While students may meet the minimum published requirements for university entrance, the limited supply of spaces has lead to higher actual minimums. For example, at SFU the published minimum is 67 per cent while only those who averaged 80 per cent gain admission to the faculty of arts.

The result is that between the fall of 2001 and 2003 the number of qualified applicants who were refused admissions at B.C.’s four universities increased from 1,642 to 2,106. That’s a jump of 28 per cent. At the same time the proportion of qualified applicants rejected has increased from about 14 per cent in 2001 to 17.4 per cent in 2003.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg, says Walter Wattamaniuk, director of the office of analytical studies.

“We know that many students who realize they do not meet the higher actual minimum do not bother to apply,” he notes.

He says that over the past several decade the number of high school graduates and applications has been increasing at a higher rate that the supply of spaces funded by the provincial government.

John Waterhouse, SFU’s vice-president academic, is convinced the government is aware of the problem and would like to do something about it.

Big dreams, small screens
MONTREAL – Newspapers and radio have long been staples of McGill’s thriving student journalism scene. And when a group of McGill students observed the need for a campus television station a few years ago, they added a third outlet to that list: Television McGill (TVM), a twice-monthly television show featuring student contributions on news, arts, culture, sports and entertainment.

The idea was almost 20 years in the making, according to the McGill Reporter. A McGill television station was conceived in 1984, and took the form of ILL-TV, station letters borrowed from the last three letters of “McGill,” and making reference to a popular colloquial term used during the decade for everything current hipsters would consider cool or de rigueur. But while ILL-TV was popularly received, an overambitious mandate and lack of funding forced the station to close shop. Sixteen years later, another group of students decided to revisit the idea. They dropped the slang and adopted more conventional call letters: TVM.

Zayna Aston, a final-year psychology major, is co-president and co–executive producer of the television service this year. “We have progressed so far since the days of ILL-TV and have grown exponentially in our reach in the past four years,” she says. “It wasn’t until two years ago, under the direction of then-President David Sax, that the station began to take off.”


 


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Next issue: February 19, 2003

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