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Tuesday, May 2, 1995

Voice of the students

A hefty brief to UW's Commission on Institutional Planning has been received from the Federation of Students. It has dozens of comments and recommendations, on subjects ranging from Village maintenance to teaching evaluation and tenure. "We envision cafeterias where the food is affordable and tasty," says one page. Another section recommends "that Departments place teaching assistants according to their enthusiasms for the material to be taught".

Here's a striking passage from the introductory section:

From the experiences shared, it became quite obvious that most positive 
experiences were gained through personal interactions. As we brainstormed 
for values, this theme continued to emerge.  Examples such as "sense of 
belonging", "developing personal relationships", "helpful staff", and 
"feeling valued" were some of the more general comments. 

More specific, however, were examples such as "peer support", "one to one 
work with Professors", "tying upper-year to lower-year students", "having 
people persons behind the counter", "good working relationships", and 
"professors / department chairs willing to talk about the 'big picture'." 

Discussion on these examples demonstrated a true value for personal 
interactions. Indeed, some of the strongest feelings emerged from comments 
in this area. People who are willing to take the time to talk to students 
about "the big picture" were unanimously cited as enormous influences.
"The big picture" includes everything from career possibilities, to 
Graduate School options, to the application of course material in 
unexpected areas, to their own experiences as university students, to 
discussion of their research. Regardless of the subject matter, the fact 
that a personal connection was made is key. It is very common for Frosh 
to believe that the Professor at the front of the room is a god, and 
finding out that they are human is not only enriching, but it can be 
Other points: "That the University discontinue its nightly locking of external doors. . . . That Career Services spread its resources in attracting employers more equitably among the disciplines. . . . That faculties ensure professors and teaching assistants possess adequate English communications skills."

The full brief is available on UWinfo, and I'm hoping to have excerpts from it in the Gazette next week.

What's happening today?

Registration continues -- this is the day for mathematics students to belly up to the bar, that is, the cashiers' wicket on the second floor of Needles Hall.

A seminar on "composting and vermicomposting", starring Patti Cook of UW's waste management office, takes place at 12 noon in Davis Centre room 1350. It's sponsored by the staff association social committee.

The first in a series of retirement planning seminars, organized by the human resources department, takes place this evening; word is that interest was high and the three-talk series is full.

French-language kids' singer Matt Maxwell comes to the Humanities Theatre at 10:15 a.m.

The gold medal winner

The dean of graduate studies has announced this year's winner of the Governor-General's Gold Medal, to be presented at convocation later in May. He is John Corrigan, who will be receiving a PhD in chemistry. He was, says the dean's announcement, "identified as a worthy recipient on the basis of his superb record. The other nominees were also outstanding, which made the task of choosing a winner very difficult." The medal-winner is picked by the Advisory Committee on Graduate Scholarships and Awards.

For the record, here are the dates of convocation this spring:

Wednesday, May 24, 2 p.m.: Applied health sciences, environmental studies, independent studies.
Thursday, May 25, 2 p.m.: arts.
Friday, May 26, 2 p.m.: science.
Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m.: mathematics.
Saturday, May 27, 2 p.m.: engineering.

And finally, two requests

Both come from the human resources department:

First, Freddie Swainston, manager of salary administration, is looking for volunteers to translate material about employment equity -- especially the letter and questionnaire that will soon be going out to staff, faculty and graduate students -- into such languages as French, Portuguese, German, Chinese and Spanish. She can be reached at ext. 2950.

Second, human resources director Catharine Scott, on behalf of the staff compensation committee, is inviting comments about the staff performance appraisal and "activity" forms. Both forms have been in use in their present forms for five years, and it's time for a review of them, the committee has decided. Comments, in writing, can be sent to Dianne Scheifele in the university secretariat, Needles Hall.

Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004

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