International News Desk – At Home and Abroad

At Home: University of Alberta gets $10 million private donation
The Edmonton Journal has a story about how the University of Alberta has received a $10 million dollar donation from Reza Nasseri, the founder of Landmark Homes. Having emigrated to Canada from Iran in 1964, Nasseri’s donation is so that the University of Alberta can study ways of making residential construction greener, safer, and cheaper. It will go toward an endowment that will launch a school of Building Science and Engineering in Nasseri’s name.

Nasseri’s own company already has made efforts to create its buildings more sustainably by putting together whole sections of houses in his factory in Edmonton, and then assembling them on-site. U of A’s dean of engineering, David Lynch, lauds this method of building, “Why in most cases do we build everything on-site over a period of months and months in extreme weather conditions? ? If you can move a lot of those elements into an off-site modular construction approach, this is where engineering areas really perform.”

While this sounds eminently reasonable, with donations of this size on the table, someone can always make the argument that the University is simply saying this to please its large donor. Even if there is no truth to the assertion, the concern cannot be wholly eliminated, which is why private funding of post-secondary institutions is something that should be looked at with extreme caution by our government, not wholesale encouragement and celebration.

Around the Globe: South Carolina Threatens College Funding over LGBT Books
It’s been reported in The Guardian that the South Carolina Legislature is moving to cut funding to two colleges for using materials that they described as pornographic and “forcing an agenda on teenagers.” The funding cut of approximately $70,000 and the legislature has been derided as “flat out hate masquerading as concern for public sensibility” and has a growing number of authors joining a campaign against government censorship of these books. Pulitzer prize winning Junot Diaz went on to say “our politicians are always looking for excuses to defund our educational systems and this gave them the added opportunity to bash a vulnerable community as well?which for them was sort of a jerkoff’s two-for-one.”