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University of Saskatchewan

The mess that is the University of Saskatchewan

This sums up the spring so far at the University of Saskatchewan

Cheesman and Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) executive director Jim Turk said the university’s reputation is being damaged more with each passing week as it disputes the decision.

“This is very harmful to academic freedom. The decision should be respected,” Cheesman said.

The U of S was enveloped in controversy after the head of its School of Public Health, Robert Buckingham, was fired and escorted off campus for speaking out against various reforms. The events led to the ouster of provost Brett Fairbairn and president Ilene Busch-Vishniac.

Other staff and faculty also said Buckingham himself terminated those who spoke out.

Amid these controversies, the USFA expressed alarm that the U of S board of governors may have granted the president veto power over tenure during a closed 2012 meeting.

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris expressed concern about the veto issue and said his ministry is investigating.

“Is it of concern? The answer is yes, it is. We’re doing our own internal review at the ministry and certainly this will be part of an ongoing dialogue with the board,” Norris told reporters last month.

The damage that has been done to the University of Saskatchewan is going to take years to fix.  For a school that has its College of Medicine on probation, it’s easy to see why there is a loss of confidence in the board of the University by almost everyone right now.

TransformUS Rebranding

This segment by Dave Kirton on CKOM’s Saskatoon Afternoon Show is hilarious.  Make sure you listen.


I love the shot at PotashCorp.  Poor Potash.  Poor Products.  Poor Results

Nice job by the Rawlco creative folks and Saskatoon Afternoon. It made me laugh and made some great points about the lack of leadership at the University of Saskatchewan.


Frosty day in Saskatoon

Huskies’ Black Out Game

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies had their annual black out game Friday night and over at Huskies Outsiders they are showing some of the photos that Electric Umbrella took in black and white.  While the game was cold (and the Huskies lost), the photographs look great.

Black Out Game

100 Ideas to Improve Saskatoon: 5. Give up on Gordie Howe Bowl

Gordie Howe Bowl is a terrible stadium and it will be even after the renovations.  I know its home to the Saskatoon Hilltops, the 834 time Canadian Junior Football champions but that doesn’t mean it’s a decent stadium.

Gordie Howe Bowl

The stands are a long ways away from the playing field and the seats are sloped well back.  It’s more a saucer than it is a bowl which means that the stadium is quiet, even with a crowd full of cow bells and air horns.

The concessions are terrible which makes a bad game day experience worse., even if watching the Saskatoon Hilltops is always worth your time and money.  For high school football, the size is too large even for frosh week or rivalry games.  Even when attendance is goodl, half of the stadium is empty.

Proponents of Howe Bowl point out that the improvements (larger dressing rooms that no one uses), concessions, and field turf will make the game better.  Field turf has shredded (63%) more knees (players hate it) and caused more concussions than decent grass ever has.  The medical evidence for keeping players on natural grass is significant, especially since most high school seasons are done before the extreme cold hits (I know there are exceptions, I have played in them).  By upgrading Howe Bowl and making it cheaper to maintain (our city’s m.o.) we are making it less safe for high school athletes.

The solution is to stop the fundraising for the stadium and move the Hilltops to Griffiths Stadium.  As for high school football, construct metal stands on each high school field like they do in almost every other city in North America and have them play there.  Most high school fields are in good shape and the addition of some bleachers means that home field would really mean something.

As for the Hilltops, it isn’t as if this is a big move as the Hilltops play late season games at Griffiths each season after the high school teams have destroyed the turf at the Bowl.  Canadian championships have been won at Griffiths Stadium.  It has history for both the Huskies and Hilltops not to mention city high school games and even the Charity Bowl.

Gordie Howe Bowl has a lot of tradition but there is no need to have a separate field for both the Huskies and Hilltops.  The field is out of date and the upgrades will make it dangerous for players.  It was a poorly conceived idea from the start.

Plus, this commercial makes a lot more sense when a high school actually has a “home field”.

Future Home of Saskatoon’s School of Architecture

School of Architecture

Back entrance of the K.W. Nasser Centre

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The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Commerce, known as the Edwards School of Business, opened this downtown campus in the fall of 2009. The K.W. Nasser Centre hosts programs such as the Master of Business Administration, Aboriginal Business Administration Certificate Program and Business Administration Certificate.

How Harvard University Spends Your Tuition

How Harvard University Spends Your Tuition

I wonder how this compares to the University of Saskatchewan.


Wendy posted her New Year’s Resolutions so I thought I would post mine.

  1. Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily.  This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
  2. Carry less crap.  There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone.  Do I really need that much stuff?  Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
  3. Ride my bike more.  Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year.  I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in –40 weather.
  4. books and more booksRead more books in 2012Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way.  I want to read and explore topics that I haven’t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later.  In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist.  Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity.  It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I don’t have the need to be a specialist.
  5. Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse.  Some of those actions are proprietary but I can’t handle agencies that don’t play that well with others.  It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesn’t need to exist.  Hopefully we can model a different way.
  6. Spend more money locallySaskatoon Farmer’s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffee… you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred.  Less Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and fast food joints.
  7. Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games.  The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Mark’s understanding of football in 2011.  That and all they do is win national championships.
  8. Post more photos.  Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011.  That needs to change in 2012.
  9. Keep losing weight in 2012.  I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120.  I should have it lost by next Christmas.
  10. Listen to more music.  I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it.  It’s always a background activity and never a foreground one.

Those are my resolutions.  Good luck with yours.

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper comes to town

It’s worth watching just to see the cheesy introduction and the fact that he isn’t sure if his own MPs are there are not.   He does assure us that they are doing a great job in the region.


Oliver and Wendy

Mark took this great photo of Oliver the other day at the University of Saskatchewan.  I think it’s my favourite photo ever taken of Oliver.

Museum of Natural Sciences

On Sunday, Wendy and the boys wandered over to the Museum of Natural Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.  Mark gave me a new zoom lens for my birthday and wanted to go out and try it.  Both Wendy and Mark took their camera’s along as well and all of us took some shots as we wandered around.

It was a good time but Oliver had some reservations when it was time to meet the museum’s resident Tyrannosaurus Rex

Safety in hiding behind Wendy

Once they had some time to get acquainted, all was good.Oliver getting to know the T-Rex a little better

Building the University of Saskatchewan

I have mentioned this site several times to people lately and I thought I would post it here.  Since I have called for Saskatoon agencies to release their archives, I thought I would give some credit to the University of Saskatchewan has done a fantastic job of putting some of their historical archives online especially this collection of historical photos that show the building of the campus.  If you have time, their archival site is fairly extensive and worth spending some time to explore. 

Opening up Saskatoon’s Archives

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for last night but I ended up at the Saskatoon Public Library’s database of archival images.  I checked out some old historic collections from Saskatoon’s past but I have to admit that it wasn’t the easiest to use, it was slow, you can’t save any images, and it is obsolete technology when you compare it to many of the collections in Flickr’s Commons.

For those of you who have been out of the loop for a while, The Commons are a series of institutions that upload photos that they own the copyright to or are in the public domain to Flickr where users can take, describe, and fill out the history regarding.  Since the photos are in the public domain (or licensed with some restrictions under Creative Commons), they can be easily viewed (or used by the masses).  Many of the participating organizations upload 50-200 photos at a time and then allow people to tag, leave comments, and fill out historical details on all of them.

As Flickr says, the goals are to:

  1. To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
  2. To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)

I am picking on the Saskatoon Public Library but the same could be said for the City of Saskatoon archives,  University of Saskatchewan’s archives, the The StarPhoenix photo archives (they could also take down the paywall on their archives while they are at it), the Diefenbaker Centre photographic collection or even the Western Development Museum’s archives.  They are all owners of vast amount of archival photos that would be best served being served up electronically, even if small increments. 

I was noticing on the Saskatoon Public Library database that they own the copyright to quite a few images historical I was checking out.  I am assuming that they took over the copyright when the original owner donated the originals to the archives but that can be released and licensed and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License for non-profit or private use.  There are some images that are still held by families or companies and of course those copyrights will need to be respected but for those images that are in the public domain, release them and make them easily available to the public.  All of Saskatoon would benefit.