Home Universities List Colleges List Edmonton Calgary Alberta Education News Forum Other
College Alberta

Alberta Education

AU News

AU News
Dr. Cindy Ives appointed vice-president, academicmore . . .  

Athabasca University has appointed Dr. Cindy Ives as interim vice-president, academic, for a renewable term expiring on June 30, 2016. Ives has been acting VP academic since May.

"I am delighted that Cindy has chosen to accept the position," said Peter MacKinnon, president of AU. "She has the experience, institutional knowledge and the ideas to help position AU as an academic leader in the world of online and distance education."

Ives has been with AU since 2007 and has played a key role in many of the university's initiatives including MOOCs, open educational resources (OER), course development, and most recently, the eText Initiative. She has been responsible for the university library, AU Press, academic web services and a variety of other learner supports.

"I'm looking forward to working with administration and the academic community to help the university focus on its services to our students," she said. "There are a number of IT and educational initiatives in the works that will improve the student experience to a great extent, and I'm delighted to be a part of the leadership team that will be overseeing their development and implementation."

Ives has a long history in the post-secondary world as an instructor, educational developer, researcher, distance educator, academic administrator and evaluation consultant. She holds a BA in English and an MA in Canadian Studies, both from Carleton University, as well as a PhD in Educational Technology from Concordia University.

For more information, please contact:

John O'Brien
Director of Communications
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


The BSc in Architecture is now openmore . . .  

As of July 1, the online Bachelor of Science in Architecture offered by Athabasca University and Architecture Canada | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is open and ready for students to enrol.

"The philosophy behind this program is very unique," said Barry Johns, chancellor of the College of Fellows of the RAIC and one of the people who helped to shape the program. "It's a work-study program, so it enables people with experience in practice, for example in construction or an architect's office, to connect with the academic world of architecture. But unlike many architecture programs where you have to be a full-time student, you don't have to leave your place of employment. You can continue your education part-time at your own pace."

The first online degree of its kind in Canada, the BSc in Architecture is administered by the RAIC Centre for Architecture within AU's Faculty of Science and Technology. Students can complete the academic portion of the BSc entirely through AU, or if they have a relevant diploma, they may be able to transfer the diploma and complete the program as a post-diploma degree.

"This is a remarkable program that will allow aspiring architects to break down education barriers they've had in the past," said Dr. Lisa Carter, the dean of AU's Faculty of Science and Technology. "It also enables people in related fields, or other people who are simply interested in learning about architecture, to study architecture within a flexible format."

"We've been working on this degree for quite some time, so we're thrilled to finally open it up to students."

Learn more about the new online BSc in Architecture

University names interim president more . . .  

The Board of Governors of Athabasca University is very pleased to announce the appointment of Peter MacKinnon, president emeritus of the University of Saskatchewan, as its Interim President. Mr. MacKinnon will bring his significant leadership experience and nationally recognized scholarship to the University for a term starting July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, with the option of extension.

Mr. MacKinnon was president at the University of Saskatchewan for 13 years and dean of law there for the 10 years prior to being appointed president. He served as Chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada from 2003-2005, and he also served for five years on the Science, Technology and Innovation Council of Canada. He remains active on numerous boards and committees, including the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service; the Chief Justice of Canada's Advisory Committee to the Canadian Judicial Council; and the Board of the Council of Canadian Academies. Mackinnon is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Queen's Counsel, and recipient of a Canadian Bar Association Distinguished Service Award in Saskatchewan. He has honorary degrees from Queen's, Victoria, UOIT, Dalhousie, Memorial and Regina universities.

"Athabasca University is unique in the country and at the forefront of the kinds of innovative, accessible learning needed now and in the future. I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to its vital mission as an open university committed to distributed learning," MacKinnon stated. "I also look forward to joining my new colleagues and living in Athabasca with its rich history, strong community and natural beauty."

"Having Mr. MacKinnon join Athabasca University opens the door to a new chapter for Athabasca University. He brings a depth of experience and positive leadership attributes that are unparalleled in Canada," said Barry Walker, Board Chair, Athabasca University. "We undertook an extensive search for our next president and the Board of Governors is confident that the future of the university is best served by having Mr. MacKinnon join us as interim president, with the full authority of the office of President and complete confidence of the Board."

The Board of Governors will determine further action regarding a presidential search later this year.

"Our immediate priority is to ensure that the senior management team of the university is provided with the leadership required to address the challenges of a changing post-secondary landscape," added Walker.

Athabasca University, Canada's Open University, is dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide. Athabasca is one of four Alberta comprehensive research universities and Canada's largest specialist in open, university-level online and distance education.

For further information, please contact:

John O'Brien
Director of Communications
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


Rory McGreal named co-chair of new Alberta OER Initiativemore . . .  

Dr. Rory McGreal, Athabasca University's resident expert in open educational resources (OER), has been named co-chair of a new government-funded OER committee that plans to lighten the financial burden of post-secondary education for students both within and beyond Alberta.

"Student groups and leaders have been clear this is an important issue for them," said Premier Dave Hancock, minister of innovation and advanced education. "We've heard them and are pleased to be responding with this initiative."

Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education has pledged $2 million to fund the initiative and announced its formation in April. The announcement came shortly after a memorandum of understanding signed in March in which the provinces of Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan agreed to work together on strategically using OER so that more students in more places will have access to education that costs less.

McGreal, a professor of distance education at AU, the director of AU's Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute and the chairholder for AU's UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning/International Council for Open and Distance Education Chair in OER, defines OER as learning resources freely available online. "They are free, they can be updated whenever the professor feels it is needed, and unlike commercial content, there are no digital locks on them or restrictive licensing conditions," he said.

"Most commercial etexts have drop-dead dates when they are removed from a student's computer. Many other restrictions on commercial etexts limit the usability of the content. OER have no such restrictions."

McGreal has been researching and advocating for OER for several years. At AU, he's worked with colleagues in promoting an institutional move towards adopting more OER in courses (see AU's Open Courseware site for examples).

"Sometimes a commercial text may be the only reasonable alternative (for a course)," he explained. "At the same time, faculty should make an effort to see what OER are available in their field and choose them over expensive textbooks when good OER alternatives are available."

"Like other universities in Alberta and across Canada, we need to do more when it comes to integrating OER into our curriculum. This provincial initiative in collaboration with B.C. and Saskatchewan will move this process forward for the benefit of our students along with students in other provinces and countries."

Learn more about the new Alberta OER Initiative and AU's adventures in OER

Canada Research Chair renewal for learning technology researchermore . . .  

The Canada Research Chair program, which is funded by the Government of Canada, has renewed Dr. Dragan Gasevic's Canada Research Chair in Semantic and Learning Technologies (Tier 2). The announcement was made in Ottawa on March 28 by Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology).

"Our government is committed to supporting top researchers across all disciplines through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs program," said Holder. "More than 1,700 chairholders are pushing the frontiers of knowledge in universities and colleges throughout Canada, driving jobs, growth and economic prosperity for Canadians."

Gasevic is an associate professor in Athabasca University's School of Computing Science and Information Systems. His goal as a researcher is to help shape next-generation learning and software technologies, and his interests include advancing our understanding of how we seek information and make sense of it as well as how we self-regulate our learning and interact with others when we learn in a digital environment.

"Semantic technologies" refers to various types of technology, such as data and text mining, which extract meaning from the data created by diverse sources such as social media sites. This extraction of meaning sets the stage for developing technology that has an advanced understanding of the goals, needs and progress of learners. As such, semantic technologies have the potential to offer much more personalized experiences for online learners than the existing web-based learning systems.

"Applications for Canada Research Chair renewal are subjected to a rigorous review process," said Dr. Donna Romyn, associate vice-president of research (acting) at AU. "Dr. Gasevic is to be commended for his success in attaining this significant milestone."

In addition to his renewed Canada Research Chair grant, Gasevic is working on several projects on self-regulated learning funded by SSHRC, NSERC and the Australian Office of Learning and Teaching. In these projects, he's developing software systems that can motivate learners to use more effective approaches for seeking and studying the information presented in video and text formats. These software systems improve learning success in disciplinary areas such as science, technology, nursing and music and in different learning models such as massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Gasevic is also an IBM CAS Faculty Fellow at the IBM Canada Lab, president-elect of the Society for Learning Analytics Research and a founding editor of the Journal of Learning Analytics.

Follow Gasevic on Twitter @dgasevic.

AU Press book nominated for Canada Prizemore . . .  

MONTREAL, March 28, 2014 - The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Canada Prizes.

The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program.

Celebrating the best Canadian scholarly books across all the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences, the Canada Prizes are awarded to books that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.

"The humanities and social sciences permeate all facets of our lives. The impressive list of finalists for this year's Canada Prizes demonstrates just how diverse the humanities and social sciences really are," said Antonia Maioni, president of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "These 14 books explore manifold topics that help define who we are as individuals, as communities and as a country. The Federation is honoured to play a role in raising their profile to the Canadian public."

This year's finalists are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities
• Dimitry Anastakis, Autonomous State: The Struggle for a Canadian Car Industry from OPEC to Free Trade (University of Toronto Press)
• Bruce Curtis, Ruling by Schooling Quebec: Conquest to Liberal Governmentality - A Historical Sociology (University of Toronto Press)
• Sandra Djwa, Journey With No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page (McGill-Queen's University Press)
• Patrick Grant, Imperfection (Athabasca University Press)
• Kirsty Johnston, Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre (McGill-Queen's University Press)

Canada Prize in the Social Sciences
• Christopher Armstrong and H.V. Nelles, Wilderness and Waterpower: How Banff National Park Became a Hydroelectric Storage Reservoir (University of Calgary Press)
• Rowland Lorimer, Ultra Libris: Policy, Technology, and the Creative Economy of Book Publishing in Canada (ECW Press)
• David E. Smith, Across the Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics (University of Toronto Press)
Prix du Canada en sciences humaines
• Pierre Anctil, Jacob-Isaac Segal, 1896-1954 Un poète yiddish de Montréal et son milieu (Presses de l'Université Laval)
• Martine Béland, Kulturkritik et philosophie thérapeutique chez le jeune Nietzsche (Presses de l'Université de Montréal)
• Marie-Josée Fortier, Les jardins d'agrément en Nouvelle-France : Étude historique et cartographique (Éditions GID)

Prix du Canada en sciences sociales
• Suzanne Laurin, L'échiquier de Mirabel (Éditions du Boréal)
• Hugues Théorêt, Les chemises bleues : Adrien Arcand, journaliste antisémite canadien-français (Éditions du Septentrion)
• Marie-Claude Thifault, L'incontournable caste des femmes : Histoire des services de santé au Québec et au Canada (Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa)

The four winners of the 2014 Canada Prizes will be announced at the beginning of May and the prizes, each valued at $2,500, will be presented at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at York University's Glendon College in Toronto. The awards ceremony will be open to the media and will feature keynote remarks by Michael Adams, President of Environics and a member of the jury.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences works to promote the value of research and learning in the humanities and social sciences. Created in 1996, its membership comprises 82 scholarly associations, 80 institutions and six affiliate organizations, representing 85,000 researchers, educators and students across Canada. For more information about the Federation, visit ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager, Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
613-238-6112 ext. 351
[email protected]
Follow us @ideas_idees


Faculties receive support from leaders in the architecture, arts and business communitiesmore . . .  

Two student awards and several projects and academic programs at Athabasca University are receiving vital support through recent donations by three individual donors totalling over $60,000. The donations, made to AU through the university's Open Our World campaign, are from Barry Johns, Kathy Williams and Dr. Alex Kondra.

About Barry Johns and his donation

A registered architect since 1974 and in private practice since 1981, Barry Johns (BArch, Architect AAA, AIBC, FRAIC, RCA, (Hon)FAIA, LEED® AP) is an industry leader in sustainable design and has received 65 design awards from around the world including the Governor General's Award for Architecture and an Olympic Gold Medal for the Arts.

He is a fellow of Architecture Canada | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Chancellor of its College of Fellows as well as a past president of the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) in Ottawa.

Barry is also a member of the cabinet for AU's Open Our World campaign, and through this position he has pledged $25,000 to the architecture programs being offered through the RAIC Centre for Architecture. He has designated $15,000 to funding a RAIC Chair/Professorship and $10,000 to the Kiyoshi Matsuzaki RAIC Endowment Fund and Scholarship administered by the RAIC Foundation. The $3,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a student in the RAIC Syllabus Program beginning in June 2014.

About Kathy Williams and her donation

Kathy Williams is an academic coordinator of modern language courses at AU and has been with the university since 1976. Since 2011, she has contributed over $25,000 to AU through the Open Our World campaign. Her support has been directed to areas of greatest need and projects related to the arts.

For example, a recent donation of $10,000 from Kathy and her husband will support the university's Virtual Studio Visits project. The project will provide Albertans with a better understanding of and appreciation for visual and tactile arts in the province, and it will link to artist websites, the HeRMIS art portal and other relevant websites.

In addition to promoting the work of individual artists, Virtual Studio Visits will serve as a rich information source for students, teachers and researchers of contemporary art history and the artistic process in Alberta. Multimedia formats combined with the online expertise of AU's technical staff will ensure that users have a high-quality experience.

Another significant gift Kathy donated to the university was Falls on the Athabasca River Jasper Park, an oil-on-canvas painting by artist Henry George Glyde.

About Alex Kondra and his donation

Before assuming the role of acting vice-president, academic, at Athabasca University, Dr. Alex Kondra served AU as the dean of the Faculty of Business and has held several positions in the university's business programs since joining AU in 2001.

Alex has donated $10,000 towards the establishment of a Faculty of Business endowed student award. This award has been established to support students in the Faculty of Business in their pursuit of a degree. It is Alex's hope that others will make contributions to build the endowment.

AU is grateful for the contributions of these donors along with the many others who have made contributions to the university throughout the Open Our World campaign. For more information on the campaign, visit Open Our World.

Gemini and Athabasca University Partner to Deliver Online Safety Training Programsmore . . .  

Gemini Performance Solutions Inc. (Gemini) and Athabasca University (AU) announced today that they have entered into a marketing and distribution agreement to deliver Gemini's industry-recognized, eLearning safety training.

Recognizing that safety in the workplace is considered to be important, AU has partnered with Gemini to deliver a comprehensive, competency-based library of online courses and certificate programs in Health, Safety, and Environment referred to as "THRIL". As part of the agreement, AU will offer Gemini's WHMIS safety training to its students and employees that can be accessed on digital devices to everyone, anywhere, anytime.

"AU is focused on the future of learning and in delivering quality safety training that aligns to provincial and federal government regulations. We will be working closely with Gemini to explore all our avenues to continue to establish new and innovative safety training programs nationally and internationally. This partnership will benefit everyone working in industry", said Lisa Carter, Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology.

"Partnering with AU further establishes Gemini as a leader in delivering online occupational health and safety training that is more accessible, appropriate, and affordable. We are looking forward to exploring new opportunities for learning and growing our relationship with AU," said Kim Adolphe, Gemini President and CEO.

About Gemini Performance Solutions Inc.

Specializing in eLearning performance-based software technologies and highly effective training content since 1990, Gemini's solutions deliver flexibility, simplicity, and functionality at an affordable price. A robust learning management system that is up and running in minutes, state-of-the-art eLearning and assessment technologies, combined with highly effective content and exemplary customer service, distinguish us from our closest competitors. We partner with industry experts to offer comprehensive, competency-based online libraries including The Health, Safety and Environment Resources iLibrary (THRILTM) and the SWIFT Solution for the commercial real estate industry. Gemini actively participates in programs that give back to the community by donating our online training programs to Safety in Schools. Our partner and client relationships are true partnerships driven by mutual success.
For more information, visit us at www.gemini.com.

About Athabasca University

AU is one of the world's foremost open, online universities, serving more than 40,000 students in every Canadian province and territory and 87 countries.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Adolphe at 403 263-8649
John O'Brien at 403-298-2931


Athabasca University partners with Qatar University to develop groundbreaking oil and gas training technologymore . . .  

A mobile learning application being developed by AU's Dr. Mohamed Ally, Qatar University's Dr. Mohammed Samaka and a team of experts, is set to change the way oil and gas workers are trained to use highly specialized industry language.

The ‘m-learning' project is being developed to help employees in Qatar's oil and gas industry familiarize themselves with technical English language terms specific to the sector in order to enhance professional communication. The project is designed to supplement their on-going corporate training. Thirty employees at five separate Qatari sites have been involved in the project so far.

"There is no history of mobile learning applications utilized to train employees in the work place in Qatar. This project is novel,' says Dr. Samaka of Qatar University and co-lead researcher on the m-learning project.

M-learning utilizes a blended approach to deliver specialized content using mobile devices like smartphones while allowing the user unlimited access to the material. Trainees are able to use the technology to advance at their own pace.

"Mobile learning is catering to the new generations of workers who are comfortable using mobile technology," says Dr. Mohamed Ally, Professor, Centre for Distance Education at AU and the project lead researcher. "Learning with mobile technology is developing 21st century skills for workers to function on the job and in a globalized world."

The project is funded by the Qatar National Research Fund.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


New scholarship to help CARICOM students take AU diploma programmore . . .  

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) has launched the competition for the Canada-CARICOM Virtual University Scholarship Program (CCVUSP).

The program offers a scholarship for one of three postsecondary certificate programs to be undertaken entirely online, including the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Legislative Drafting offered by Athabasca University.

The scholarship program is offered to citizens of CARICOM member countries over 21 years of age, who reside in the region, are ready to start in spring 2014 and who are able to commit a minimum of 10 to 15 hours per week to the program. It is administered by the Canadian Virtual University Consortium.

Interested candidates must fill out the online application form available on this website and submit all the required supporting documents before the deadline of February 3, 2014.

Please visit Canada-CARICOM Virtual University Scholarship Program (CCVUSP) for full program details.



University learning designers capture another prestigious international awardmore . . .  

Athabasca University's course Collaboration and Mentoring in Educational Environments (MDDE 665) has been awarded the 2013 Commonwealth of Learning Award of Excellence for Distance Education Materials. The course is offered through the Master of Education program at the university's Centre for Distance Education.

The course, which was developed by faculty members Dr. Susan Moisey and Dr. Beth Perry, along with a learning design team from the Centre for Learning Design and Development, uses integrated media, including audio and video, to create a self-paced but structured online environment to encourage learners to engage in a deep cognitive and effective response to course contents.

"It's exciting and gratifying to to know that AU academics and learning designers are being recognized for their great work in such a prestigious international arena," says Dr. Cindy Ives, Director of the Centre for Learning Design and Development and Acting Associate Vice-president, Academic.

The course was funded by a grant from the Alberta Ministry of Education in 2011, was originally offered only to K-12 educators and is now available for other students.

The Excellence in Distance Education Awards (EDEA) have become a highly prized and sought after recognition of achievement by institutions/organisations and individuals around the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization created by Commonwealth heads of government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-298-2931 (o)
[email protected]


Metis students to benefit from new awardmore . . .  

Athabasca University and the Métis Education Foundation are pleased to announce a newly created $400,000 endowment aimed at encouraging the achievement of Métis undergraduate students attending AU.

Four $2,500 awards are available to full-time Métis students enrolled at AU who can demonstrate both financial need and proof of their Métis heritage. See eligibility details here.

"The Métis Scholar Awards endowment at Athabasca University continues the drive of the Métis Education Foundation to put in place an endowment in every post-secondary institute with a significant number of Métis students across the province," says Lisa Savill, spokesperson for the Métis Education Foundation.

"Athabasca University's commitment to being able to pursue professional development and a university degree while you work, combined with these new awards, give Métis students an enhanced level of flexibility in furthering their education and achieving their goals."

The application deadline for the MEF Métis Scholar Awards is January 15. Apply here.

For more information, please contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Ian Horner
Manager, Communications
Rupertsland Institute
[email protected]


Three university faculties benefit from donations to Open Our Worldmore . . .  

Athabasca University is proud to acknowledge three recent individual contributions to the university via the Open Our World campaign. These three individuals have invested a total of $75,000, which will help our students and faculty achieve world leadership in online post-secondary education.

Sharon Lynne-Matei, Vice President of Raymond James Ltd (Lynne-Matei Wealth Management), and a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute, is an experienced financial advisor. She volunteers her time and expertise on AU's investment committee (under the auspices of the Board of Governors) and is a donor to the Open Our World campaign. A large portion of her $25,000 gift will support activities in the Architecture Program. In addition, her employer's foundation, Raymond James Canada Foundation, will match her gift up to an additional $12,500.

David Burnett was a member of the Athabasca University Governing Council (AUGC) for two consecutive terms beginning in November 2000 and was appointed Chair in May 2004, ending in 2007. He was the President of NorTerra Inc., one of Canada's largest privately owned corporations providing marine and air transportation throughout northern Canada and the Arctic as well as manufacturing and other services. His wife, Marlene, was a Registered Nurse practicing in the area of obstetrics administration. David and Marlene's $25,000 gift will help improve access to nursing education in the Faculty of Health Disciplines.

Curtis Stange is the Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at ATB Financial. Curtis earned an agriculture diploma from the University of Saskatchewan. He is also a passionate alumnus of Athabasca University, earning a management diploma and an MBA in 2000. His $25,000 gift will support the Faculty of Business.

These three individuals have been critical to the success of the university's Open Our World campaign. Not only have they given generous financial gifts, they have also given freely of their time, opening doors and letting others know about AU and its unique mission and mandate.

Open Our World is a $30-million campaign focused on the future of learning and Athabasca University's role as a leader in that future. We invite our entire community — alumni, philanthropists, foundations, faculty, staff, students and friends from the private and public sectors alike — to join us in creating a bright, innovative future for learning. There are many ways to participate, and no contribution is too small.

Fore more information, visit Open Our World.



AU learning designers win international prize for innovationmore . . .  

A paper by AU Learning Designers Hongxin Yan and Dr. Sandra Law has taken home the International Council on Open and Distance Learning (ICDE) Prize for Innovation and Best Practice and the Honorable Mention of the Best Paper Award at the organization's recent conference in China. The organization recognized their work in helping students who are struggling with first-year calculus.

The paper, An Interactive OER Course Development at Athabasca University Based on ODL Principles to Increase Completion Rates in Calculus, documents the development of a course authoring tool (AUTAT) that was used to create a set of standalone learning modules intended for use by students struggling in first-year calculus courses.

Introductory calculus is a popular course at universities across Canada but has one of the lowest completion rates of all courses offered at the introductory level.

This paper reflects the work done by a team of AU employees (learning designers, editors, web specialists, visual designers, Flash specialists, and faculty) to move mathematics instruction into the online environment and to participate in the open education movement. Their work can be seen here.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


University researcher named Canada Research Chairmore . . .  

Athabasca University researcher Dr. Jeff Vallance has been named Canada Research Chair in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Management. The announcement was made this morning in Calgary by the Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

Dr. Vallance's research explores the role of physical activity in cancer treatment and recovery. His work has demonstrated that cancer survivors are keen and interested in programs designed to improve their health, and that these programs do work.

"Our government remains committed to attracting and retaining the world's best researchers, creating jobs and strengthening our economy," said Rickford. "Through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, we are supporting cutting-edge research at Canadian universities and fostering innovation by helping researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace, to benefit Canadians and improve our quality of life."

The goal of Dr. Vallance's research is to develop and examine practical and sustainable health promotion interventions designed to facilitate physical activity, reduce sedentary behavior, and improve physical and psychosocial health outcomes related to a cancer diagnosis and its treatments. A physically active population of cancer survivors would translate into fewer cancer recurrences, and longer and healthier years lived. This could ease the burden on the healthcare system.

"We're delighted that the Canada Research Chairs program has recognized Jeff's research," says Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University. "His work with cancer patients, particularly in rural Alberta, has brought a lot of focus on a relatively new area of cancer care, and this Chair will allow him to continue, and expand upon, that valuable research."

Dr. Vallance lives and works in Medicine Hat, Alberta. In addition to his Canada Research Chair, he is also the recipient of two other prestigious research awards the Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions Population Health Investigator and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


World-class environmental researcher joins Athabasca Universitymore . . .  

Dr. Junye Wang has joined Athabasca University as Campus Alberta Innovates Research Chair in Computational Sustainability. His appointment became effective September 1, 2013.

Dr. Wang holds a PhD from the East China University of Science and Technology, and has an impressive record of working in research areas of environmental and energy system modeling and simulations in the UK over the past 14 years. Since 2008, Dr. Wang has served as Principal Research Scientist at Rothamsted Research in the UK. This facility is an independent scientific research institute and the longest running agricultural research station in the world.

Over the past three decades, there have been rapid advances in various areas of computational technologies and applications (e.g. complex programming, semantic technologies, and high resolution visualization). These new and emerging technologies are providing unprecedented opportunities to develop modeling frameworks of complex processes and ecosystems. In this CAIP project, Dr. Wang and his team will be working on a project to develop a modeling framework of integrated terrestrial and aquatic systems in the Athabasca River Basin by using innovative computational technologies and analytical modeling techniques.

As the only university in the Athabasca River Basin, AU is uniquely positioned to set a world example for leading non-partisan efforts in research and policy-making around strategically important natural resources. AU has excellent talents and facilities and strength in computational applications and technologies and will provide a unique perspective on establishing such an integrated framework of terrestrial and aquatic systems. Engagement of the team whose strengths are drawn from various disciplinary areas in science and computing science will contribute to knowledge of environmental, ecological and economic sustainability of northern Alberta communities.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


University welcomes new funding from provincemore . . .  

Athabasca University is pleased that the Government of Alberta is making an additional $50 million dollars available this year to Campus Alberta institutions. The Hon. Thomas Lucaszuk, Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education made the announcement in Edmonton.

The additional funding represents a 2.62% increase to the university's Campus Alberta grant, an addition of $970,718 for this fiscal year. The money will be used to offset enrolment increase pressures.

AU has had a significant growth in Alberta student registrations this fiscal year. Investment will be made in infrastructure supports in student service areas, information technology and eText development. This will allow the university to continue growth without disrupting the level of support students have grown to expect.

"As everyone knows, we have faced tremendous financial challenges over the past year, as has the entire sector," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University. "It is encouraging to see that the government has listened to our concerns, and is acting to strengthen the post secondary sector in the province."

Dr. Pannekoek says the university will continue to work with government on long-term, stable funding models to ensure that continued enrolment growth pressures are addressed.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
(403) 298-2931
(403) 990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter @MediaAU


University launches free course on municipal law more . . .  

Athabasca University is excited to announce the launch of LGST 479 "Local Government Law in Alberta", which will be made available, free of charge, to anyone wishing to learn more about how the law applies to the governance of cities, towns and municipalities in the province.
The course will be available through AU's innovative Open Courseware site.

"'Local Government Law in Alberta' will be of interest to anyone who's looking for a strong foundation of knowledge of the legal principles that underpin local government and would be useful for municipal councilors and officials and anyone who works with municipalities," says Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University.

Pannekoek says the course can be seen as a MOOC, available free for self-study but offering no tutorial support except for those students who opt to pay tuition and obtain credit for the course.

Local Government Law in Alberta was written by a leading Alberta legal practitioner in the field of municipal law and contains numerous links to court decisions and other relevant documents.

The course is available online here.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Open Educational Resources University launchesmore . . .  

Athabasca University is joining 31 organizations worldwide in launching OERu, a unique new post-secondary opportunity for learners. Coordinated by the Open Education Resource Foundation, headquartered in New Zealand, the OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online university courses for students worldwide using Open Educational Resources (OER). The implementation of the OERu is a designated project of the UNESCO-Commonwealth of Learning OER Chair network.

The OERu will provide more affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognised institutions.

"The OERu makes affordable education accessible to everyone," says Open Education Resource Foundation Director, Dr Wayne Mackintosh. "All you need is an internet connection and you can study independently from home, with access to world-class courses from recognised institutions around the world. It's about sharing knowledge and the sustainability of education."

The launch coincides with the second meeting of the OERu anchor partners from around the world, coming together at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada, to formally launch the university to the world and engage in an intensive two-day implementation planning meeting.

OERu's primary point of difference is that students study for free, anywhere in the world using courses based on OER, with pathways to gain credible credentials. Users can pay reduced fees if they want to get academic credit, and only pay for assessment if and when they're ready.

"This is very important to learners worldwide," says Dr. Rory McGreal, UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chairholder in Open Educational Resources and professor of distance education at AU. "It opens a pathway to learning for students who might otherwise have been unable to afford a degree."

Designed for independent study, users will get peer-support from fellow learners, while in some OERu courses users will study with full-time registered students at one or more of OERu's anchor partners - a network of academic institutions in five continents.

Athabasca University will offer OERu up to four courses initially. The goal of OERu is to first offer a a Bachelor of General Studies degree, with other degree options to be added later.

The OERu is a consortium of more than thirty universities, polytechnics and community colleges from five continents committed to widening access to educational opportunity.

OERu website go-live:
Canada, British Columbia: Friday, November 1, 10:00amPDT

For more information please contact:
Wayne Mackintosh, OER Foundation Director and UNESCO-COL Chair in OER, Otago Polytechnic. [email protected]

Dr. Rory McGreal, UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources
[email protected]

View the OERu website
View the WikiEducator OER planning page


Reduced operations on Oct. 15more . . .  

Athabasca University will be reducing operations on Oct. 15, 2013, resulting in limited service from most departments.

No exams will be scheduled in our Calgary or Edmonton locations for that day. The Office of the Registrar will be closed as will other faculties and departments offering student support and advising. Online services will be unaffected by the reduction in operations.

Our Information Centre will remain open on Oct. 15 for general and student inquiries.

The university will resume full operations on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.


Remembering Marilyn Kanemore . . .  

It is with great sadness that Athabasca University notes the passing of Marilyn Kane.
Marilyn was first appointed to the Board of Governors of Athabasca University (then Athabasca University Governing Council) on February 23, 2005 and served as a member of the Board for two terms until February 22, 2011.

She was appointed as Vice Chair of the Board on November 1, 2006 and served as the Chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee as well as a member of the Audit, Executive, Human Resources and Ad Hoc Building Committees.

Marilyn passed away from cancer on September 24, 2013 at the age of 61. She leaves to mourn her husband of 33 years, Jack, daughter Shauna, brothers Don, Tom, Mark and Grant and sisters Diane and Karen.

The entire Athabasca University community wishes to express our condolences to Marilyn's family for their loss. She will be remembered fondly.


New look for Athabasca Universitymore . . .  

Athabasca University has unveiled its new brand strategy, complete with an entirely new look and design for its online and printed materials. The new brand is designed to solidify AU's position as Canada's leading source for open and online post-secondary education

"Competition has increased from traditional universities now offering online opportunities. It was time to send out a strong message that AU has led innovations in distance and online learning for more than 40 years," said Nancy Biamonte, Director of Marketing and Communications. "AU is the benchmark that others measure themselves against. While working with Donovan Creative Communication on the branding project, we kept coming back to the idea that AU represents the future of learning; open and accessible university education for everyone, everywhere. This was the foundation that led to the open shield symbol - show rather than tell the concept of open accessible learning balanced with academic excellence and history."

The project, launched today, is the result of more than two years of research, consultation and design involving all employees and stakeholders at the university.

"This was a a very exciting project for our brand strategy team," says Michael Donovan, former President and CCO of DONOVAN Creative Communications (now ZGM Collaborative Marketing). "The challenge was to reposition AU as the leader in online and distance education. Since inception four decades ago, many competitors have cropped up; but no one has the record that AU does, nor the ability to lead the space going into the future."

To find out more about the new AU and our new brand, watch our new brand video.
We're proud of our history at AU and excited as we continue to move forward, focused on the future of learning.

For more information, please contact:

Nancy Biamonte
Director, Marketing and Communications
[email protected]


Athabasca University confirms search for new president to commencemore . . .  

Athabasca, Alta. - Barry Walker, chair of the Athabasca University Board of Governors, announced on August 8, 2013, that AU president Dr. Frits Pannekoek will step down prior to the completion of his second term.

In a written statement, Walker praised Pannekoek for his accomplishments during his eight years as president. "Under his leadership, the university has not only surmounted ... challenges, but has gone from strength to strength and is today recognized as one of the foremost e-learning institutions in the world," Walker said.

He added that the Board of Governors would immediately establish a Presidential Selection Committee with a view to placing a new president in office by May 2014.




University appoints new CIO and Vice-President Information Technologymore . . .  

The Board of Governors of Athabasca University is pleased to announce that Cesarino (Mike) Battistel was appointed Vice-President of Information Technology & Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the University effective July 23, 2013.

Battistel brings deep experience in IT strategy, governance, process innovation, and project delivery to the post. Most recently VP IS at SMART Technologies ULC, Battistel was previously CIO at Ritchie Bros Auctioneers and Versacold Group and headed the IT departments at Ballard Power Systems, Motorola Canada and the Open Learning Agency. Battistel is also active in leadership roles within the CIO community. He has been a national board member with the CIO Association of Canada, and served as president of two of its chapters.

Says Battistel, "IT is a mission-critical asset at the university. Success in achieving AU's mission of removing barriers to learning depends heavily on technological innovation. We need to create an optimum mix of ICT solutions, and build high-performance teams to deliver those solutions in partnership with our academic and external partners. I'm really excited about leading the IT team to help AU create new educational opportunities, and to deliver and apply the results of our world-class research and analytics in e-learning".

Athabasca University President, Dr. Frits Pannekoek stated, "We are very pleased to welcome a CIO with Mike's depth and breadth of experience to Athabasca University".

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-298-2931 (o)
[email protected]


Normal operations to resume at AU Calgarymore . . .  

Athabasca University is pleased to announce that operations at the South Campus of Bow Valley College in Calgary will be resuming this week. Staff will be moving back to their offices which have been closed since June 21 because of flooding.

Full exam services will resume at AU Calgary's BVC location on Thursday, July 18. Students scheduled to write exams on or after July 18 should report to the Exam Centre on the sixth floor of the Bow Valley College South Campus building at 345 6th Ave. S.E.

For students writing exams scheduled before July 18th, please report to the University of Calgary downtown campus at 906 8th Ave, S.W.

Online exams will be taken in the computer lab on the 2nd floor. Paper-based exams will be written at the exam facility on the 3rd floor.

We'd like to thank everyone for their patience during the flooding emergency. AU extends a special thanks to the University of Calgary for its assistance to our students over the last three weeks.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-298-2931 (o)
[email protected]

AU partners with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study MOOCsmore . . .  

Athabasca University has been chosen by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a new research grant program aimed at exploring the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The MOOC Research Initiative (MRI) is a $400,000 investment with grants in the range of $10,000 - $25,000 each. The MRI grant program is led and administered by Athabasca University with support from an advisory committee of experts in learning design and MOOCs.

The dramatic increase in online education, particularly MOOCs, presents researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers with a range of questions as to the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning. To date, the impact of MOOCs and emerging forms of digital learning has been largely disseminated through press releases and university reports, with only limited peer-reviewed research publication. The proliferation of MOOCs in higher education requires a concerted and urgent research agenda.

The MOOC Research Initiative will fill this research gap by evaluating MOOCs and how they impact teaching, learning, and education in general.

MRI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a set of investments intended to explore the potential of MOOCs to extend access to postsecondary credentials through more personalized, more affordable pathways.. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports Athabasca University and interested academic institutions through research grants to examine the efficacy of early MOOC models for various learner audiences and in a wide variety of contexts.

Due to the rapid development of online education and the pace of MOOC adoption and new technology-enabled models of learning, the grant and research timelines are aggressive, with grantees winners announced by the end August, 2013, and research beginning immediately. An international conference on MOOC research, which will include interim reports by successful grantees, will be hosted by the University of Texas, Arlington, December 5-6, 2013.

Information on MRI, including call for proposals and timelines, is available at: www.moocresearch.com.

For more information, please contact:

George Siemens
[email protected]


Comprehensive info for students writing exams in Calgarymore . . .  

Athabasca University students whose exams were scheduled to take place at AU's Calgary office prior to the flood in southern Alberta began writing exams at AU's new temporary location today.

The address for the temporary exam-writing location is:
University of Calgary Downtown Campus, 906 - 8 Avenue SW
(Corner of 8 Avenue and 8 Street SW)

AU Calgary was closed on June 21 due to the flood and will remain closed until further notice.

If you're a student who needs to write an exam at AU's new temporary location in Calgary, here's what to expect:

  • Please bring government-issued ID with you.
  • There are no lockers to secure your belongings, so bring only the things you'll need to write your exam.
  • Online exams are on the 2nd floor, while paper-based exams are on the 3rd floor.

During the period of June 21 - July 2, many exams had to be postponed. Here is when and how these and other exams are being scheduled at the temporary location.

Exams scheduled for June 21 - 25: If you had an exam originally scheduled during this time period, you can write your exam on Wednesday, July 10, at either 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. You do not have to call or email AU to schedule one of these times, and you do not have to wait for contact from Learner Support Services. Just show up at the time that works best for you.

Exams scheduled for June 26 - July 2: If you had an exam originally scheduled during this time period, you can write your exam on Thursday, July 11, at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. You do not have to call or email AU to schedule one of these times, and you do not have to wait for contact from Learner Support Services. Just show up at the time that works best for you.

Exams scheduled for July 3, 4 and onward: All exams originally scheduled for July 3 and onward will proceed on the exact date and time they were originally scheduled.

Please note that AU's temporary Calgary location is closed on Friday, July 5, due to the Calgary Stampede parade.

Thanks to our students in the Calgary area for their continued patience, and thanks to the University of Calgary for providing a much-needed space for our students.

If you have urgent questions about the rescheduling of your exam, please call the AU Information Centre at 1-800-788-9041 or email [email protected].

UPDATE for students with exams scheduled at AU Calgary more . . .  

As our regular AU Calgary location remains closed until further notice, we have temporary exam writing space set up at:

University of Calgary Downtown Campus

906 - 8 Avenue SWA

Calgary, AB

(corner of 8th Avenue & 8th Street SW)

Students who had exams scheduled between June 21 - July 2 may write their exams as follows:

Scheduled for: June 21, 22, 24 & 25

New Date: Wednesday, July 10 @ 9:00 am OR 1:00 pm

Scheduled for: June 26, 27, 28 & July 2

New Date: Thursday, July 11 @ 9:00 am OR 1:00 pm

Students with exams scheduled on July 3 or 4 will proceed on the scheduled date/time at the address above.

We thank you for your patience during this time and we look forward to seeing you at our temporary downtown location to meet your exam writing needs.


AU Calgary remains closedmore . . .  

Athabasca University's Calgary location, at the south campus of Bow Valley College will remain closed until further notice because of flood damage sustained last week.

Students who have exams scheduled will be contacted and the affected exams will be re-scheduled.

At this time, there is no firm date for the re-opening of the Calgary location. We are working closely with our partners at Bow Valley College and will release more information as it becomes available.

Athabasca University would like to thank everyone for their patience during this emergency.


Convocation 2013more . . .  

AU is awarding credentials to 1776 outstanding graduates at Convocation ceremonies June 6-8th, 2013 in Athabasca, Alberta. The ceremonies will take place at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.

Watch the Convocation live stream

Schedule of daily events:

8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Student portraits
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Self-guided campus tours
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Continental breakfast
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Science Lab tours (except Saturday)
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Gowning of ceremony participants
11:15 a.m. - 11:55 a.m. Formation of Academic procession
Noon  Convocation ceremony

The university is also conferring honourary doctorates on twooutstanding individuals during Convocation.

On Friday, June 7, 2013 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Sylvain Voyer for his contribution n recognition of his contributions to the arts in Alberta. Having painted Alberta for more than 50 years, he has shown Albertans how to see their province. In 1973, he was a co-founder of the alternative Edmonton gallery Latitude 53. He also helped establish the Alberta Society of Artists and the Canadian Artists' Representation. In 2000, he was voted one of Alberta's top 10 artists of the twentieth century by an independent panel of art historians and artists from across the province.

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, an honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Bob McDonald in recognition of his ongoing contributions to public awareness of science in Canada. One of Canada's best known science journalists, McDonald is the host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, a regular science commentator on CBC News Network and a science correspondent for CBC TV's The National. His work has been recognized by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Canadian Institute, and he has received honorary degrees from six Canadian universities. In 2010, McDonald became the first Canadian to be named an honorary life member of the Sigma XI Society, the oldest scientific body in the United States.

On Friday, June 7, 2013, Albert and Pirkko Karvonen will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of their contributions to environmental conservation and natural history education in Alberta and their support of Science Outreach - Athabasca. Their company, Karvonen Films Ltd., founded in 1976, specializes in natural history films and is one of Canada's premiere providers of wildlife images and sounds, providing footage to commercial, documentary, in-house, feature and corporate film markets in North America and abroad.

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, Brian Curial will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of his outstanding support of AU during his six-year term as a member of the Board of Governors (2006-12), during which time he chaired the Governance Committee and served as Board vice-chair (2010). He continues to contribute to AU through his work on the Law School Advisory Panel and through his advice on governance issues facing the post-secondary sector. A corporate commercial lawyer, Curial is a partner in the Edmonton office of Miller Thomson.


For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]ascau.ca


AU researchers discover link between minor surgery and multiple sclerosismore . . .  

A new study by researchers at Athabasca University's Centre for Nursing and Health Studies has discovered a small, but clinically important risk for developing multiple sclerosis in people who have had an appendectomy or tonsillectomy at the age of 20 years or younger. The study was published May 6, 2013 in the journal BMC Neurology.

The study authors suggest that, while the overall risk for the normal population is small, patients with a family history of MS, and who have had one or both of the surgeries before the age of 21, may want to be extra vigilant for symptoms of the disease.

"I want to be very careful to stress that we are definitely not saying that minor surgery causes multiple sclerosis," says Dr. Shawn Fraser, the study's senior author. "There does appear to be a link in some cases, but much more study is needed before we can reach any conclusions about causality."

Fraser says that both appendectomies and tonsillectomies are surgeries conducted in response to inflammation, which may indicate an inappropriate immune response. Since MS is an immune-mediated disease, there could be similarities in the conditions leading to tonsillitis or appendicitis.

Fraser, along with researchers Carol Lunny and Jennifer Knopp-Sihota looked at data from 33 previous case-controlled studies involving 27, 373 multiple sclerosis cases and more than 200,000 controls. They found a statistically significant association between patients who had undergone surgery for tonsillitis and appendicitis and the subsequent risk of developing MS, but only for those who were twenty years of age or younger at the time of surgery.

The study did not find any links between MS and other types of surgery. The researchers say well-designed prospective studies, pertaining to the risk for developing multiple sclerosis, ought to be conducted and should include the examination of various surgeries as risk factors.

The complete study, which was funded though AU's Academic Research Fund, can be found here.

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex immune-mediated inflammatory disease of the central nervous system affecting approximately 2 million people worldwide. It is one of the most common neurological disorders in young people, affecting more women than men.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Shawn Fraser
Associate Professor & Program Director, MHS/MN
Faculty of Health Disciplines
Athabasca University
[email protected]


Grant enables AU to archive important labour collectionmore . . .  


The Thomas A. Edge Archives & Special Collections has completed the cataloguing of early records of the Journal of Canadian Labour Studies/Revue d'etudes Ouvrières Canadiennes (Labour/Le Travail) acquired from Memorial University of Newfoundland. The project was made possible by a grant from the Archives Society of Alberta.

The grant enabled the archives to process 93 boxes of material, re-house the collection in archival-quality boxes and folders and create a fonds description that will be available on the Archives Society of Alberta website under the Archives Network of Alberta.

Labour/Le Travail, produced by the Canadian Committee on Labour History (CCLH), is a bilingual, biannual review committed to the interdisciplinary study of Canadian labour history, in particular the study of working class history, industrial sociology, labour economics and labour relations. Production of Labour/Le Travail moved from Memorial University to Athabasca University in 2007. AU Press publishes both online and print versions.

Karen Langley, University Archivist, says the Thomas A. Edge Archives is very pleased to be able to preserve Labour/Le Travail as a record of the work done by CCLH. The collection is of special interest to students, faculty and community researchers interested in labour history and publishing.

For more information, contact:

Karen Langley
Manager, Institutional Records and University Archivist
(780) 675-6268
[email protected]


Athabasca Governors Reaffirm Commitment to Presidential Search Processmore . . .  

EDMONTON - Today, the Board of Governors of Athabasca University (the Board) respectfully notified the Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) that they would not accept their May 8th recommendation to appoint a faculty member nominated by the AUFA as interim president of the institution. The Board is presently in the process of recruiting a replacement for current president Dr. Frits Pannekoek, who announced in March 2013 that he would be retiring.

“A major duty for the governing boards of Alberta’s publicly-funded post-secondary institutions is to select and oversee the president,” explained Board of Governors Chair Barry Walker. “We cannot, and should not, delegate that responsibility to an organization that has no legislated public or ministerial accountability.”

Through motions at their May 1st meeting, the Board resolved to continue with the current presidential selection process; expressed support for senior administration until a new president is selected and other vacant senior executive positions are filled; and encouraged staff and administration to work collectively for the betterment of current and prospective students.


The institution has also been preparing for a planning and visioning retreat with all the current Board members, senior administration and the school’s deans to set out a strategic direction for the institution and address governance issues.

“The Board has already initiated a process to plan the next strategic direction for the future of Athabasca University,” said Walker. “This is a moment of transition and we are focused on positioning this institution to meet the needs of the next generation of learners.”


For more information, contact:

Barry Walker
Chair, Athabasca University Board of Governors
780 675-6271 (office)
780 689-1515 (cell)
[email protected]

Response to the AUFA "Rescue Plan"more . . .  

The Board of Governors of Athabasca University (the Board) respectfully cannot and will not accept the “rescue plan” motions and accompanying proposals published by the Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) on May 8th, 2013.

As a public post-secondary institution under the Post-Secondary Learning Act, the Board is directed with the duty to appoint the institution’s president and with ultimate governance responsibility for financial matters.

This same legislation outlines the responsibilities and powers of a public institution’s academic staff association, which are clearly separate and distinct from those of the Board. The Board will not, and should not, delegate any of its legislatively conferred duties to any other body, no more than the Board would expect the AUFA to delegate any of theirs.

In the immediate future, the Board will move forward with the governance of the institution, including the presidential recruitment process and strategic direction for the future of the University. The AUFA will be engaged in these processes through their duly appointed Board representatives.


For more information, contact:

Barry Walker
Chair, Athabasca University Board of Governors
780 675-6271 (office)
780 689-1515 (cell)
[email protected]

University to host EdInnovation 2013 more . . .  

EdInnovation 2013 showcases and shares innovative experiences and solutions of the most successful, disruptive and creative educational technology startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs in Canada and worldwide

Digital networks are reducing global barriers of government, industry, and education. Canada is well positioned to play an increasing role in education due to its highly educated workforce and growing entrepreneurial spirit. In education - workplace, K-12, universities/colleges - opportunities are abundant for innovation.

Join us as we bring together innovation and creativity to engage with venture capitalists, technology buyers and top-notch researchers.

What: EdInnovation 2013
Where: Radisson Hotel Calgary Airport
When: May 1-3, 2013, 7:30am - 4:30 pm

For more information, please visit our website



AU students receive Alberta Innovates Awards more . . .  

Athabasca University extends its warmest congratulations to:

Giovanni Farias EdD(DE), Supervisor: Dr. Mohamed Ally
Charles Bernard MSc(IS). Supervisor: Dr. Sabine Graf
Michael Procter MSc(IS), Co-supervisors: Dr. Oscar Lin and Dr. Bob Heller
Cheng-Hsin Msc(IS), Supervisor: Dr. Maiga Chang

for being awarded the Alberta Innovates -Technology Futures award. All are focusing on research in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The Master's students have been awarded $10,000/year for two years. The Doctoral student has been awarded $15,000/year for four years. It was a competitive pool of applications with more applications than last year. This is the second year that AU has been given the opportunity to offer this award. Depending upon the amount of funding received from AI-TF a second call for applications may occur later this year.

The award is to support academically superior graduate students leading to a master's or doctoral degree. The scholarship is designed to enable these promising students to succeed in areas of scientific research which are strategically important to Alberta. These areas are: Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Nanotechnology, and Omics (Omics consists of: Genomics, Proteomics, Metabolomics, Transcriptomics and Regulomics) in and of themselves or additionally which support the areas of Health, Bio-industries, Energy, and Environment (Alberta Innovates- Technology Futures).


University disappointed with cuts to post-secondary funding more . . .  

The president of Athabasca University has expressed disappointment with Thursday's provincial budget, which will see a 6.8 percent reduction in operating grants for Alberta's colleges and universities. The university will see an overall reduction of nearly $5 million in its operating and infrastructure maintenance grants for the coming fiscal year.

"We did not see that coming," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek. "It's disappointing to be led to believe that the sector would be receiving a two per cent increase in operating grants, something that was promised in last year's budget, only to be hit with what amounts to a nearly 10 per cent cut."

Pannekoek says all universities, including AU, are now faced with "some very tough choices" as they finalize their budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins April 1.

"Of particular concern to us is a 56 per cent cut to our infrastructure maintenance budget this coming year," Pannekoek said. Unlike traditional universities, AU's infrastructure is largely in information technology systems. "We were expecting about $3 million to continue upgrading our IT systems to help us fully transition to an online environment," he said. "Instead, we got $1.3 million. These funds are supposed to maintain our buildings as well."

The consequences for an online university are serious. "A number of multi-year projects that would have helped Alberta become a leader in online learning will have to be cancelled, Pannekoek said. "That puts a real obstacle in our mission to serve today's and, as importantly, tomorrow's university students."

"AU's online mission has never been funded through capital grants, despite years of negotiating, Pannekoek said, "and to cut this one source of funding, the Infrastructure Maintenance Fund grant, by 56 per cent, is extraordinarily short sighted. AU's costs per student are the lowest in the province, and a modest strategic investment would have allowed the university to further reduce costs and to help our partners in Campus Alberta in the new exciting world of online learning."

Pannekoek said the university will, of course, balance its books next year, but it will be done on the back of progress.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
(403) 298-2931 (office)
(403) 990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Budget cuts force layoffs at Athabasca Universitymore . . .  

The Athabasca University Board of Governors today passed a budget for fiscal 2013-2014 that will see 44 layoffs at the university. Another 35 employees have chosen to voluntarily leave their positions at the university using the Career Transition Program. 34 vacant positions, previously subjected to a hiring freeze, are also being eliminated.

The university received a 7.2 percent decrease in next year's Campus Alberta Operating Grant in the March 7, 2013 provincial budget. This represents a revenue shortfall of $3.7 million. In addition, the university's capital grant was cut by $1.7 million. The university services more than 40,000 students on an annual operating budget of just over $128 million.

"We had counted, as had all the post-secondaries, on a two percent increase in this year's operating grant as promised in last year's provincial budget," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek, president of Athabasca University. "We were instead surprised with a deep cut, and we have been left with no other choice than to eliminate positions."

The university will be working with unions and affected staff in the weeks ahead.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-298-2931 (office)
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


AU to host International Graduate Research Workshopmore . . .  

International Graduate Research Workshop in Adaptivity and Personalization in Informatics (IGRW 2013) to be held in Edmonton, March 23-24, 2013, aims to provide learning and networking opportunities in order to advance research on the innovative paradigms, architectures and implementations of wireless applications and systems for individualised and adaptive learning. The topics covered in the workshop will range from adaptivity and personalization concepts and approaches, advance learning analytics, context aware learning systems and technologies, mobile and ubiquitous learning, and social interaction technologies.

IGRW 2013 is aimed for first and second year PhD students and advanced Master's students with demonstrated research skills. Space permitted, the workshop also welcomes to industry professionals interested in adaptivity and personalized issues informatics.

Participants will have opportunities to connect with researchers from other places who have similar research interests. They will also be able to continue interaction with tutorial presenters. Participants will acquire hands-on experience with various research tools and prototypes developed by various researchers.

For more information, please visit the website


Open Access Week 2012 more . . .  

To celebrate Open Access Week, October 22-28, Athabasca University is presenting a series of noon-hour webcasts exploring major issues and opportunities presented by open access. Everyone is welcome to join us for these webcasts. Join us here.

Monday, October 22
OER and Mobile Learning
Rory McGreal

The OER university: A sustainable model for more affordable education futures
Wayne Mackintosh

Tuesday, October 23
Open Access and Public Policy
Frits Pannekoek

Wednesday, October 24
"Open and Closed" Getting the mix right. Who gets to decide?
Jon Dron
Terry Anderson
George Siemens

Thursday, October 25
Integrating openness in course design
Cindy Ives

Friday, October 26
Sleeping with the Elephant - Leveraging AU's Position through Open Courseware
Martin Connors

Contribution of AU's e-Lab Initiative to Open Access and OER Development
Evelyn Ellerman

Athabasca River Basin Research Institute Repository: Enhancing open access, education and research
Lisa Carter
Tony Tin

Open Access is a movement toward free, open and accessible research results, processes and educational resources. Athabasca University promotes understanding, adoption, use and production of Open Access resources for formal and informal learning and teaching

For more information, contact:
Tony Tin
[email protected],



Call for 2013 honorary doctorate nominationsmore . . .  

The Board of Governors of Athabasca University invites nominations for honorary degrees to be presented at the university’s convocation ceremonies on June 6, 7, and 8, 2013, in Athabasca, Alta. The deadline for nominations is November 27, 2012.
Candidates for honorary degrees should be persons who have:

  • made significant community contributions
  • provided leadership and inspiration as a role model for AU graduates
  • distinguished themselves with achievements in fields such as education, science, the arts, and public service
  • achieved an exceptional standard of excellence in their chosen field
  • provided exceptional contributions to the enhancement of Canadian culture or society
  • made significant lifelong contributions to endeavours consistent with the mandate and mission of Athabasca University

Candidates must also be able to attend convocation ceremonies.
Any person within the Athabasca University community, as well as the general public, is eligible to nominate candidates for an AU honorary degree. Nominations are active for three years.
The awarding of honorary doctorates is an important feature of Athabasca University’s convocation, celebrating both the individual and the university as well as inspiring our graduates and guests.

Guidelines for honorary doctorate nominations

  • Submit nominations to the Honorary Awards Committee in strict confidence—do NOT discuss the nomination with the intended nominee.
  • Read the Criteria for Selection (page 2) carefully.
  • You must use the official Honorary Degree Nomination Forms and complete these forms in full. Only complete nominations using these forms will be considered. Electronic submissions of these forms are accepted, providing the forms are complete.
  • Attach the nominee’s resume.
  • Include up to three letter(s) of support for the nomination.
  • Remember to sign the Honorary Degree Nomination Forms (electronic signatures are accepted).
  • Send the completed information to the University Secretary.

Important links

Call for 2013 Order of Athabasca University nominationsmore . . .  

The Board of Governors of Athabasca University invites nominations for the Order of Athabasca University to be presented at the university’s convocation ceremonies on June 6, 7, and 8, 2013, in Athabasca, Alta. The deadline for nominations is November 27, 2012.
The Order of Athabasca University is awarded to persons who have:

  • rendered exemplary service to Athabasca University or
  • rendered exemplary service to community or society while representing Athabasca University

Candidates for the Order of Athabasca University must also be able to attend convocation ceremonies.
AU staff and members of the Board of Governors are eligible to nominate candidates for an Order of Athabasca University.
The awarding of the Order of Athabasca University is an important feature of AU’s convocation, celebrating both the individual and the university as well as inspiring our graduates and guests.
Guidelines for Order of Athabasca University nominations

Important links

Donation a huge boost for Science Outreach more . . .  

Filmmakers and environmentalists Albert and Pirkko Karvonen have donated $250,000 to Science Outreach - Athabasca. The Karvonens, who live near Amisk Lake, Alberta are passionate about the environment and education. Their vision is to have students read and understand more about science.

"This is a significant gift to the university, and one which will ensure the work Science Outreach is doing will continue, and flourish," said Dr. Pamela Walsh, Athabasca University's Vice-president of Advancement. "We're grateful as a university for the generosity of Albert and Pirkko and for their commitment to a vibrant science education program in the Athabasca area."

Prior to their retirement in 2008, Albert and Pirkko Karvonen produced more than 100 films, focused mainly on the natural world and encouraging environmental awareness and preservation. In 2007, AU awarded Albert Karvonen an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Science Outreach-Athabasca is a subcommittee of the Centre for Science and Research at Athabasca University. It consists of a group of volunteer scientists and people interested in science whose main objective is to promote all forms of science to children and adults who live in the greater Athabasca area and beyond.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter @MediaAU


Social sciences research at AU gets a boost with major federal grant more . . .  

Mike Gismondi, with the Centre for Social Sciences at AU, has been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant worth $200,000 over the next two years.

Gismondi, along with research partners Mike Lewis, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal (Port Alberni, BC); Ana Maria Peredo; Centre for Co-Operative Based Economy, University of Victoria; Noel Keough, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary are working with the BC Alberta Social Economy Network (BALTA) on the project "Social Economy, Community Resilience and the Transition to Sustainability."

This two year partnership development initiative will enable both existing BALTA partners and new participants to explore a longer term research partnership into the importance of the social economy in advancing sustainability, and prepare the group to apply for a major SSHRC Partnership Grant in 2014.

"We're very pleased to be able to provide institutional support for an important practitioner and academic research partnership," said Gismondi. "And I'm excited to have AU Athabasca host the administration, and to provide the distributed support for communication and community building. Also, I'm looking forward to supporting an AU graduate student or two to work in the area."

The funding will support an administrator and two senior graduate students, who will be recruited this fall (hopefully one at AU). AU Central will be the new administrative home to the research partnership, and we hope to establish AU as the institutional hub for the BALTA and the social economy research partnership into the future.

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


Athabasca University Convocation 2012more . . .  

AU is awarding credentials to 1723 outstanding graduates at Convocation ceremonies June 7-9, 2012 in Athabasca, Alberta. The ceremonies will take place at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.

Schedule of daily events:

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.               Student portraits
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.               Self-guided campus tours
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.             Continental breakfast
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.             Science Lab tours (except Saturday)
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Gowning of ceremony participants
11:15 a.m. - 11:55 a.m. Formation of Academic procession
Noon                             Convocation ceremony

The university is also conferring honourary doctorates on three outstanding individuals during Convocation. On Thursday, June 7, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana in recognition of his ongoing commitment to human rights. Dr. Pityana served as Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2001 and also served on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights at the Organisation of African Unity in 1997.

On Friday, June 18, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Jack Brink in recognition in recognition of his contributions to the field of archaeology, specifically PreContact Archeaology of Alberta and the Northern Plains of North America.

Also on Friday, June 8, 2012 the RAIC Centre for Architecture Development Group will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of the members' efforts towards the development, advocacy and promotion of the AU architecture program..

On Saturday, June 9, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University will be conferred on Dr. John Willinsky in recognition of his advocacy of open access, particularly the free and widespread dissemination of knowledge through Open Educational Resources.

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]


University?s Open Knowledge Environment project wins major awardmore . . .  

Athabasca University has won Campus Technology magazine's 2012 Innovator's Award in the category of Leadership, Governance and Policy. The award was given for the university's groundbreaking Open Knowledge Environment project, which was partly funded by the federal government's Knowledge Infrastructure Project (KIP) with matching funding from the Province of Alberta.

Three years ago, the university committed to moving toward to becoming a fully online virtual organization and developed an IT capital plan to accomplish this. The goal of AU's IT capital plan is to create a flexible, rich and collaborative working and learning environment with innovative new tools based on a new fully digital online infrastructure.

The Open Knowledge Environment project ran between June 2009 and October 2011 was the first step in that transformation process. More than 30 initiatives were mounted to enhance the university's technology infrastructure and upgrade skill sets and IT processes across the entire institution.

Brian Stewart, AU's Vice-president of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, says the project's relatively short timeline helped create a powerful "change" dynamic. "The available funding gave the university only about two years in which to enact changes," Stewart said, "and that provided the shot in the arm to follow through with concrete programs. It created a dynamic and the impetus to move forward."

The project greatly speeded the development of the university's infrastructure, including desktop virtualization, synchronous web conferencing, research collaboration, tutor portal, VOIP communications, course content management, online assessment, student program planning, and course evaluation.

These are enabling new learning tools to be advanced and current initiatives being explored by AU include learning and academic analytics, simulation, gaming, immersive environments, and visualizations, as well as synchronous conferencing, social networking, collaboration technologies, and the use and creation of open education resources (OERs), areas of expansion that will reflect the all-digital environment.

The goal, says Stewart, is to "provide a rich, digital and adaptive environment that will best serve our students, our faculty and our staff as we move fully into the online realm."

For more information, go here or contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]
Twitter: @MediaAU


Creative Commons Canada re-launchmore . . .  

Athabasca University, BCcampus, and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic have joined together to re-establish a CC affiliate team in Canada. All three organizations will take part in the official relaunch at the Creative Commons Salon Ottawa: Open Data on Friday, March 30.

This is not a new affiliate so much as a re-ignition of our existing Canadian community. Since 2004, a number of volunteers, interns and affiliate leads have supported and promoted CC and the use of open licenses generally in a Canadian context. This new team, representing three institutions spread across the geographic and cultural expanse of Canada, will be a key asset to support and lead the CC activities of this community.

Through public outreach, community building, tools, research, and resources this team will work with a network of open supporters to maximize digital creativity, sharing and innovation across Canada. The work of CC Canada is aligned with the overarching vision of Creative Commons - to help provide universal access to research and education, and full participation in culture to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity.

Whether you're an artist, teacher, scientist, librarian, policymaker or just a regular citizen, Creative Commons provides you with a free, public, and standardized set of tools and licenses that create a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws. CC Canada joins over four hundred other affiliates working in seventy-two jurisdictions around the world in supporting the use of Creative Commons infrastructure. Collectively this global network is creating a vast and growing digital commons of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

Be sure to check out the CC Canada roadmap on the wiki. Congratulations to the CC Canada affiliate team!


For more information, contact:

Cindy Ives, PhD
Acting Associate Vice President Academic (Learning Resources)
Director, Centre for Learning Design and Development
Athabasca University
(780) 675-6957

[email protected]


University recognized for healthy workplace environmentmore . . .  

Athabasca University is among nine Alberta employers recently honoured by Premier Allison Redford for making their workplaces both healthier and happier. The university has won the Award of Merit in the large workplaces category for the 2011 Premiers Award for Healthy workplaces.

The annual award is designed to recognize workplaces in Alberta that provide strategies, initiatives, policies and/or programs that promote, support and enhance a healthy workplace and the efforts of workers to remain healthy at work and beyond. These include both physical activity/active living and healthy eating components.

More importantly, this award also recognizes the collective efforts of all of all staff at AU and the overall commitment to health by AU staff and executive in promoting a healthy workplace.

The award was presented on March 13, 2012 at the Edmonton Legislature to Nichole Collins and Gabriela Husch, who were selected to receive the award on AU's behalf due to their commitment to employee overall wellness. Gabriela Husch was the "featured employee" on AU's award application because of her demonstrated endless commitment of time, energy, enthusiasm, and ideas to the overall health and wellness of employees and healthy initiatives at AU. Nichole Collins has provided a leading role to the success of these programs and initiatives that offer AU employees options for a healthy workplace lifestyle.

For more information about the Premier's Award for Healthy Workplaces, please visit http://healthyalberta.com/AboutHealthyU/1111.htm


Open Educational Resources Weekmore . . .  


The UNESCO/COL Chair in Open educational Resources, Dr. Rory McGreal, will present a noon hour web-cast discussing the importance of OER in distance education. This web-cast will feature a panel of internationally known promoters and developers of open educational resources who will be discussing research, opportunities, challenges and new ideas on this topic.

Panel speakers include Dr. Cindy Ives, Dr. Terry Anderson, Dr. Martin Connors, Steve Schafer, Rachel Conroy,Tony Tin, and Colin Elliott. The new OER KnowledgeCloud repository will be showcased in the presentation as well. This event is Athabasca University's contribution to the OCWC OER Week

Date: March 8, 2012
Time: 12:00-1:30pm MT (World Clock)
Format: Adobe Connect?https://connect.athabascau.ca/oer_in_de/


For more information, visit http://www.oerknowledgecloud.com/presentation or contact Tony Tin at [email protected] or (780) 675-6486.


A special performance by AU's new writer in residencemore . . .  

Where do people go, and what do they do, after they die? Athabasca University's new writer in residence, Tololwa M. Mollel, will touch on this mystery in his January 26 performance of his story From Lands of the Night.

Mollel, an award-winning children's author, playwright, actor and storyteller, and his 10-year-old co-star Maya Yohani, will both tell and perform this story about a family's struggle to save their baby boy. From Lands of the Night is directed by respected theatre director Jan Selman and also features God, angels, and the ancestors.

The performance is part of:

Athabasca University's Writers in Residence
A Reception in Celebration of Athabasca University's Writer in Residence Program

•A performance by Tololwa M. Mollel, award-winning children's author, playwright, actor and storyteller, and AU's 2011-12 writer in residence
•Reflections from Joseph Boyden, award-winning novelist and short story writer, and AU's 2010-11 writer in residence

5:00 - 7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 26, 2012
Expressionz Café, 9938 - 70 Avenue, Edmonton, AB
Food will be served, and attendees are permitted to bring guests.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP by January 19 to Amanda Demko: [email protected]

Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other members of the AU community with an interest in writing are welcome to attend along with any other writers who are interested in being mentored by Mollel.

Visit the AU Writer in Residence website for more information about the mentoring services offered by the writer in residence.

Read the new Open AU story about Tololwa Mollel.

AU's 2011-12 Writer in Residence Program is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and ZoomerMedia.


New writer in residencemore . . .  

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Office of Advancement are pleased to announce Athabasca University's 2011/2012 Writer in Residence, Tololwa Mollel.

Mollel is well-known as a story teller and has written several books for children. He explores the oral traditions of African and North American cultures in his writing and performances.

The residency will support his research into oral
traditions and allow him to create more stories and performances.

He is available as a resource to developing writers, both staff and students. For information on the residency and contacting Tololwa, please check the WIR website .

In late January Tololwa will perform at a public reception. Look for an official notice early in the new year.

We wish to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Zoomer Media and the CARP Writer for Health project for their support of AU's Writer in Residence.


International award for AU Press publicationmore . . .  

Imagining Head Smashed In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains, written by Jack Brink and published by Athabasca University Press, has won the second annual Felicia A. Holton Book Award from the Archaeological Institute of America. Brink will receive the award at AIA's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January, 2012.

"This is an incredibly important honour for AU Press," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University. "The Archaeological Institute of America is the oldest and most important organization of its kind and its recognition of the work of AU Press and Jack highlights the quality of the books we produce."

Author Jack Brink, who devoted 25 years of his career to "The Jump," has chronicled the cunning, danger, and triumph in the mass buffalo hunts and the culture they supported. He also recounts the excavation of the site and the development of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, which has hosted more than 2 million visitors since it opened in 1987.

The book has won a number of prestigious awards, including the 2009 best book award from the Society of American Archaeology.

The Felicia A. Holton Book Award is given annually to a writer who, through a major work of non-fiction, represents the importance and excitement of archaeology to the general public.

The Archeological Institute of America was founded in 1879 and boasts nearly 250,000 members. The AIA exists to promote archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past worldwide.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]



AU to celebrate Open Access Week more . . .  

To celebrate the appointment of Dr. Rory McGreal as the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources (OER), Athabasca University is presenting a series of five noon-hour webcasts exploring major issues and opportunities presented by OER. Each session will feature an internationally known promoter and developer of open educational resources, research, or ideas. Everyone is welcome; please join us for these webcasts.

Please visit the links below for more information on each presentation, presenter's biographies, and to find the links to the Adobe Connect Sessions on each day. All sessions are from noon-1pm MDT.

Monday, October 24th- Fun and Fear in Open Spaces
Presenters: Dr. Terry Anderson, Dr. Jon Dron

Tuesday, October 25th- Post Secondary Leadership in the OER Movement
Presenter: Dr. Frits Pannekoek

Wednesday, October 26th - Making Sense of Complexity in Open Information Environments
Presenter: George Siemens

Wednesday, October 26th - Making Sense of Complexity in Open Information Environments
Presenter: George Siemens

Thursday, October 27th - Panel on Moving to Open Educational Resources at Athabasca University
Presenters: Dr. Lisa Carter, Dr. Cindy Ives, Tony Tin, Colin Elliott

Friday, October 28th - OER's and Sustainable Innovation: Low Cost, Low Risk but High Impact
Presenters: Dr. Rory McGreal, Dr. Wayne Mackintosh

These presentations are among many events taking place internationally to highlight Open Access Week.

For more information, contact:
Tony Tin
[email protected],



Notice of legal name changemore . . .  

Effective October 1st, 2011 and pursuant to amendments made to the Athabasca University Regulation, the university's corporate name has changed to "The Governors of Athabasca University".

Contractual obligations entered into under the old corporate name, "The Athabasca University Governing Council" (AUGC) will continue to be valid. All future payments and invoices should reflect the new corporate identity.

For more information, contact:

Carol Lund
University Secretary
(780) 675-6271
[email protected]


International award for mobile learning projectmore . . .  

The International E-Learning Association has awarded its 2011 E-Learning Award to the Athabasca University Mobile Learning Project. The award was announced at the organization's annual conference in Piest'any, Slovakia on September 22, 2011.

Since 2007, Athabasca University has been doing cutting-edge research in mobile learning focusing on using mobile devices to deliver language training. The Athabasca University Mobile Learning project consists of four stages:

• Mobile ESL, a text-based interactive component designed specifically for new Canadians needing ESL training to enter the workforce
• Workplace English - a multimedia component for basic mobile devices and smartphones
• Accent Reduction - mobile workplace English content offering users a variety of speaking and listening activities to assist in improving English pronunciation
• Mobile French - a five lesson module developed for beginners. 

"Mobile learning will become more and more mainstream in the future with dramatic improvement in the capabilities of the next generation mobile phones and the continuing popularity of tablets and netbooks. Educational institutions need to adjust to this new reality for accessibility," said Dr. Rory McGreal, associate vice-president (research).

Another university project, Bacterial Taxonomy Learning Tree, picked up an honourable mention at the 2011 IELA Awards.

About the IELA
The International E-Learning Association (IELA) is dedicated to advancing the knowledge and practice of e-learning in the classroom and the workplace. With members hailing from every continent-and from the realms of business, industry, government, and academia-the IELA is a vibrant and diverse community of e-learning professionals, researchers, and students.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Rory McGreal
Associate Vice-President (Research)
[email protected]


New research chairs for universitymore . . .  

The government of Alberta is funding the creation of two research chairs for Athabasca University. The new chairs, one in Hydroecology and Environmental Health and the other in Computational Sustainability and Environmental Analytics, will be attached to The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute.

Alberta Advanced Education and Technology is providing the university with funding of up to $500,000 per year over the next seven years under the newly created Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP). The CAIP was created to facilitate the recruitment of leading edge faculty and related research personnel to areas of emerging research and innovation priority.

The program is designed to recruit new research leaders to Alberta in specific areas. The chairs are aligned with the four strategic priority areas of the Alberta Innovates Corporations and Alberta Advanced Education and Technology: Energy and Environment, Food and Nutrition, Neuroscience/Prions and Water.

Athabasca University will begin an intensive recruiting campaign for the new chairs in the coming weeks. It is anticipated the positions will be filed by the end of the academic year.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
[email protected]


2011 Alumni Award winners announcedmore . . .  

The success of Athabasca University is measured best by the success of our alumni and the contributions they make to their families, workplaces and communities. The 2011 Alumni Award recipients epitomize the energy and passion of AU students. We're proud to recognize the following alumni for their remarkable achievements:

Distinguished Alumni Award
Doug Schindel
Edmonton, Alta.

Doug Schindel, the President of the Weldco Companies, was already a successful business leader when he completed his Executive MBA in 2005, a decision that reinforced the philosophy he's lived at work and in the community over the years. The "corporate social responsibility" lessons learned matched his belief in giving back. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the Edmonton YMCA and of the Boyle Renaissance Development Association. He served previously with the United Way Campaign Cabinet (Edmonton) and Women Building Futures, and was the driving force behind the creation of the Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining at the University of Alberta. "It's very humbling to receive this award," he says. "I do what I do because there's a need - and I've worked with some phenomenal people."

Rising Star Award
Melanie Kowal
Kenora, Ont.

Melanie Kowal's 2009 Bachelor of Science - Human Science degree enabled her to fulfill a lifelong dream: going to medical school to become a family physician. Her passion plus AU's flexibility enabled her to work full-time as a dental hygienist, be a wife and mother, volunteer at a hospital and train horses for a support program for people with disabilities, all while earning top marks as a student. "If you really want to do something, you can," she says. "And I did thanks to AU. They had high expectations and it was a lot of work, but it's made me a better and more independent student, and that's definitely beneficial for what I'm doing now. I'm so proud of my degree."

Volunteer Service Award
Jimm Simon
Stonewall, Man.

The knowledge Jimm Simon gained through his Master of Business Administration degree in 2001 is proving as valuable to his volunteer work in the community as it is in business. The Principal Consultant for Aimm North Heritage Tourism Consulting, Simon has volunteered in a variety of leadership capacities for more than 25 years and is the Past National Board Chair and Honorary Life Member of the Canadian Cancer Society. "I wouldn't have had the opportunity to make this kind of real, tangible impact if I didn't have my MBA," he says. "It's been life-altering. I'm honoured to receive this award because it motivates me to work hard, fight cancer and help people - and if it helps inspire others to do the same, that's even better."

Future Alumni Award
Heather Ruhl
Edmonton, Alta.

As a student, Heather Ruhl balanced full- and part-time work, her wedding and building a new home while completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree. Her proven ability to handle high pressure and an even higher workload is proving valuable as she starts a new job as a Business Process Management Analyst at ATB Financial. "At the time when I needed it most, AU was there for me," she says, appreciative of the "yes, we can do that" attitude that defined her relationship with the University. "It is truly humbling to have people look at what I've done and say it's worthy of recognition and that I'll go on to do great things," she says of the award. "I can't even describe how immensely flattering it is."


For more information, contact:
Tara Friesen
Manager, Alumni Relations and Philanthropy
[email protected]


President's copyright message to studentsmore . . .  

You may have seen reports in the media that Athabasca University has joined more than 35 other universities in Canada in electing to opt out of using Access Copyright for permissions related to the use of third party materials in courses. We have spent the last six months preparing for this move, by renewing existing permissions for materials used in print Reading Files, and by selecting alternative or electronic selections, accessible through the Digital Reading Room in online courses. Courses in development and revision will be using more open educational resources and online readings already available through library subscription from now on.

One of the reasons for this change is that Access Copyright is proposing to increase the tariff for the use of copyrighted materials from $3.48 to $45.00 per full-time equivalent student. As an online, open university, we cannot afford to pass the additional costs on to students enrolled in our courses.

AU has always licensed best quality materials through our library, and we will always make the best learning resources available to students within the legal copyright environment. All course materials have been and will continue to be compliant with Canadian Copyright Law.


Frits Pannekoek

President, Athabasca University

Faculty of Business awarded CMA accreditationmore . . .  

Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada), the world leader in shaping strategic management accounting® professionals to lead successful enterprises in the global marketplace has awarded, for a five-year period, the accreditation of the Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Major program at Athabasca University's Faculty of Business.

CMA Canada accredits programs at leading academic institutions which provide complete coverage of the CMA® Competency Map Entrance Requirements, equipping students with in-depth knowledge and skills in management accounting, financial accounting, financial management and taxation, strategic management, and risk management and governance. These skills are required for mastering the advanced concepts covered in the CMA Strategic Leadership ProgramTM, leading to the prestigious CMA designation.

Beginning in 2000, CMA Canada implemented an accreditation process to recognize institutions that offer quality educational programs according to prescribed standards. The CMA accreditation program offers academic institutions a measurement process that is based on self-evaluation coupled with evaluation by CMA Canada.

"Through the CMA accreditation process, we are increasing the pool of qualified graduates who are able to enter the CMA Strategic Leadership ProgramTM directly from academic institutions, thus helping achieve quality growth in the management accounting profession. In addition, accrediting programs enables CMA Canada and academic institutions to work together to enhance the development of management accounting knowledge and practices in the global marketplace," said Joy Thomas, MBA, FCMA, C.Dir., President and CEO, CMA Canada.

Athabasca University is among an exclusive group of academic institutions across Canada to have an undergraduate accounting program accredited by CMA Canada.

"CMA Canada's accreditation of the Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Major program, not only affirms the calibre of this program, but also speaks to the growing recognition of quality online business courses and programs such as ours. This is another milestone in our productive and mutually beneficial partnership with CMA Canada," said Dr. Alex Kondra, Dean of the Faculty of Business.

Students who successfully complete the Bachelor of Commerce - Accounting Major program with a minimum grade point average of 75 per cent are exempt from writing the CMA Entrance Examination. This select group of students will enter directly into the Strategic Leadership ProgramTM, the final step required to obtain the CMA designation.

"CMA Alberta is excited to partner with Canada's first accredited online program," says Kara Mitchelmore, FCMA, President and CEO of CMA Alberta. "CMA Canada conducts a rigorous accreditation process to recognize institutions delivering high standards in management accounting. With its quality instruction and flexible learning options, Athabasca University is a perfect fit and we look forward to many years of successful collaboration."

About Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada)

With 50,000 members around the world, CMA Canada grants a professional designation in strategic management accounting® and is responsible for standards-setting, accreditation, and the continuing professional development of Certified Management Accountants (CMAs). CMAs provide an integrating perspective to business decision-making, applying a unique blend of expertise in accounting, management and strategy to identify new market opportunities, ensure corporate accountability, and help organizations maintain a long-term competitive advantage. To optimize the performance of global enterprises and build strategic management accounting skills, CMA Canada offers innovative executive development programs, advanced online courses, and internationally recognized knowledge management publications. For more information, visit www.cma-canada.org.

About Athabasca University's Faculty of Business

Athabasca University's (AU's) Faculty of Business offers the full range of academic business and management programs-all delivered online using the latest technologies for learning. From individual courses, to certificate and diploma programs, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs, the Faculty of Business serves over 13,000 students across Canada and the world. In 1994, AU launched the world's first online Executive MBA program which has grown to become Canada's largest Executive MBA. In 2009, AU introduced Canada's first online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. Athabasca University is one of Alberta's four publicly funded, comprehensive, research intensive universities, and is accredited in the United States through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), one of six regional accreditation bodies in the United States.

Contact Information

Media contacts:
CMA Canada
Cindy Mantione
Communications Officer
(905) 949-3116 or Toll-free: 1-800-262-7622, ext. 3116
[email protected]

CMA Alberta
Brianne Rohovie
Communications Officer
(403) 231-8074
[email protected]

Athabasca University
Chris McLeod
Director, Marketing and Communications
(780) 418-7552
[email protected]


Information Sessions - Online Executive MBAmore . . .  


(St. Albert, AB) - Representatives from Athabasca University's Faculty of Business will be hosting a series of information sessions on the online Executive MBA Program in locations across Canada this fall. Onsite sessions begin in Toronto on September 12 and wrap up in Calgary on September 29, while online sessions are scheduled in September, October and November for those who cannot attend in person.

Each information session provides a comprehensive overview of the Faculty's graduate management programs, followed by a question and answer session. Students and/or alumni are usually in attendance at onsite information sessions to share their own experiences and answer questions from the student perspective.

To view the schedule and register for a session, visit the Faculty of Business Graduate Programs website.

For more information:
Phone: 780-459-1144 or 1-800-561-4650
Email: [email protected]

Another major award for Letters From the Lostmore . . .  

Helen Waldstein Wilkes' memoir Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery has been awarded the Edna Staebler award for Creative Non-Fiction. This $10,000 national award is given annually to a Canadian writer of a first or second published book with a Canadian locale and/or significance and it is the second important literary award given to Letters from the Lost.

Earlier this year, Letters from the Lost was given the Alberta Readers' Choice Award and with the addition of today's award, Wilkes' has won $20,000 in prizes for the story surrounding her family's letters written during World War II.

Her moving account of the letters' content and her own compelling narrative of suffering and survivor guilt has captured the interest of readers across Canada and is now being recognized for its imaginative and effective interweaving of original research and memoir.

Helen Waldstein Wilkes will be presented with the award on October 4th at a celebration in Toronto.

Letters from the Lost is published by Athabasca University Press. To order a copy, or to download the free ebook, please visit www.aupress.ca.


Provincial grant to support Open University of Nepalmore . . .  

The government of Alberta has awarded Athabasca University a $21,000 grant to support its efforts towards establishing an open university in Nepal. The grant was made by the Honourable Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, at the opening of the university's new Academic and Research Centre on July 29th.

The grant, made under the department's Community Initiatives Program, will support the analysis of a pedagogical model for the Open University of Nepal.

Culture and Community Spirit's International Development Grants provide financial assistance to small and medium sized Alberta based non-government organizations to meet Alberta's commitment to give people in developing countries the tools to eventually meet their own needs. The purpose of the international development grants are to match or supplement the donations the citizens of Alberta make to humanitarian projects of their choosing.

For more information on the Open University of Nepal Initiative, please see http://hamrosamaj.net/archives/11368

Premier opens Academic and Research Centremore . . .  

The Hon. Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta, officially opened Athabasca University's new Academic and Research Centre (ARC) at a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 29, 2011. The premier was joined by Barry Walker, Chair of the Athabasca University Governing Council, Dr. Frits Pannekoek, the university's president, and Jeff Johnson, MLA for Athabasca-Redwater, at the ribbon cutting.

Construction of the 5000 square metre, $30 million dollar facility began in the fall of 2008. The new building will provide an open, collaborative, healthy and safe work environment in a building that honours the site, is technologically enabled, supports future expansion and promotes ready access.

The Academic and Research Centre will greatly strengthen Athabasca University's leadership role in addressing global distance education challenges and opportunities. The facility will provide badly needed space and services for the academic and research centres of the university, including work space for staff members. The building design will support increased collaboration between researchers and academics, giving impetus to research in teaching practices, technological innovations and implementation strategies associated with e-learning

The Government of Alberta provided a $30 million capital grant to fund construction of the Academic and Research Centre.

The building was designed by Manasc-Isaac Architects of Edmonton, and constructed by Chandos Construction, also of Edmonton.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
(403) 298-2931 (o)
(403) 990-1131 (c)
[email protected]


Earth's first Trojan Asteroid discoveredmore . . .  

Dr. Martin Connors and two colleagues have confirmed the existence of the first known Trojan Asteroid associated with earth. The discovery is highlighted in the July 28th, 2011 edition of Nature magazine.

"The discovery is important because it proves that Trojans can exist in orbit around the Sun in a very earth-like orbit," said Dr. Connors. "And since U. S. President Obama announced NASA's intentions to land a man on an asteroid by 2025, we may find Trojans or related asteroids that are the ideal candidates for that landing".

The Trojan, called 2010 TK7 was first detected by Connors and colleagues Paul Weigert and Christian Veillet using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite launched in 2009. The discovery was confirmed using the ground-based Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in April, 2011.

Previously, Trojans were known to exist associated with Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. 2010 TK7 proves that they also are found in stable orbits similar to earth's. "This should make it easier for scientists to get telescope time to look for other Earth Trojans," said Connors. "I'm confident others will be found, giving the space program a number of candidates for a landing by the President's goal of 2025."

Dr. Rory McGreal, Associate Vice-president of Research at AU, is thrilled with the discovery by his colleague.

"I know that Dr. Connors has spent many nights scouring our northern skies and days trudging through the snowy fields of northern Alberta searching for meteorites. This Nature article is a clear demonstration of the importance of his work and adds to his international reputation."

Dr. Connors is the Canada Research Chair in Space Science at Athabasca University. He is in charge of the Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory in northern Alberta and is a world-renowned expert in asteroids and near-earth objects.

The complete article will be available at Nature's website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10233, on July 28th, 2011.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Martin Connors
Canada Research Chair, Space Science
[email protected]

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations and Communications
403-298-2931 (o)
403-990-1131 (c)
[email protected]


Exams Delayed in Shippingmore . . .  

If your exam was requested by regular mail delivery and has not yet been delivered to your invigilator, it has likely been delayed due to the Canada Post labour dispute.

To allow for the completion of those exams delayed during the mail service disruption, AU will allow up to 10 business days from the date the exam is received by the invigilator for the exam to be rescheduled and written.

Canada Post has advised that processing of accumulated mail resumed on Monday, June 27, with an estimated backlog delay of up to 2 weeks.

For more information, please contact the AU Information Centre at 1-800-788-9041.


Top prize for book published by Athabasca University Pressmore . . .  

CALGARY, AB, June 11, 2011 - Letters from the Lost - A Memoir of Discovery was the big winner of the second annual Alberta Readers' Choice Award presented this evening at the Alberta Book Awards Gala in Calgary. The book, written by Helen Waldstein Wilkes and published by AU Press, was among five finalists vying for the honour of best book published in Alberta as chosen by the reading public.

For the entire month of May, readers voted for their favourite book in an online poll. At the same time, five book champions defended their chosen book in the media and at public events.

"Again this year we had great public participation," said Edmonton Public Library Board Vice- Chair, Dr. Carol Suddards, "and the quality of books submitted for this year's award was outstanding." The annual award comes with a $10,000 prize, making it one of the richest literary prizes in Alberta.

This year's top five books and their champions are:

The Grizzly Manifesto by Jeff Gailus (RMB); championed by Ken Chapman, lawyer, social commentator, blogger and one of Alberta Venture Magazine's 50 Most Influential People of 2010

Too Bad: Sketches Toward a Self-Portrait by Robert Kroetsch (U of A Press); championed by Kirk Heuser, Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, CBC News Calgary

Cinco de Mayo: a novel by Michael J. Martineck (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing); championed by Janet Lane, Executive Director of Literacy Alberta

Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness byClem & Olivier Martini (Freehand Books); championed by John Estacio, award-winning Canadian composer and JUNO nominee

Letters from the Lost - A Memoir of Discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes (AU Press); championed by Sharon Budnarchuk, co-owner of Audrey's Books in Edmonton

About the Alberta Readers' Choice Award
The Alberta Readers' Choice (ARC) Award is presented by the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), in partnership with the Book Publishers Association of Alberta (BPAA). Currently in its second year, the ARC Award promotes literacy and reading to Albertans by highlighting the unique literary and book publishing industry that exists in our province. The $10,000 prize, sponsored by EPL, goes to the author of the winning title as voted on by the reading public. The ARC Award is one of the largest literary prizes offered in Alberta and is comparable to many national literary awards. For more information about the ARC Award, visit www.albertareaderschoice.ca. Visit www.epl.caand www.bookpublishers.ab.ca to learn more about EPL and BPAA.

About Book Publishers Association of Alberta
The Book Publishers Association of Alberta (BPAA) represents more than 30 Alberta publishers with a shared mission. BPAA publish books by local, national and international authors and provide significant cultural and economic benefits to this province. BPAA work with writers, printers, artists and other creative people to produce high quality books that are sold in Alberta and throughout the world. BPAA are leaders in Canada's best-developed knowledge-based industry and are one of the strongest communities of regional publishers in North America. Visit www.bookpublishers.ab.ca for more information.

About the Edmonton Public Library
The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) carries everything you care about. We are Edmonton's largest lender of all manner of information and entertainment. Our professionally trained staff take you beyond Google with the knowledge, discernment and desire to help you navigate a universe of information. Every year, we host over 14 million in-branch and online visits across our 17 branches and website. We deliver our incredible content to you everywhere - in the library, at home, or on your handheld device. Unmatched access and unrivalled value - that is today's EPL. Spread the words. www.epl.ca.

Media Contact:
Susan Wong Armstrong, Edmonton Public Library
Tel: 780-496-7055
Email: [email protected]


RBC donates $250,000 to ARBRI more . . .  

Calgary, Alta. (June 10, 2011) - RBC, through the RBC Blue Water Project, donated $250,000 to the Athabasca University in support of the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute.

"We need to dispel the myth that there is limitless water in Canada and start paying attention to our water consumption," says Bruce MacKenzie, regional president, RBC. "We are proud to be part of an initiative that gives organizations around the world a chance to make a difference, whether it's through education of water issues, watershed protection and clean-up or access to clean drinking water."

The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI) was established in 2008 to bring together diverse communities to help preserve a vital natural resource: water. The Institute strives to foster community awareness of the Basin's role and create a sense of ownership around its future by building local capacity for decision-making.

"Maintaining a clean, healthy river basin in times of economic development requires a balance where the quality, quantity and the politics surrounding distribution and wise use are of primary concern," says Dietmar Kennepohl, director, ARBRI. A collaborative and integrated approach to water research, coupled with active community engagement, is vital to the future success of Alberta's North."

The RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year, $50 million commitment to support charitable organizations that are committed to watershed protection and providing access to clean drinking water.

On Friday, June 10, RBC will celebrate the second annual RBC Blue Water Day to recognize the amazing work being done by the RBC Blue Water Project grant recipients.

For more information about the RBC Blue Water Project, go to: http://www.rbc.com/bluewater

For more information, please contact:

Nicole Fisher
Advisor Corporate Communications RBC
T: 403-292-3970
C: 403-542-0617
[email protected]

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
T: 403-298-2931
C: 403-990-1131
[email protected]


AU President to head Canadian Association of Learned Journalsmore . . .  

Dr. Frits Pannekoek, president of Athabasca University, has been acclaimed president-elect of the Canadian Association of Learned Journals (CALJ) at its recent Congress 2011. Dr. Pannekoek will serve as president-elect for one year and then assume the presidency of the organization for two years.

"We are delighted that Dr. Pannekoek has agreed to serve with CALJ-ACRS at this time of rapid and substantial change in the scholarly journals publishing arena," says CALJ Executive Director Dr. Ellen Henderson. "It is a testament to our shared conviction that ensuring the long-term health of Canadian scholarly journals is vital to effective dissemination of research from Canada's scholars and universities."

Dr. Pannekoek is responsible for establishing Athabasca University Press, dedicated to making academic publications available to scholars, students and the general public online and free of charge.

"It's an exciting time to be taking on this new role," says Dr. Pannekoek. "Academic journals are undergoing a period of rapid change, including digitization, and I'm looking forward to helping the community through that process."

"The CALJ's strategy is growth through collaboration," says Dr. Richard Smith, president of the CALJ. " In particular, a Canadian journals consortium to enable national aggregation of social science and humanities scholarship and to negotiate a national site licence."
The Canadian Association of Learned Journals is a not-for-profit, member-driven organization representing an increasing number of Canadian scholarly journals from various disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

In addition to serving as president of Athabasca University, Dr. Pannekoek is also president of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), a UNESCO-sanctioned world body based in Oslo, Norway.

For more Information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
(403) 298-2931
[email protected]


Athabasca University Convocation 2011 more . . .  

AU is awarding degrees to 1351 outstanding graduates at Convocation ceremonies June 9-11 2011 in Athabasca, Alberta. The ceremonies will take place at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.

Schedule of daily events:

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.                 Student portraits
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.                 Self-guided campus tours
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.               Continental breakfast
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.   Gowning of ceremony participants
11:15 a.m. - 11:55 a.m.   Formation of Academic procession
Noon                               Convocation ceremony

The university is also conferring honorary doctorates on two outstanding individuals during Convocation. On Thursday, June 9, 2011 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Mr. Dempsey Bob in recognition of the historical and cultural significance of his art and his commitment to the preservation of Tahltan-Tlingit artistry.

On Friday, June 10, 2011 an Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University will be conferred on Dr. Carol Twigg in recognition of her commitment to increasing access to learning and improving learning outcomes through the use of technology.

The Honorary Awards Committee is also pleased to name the 2011 recipients of the Order of Athabasca University. On Friday, June 10, 2011, Ms. Lisa Priebe will be inducted into the Order in recognition of her dedication to ensuring a high quality student experience at Athabasca University.

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, Dr. Tim Nerentz will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of his efforts to broaden public awareness of the university and its mission.

Convocation website: http://www2.athabascau.ca/convocation

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]


Postal Labour Disputemore . . .  

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) says its members will will obey the back-to-work legislation that passed on Sunday, June 26, forcing postal workers back to work. Starting Monday, June 27, postal workers will begin sorting through the accumulated mail and delivery could begin as early as Tuesday afternoon.

June 15

Athabasca University (AU) has contingency procedures in place as a response to the CUPW strike and the subsequent disruption of postal services in Canada. These procedures will remain in effect until the strike ends or until June 24 whichever is sooner. If the postal service disruption continues beyond that date, we will notify you of any changes at that time.

Please Note

Overnight courier is not available from Athabasca and increased volumes experienced by courier companies may impact normal courier service time lines.

Requests for Service

Related fees must be received by the published deadlines.

Most services can be requested through the myAU student portal and paid for with Visa, Mastercard or American Express. For services that are not available via the myAU student portal, students may fill out the appropriate form and fax their requests using the fax number listed below. Students who are paying by cash, cheque or money order can pay for their services at the AU Calgary or AU Edmonton locations or send by courier to:

Athabasca University
Office of the Registrar
1 University Drive
Athabasca, AB T9S 3A3

Essential Communication Not Available Via the E-Letter Delivery Method

Any essential communication that is not available via the E-letter delivery method will be sent electronically by email. When an email address is not available, essential communication will be sent via courier.
Essential Communication Available Via the E-letter Delivery Method
Most essential communications are available via the E-letter delivery method. Students are encouraged to select the E-letter delivery method as any print based letters that are available in the E-Letter format will be held and posted when postal services resume. AU will be defaulting to the E-Letter delivery method on September 1, 2011. Click here for more information on this initiative.

Student Loan Certificates

Student Loan Certificates from a funding agency outside of Alberta will be sent via courier. Student Loan Certificates for students within Alberta are confirmed electronically.

Except for communication that is deemed essential, any other communication from the Student Financial Aid Unit that is normally sent via Canada Post will be held and posted when postal services resume.

Students are advised to check with their funding agency and the National Student Loans Service Centre for any other communication related to postal service disruption and what contingency plans these organizations have in place.

Student Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries

All cheques related to student awards, scholarships for bursaries will be held for a period of two weeks and will be sent via courier in the event postal services remain disrupted.

Transfer Credit Services

For the purposes of assessing transfer credit, the Office of the Registrar will accept a faxed copy of a transcript sent directly from the sending institution. Faxed copies will be deemed unofficial and students will need to arrange for an official transcript to be sent once postal service resumes.

Students may opt to have the sending institution send their transcript via courier if the sending institution has that service available. Any expense to courier a transcript to AU is the responsibility of the student.

Any transfer credit awarded will be considered unofficial until the official transcript is received from the sending institution once postal service resumes.

Students will be notified via email when their transfer credit evaluation has been completed and provided with a login link to the myAU student portal to view their transfer credit evaluation.

AU Transcripts

AU will accept transcript requests from students for an AU transcript but the official copy will be held and posted when postal services resume. Students may opt to have their transcript faxed if the request is urgent or have the official copy sent via courier at their own expense. Transcripts can be requested via the myAU student portal.


AU will accept and process student requests for exams but the exams will be held and posted to the Exam Invigilator when postal services resume. Students may make alternate arrangements to write an exam with their invigilator in the event the exam is not received by their scheduled write date.

Students may opt and are strongly encouraged to have their exams couriered by AU to their invigilator at their own expense to avoid any delays. Students who wish to have their exam returned to AU by courier will need to provide their invigilator with a prepaid courier envelope.

The postal strike does not affect those exams that are delivered on-line.

Non-Essential Communication

All non-essential communication will be held and posted when postal services resume.

Learning Resource Package Delivery

AU will send out learning resource packages by courier. To facilitate the process a telephone number is required for all shipments so that the courier service can contact the recipient to ensure timely delivery.

Those students that utilize a postal box as a mailing address must include their telephone number so that they can be notified once the shipment has reached the closest courier depot.
All students must be prepared to go to their local courier depot if the delivery cannot be made to the identified mailing address. When contacted by the courier service please confirm the location of the nearest depot.

Learning Resource Package Returns

For Students who wish to return learning resource materials to AU, please forward them via courier. If such materials are being returned please contact AU course materials via telephone (800-788-9041 ext 6366) or [email protected].

Library Materials

Due to the range of material requests received by the Library, materials may be delivered in a number of ways.
1) Patrons who live in the Edmonton or Calgary area may have items delivered to AU Edmonton or AU Calgary for pick up.
2) Patrons who live in close proximity to a university participating in the Canadian University Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement (CURBA) may use their COPPUL cards to borrow materials from these universities. Patrons who do not have a COPPUL card, but who wish to receive one may contact the Library to request that a card be emailed to them. The physical COPPUL card will be sent to the patron once the strike is over.
3) Patrons may request that physical items be couriered to them, at their expense.
4) Some items may be available through Interlibrary Loan. To discuss this option, please contact the Library.
5) Library staff will also be available during the strike to assist patrons in finding relevant materials, and are happy to help in this way.
6) Students may also find it beneficial to talk with their tutors about resources for assignments.

Lab Kits

Students requesting Chemistry and Biology lab kits will be unaffected. Please use your course link to make your request for a lab kit.

Students requesting Physics lab kits should refer to the Library Materials section of this document.

Returned Exams for Marking

AU has implemented procedures within each Faculty to minimize any disruptions to the exam marking process. Tutors and markers are advised to check with their course assistant for any special procedures that may have been established.

Assignment Submission

Students should not mail any assignments. Most courses allow students to submit assignments electronically for marking through the assignment drop-box for their course which can be accessed through their course link in the myAU student portal. If the course does not have an assignment drop-box, then students should submit their assignments via email to their tutor.

It is the student's responsibility to ensure their assignments are received prior to their contract end date for undergraduate courses and within the established deadlines for the submission of an assignment for graduate courses.

Assignment Return to Student

Wherever possible, tutors and markers should return marked assignments or assignment feedback to students electronically and should continue to enter student grades electronically into the Newton system as per normal established process.

Assignment Return to Athabasca University

Tutors and Markers are advised to check with their course assistant for any special procedures that may have been established.


Slave Lake Fire Updatesmore . . .  

Athabasca University is working with the Athabasca region emergency services to provide support to residents of Slave Lake who have been displaced by the devastating fires last weekend.

To keep the AU community informed about the latest developments in this emergency, the university is providing daily updates on this webpage. Please also note the standing information below.

How to Help

  • Donate via Athabasca County
    Athabasca County is accepting cash donations 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the front desk of their main administration building. Tax receipts will be issued. Call 780-675-2273 and select 0.
  • Donate via Morinville Chamber of Commerce
    The Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce is accepting cash donations to aid the Slave Lake business community.
    Call Jaye Parrent, manager, at 780-939-9462.

For More Information

  • Government of Alberta: 310-4455 (toll-free)
    Call this number for information about wildfires, highway closures, phone numbers, and websites with more information.
  • Red Cross: 1-800-565-4483
  • Alberta Health Services: 1-866-301-2668
    This number is for family members looking for information on where medical patients have been moved.
  • Information for Students Affected by Wildfires
    Alberta Education has set up this website.
  • Alberta Wildfire Info on Facebook
  • Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
    Wildfire status updates and reports are available here.



May 30, 2011

Final Slave Lake fire update

Late last week the Slave Lake fire evacuees were given permission by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Slave Lake to return to their community through a phased re-entry schedule. As a result of this announcement, the Athabasca Multiplex is no longer being used as an evacuee reception centre.

The Internet Cyber Cafe has been shut down and the Athabasca University boardrooms that had been used to provide schooling space for the Slave Lake students have been returned to their original purposes.

The evacuees who were staying in RVs and travel trailers in the university parking lot have also returned to Slave Lake and the lot is available for staff and visitor parking.

Everyone's help, support and patience throughout this trying time have been appreciated. We would like to take this opportunity to pass on to our Slave Lake neighbours all of our heartfelt support as they begin re-building their community.


May 26, 2011

Phased re-entry into Slave Lake and area starts today. The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Slave Lake has determined that a phased re-entry into the community can commence. The Athabasca Multiplex, which has been used as an evacuee reception and information centre will be vacated over the course of the next several days.

As a result, Athabasca University's Convocation will commence as originally planned at the Athabasca Multiplex on June 9-11. Plans are moving forward to ensure that convocation continues to be AU's showcase event.

For further information on the phased re-entry, please visit:



May 24, 2011

The number of evacuees at the Athabasca Multiplex reception centre this past long weekend was 27 with another 130 staying onsite in RVs being accommodated in the Athabasca University parking lot. Over 600 displaced evacuees that are located in the Athabasca region are being fed daily at the reception centre.

Please do not drop off donated items at the Athabasca Multiplex reception centre, however cash donations are welcome.

Volunteers are needed in all areas. If you are able to volunteer your time to the Slave Lake support effort, please drop in to the volunteer desk at the Athabasca Multiplex (2 University Drive) and sign up for a shift. Any help is very much appreciated.

For the latest information on the fire situation, please visit the Government of Alberta website at http://alberta.ca/home/index.cfm

May 20, 2011

The number of evacuees at the Athabasca reception centre is down from approximately 2000 on Monday to just over 100 plus an additional 50 RVs being accommodated in the Athabasca University parking lot. As of May 19, Housing and Canadian Red Cross officials are onsite at the Edmonton, Athabasca and Westlock reception centres to help displaced residents find more comfortable, interim accommodation.

CBC Radio-Canada is onsite at Athabasca University today reporting on the Slave Lake situation.

With the Victoria Day weekend upon us, Athabasca University has been asked to help out with a call for some additional volunteers to work through the long weekend. If you are able to volunteer your time to the Slave Lake support effort, please drop in to the volunteer desk at the Athabasca Multiplex and sign up for a shift. Any help is very much appreciated.

May 19, 2011

Maps outlining the Slave Lake fire damage - released as of today.

May 18, 2011

  • Athabasca is 115 kilometres south of Slave Lake. There is no threat to the town or the university.
  • The Athabasca Regional Multiplex has been designated an emergency evacuation centre. It's now housing several hundred evacuees from the Slave Lake area.
  • The university has made RV parking available at the main campus in Athabasca for those who have been displaced.
  • The university is also providing overflow parking at the Tim Byrne Centre in Athabasca.
  • At the main campus, evacuees can access Internet and telephone services and washrooms/showers during the day.
  • Approximately 1,000 students have been displaced. This morning AU was able to repurpose some boardroom space to accommodate 45 students who are being taught by evacuated district teachers and staff. A classroom schedule is being developed to facilitate the teaching sessions.
  • AU is proceeding with Convocation (June 9-11) as previously planned. However, we are developing contingency plans in case it becomes necessary to hold convocation events outside the multiplex. We will inform everyone of these plans as necessary.
Athabasca University joins eCampusAlbertamore . . .  

One of the fastest growing online education consortiums in North America is excited to announce that one of the world's leading institutions in the field of distance education, Athabasca University, has joined eCampusAlberta.

"It's an honour to welcome Athabasca University into the eCampusAlberta consortium. For many decades, Athabasca University has been among the world's leading institutions in the field of distance education and the university offers a wealth of experience that will be a great benefit to students in Alberta who are pursuing their studies online. The eCampusAlberta consortium will benefit from Athabasca's expertise as it moves ahead with the expansion of student services and further enhancing the quality of online education offered by the membership," says eCampusAlberta's Chair of the Board of Directors and President and CEO of Medicine Hat College, Ralph Weeks.

eCampusAlberta's membership now includes 16 Alberta post-secondary institutions - 11 colleges, two polytechnical institutions and three universities.

Athabasca University brings extensive experience and expertise in the field of distance education to the consortium and provides increased opportunities to:

- share practices and efforts related to the enhancement of faculty and learner support services;
- share best practices information for online education in an effort to afford efficiencies in Alberta's online education offerings;
- support research initiatives on innovative practices in the administration of online learning efforts;
- and promote greater opportunities for dialogue within the online learning community in Alberta

"We are delighted to be working together with our e-campus partners to provide increased opportunities for online learners. The partnership will encourage greater support for learners and enhance the quality and effectiveness of online programming for Albertans," says Margaret Haughey, Vice President, Academic, Athabasca University.

Athabasca's membership in eCampusAlberta enables the university to determine how best to work with its eCampusAlberta partners in the future and is a further step towards the realization of the Campus Alberta vision provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology.


Tricia Donovan
Executive Director
[email protected]

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]

Paul Rescanski
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
[email protected]


Canada Film Online receives $330,627 federal grantmore . . .  

The Canada Interactive Fund has awarded Athabasca University a $330,627 grant for Canada Film Online, a new project that will create a unique interactive resource highlighting the history of filmmaking in Canada. The university plans to add 50 films to its current collection of anglophone and francophone films providing a platform for interactive opportunities for film students and the general public.

Through such interactive tools as wikis and GIS technologies, users will be able to track patterns of film development, employing the database to generate charts, graphs and timelines, submit commentaries for review and inclusion, and contribute to the information available on feature film-making since the 1960s. Included in the database will be dates, funding sources, names of producers, directors, and actors. To further the project goal of developing a comprehensive resource for film scholars, researchers will develop summaries of relevant federal and provincial film development policies and tax and other incentives, with lists and dates of films funded. The university will pursue this project in collaboration with the National Film Board, Library and Archives Canada, Telefilm Canada, Directors Guild of Canada, Canadian Association of Film & Television Producers, and L'Elephant.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
[email protected]


Export Award for Athabasca Universitymore . . .  

The Alberta Chamber of Commerce has awarded its 2011 Export Award of Distinction to Athabasca University. The award was announced at a ceremony in Edmonton on Friday, March 4th. The award was one of several presented at the annual ceremony that recognizes the province's top business performers.

"I would like to applaud the Chambers of Commerce for seeing the power and impact of a slightly different kind of export-one that does not involve a manufactured product in the traditional sense, but one that contributes mightily to our province's and our country's productivity and global influence," said Dr. Deborah Hurst, associate dean of AU's Faculty of Business. Hurst accepted the award on behalf of AU president, Dr. Frits Pannekoek.

"As Canada's leading distance and online education university, we export knowledge and education, and we do that on a global level. This award is an acknowledgement of the value of these exports and confirms their impact on our dynamic, global knowledge economy," she said.

Athabasca University has students in more than 80 countries worldwide. The university has derived more than $7.5 million in revenue from exports over the past three years.

For more information, contact:

Jim McLeod
Manager, Events and Community Relations
[email protected]


Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Architecture launchedmore . . .  

EDMONTON  - Architecture Canada | RAIC and Athabasca University joined together at a reception today to celebrate the approval by the Alberta Government of a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Architecture to be offered through the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

"We are very pleased to see this program offered through Athabasca University. It will soon provide students across Canada with a path into the profession of architecture based on a unique work-study program that includes employment experience in the office of an Architect," said Stuart Howard, FRAIC President, Architecture Canada.

"We're delighted we've been able to partner with RAIC in offering this much-needed new program," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University. "The Mission of the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University includes the provision of inclusive professional architectural education that meets the highest standards of excellence and leads to professional certification. It also allows us to break down barriers for foreign-trained architects so they can work in Canada."

Professional practice courses will begin to be offered in the spring with other courses being added to the curriculum as they become available.

The existing RAIC Syllabus program will continue to fully operate in its current form while courses are developed for delivery through Athabasca University. Once the new program is fully operational, students will continue to have the option of pursuing the existing model of a work-study experience-based path to practice while taking courses through Athabasca-or supplement this by taking additional courses resulting in academic credentials from Athabasca.

This diploma is subject to the Department of Advanced Education and Technology's Key
Performance Indicators and Learner and Enrolment Reporting System practices and therefore falls under the Tuition Fee Regulation and is eligible for designation for student financial support. It has been made possible through funding made available to Architecture Canada | RAIC by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association. Funding will also come from Athabasca University's program development fund, to be allocated over the first two years of implementation.

Serving over 38,000 students, Athabasca University, Canada's Open University, is dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide.

Architecture Canada | RAIC is a voluntary national association established in 1907 as the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. Representing more than 4,300 architects, the RAIC is the leading voice of architecture in Canada. Its mission is:

• To affirm that architecture matters;
• To celebrate the richness and diversity of architecture in Canada; and
• To support architects in achieving excellence.


For more information:

Please visit our website

or contact Carol Mason [email protected]


Athabasca University awarded UNESCO/COL Chair in Open Educational Resourcesmore . . .  

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Vancouver-based Commonwealth of Learning (COL) have announced the creation of a new Chair in Open Educational Resources (OER) for Athabasca University. The chair will be held by Dr. Rory McGreal, AU's Associate Vice-president of Research. This is the first UNESCO chair to be created in Alberta and the prairie provinces. The announcement was made today at Government House in Edmonton.

As UNESCO/COL Chair, Dr. McGreal will be responsible for promoting the use of OERs at the institutional, national and international levels, particularly in the developing world. Athabasca University is committed to using OER and to opening its learning content and applications online for free access. AU is the first university in Canada to do so and is committed to sharing open content with other universities and colleges across Canada and internationally. Students, educators and institutions anywhere will be able to access the content wherever they have an Internet connection.

"I am a firm supporter of UNESCO's contribution to the United Nations Millennium Development goal of ‘Education for All'. The new UNESCO Chair in Open Educational Resources will make tangible contributions to meeting this goal, especially for learners who are unable to attend traditional classes," said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. "I congratulate Athabasca University on its commitment to creating the Chair in conformity with the demanding UNESCO Chair criteria. I also wish to extend my congratulations to Dr. Rory McGreal and assure him of my support."

The chair is supported by the Commonwealth of Learning, an intergovernmental organization created by Commonwealth governments to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL President and C.E.O., Sir John Daniel, noted that "As a member of Athabasca University staff in the 1970s I am delighted to see this new manifestation of its commitment to opening up education and thrilled that COL is a partner. The OER movement will benefit greatly from the intellectual and practical support provided by this Chair as it strives to make a truly useful contribution to learning for development."

The Government of Alberta has welcomed the announcement of the chair.
"Alberta's post-secondary institutions have earned an international reputation as leaders and innovators," said the Honourable Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. "This UNESCO Chair recognizes Athabasca University's commitment to making education more accessible to Albertans and students around the world."

Open Education Resources (OERs) are teaching and learning materials freely available online for everyone to use, including instructors, students, or self-learners. Examples of OERs include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.

"With new and more restrictive copyright legislation in the works, OERs are becoming essential for educators at all levels," said Dr. McGreal. "The survival of our educational institutions depends on increasing our use of OERs. Let's make the right decision."

Dr. McGreal's appointment is effective immediately.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Mobile learning research gets a major boost from CFImore . . .  

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded $346,142 to Athabasca University to support Open Social Mobile Systems for eLearning Research (OSMoSYS) led by Dr. Jon Dron
of the School for Computing and Information Systems. The announcement was made earlier today in Guelph, Ontario by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology.

"The investment being announced today at Atahabasca University wil further enhance our country's reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers," said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, President and CEO of the CFI. "They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world."

Dr. Rory McGreal, AU's Associate Vice-president of Research, welcomed CFI's investment in OSMoSYS.

"The equipment for this CFI project will enable AU researchers to experiment with the creation, adaptation, dissemination and distribution of learning activities and content via mobile devices," he said. "For example, the 3D scanners will be used for digitizing physical historical artefacts,
like aboriginal cultural items such as headdresses, axes, mukluks, knives and other objects. These will then be made available for study by researchers and accessible to the public using their mobile phones, tablets and netbooks."

"For me, the great thing about this award is the opportunities for connected learning and research that it affords. The research that will be enabled through this project cuts across many disciplinary areas and enables a diverse group of researchers to extend and enhance their
capabilities together and individually," said Dr. Jon Dron, Principal Investigator for OSMoSYS. "Connected and networked, these rich multimedia, mobile and social tools will enhance knowledge and learning in places and ways that have hitherto been difficult or impossible."

The CFI announced a total of $61,291,274 in new funds to support 246 projects at 48 institutions across Canada. For a complete list of projects awarded, please visit www.innovation.ca

The CFI is an independent corporation created by the government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. Since its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed $5.3 billion in support of more than 6800 projects across the country


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]



Athabasca University wins Association of Commonwealth Universities PR, Marketing and Communication Award more . . .  


Athabasca University's student recruitment publications AU Viewbook and the Book of Answers have won the 2010 Association of Commonwealth Universities award for student publications. The award was presented at the ACU's annual conference in Melbourne, Australia. A bursary for travel to attend this award ceremony was provided by ACU.

"Heather Newton, Advancement's marketing manager, took a leap of faith in overseeing the creation of AU's hip and cutting-edge Viewbook - a bright orange little booklet bursting with information potential AU students are looking for," said Nancy Biamonte, director of Marketing and Communication." Heather's leap of faith paid off. We are absolutely thrilled to be honoured by the Association of Commonwealth Universities as winner in the student publications category for AU's Viewbook."

The ACU PR, Marketing and Communications Network was launched in 2003 and currently has over 400 members across 300 institutions Commonwealth-wide. The network is open to communications professionals in all ACU member organisations. It brings together professionals in the field and provides a practical channel through which members can exchange experiences, share good practice and keep abreast of current thinking.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities was established in 1913 and is the oldest inter-university network in the world, with over 500 members on six continents.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]



Athabasca University launches new web-based Transfer Credit Search application more . . .  


The Office of the Registrar's new Transfer Credit Search application will allow students to search transfer credit decisions at Athabasca University by both course and program.

The new application has three features:

1) It allows students to see how courses taken at another institution transfer to Athabasca University

2) It allows students to see how programs taken through another institution transfer to AU

3) Students can use the application to search for AU course equivalents at other institutions

The Transfer Credit Search application is now available here.


Information Sessions - Online Executive MBAmore . . .  

(St. Albert, AB) - Representatives from Athabasca University's Faculty of Business will be hosting a series of information sessions on its online Executive MBA program in locations across Canada. The first session is in Kelowna, BC on December 6.

Launched in 1994 as the world's first online MBA, Athabasca University's MBA program has grown to become Canada's largest Executive MBA with over 800 students world-wide, and an alumni population of over 2500. In 2009, the Faculty of Business launched Canada's first online Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), continuing its tradition of excellence in online graduate management education.

Each information session provides a comprehensive overview of the Faculty's graduate management programs, followed by a question and answer session. Students and/or alumni share their own experiences in the program at these events.

To view the schedule, get information or to register, visit the Faculty of
Business Graduate Programs
web site.


For more information or to register for a session, visit:

Phone: 780-459-1144 or 1-800-561-4650
Email: [email protected]
Web site: www.mba.athabascau.ca (News and Events)


New Canada Research Chair for Athabasca Universitymore . . .  

Athabasca University professor Dr. Tracey Lindberg has been awarded a Canada Research Chair in in Traditional Knowledge, Legal Orders, and Laws. The announcement was made today in Toronto by the Honourable Tony Clement, Minster of Industry.

Dr. Lindberg's research will concentrate on identifying how Indigenous legal traditions can assist in the rejuvenation of certain Indigenous citizens' rights through the study of the identifying characteristics of specific Indigenous societies and their laws.

"The research I am undertaking is based in Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous knowledge related to Indigenous laws and legal traditions," said Dr. Lindberg. "While challenging, I am so honoured to work in this area with the Indigenous nations, communities and citizens that I am working with. This is an absolute joy to be able to do this work and I am exceedingly grateful to have been afforded the opportunity."

A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, she is the first Aboriginal woman from Canada to complete her master's degree in Law at Harvard University. She received the Governor
General's Gold Medal in 2007 from the University of Ottawa for her dissertation "Critical Indigenous Legal Theory". Dr. Lindberg is an Associate Professor in the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research at Athabasca University.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


AU Press publication wins Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fictionmore . . .  

John Leigh Walters' A Very Capable Life: The Autobiography of Zarah Petri has won the 2010 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. The book, published by Athabasca University Press in December 2009, was one of three finalists for the national award announced in Waterloo, Ont., on October 12.

The $10,000 annual award, administered by Wilfrid Laurier University, encourages and recognizes Canadian writers for a first or second work of creative nonfiction that includes a Canadian locale or that is significant to Canada.

In A Very Capable Life, Walters reshapes the autobiographical impulse by writing in the first-person voice of his mother, Zarah Petri. The author's use of Petri's colloquial and engaging narration makes the book part oral history, part memoir and part re-imagination of twentieth century events.

"Walters offers the story of his mother's journey from Hungary to Canada as a feminine picaresque with the indomitable Zarah in the dual roles of heroine and storyteller, said Laurier associate professor Tanis MacDonald, speaking on behalf of the Staebler Award jury. "In recreating his mother as a resourceful and often hilarious character, Walters' sustained act of literary ventriloquism captures the ingenuity and passion of the diasporic narrative in Canadian cultural history."

Walters, of Kitchener, Ont., has spent A lifetime writing, producing and hosting television programs in the United States and Canada. Most recently, he produced and hosted an interview program for CTV in Waterloo. Now retired, he has turned to writing memoir. A Very Capable Life is his first book.

The other finalists for the award were Lakeland: Journeys into the Soul of Canada by Allan Casey (Greystone Books) and Smiling Bears: A Zookeeper Explores the Behaviour and Emotional Life of Bears by Else Poulsen (Greystone Books).

For more information, please contact:

Walter Hildebrandt, Director
Athabasca University Press
[email protected]

Joseph Boyden named Writer in Residencemore . . .  

Joseph Boyden has been named Athabasca University's first writer-in-residence. The appointment is effective from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, and is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mr. Boyden is a novelist and short story writer whose works include his debut novel Three Day Road, which earned a nomination for the 2005 Governor General's Literary Award and Through Black Spruce, the 2008 winner of Canada's prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The focus of the writer-in-residence program is to allow creative time for the writer while enabling mentoring opportunities for emerging and established writers. Mr. Boyden will be working primarily with students from AU's Centre for Language and Literature, but will be available to all AU faculty and students. He intends to spend his residency researching and writing a historical novel, which will also lay the groundwork for the third book in the Three Day Road series.

"The residency will be of great benefit to me in that it will afford me the ability to focus on my own writing while working in depth with younger writers," says Mr. Boyden. "Having taught creative writing for fifteen years, I believe that there are so many vital pieces of knowledge a writer in his mid-career can share with hungry young artists. I'm passionate about my own work and think that it's absolutely vital to pass on this passion to others. As for the community, I hope to give readings and lectures, as well as making myself as available as possible to anyone who might be interested in the power of the written word."

Mr. Boyden, who grew up in Willowdale, Ontario, is of Irish, Scottish and Metis heritage. He studied creative writing at York University and the University of New Orleans. He divides his time between northern Ontario and his home in New Orleans.

For more information, contact:


Tara Friesen
Manager, Alumni Relations & Philanthropy
Phone: 403.294.7319
Cell: 403.651.1309
Email: [email protected]


Award of Excellence for sustained leadership in educational technologymore . . .  

George Siemens, project manager at AU's Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI), has been awarded the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education's Award of Excellence for sustained leadership in educational technology. AACE cited Siemens'continued innovation and leadership in the field as the basis for the award.

"The award, from a major international organization, recognizes the significant contributions Canadians make to the field of learning technologies internationally," says Siemens. He says it's also a recoginition of the important role of TEKRI and Athabasca University in fostering environments that produce world-leading research, innovation, and creativity.

"George is an internationally respected scholar who joined AU last year," says Dr. Rory McGreal, Associate Vice president, Research. "He is the principal developer of the theory of ‘connectivisim' making use of a network with nodes and connections as a central metaphor for
learning and of Massive Online Courses. I would like to congratulate him on receiving this prestigious award."

Siemens' works includes Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and Knowing Knowledge, a book that explores the impact of the changed context and characteristics of knowledge. Prior to joining Athabasca University, he was the Associate Director of the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba.

The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), founded in 1981, is an international, not-for-profit, educational organization with the mission of advancing information technology in education and e-learning research, development, learning, and its practical application.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


International award for AU researcher more . . .  

Dr. Janice Thomas has been awarded the Project Management Institute's (PMI's) 2010 Research Achievement Award. The award was announced July 13th, in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes and honours researchers who have significantly advanced the practice of project management through professionally conducted research.

Dr. Thomas received the award for her work exploring organizational change, team building and leadership in project management. Her research offers important insight into the understanding of how project management in organizations can be improved.

Dr. Thomas is well known internationally for her work in the field of project management. She has led a number of PMI-sponsored research projects and has done extensive research work in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Prior to joining Athabasca University, she worked as a project manager in the fields of information technology and organizational change.

Dr. Thomas is a Professor of Project Management and the Director of the Project management Research Centre in the Faculty of Business at AU.

For more information about Dr. Thomas, please visit: http://www.mba.athabascau.ca/titanweb/au/webcms.nsf/AllDoc/09F5C3D9B99AE99487256B6C006A0E07?OpenDocument

More information about project management at AU can be found here: https://pmri.athabascau.ca/


Athabasca University congratulates new Governor General on appointmentmore . . .  

The president of Athabasca University is delighted with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's selection of David Johnston as Canada's next Governor General. The appointment, which is effective October 1, was announced this morning in Ottawa.

"This is very good news, indeed," says Dr. Frits Pannekoek, "David Johnston represents the very best of Canada's academic community and this is a solid recognition of the important place post-secondary education plays in Canadian life. As we move more forcefully into the new knowledge economy, this appointment signals a strong degree of confidence in the role universities will play, both practically and symbolically."

Dr. Pannekoek's comments echo others in Canada's academic community.

"The Prime Minister has chosen a person of outstanding accomplishment, deep integrity, with a profound faith in Canada's future," says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. "David Johnston has been tireless in promoting the values and institutions that build a strong society, and is a passionate champion for Canada."

Mr. Johnston is currently the president of the University of Waterloo. During his presidency, that university has emerged as one of the world's premiere centres of excellence in high technology. He also holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and law degrees from Queen's University in Ontario and Cambridge University in England.

A noted constitutional expert, Mr. Johnston is a Companion of the Order of Canada and has headed McGill University in Montreal. He has taught at The University of Toronto, Queen's University, and the University of Western Ontario, where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Law.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


40th anniversary of Athabasca University more . . .  

Athabasca University was officially founded 40 years ago today.

The university was established by order in council of the Government of Alberta on June 25, 1970. The first AU course, World Ecology, was offered in 1973, and AU's first Convocation, for two graduates, was held in 1977. The university achieved self-governing status as Alberta's fourth public university on April 12, 1978

Originally conceived as a traditional campus-based institution, AU was tasked with exploring new procedures in curriculum and instruction.

"I think we can safely say the university has succeeded in that mandate," says Dr. Frits Pannekoek, president of Athabasca University. "Many years ago, we embraced the open access concept, and have developed it over the past 40 years to the point where we are now considered world leaders in open and distance education. It's a long way to come in four decades, and it's all due to the quality of the faculty, our other staff and, of course, our students."

Athabasca University serves more than 38,000 students annually, offering more than 700 courses in 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students from across Canada, and 84 countries around the world, take AU programs and courses in arts, science and professional disciplines.
More than 74% of Athabasca University graduates are the first in their families to earn a university degree.


Athabasca University Convocation 2010more . . .  

For Immediate Release


AU is awarding degrees to 1487 outstanding graduates at Convocation ceremonies June 10-12, 2010 in Athabasca, Alberta. 947 undergraduate and 540 graduate degrees will be conferred over the three days.

The university is also conferring honorary doctorates on three outstanding individuals during Convocation.
On Thursday, June 10, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Hon. Raymond Charles Lee in recognition of his dedication to the preservation of Chinese Canadian history in Alberta, to the integration of Asian Canadians into the mainstream of Canadian society and to fostering understanding, openness and good relations between Asian and non Asian Canadians. Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Lee was appointed as a Citizenship Judge for Calgary, Alberta in December 2006 and served in this capacity until November, 2009.

On Friday, June 11, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Mr. Bill St. Arnaud in recognition of his technical leadership in the design of Canada's national research network (CANARIE) and his tireless efforts to promote the effective utilization of this network. Mr. St. Arnaud is a member of the Internet Society and in 2005 was the recipient of the World Technology Network (WTN) Communications Technology Award.

On Saturday, June 12, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Lawrence Lessig in recognition of his outstanding work in advocacy and support of fair copyright legislation. Dr. Lessig is a strong advocate of fair use, open access and open source. Prior to his current tenure at Harvard University, he served as a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founded the school's Center for Internet and Society. Dr. Lessig also clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

The Honorary Awards Committee is also pleased to announce the 2010 recipients of the Order of Athabasca University.

On Friday, June 11, 2010, Dr. Dominique Abrioux will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of his leadership and exemplary service to the university. Dr. Abrioux served Athabasca University from 1978 to 2005 holding the position of President from
February, 1995 to May, 2005. During his tenure as President, student enrolment increased to three times what it was at the commencement of his first term, several new programs were opened, the Centre for Research and the Centre for Innovative Management were established and three Canada Research Chairs were awarded.

On Saturday, June 12, 2010 Mrs. Joy Romero will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of her leadership, support, and commitment during her tenure on Athabasca University Governing Council and for work in cultivating the launch of the Learning Communities Project, a major research and development initiative, designed to enhance learning opportunities for adults in northern, rural, remote and aboriginal communities in Alberta. During her tenure as Chair, Athabasca University emerged as a leader in governance principles and practices which led to being nominated for a national governance award. In addition, Mrs. Romero played an integral role in broadening public awareness of AU and its mission throughout Alberta and across Canada.

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]


New study questions dietary supplement advice more . . .  

For Immediate Release


New study warns of poor advice on dietary supplements

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (JACN) warns consumers against dietary supplement advice offered by health food stores. The study was conducted by Athabasca University researchers led by Dr. Norman Temple, Professor of Nutrition.

The study sampled nutritional advice offered by 192 health food stores and 56 pharmacies located across Canada. In 88% of the cases, the advice offered by health food stores was either unscientific (6%) or poorly supported by scientific literature (82%).

By contrast, pharmacies offered advice that is considered scientifically supportable 73% of the time.

"The lesson is pretty clear, stay away from health food stores when you're looking for advice about dietary supplements," says Dr. Norman Temple, the study's lead author. "If you are interested in taking a supplement, talk to a health care professional before you do. Doctors, dieticians and pharmacists are all excellent souces of solid advice backed up by science. Health food store employees are not."

The study points out numerous examples of misleading advice given to customers of health food stores, including advice about cancer treatments and remedies for Crohn's disease. Dr. Temple says some of the advice given by health food store employees could actually be dangerous if followed.

Studies conducted over the past decade indicate that as many as 70% of Canadians are regular users of dietary supplements. In the United States, the industry has sales of more than $22 billion annually.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
[email protected]

Dr. Norman Temple
Professor, Nutrition
[email protected]

TEKRI to host Social Media conference April 25-26, 2010more . . .  

Making sense of Social Media brings together newcomers and leading practitioners on how to use social media to connect with current and prospective clients, students, and employees and how to increase effectiveness of organizational communication.
Interactive panels, social meetings, show and tell, informal discussions, and networking opportunities will highlight social media innovations in Alberta, Canada, and around the world.
This conference is organized by the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University.

Keynote Speaker

Dave Snowden

Founder & Chief Scientific Officer of


Messy Coherence
The world of social computing can easily appear anarchistic and in its native form it is largely chaotic. Ideas get picked up and then transmitted and amplified without control leaving the response mechanisms of government and industry alike reeling in their wake. On the other hand, properly used the new tools and techniques offer radical ways of reducing risk through mass engagement of citizens, employees and customers in distributed decision making and research. Critically they offer the promise that will allow the formal organisation to better interact with the informal networks that are critical to its success and to do more with far less by managing those networks with purpose. This presentation will introduce basic models and principles, based on real world examples that delegates will be able to use after the event to inform their policy for the use of social computing.

• Increasing access to your customers through emerging technologies
• Social media, marketing, and PR
• Applying principles of open source to your organizations
• Developing a social media strategy
• Social media for non-profits and community activism
• Managing your "brand" in decentralized/distributed media environments
• Enterprise 2.0
• Effective use of mobiles for collaboration and customer service
• Opening up data
• Partnering with your customers: crowd sourcing and open sourcing for innovation
• Augmented reality
• Collaboration and distributed teams
• Location-aware computing and augmented reality
• Educational uses of social media
• Technological innovation in healthcare

Who should attend?

• Managers, learning developers, educators, business leaders, and healthcare professionals.
Making Sense of Social Media will provide a blend of policy and practical considerations on how to use emerging technologies strategically and effectively.

For registration information see the TEKRI website



University president reappointed for a second termmore . . .  

The Athabasca University Governing Council (AUGC) is pleased to announce the reapppointment of Dr. Frits Pannekoek as president of Athabasca University. The announcement was made today in Edmonton by Barry Walker, Chair, AUGC. The appointment is for a five-year term.

"We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Dr. Pannekoek's caliber agree to take on a second term as president of the university," said Walker. "He has worked tirelessly over the past five years to enhance the university's reputation in Alberta, across the country and internationally. We look forward to having Frits continue his personal goal of making Athabasca University the leading distance and online learning institution in the world."

Dr. Frits Pannekoek was appointed president of Athabasca University in June, 2005. Prior to his appointment, he served as Director of Information resources at the University of Calgary.

A native Albertan, Dr. Pannekoek holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Alberta, and a PhD from Queen's University. His academic specialty is western Canadian and indigenous history.

Dr. Pannekoek also serves as president of the International Council for Open and Distance education (ICDE), the leading global membership organization for the open and distance education community based in Oslo, Norway.


For more information, contact:

Barry Walker
Chair, Athabasca University Governing Council
780 428-8530
[email protected]


New website gives Canadians access to early immigrant experiencemore . . .  

Athabasca University is pleased to launch a new and unique website Connecting Canadians. (http://www.connectingcanadians.org)
Connecting Canadians provides individuals with a unique opportunity to explore early 20th Century Canadian newspapers online and to connect with their heritage. AU has digitized and deployed to the web more than 20 early immigrant newspapers in their original languages. All content is freely accessible and is keyword searchable. Some titles include:

o Latvian - Bavarijas Latviesu Vestnesis, and Brivais Latvietis
o Finnish - Canadian Uutiset, Isien Usko, Leikki, Viikkosanomat and Vapaus Sana
o Ukrainian - Edmonton Ukranian News, Homin Ukrainy, Ukrainian Toiler and Ukrainian Weekly
o Yugoslavian - Jedinstvo, and Nasa Novine
o Hungarian - Kanadai Magyarsae, and Magyar Elet
o Lithuanian - Liaudies Balsas
o Estonian - Vaba Estlane
o Croatian - Novosti
o Serbian - Serbian Herald
o Polish - Zwilazkowiec Alliancer

Communication between immigrants and their loved ones in the home country in the pre-internet, television and radio age relied heavily on newspapers. As a result, immigrant newspapers document the earliest years of immigrant experience in Canada. Often the newspapers were published in the heritage language of the community, making them an invaluable resource for descendants of immigrants, students and teachers of the immigrant experience, as well as genealogists.
The Connecting Canadians project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.

For more information, contact:
John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
[email protected]


University to unveil additions to permanent art collectionmore . . .  

Community members and media are invited to view an exhibit of recent additions to Athabasca University's permanent art collection. The tripartite exhibit, comprising New Arrivals, the Hunt Donation and Collections Highlights will be on display from March to May, 2010.

Local artist Joan Sherman, whose work has been added the Athabasca University's collection this year, will be in attendance.

What: Exhibit of additions to Athbasca University's permanent art collection

Where: Front hallway, Athabasca University

When: Thursday, March 4, 6:00 p.m.


For more information, please contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


New study proves value of prior learning assessmentmore . . .  


CHICAGO - A new study shows a practice called Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) could be a key to increasing college graduation rates - a goal President Obama highlighted in the State of Union address. In the study, PLA students graduated at double the rate of non-PLA students and they saved between 2.5 and 10.1 months of time in earning their degrees.
Many colleges offer PLA to help adults earn college credit for learning they have gained outside of the classroom, including employment, military training and service, travel, hobbies, civic activities and volunteer service. PLA advocates have long argued that by helping students earn credits faster and at a lower cost, PLA has a large effect on students' progress toward a degree.
Lumina Foundation for Education funded the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to conduct a large, multi-college study to study the outcomes of PLA students. The study used student record data from 48 colleges and universities. The foundation was interested in the study because of the potential to help meet its goal of college credentials for 60 percent of the U.S. population by 2025. Go to www.cael.org for a copy of Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success: A 48-Institution Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Student Outcomes.
"When 56 percent of students with prior learning assessment earn degrees within seven years compared to 21 percent of students without prior learning assessment who do not, that's a ‘sit up and take notice' finding," notes Jamie Merisotis, CEO of Lumina Foundation. "CAEL's research confirms that prior learning assessment can help adults move faster toward their associate and baccalaureate degrees. We need to see more institutions offering this option and more adults participating in it."

Athabasca University was one of only two Canadian universities selected for the study.


The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a national leader in the fields of adult learning and workforce development, providing colleges and universities, companies, labor organizations and state and local governments with the tools and strategies they need for creating practical, effective lifelong learning solutions. With a membership of over 600 colleges, universities, corporations, labor unions, associations, and individuals, CAEL is headquartered in Chicago and also maintains offices in Denver, Philadelphia, and New York City. More information is available at www.cael.org.

Lumina Foundation for Education is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college - especially low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Our goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change.


Pamela Tate, President & CEO, CAEL - 312-499-2681
Dr. Judy Wertheim, VP for Higher Education Services, CAEL - 312-499-2659




University announces 2010 honorary degree recipientsmore . . .  

The Honorary Awards Committee of Athabasca University Governing Council is pleased to announce the recipients of the Honorary Degrees to be presented at Convocation on June 10, 11 and 12, 2010.

On Thursday, June 10, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Hon. Raymond Charles Lee in recognition of his dedication to the preservation of Chinese Canadian history in Alberta, to the integration of Asian Canadians into the mainstream of Canadian society and to fostering understanding, openness and good relations between Asian and non Asian Canadians. Mr. Lee played a leadership role at the national level in reconciling longstanding misunderstandings between Chinese Canadians and their fellow citizens. He also served as an advisor in the development of national policy in this regard, and his work helped lead to the Prime Minister's historic 2006 apology to the Chinese Canadian community for the Chinese head tax and the Exclusion Act with which it was associated. Mr. Lee was appointed as a Citizenship Judge for Calgary, Alberta in December 2006 and served in this capacity until
November, 2009.

On Friday, June 11, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Mr. Bill St. Arnaud in recognition of his technical leadership in the design of Canada's national research network and his tireless efforts to promote the effective utilization of this network. During his tenure as Director of Network Projects at CANARIE, Inc., Mr. St. Arnaud championed the
building of an academic research network across Canada based on emerging fibre-optic technologies. This enabled an almost unlimited supply of bandwidth for academic communications and research. Mr. St. Arnaud is a member of the Internet Society and in 2005 was the recipient of the World Technology Network (WTN) Communications Technology Award.

On Saturday, June 12, 2010 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Lawrence Lessig in recognition of his outstanding work in advocacy and support of fair copyright legislation. Dr. Lessig is a strong advocate of fair use, open access and open source. Dr. Lessig
has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award and was named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries for his argument "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online". Dr. Lessig is currently the Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Prior to his current tenure at Harvard University, he served as a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founded the school's Center for Internet and Society. Dr. Lessig also clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

The Honorary Awards Committee is also pleased to announce the 2010 recipients of the Order of Athabasca University.

On Friday, June 11, 2010, Dr. Dominique Abrioux will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of his leadership and exemplary service to the university. Dr. Abrioux served Athabasca University from 1978 to 2005 holding the position of President from
February, 1995 to May, 2005. During his tenure as President, student enrolment increased to three times what it was at the commencement of his first term, several new programs were opened, the Centre for Research and the Centre for Innovative Management were established and
three Canada Research Chairs were awarded. He presided over the transition in course delivery models from mail to internet and he launched the Athabasca University MBA. His passion for academic excellence and his commitment to students were large contributors to realizing this vision and making Athabasca University the institution it is today.

On Saturday, June 12, 2010 Mrs. Joy Romero will be inducted into the Order of Athabasca University in recognition of her leadership, support, and commitment during her tenure on Athabasca University Governing Council and for work in cultivating the launch of the Learning
Communities Project, a major research and development initiative, designed to enhance learning opportunities for adults in northern, rural, remote and aboriginal communities in Alberta. During her tenure as Chair, Athabasca University emerged as a leader in governance principles and practices which led to being nominated for a national governance award. In addition, Mrs. Romero played an integral role in broadening public awareness of AU and its mission throughout Alberta and across Canada.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


New chair named to Athabasca University Governing Councilmore . . .  

The Honourable Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology has announced that Barry Walker, FCA has been appointed Chair, Athabasca University Governing Council (AUGC). The appointment was announced this morning in Edmonton. Walker has been a public member of AUGC since August, 2004.

"I feel very honoured to be selected chair of Athabasca University Governing Council," said Walker. "AU has a very important mission in removing barriers to education, not just for students in Alberta, but for students from across the country. We are a recognized world leader in distance education, and I'm committed to maintaining and growing that reputation."

Walker is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta and a partner with Peterson Walker LLP. He succeeds Joy Romero as Chair. Romero has held the position since October, 2006.

"I'd like to thank Joy Romero for her excellent leadership as the outgoing chair of AUGC. Under her guidance and dedication, the university has seen unprecedented growth, and we have undertaken many important new initiatives to enhance post-secondary educational opportunities for our students."

Walker has a long record of involvement with a variety of community organizations including the Arthritis Association of Edmonton, the Volunteer Centre of Edmonton and the Glengarry Child Care Society.

During his term on AUGC, he has served as chair of the Audit and Finance committees and as a member of the Executive and Human Resources Standing Committees.

His appointment is effective immediately.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Geophysical Observatory receives provincial grantmore . . .  

The Alberta Science and Research Investments Program has awarded $712,261 to AU's Geophysical Observatory. The announcement was made this morning in Edmonton by Alberta Advanced Education and Technology minister Doug Horner as part of a package of $44 million in research grants to Alberta's universities.

"Education and science lie at the heart of our future prosperity," said Minister Horner, "These continued research awards help attract and retain the best and brightest researchers and, in turn, help improve the competitiveness of our industries."

The Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory is dedicated to the study of the near Earth environment, particularly the aurora, or Northern Lights. Magnetic fields associated with the aurora are known to sometimes disrupt electrical power grids.

The research is led by Dr. Martin Connors, Canada Research Chair in Space Science. Earlier this year, Athabasca University received a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant of $661,297 for upgrades to the observatory.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Federal and Provincial Investment to Create Jobs and Support Increased Access to Online Learning Opportunities more . . .  

Athabasca, Alberta

Brian Jean, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray - Athabasca, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced support towards enhancing online learning opportunities through Athabasca University.

"Our Government, through Canada's Economic Action Plan, is supporting communities hardest hit in these tough economic times," said MP Jean. "This project will create immediate jobs and provide students with the ability to further their education online to prepare them for the future."

Athabasca University will employ individuals possessing basic computer skills for the purpose of converting the content of 450 existing courses to a digital format compatible with online learning. The digitization of courses will enhance the learning experience of Athabasca University students. In turn, students will be able to apply the skills and competencies they acquire in practical contexts, which will broaden their career opportunities and benefit employers.

"This program supports the Campus Alberta goal to provide opportunities for more students in more places," said the Honourable Doug Horner, Minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology. "This welcome investment will help ensure that when economic growth returns, Alberta will be ready with a skilled and literate workforce that is prepared for opportunities in the knowledge-based economy."

Federal funding of $3.2 million is being provided through the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan. The Government of Alberta is also providing $1.2 million.

"The course digitization project will provide a new foundation that we can adapt to emerging technologies in the coming years, paving the way for Athabasca University to become a world leader in the use of new technologies for learning," said Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University. "We're grateful to both levels of government for their leadership in allowing us to undertake this massive project, which we otherwise could not initiate at this time."

A part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) is a two-year, $1 billion national program that will provide an economic stimulus by supporting projects that create jobs and maintain employment in rural communities.

The fund will provide $306 million over two years to support the most affected western Canadian communities, such as those that are heavily reliant on resource-based industries, for instance forestry, mining, agriculture and fisheries, and communities that depend on the manufacturing industry. Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is delivering the fund in the four western provinces.

Visit the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) in the West (http://www.wd.gc.ca/eng/11269.asp) or Canada's Economic Action Plan (http://www.actionplan.gc.ca/eng/index.asp) for more information.


For more information contact:

Donna Kinley
Regional Manager, Communications
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Phone: (780) 495-6892 or Cell: (780) 991-7432)


John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
Phone: (403) 990-1131


University participates in international Open Access Weekmore . . .  

Athabasca University is hosting a number of activities from October 19-23, 2009, to celebrate international Open Access Week. The university will be joining more than 40 other post-secondary educational institutions around the world to promote wider access to publicly-funded research and to support policies that ensure access to that research.

"Open access includes making the results of one's publicly funded research available to all the public. But more, it implies the opportunity and responsibility to share and benefit as much as possible from the work of others," says Dr. Terry Anderson, Canada Research Chair in Distance Education and editor of the open access journal International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. "Many of our problems are too large and too important, for solutions to be hidden behind proprietary or ego barriers."

The university will present a series of five noon-hour webcasts exploring major issues and opportunities presented by open access. Each session will feature an internationally-known promoter and developer of open access resources, research and ideas.

"The objective of organizing the AU Open Access week is to promote awareness and understanding of open access to research, teaching, learning and knowledge dissemination within the AU community and the general public," says Tony Tin, Head of Digital Initiatives and Electronic Resources at AU.

More information on Open Access Week activities can be found at http://openaccess.athabascau.ca/ and http://www.openaccessweek.org/


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]

WHL and Athabasca University Announce New Education Partnershipmore . . .  

Edmonton, AB - The Western Hockey League and Athabasca University announced today they have entered into a new partnership which will improve access WHL players have to post-secondary University level courses while playing in WHL centres throughout Western Canada and Northwestern United States.

Under the new partnership, Athabasca University will offer, through online and other distance education vehicles, fully accredited university courses to any WHL player interested in further pursuing post-secondary studies while playing in the WHL. Given the flexibility the Athabasca University courses provide, WHL players will be able to combine their university course studies with a demanding hockey schedule. As part of the comprehensive WHL Education and Scholarship program offered to all WHL players, WHL Clubs will cover the cost of the post-secondary courses offered by Athabasca University.

The new partnership brings together two Alberta-based organizations fully committed to offering the highest standard of university courses through a flexible learning model. For close to 40 years, Athabasca University has been Canada's leading provider of online and distance university education. Athabasca University, which currently serves of 37,000 students worldwide, is committed to the removal of barriers for students interested in attaining a University education. The WHL is the leading provider of hockey scholarships in Western Canada, awarding over 400 scholarships each year to current and graduate players. The WHL, a leading supplier of talent to the National Hockey League, provides the top young prospects in the West the opportunity to play at the highest level in the system without compromising their academic goals.

"The WHL and Member Clubs are fully committed to ensuring all of our players have access to post-secondary courses while playing in the WHL," commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, "Our new agreement will provide WHL players with improved access to fully accredited university courses delivered online through Athabasca university. This new mobile education initiative will allow us to remove any obstacle for players who wish to take university courses while playing in the WHL."

Lori van Rooijen, Vice President, Advancement at Athabasca University says the partnership with the WHL is a perfect fit with the goals of the University, which prides itself on distance learning post-secondary education, a challenge many professional athletes who spend many days on the road face.

"Traditional universities and colleges have fixed classrooms and fixed schedules. It's often extremely difficult for professors to adapt to a player's schedule," said van Rooijen, "We don't have that problem here."
Athabasca University is the only Canadian Public University accredited in the United States. This international accreditation will provide WHL players, playing in any of the U.S. based WHL Clubs, the opportunity to access Canadian University accredited courses.

About the Athabasca University
Athabasca University is one of the world's foremost and fastest growing distance and e-learning centres. Athabasca University serves over 38,000 graduate and undergraduate students and offers more than 700 courses in 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees, diploma and certificate programs. Athabasca University is a publicly funded, comprehensive university which reports to the Government of Alberta through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology. Athabasca University has more than 350 articulation agreements with other post-secondary institutions which allows students to easily transfer course credits.

About the Western Hockey League
The Western Hockey League is comprised of 22 Member Clubs based throughout Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The WHL is regarded as one of the finest development Leagues in the world today and continues to be a leading supplier of talent to the NHL and Canada's National teams. The WHL allows players the opportunity to reach their full potential on and off the ice, awarding over 400 WHL post-secondary scholarships each year to players looking to further their education. The WHL are members of the Canadian Hockey League, together with the Quebec and Ontario Hockey Leagues.


Celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2009more . . .  

Change was in the air. For the first time, festivities were held in the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, but what didn't change was the excitement experienced by graduates and their families, many of whom travelled great distances to celebrate an educational milestone.

View photo album


Alberta poised to become an international leader in open educationmore . . .  

A new international organization designed to assist education institutions in reducing costs through open education materials has been officially launched. Athabasca University is a founding member of the international Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation. Professor Rory McGreal of Athabasca University is the Canadian OER representative. He signed the Cape Town Open Education Declaration today.

The foundation will promote the use of OER materials worldwide. These are cost-free lessons and other learning materials, which educators are free to reuse, adapt and modify without restriction.

"In education, we must go forward", said Dr McGreal, "restrictive copyright laws can best be addressed by supporting collaborative approaches to the creation of learning content."

The OER Foundation is as an open collaborative organization that invites all education institutions throughout the world to join, especially during the global celebrations of software freedom day on 19 September where the world reflects on the benefits of sharing technology freely.

Athabasca University is the host of WikiEducator, http://WikiEducator.org. WikiEducator is an evolving online community supporting the collaborative development of education projects linked with the development of free content for e-learning. WikiEducator supports the freedom of all learners to access learning with the technologies and content of their choice through the use of Open Source technology tools and open access content.

Alberta is well positioned to play an international leadership role in the evolution of OERs. AU is taking the lead in providing support for the OER Foundation to support the development of an international OER commons.

U.S. President Barak Obama recently launched a similar open source clearinghouse for courses under the American Graduation Initiative. He said, "We do not know where this kind of experiment will lead; but that is exactly why we ought to try it."

Alberta's lead may provide President Obama with valuable insights for realizing the vision of the US Graduation initiative.

Athabasca University is Canada's Open University, based in Athabasca Alberta. It is committed to opening up learning and making it accessible to all.

The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education. The OER Foundation is headquartered at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin New Zealand.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Rory McGreal
Associate Vice-president, Research
Athabasca University
[email protected]


New academic structure to make university more efficient and accessiblemore . . .  

Athabasca University is changing its academic structure to better manage the institution's growth and diversity of course offerings. Four new faculties have been created to streamline academic operations and to make the university's academic structure more transparent to new students and faculty in other institutions.

The four new faculties are; Business, Health Disciplines, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science and Technology.

Dr. Alex Kondra has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Business, Dr. Donna Romyn will be the university's new Dean of the Faculty of Health Disciplines, Dr. Jeff Taylor has accepted an appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Lisa Carter will be Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology.

"The faculty structure will make our current centre structure more understandable to new students and to faculty from other universities in search of colleagues in similar disciplines," says Dr. Margaret Haughey, Vice-president, Academic. "It will reduce administrative inefficiencies and increase faculty involvement and sense of ownership."

Previously, all Centre directors reported directly to the Vice-president, Academic. Under the new model, most will report directly to the Dean.

The four faculty model breaks down as follows:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Centre for Language and Literature
  • Centre for Psychology
  • Centre for Integrated Studies
  • Centre for State and Legal Studies
  • Centre for Work and Community Studies
  • Centre for Global and Social Analysis
  • Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research

Faculty of Health Disciplines

  • Centre for Nursing and Health Studies
  • Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology

Faculty of Science and Technology

  • Centre for Science and Mathematics
  • School of Computing and Information Systems

Faculty of Business

  • Centre for Innovative Management
  • Centre for Organizational Behaviour and Marketing
  • Centre for Accounting and Taxation
  • Centre for Finance, Economics, E-Commerce and Decision Sciences

The Centre for Distance Education (CDE) will continue to report directly to the Vice-president, Academic.

"I'm looking forward to working with the new Deans to promote and enhance the academic activities of the faculties," says Dr. Haughey.

The changes to the university's academic structure are effective immediately.


For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]

Governments announce funding to boost online infrastructuremore . . .  

Athabasca University is receiving $7.65 million from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program funding in support of the Open Knowledge Environment, an innovative online infrastructure system. Specific projects will focus on research and collaboration and the development of learning management and content management systems.

The funding, which will be cost shared equally by the federal and provincial governments, was announced in Athabasca on July 30 by Fort McMurray-Athabasca MP Brian Jean, on behalf of industry minister Tony Clement, and Calgary Montrose MLA Manmeet Bhullar, on behalf of advanced education and technology minister Doug Horner.

This funding is in addition to a $3.8 million KIP grant for renovation of the science laboratory and library entrance and roof repairs that was announced in May. Work on these projects is already in progress.

The Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a two-year, $2 billion economic stimulus measure to support infrastructure enhancement at post-secondary institutions across Canada, aims to improve existing campus infrastructure across the country by providing funding to support deferred maintenance, repair and expansion projects at universities and colleges.

For more information, contact:

John O'Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-990-1131 (cell)
[email protected]


Alberta Youtube Video