Archive | February 2012

Sheridan’s president responds to concerns over college transformation

By Tania MacWilliam

Feb. 16, 2012

*Link to original article here

Sheridan is abuzz after an article in the Toronto Star reported the school’s official announcement it intends to transform from a college to a university.

But news of the move has some faculty members worried they may be left out in the cold as the college seeks instructors with MAs and PhDs.

These fears are unfounded according to union head, Jack Urowitz.

“From the union’s point of view, the labour point of view, we kind of like the idea because it’s guaranteeing us enrollment for the next number of years,” said Urowitz, union president for OPSEU local 244 and program coordinator for Sheridan’s Media Fundamentals program. “We’re glad ’cause it means they’re hiring more faculty.”

The biggest concern faculty have is will there be a job for those who don’t have an MA, Urowitz says.

“We don’t know what the future holds but we imagine with all the diploma programs, and the goodwill of management, that there will be.”

Urowitz hopes that Sheridan recognizes the value of industry-trained professionals, who are not necessarily holders of MAs, teaching applied learning programs like cosmetology and tool and die making.

“Sheridan’s reputation, which is one of the reasons why it will probably get to become a university before any other college, is it was built on its diploma and certificate programs,” said Urowitz. “So we don’t want to lose all that.”

When Ontario’s community college system was formed in the 1960s, the promise was that they would serve the communities around them.

“The challenge is to make sure that the college programs don’t suffer,” said Urowitz. “We hope that the college will make sure that we fulfill our role to the community.”

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind.”

Sheridan will continue to offer diploma programming, possibly migrating some diplomas into degrees, says Sheridan’s president, Jeff Zabudsky.

“The world is evolving, but we’ll continue to monitor that and where a certificate makes sense, we’ll do certificates and where diplomas continue to make sense ,we’ll do diplomas,” said Zabudksy, who announced the move officially at last week’s OISE-UT symposium.

Sheridan has no desire to become a theoretical university and will continue providing applied education, says Zabudsky. Which programs will become degrees will be based on industry needs and the evolving nature of the field.

“The reality of what’s happening out in the world now is industries, companies, fields of practice are requiring the bachelor degree as an entry to practice,” said Zabudsky. “That’s what drives the creation of degrees. For us not to respond to that would be doing our students a disservice.”

All in due time
It may seem like Sheridan’s transformation is slow-going, with a five to seven year projection, but the process takes time and isn’t as easy as crossing out “college” and writing in ”university” on letterhead.

Among the steps Sheridan must take before being accredited as a university are meeting the eligibility requirements for Association of Universities and Colleges Canada (AUCC) membership and having the government introduce legislation, creating Sheridan University.

To meet the AUCC requirements, 70 per cent of faculty must be full-time employees.

“We have a lot of part-time employees and that’s OK to a certain extent, ’cause you want to keep that opportunity for someone with a unique kind of expertise to come in on a part-time basis to teach,” said Zabudsky.

In addition to being full time, the majority of faculty must be prepared with advanced credentials, either a master’s or PhD.

“I’m happy to say that 72 per cent of Sheridan’s faculty already have their masters degrees and many of them are pursuing PhDs.”

A human resource strategy is being introduced that will help faculty who don’t have their masters degrees upgrade their credentials.

“The college will help pay for it or maybe pay for the whole thing,” said Zabudsky. “We haven’t decided yet.”

“We might create a masters study core right here on campus – bringing in another university partner to deliver it here,” he said.

“We’re going to do lots of things for our faculty to help them get those credentials. We don’t want to leave anyone behind. We love our faculty because they are drawn from industry and we’ll never lose that, but we also want them to have the academic credentials that allows us to be a university.”

Sheridan has already hired 68 faculty this year, 60 of whom already had advanced credentials. They were hired partly to replace professors who have retired and partly to accommodate the growth in student population.

There is still plenty of time for everyone to become prepared and still a place for those without MAs, Zabudsky says.

“This is not happening overnight. It’s a journey. It’s about getting faculty ready, getting them upgrading opportunities. We’re still going to, for the long foreseeable future, have certificates and diplomas within which faculty without advanced credential can teach. This isn’t about people leaving Sheridan, it’s about people coming along on the journey.”


Murray responds to allegations that new tuition grant is exclusive

By Tania MacWilliam

Feb. 9, 2012

*Link to original article here

Minister of training, colleges and universities, Glen Murray, dismissed charges that mature students are excluded from Ontario’s new 30 per cent tuition grant last week.

He says mature students are already benefitting from the province’s Second Career retraining program.

He made the remarks after his address last Wednesday during his visit to Hazel McCallion campus to promote the grant.

“A lot of people are talking about more tuition assistance,” he said. “But students are saying our biggest priority is accessibility right now. We need more seats. And that’s expensive.”

Joining the minister was Sheridan’s president, Jeff Zabudsky, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, Dipika Dameria, and guest speaker Stephanie Kam, member of the student union board of directors and an International Business student.

Although the minister says he is keeping the cost of post-secondary schooling affordable with a $7,500 cap on student debt per term, students marching to Queens Park disagree.

Hundreds of students marched in protest of tuition costs and the inclusiveness of student aid. Murray says he is encouraged that so many students take their education seriously.

“We are very thrilled that students are out there raising increased awareness about the challenges that we face.”

The Ontario Tuition Grant offers eligible students 30 per cent off of their tuition. Non-direct entrants – students returning to the classroom after more than three years of being out of high school – are among those not eligible for the grant.

“We realize that we haven’t solved every problem yet but we also can’t go into deficit.”

The Ontario Tuition Grant was intended to help ease the financial burden on families who have children transitioning from high school into post-secondary education.

“We have, especially out here in Peel Region, a large number of families that have two or three or four or sometimes five students in high school, college or university,” he said.

“This [grant] really focuses on those families and those students.”

Although not every student will be eligible for every type of student aid, there’s a student aid for everyone, Murray says.

“We have 160,000 students right now on OSAP,” he said. “This adds a total of 310,000 students who will be getting some form of student aid.”

Kam, who is not eligible to receive the tuition grant, explained how OSAP has helped her pursue a post-secondary education.

“What many people fail to recognize is that in many countries around the world, students cannot easily afford post-secondary school education because financial aid in these regions are either insufficient or non-existent,” said Kam.

Murray recognizes that there may still be a gap in financial aid and is talking to student associations about the challenges of mature and independent students. He has also sent a letter out to every college and university in the last week asking them for increased data on their students.

“We realize that we haven’t solved every problem yet but we also can’t go into deficit,” he said.

Dameria agrees that while supporting education is important, we must keep in mind the fiscal reality. She says there needs to be a serious conversation about continuing to borrow funding.

“If we want to keep doing the things we want to do then it means people have to start thinking about their feelings about taxation,” she said. “You can’t have this borrowing to fill the gap if people don’t want to pay taxes.”

‘Women in Business’ Sparks Curiosity

Founder of WIB, Stephanie Kam, leads the club in its first discussion

Founder of WIB, Stephanie Kam, leads the club in its first discussion

By Tania MacWilliam

Feb. 2, 2012

*Originally published in The Sheridan Sun Online

Hazel McCallion Campus’s Women in Business club had an unexpected turnout at their first meeting on Jan. 25.

Of the approximately 17 attendees, eight were men.

While the Women in Business club is open to both men and women, it is intended to support women’s issues in the business world.

The founder of the club knew there was a possibility that men would participate, but she wasn’t expecting that nearly half of the people would be men.

“I was really surprised and happy at the same time,” said Stephanie Kam, VP of the Women in Business club. “We had about a 60:40 ratio of women to men turn out.”

Male attendee Faraz Ahmadpour shared that his reason for attending the meeting was out of curiosity.

“I’ve never been to any club like this so I wanted to see what it was all about,” he said. “Sometimes I hear from other people that clubs about this subject tend to be biased. So I wanted to see if that’s actually true or not. But they actually had a lot of discussions on reverse bias being towards men which was interesting.”

The group discussed topics relevant to both male and female attendees: parental leave, sexual harassment and reverse discrimination.

Members agree that having the club open to men is important in the quest for equality.

“I don’t want there to be discrimination on any front,” said Telma Lima, VP internal for the club.

She hopes to be the club’s voice of balance, recognizing that membership consists of both men and women, each facing unique gender-related challenges.

“Then you resolve conflicts from both genders’ point of view,” said Ahmadpour. “That’s when I believe you can actually have meaningful progress.”

Melissa-Anne Lackan, VP external for the Women in Business club, wants to help prepare teen girls for the workplace and the workplace for teen girls, so they don’t have to face the same discrimination she has.

“I want to help deliver a message, help talk about the issues and keep it on the [forefront] of everyone’s minds,” she said.

The club is meant to connect women who are interested in the business world and in expanding their social network. It will also provide support to women facing gender discrimination.

“I wanted to start this club because I wanted to bring awareness to issues that many women face in the business industry such as gender discrimination, the glass ceiling, the glass cliff,” said Kam during introductions.

In addition, Kam, who is also a member of HMC’s board of directors, hopes to create a community where women can create professional networks that can be accessed once they are ready to enter the workforce.

The group meets monthly with the next meeting scheduled for reading week. On the agenda will be an off-campus trip to catch a Toronto theatre production.

The March meeting will welcome a career panel with industry speakers featuring women from various business industries. They will share their personal stories about a variety of workplace issues and will participate in a question and answer period.

“It brings women out from the industry to allow students to meet women that are successful already and have senior management positions,” said Kam.

The hope is for attendees to establish a mentorship with successful women, she added.

Sheridan offers its students clubs of all kinds, with topics ranging from anime to philosophy.

“It really adds to a school when you have clubs with purpose,” said Jennifer Chapman, faculty advisor for the club.

Chapman is showing her support by leading the group in a yoga session for the final meeting of the semester. The goal is to provide a relaxing environment during exam time.

If you are interested in joining the club, or want additional information, check them out on Sheridan’s own social network, The Wire.

Some members of the Women in Business club

Some members of the Women in Business club