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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 23, 1998

  • Convocation honours are announced
  • Awaiting word from the government
  • Now let's talk about stress
  • The rest of the story
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* Holocaust Memorial Day

Convocation honours are announced

A prominent Jewish scholar, several international scientists and one of UW's own researchers are among the people who will receive honorary degrees at spring convocation May 27-30.

And two people will be named Honorary Members of the University. They are Rev. David Hartry, who was for many years chaplain at Renison College, and George Soulis, retired professor of systems design engineering and for years associate dean (undergraduate studies) in the engineering faculty.

These are the honorary degree recipients, as announced yesterday:

Awaiting word from the government

A Speech from the Throne will open the new session of the Ontario legislature today and presumably give some indication of what premier Mike Harris and his government have in mind for the coming year. The numbers will follow in a budget to be delivered May 5 by finance minister Ernie Eves.

"A lower-key, less confrontational approach" can be expected, along with more funding for health care, the Star was predicting yesterday. "The government is expected to emphasize the booming economy, job growth and the positive impact of its tax cuts and reductions in red tape."

Here in academe, the big question is what the Throne Speech and the budget will say about support for higher education and for students. Proposed changes to the student aid program are in disarray, after major lenders -- the big banks -- said they weren't interested in the government's current model of an "income-contingent repayment" loan plan. The way the plan looks, bankers said, students would still graduate facing more debt than they can easily handle, and the banks will be left with bad debts when the overwhelmed graduates file for bankruptcy.

As for money going straight to colleges and universities, the province has already said that grants are frozen for 1998-99 and will go up by 1 per cent next year, subject to change if the money is siphoned off into the Ontario Student Assistance Program instead. University leaders have said they're now hoping for some "targeted" special-purpose money to help hire promising new faculty members, renew buildings and acquire laboratory equipment.

Universities are also waiting for clearer word from the government on which "professional" programs are subject to fee deregulation, but it's hardly likely that the Throne Speech will go into that kind of detail.

Now let's talk about stress

In response to recent paragraphs in this Bulletin about stress and the workload that everybody seems to be facing, these thoughts have arrived from a staff member:
Increased stress is a global phenomenon as business and public organizations downsize and restructure. It's also somewhat preventable with adequate planning.

I meet many UW staff who are stressed these days. Workloads have increased primarily due to SERP, budget cuts, and the big information systems projects. The result is overworked staff who can't meet deadlines without voluntary overtime, reducing work quality and/or eliminating pleasantries like lunch. They can't resolve problems in a timely manner, and don't have the time or the dollars to improve job knowledge and processes. Managers are too busy trying to deal with crises, meetings and deadlines to implement proactive measures. Managers also tend to spread their stress to staff, mostly unintentionally.

Maybe somebody could tell me if I just see the worst cases, or is this phenomenon happening in all areas of campus. I have noticed that some staff in ancillaries are not as stressed because their revenue sources are independent of the operating budget.

Coping skills can only help to a certain degree. A local insurance company found that when they offered stress management courses, the people that truly needed the help were the ones who felt they could not afford the time away from work due to excessive workloads. The managers had to force the employees to attend the sessions in some cases. The positive effects were not realized since the workloads increased, at least in the short-term, as the employees had predicted.

Now about those coping skills . . . some people laughed at the twisted "stress reliever" mentioned in the Bulletin on Monday, while others didn't, and one person told me it seemed "sick and morbid". Yes, indeed, there are gentler trains of thought to follow, of which the Shepherd Psalm is a comforting example.

Fire forces Village evacuation

Things are returning to normal in Ron Eydt Village today where a fire, believed to have been sparked by a candle left unattended, caused the evacuation of the north quad Tuesday afternoon. The blaze started about 3:30 p.m. when the fire spread to the curtains of a room on the third floor and then to a bookcase.

The fire was confined to one room, where there was some $20,000 worth of smoke, fire and water damage. No one was injured.

Some 85 students evacuated from the area were treated to a free dinner by food services, since many fled without their meal cards. Students were allowed to return to their rooms shortly after 6 p.m., but those on the third floor were advised to seek other shelter for the night because of smoke remaining in the residence. Temporary accommodation in Village 1 was provided for 15 students, who returned to their rooms on Wednesday.

The rest of the story

The UW bookstore today marks Canada Book Day with some deals. "We will be offering 15 per cent off on titles by selected Canadian authors," writes Barb Russwurm, the store's general books manager. "As well, there will be free bookbags with minimum purchase of $25, while quantities last."

The personal safety committee meets this morning at 10:30 in Needles Hall room 3001. Among the agenda items: a recent conference on student alcohol use, and a proposal to put surveillance cameras in the Student Life Centre, since the turnkeys can't be everywhere at once.

Electrical power, heating, cooling and ventilation will be turned off in Chemistry II this evening from 6 to 10 p.m. for maintenance, the plant operations department says, warning people to shut off their computers before the power goes down.

The local Volunteer Action Centre has a variety of needs and opportunities as usual. This week it's looking, for example, for "inquiry counsellors" to help four hours a week at the Community Information Centre; board members for an Alzheimer's disease agency; office volunteers for a diabetes agency "centrally located in a beautiful heritage home in Kitchener"; and a board secretary for a heart agency. More information, and more openings: 742-8610.

Mature students are invited to a "spring celebration" lunch tomorrow at St. Jerome's University. Information: the mature student services office, phone ext. 2429.

And . . . yesterday I attributed an announcement to Bruce Campbell "of information systems and technology". Uh-uh, says Constant Reader: "While Bruce Campbell is an important kind of guy to computing across campus, he's not one of the Bruces in IST (Bender, Cameron, Lennox, Uttley). He works for Engineering Computing."

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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