The Ring

Around the ring

Stolen artwork returned to UVic

Thanks to the efforts of Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria police, a much-treasured artwork has been recovered and returned to UVic. Sul-Sultan (Spindle Whorl), which has been displayed in the foyer of the Fraser Building for 20 years, was stolen during an overnight break-in on June 13.

Sul-Sultan, created by T’sartlip Coast Salish artist Charles Elliott, is a cedar carving with inlaid abalone, depicting a spindle whorl with a central human figure flanked by two wolf figures and a frog, sitting on a painted stand carved to represent ravens. The art was commissioned by the Faculty of Law.

The carving holds great cultural significance for law students, says Law Dean Jeremy Webber. “Although Sul-Sultan is an immensely beautiful and moving piece, it is much more than decorative,” says Webber.  “It ensures that all Faculty of Law students, including Indigenous students, know UVic is a place that values the university’s relations with the local First Nations and our engagement with Indigenous law.  Everyone sees it every day as they enter the building.”

News reports say the stolen artwork was found the evening of June 24, when somebody dumped the carving into the doorway of a Government Street retail store. Nicole Leggeat, an employee of Cowichan Trading Co., discovered the carving, which was wrapped in a blanket.

Elliott says he is relieved the carving has been returned. “I’m glad it’s found and it will be back on display for people to enjoy,” Elliott told the Victoria Times Colonist. “I hope it will make people more curious about native culture.”

Mary Jo Hughes, director of UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries, has examined the Elliott carving and says it is miraculous that it was recovered intact.

“We thanked the police for their role in the safe return. There are only slight scratches to the surface,” says Hughes. Sul-Sultan is currently wrapped and stored in a vault, awaiting re-installation in the Fraser Building.

There are about 2,000 pieces of art on display in buildings across UVic’s campus. The University of Victoria Art Collections has about 20,000 objects under its care and responsibility.

Child care centre to expand full-time care

UVic Child Care Services is embarking on a major renovation project that will add 40 full-time care spaces for 3 to 5-year-old children. In April, university executive approved funding for the $1.685 million facility upgrade.

There has been a long-time demand from students, faculty and staff to provide additional full-time child care for 3 to 5-year-olds. Given this continuing need and approval of funding for facility improvement, Child Care Services has developed a strategy to convert Centre #6—which has been used for After School Care (ASC) for part of the day—into full-day care. Overall, the expansion increases full-time care spaces to 90 from 50, or 80 per cent.

As a result of these renovations, the ASC program (45 spaces) will be discontinued as of June 30, 2017. A year-long notice period is being given so parents of children currently enrolled in the after-school care program can make other arrangements.

The child-care centre will remain open with full-time programs continuing without interruption when  renovations begin in summer 2017.

2016 QS subject rankings show UVic academic leadership spans disciplines

UVic’s global leadership in five key academic fields, along with its comprehensive span of world-class programs across the university, were highlighted with the release of the 2016 QS World University Rankings by Subject on March 22. 

The five fields where UVic is ranked in the world’s top 200 are:

  • Earth and marine sciences
  • English language and literature
  • Geography
  • Law
  • Philosophy  

Of those, earth and marine sciences and English language and literature were in the top 150. In addition, UVic programs in computer science, education, electrical engineering, environmental sciences, mathematics, and physics and astronomy placed in the top 300 for global subject leadership.

The QS rankings use a mix of academic and employer reputation surveys, a joint impact and productivity indicator (h-index) and citations to measure leadership in each field.

UVic’s performance across the disciplines continues to be very strong. QS scored the university for world-class performance in 35 of the 42 fields it considers. (Most of the rest—including dentistry, pharmacology and veterinary sciences—are fields in which UVic doesn’t have established programs.)

Rankings are regularly used by undergraduate and postgraduate students to help select degree courses, by academics to inform career decisions, by research teams to identify new collaborative partners and by university managers to benchmark their performance and set strategic priorities.

New name for women’s studies department

The UVic women’s studies department has changed its name to the Department of Gender Studies.

Today is International Women’s Day. “This year’s campaign theme is global gender parity with a focus on such areas as the workplace and leadership,” says Annalee Lepp, chair of the newly named Department of Gender Studies at UVic. “But it is also critically important to consider what other pressing local and global gender-based social justice issues require serious attention.”

The new name better reflects the program’s field of study which “focuses on how gender, in relation to other categories of difference (race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, ability, age and citizenship, etc.), shapes people’s lives, knowledge, possibilities and resistances,” adds Lepp.

“The department’s name change is the culmination of our ongoing work to push the boundaries of the already dynamic discipline of women’s and gender studies. At UVic, key areas of interdisciplinary focus include Indigenous gender politics and resurgence, human rights and development, health and medicalization, anti-racism and nationalism, war and militarism, girlhood studies, cultural and media production, as well as masculinities, queer, and trans studies."

“This move is in line with the growing number of women’s studies programs across North America that, in the past seven or so years, have undergone program name changes.”

Today is also perfect timing for the Ideafest debate, “Is feminism finished?” from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in room A110 of the David Turpin Building.

Beyond the ring

Ontario will cover college tuition for low-income students

Changes in student aid unveiled by the Ontario provincial government last week are “the most radical shift in decades in how one province delivers loans and grants to college and university students” according to The Globe and Mail. Suggesting that the overall costs would remain roughly the same, and the shift simplifies and consolidates several loan and grant programs into one program, the government predicted that most college students whose family income is less than $50,000 a year will receive grants large enough to cover their whole tuition. Grants for university students, who pay higher tuition, may not offset the entire amount.

Two more U-Windsor residence halls to be demolished

The mounting costs of deferred maintenance are being cited for the decision to demolish two more residence halls at the University of Windsor. The university announced that Clark I and II residence buildings, built during the 1980s, are now slated to be taken down, following the October 2015 demolition of Electa Hall. The university said “the age of the buildings, the extensive nature of renovations needed, and the shifting demographics of students seeking residence accommodation” were driving forces behind the decision. 

UK and US lead international student satisfaction, but Canadian enrolment is rising faster

A December 2015 report commissioned by the UK agency responsible for higher education shows that Canadian universities grew their international student cohorts at a faster pace than the UK, US, Australia, Germany or New Zealand from 2007-2014. Canada’s 70 per cent growth rate led the US (52 per cent) and the UK (46 per cent) even though satisfaction was higher among those educated in the UK and US. Canada may be on the right path, however, with a steady rise in international student satisfaction since 2000. 

BC degrees drive employment outcomes

There are no guarantees in an uncertain economy but the surest path to career success begins with a university education, according to a December study of student outcomes released by the Research Universities’ Council of BC. The report underlines the importance of a university degree in today’s economy, showing that graduates get the jobs they want, in the regions where they want to work, and are paid competitive salaries that escalate over the course of their careers.

Key findings include:

  • Two years after graduating, the median salary for the Class of 2012—the most recent surveyed—was $50,000 per year, well above the average for other young people entering the workforce.
  • 92 per cent of university graduates are satisfied or very satisfied with their education and 93 per cent give top marks to the quality of instruction they received.
  • A significant majority of graduates from BC’s regional research universities choose to stay in the communities where they were educated.

This report represents five years of data collected by BC Stats.