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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 2, 1998

  • Enrolment growth had 'major' sponsor
  • Budget and Memorandum approved
  • 15 projects sent to Ottawa
  • A correction, and coming events
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Enrolment growth had 'major' sponsor

An unidentified company had promised big financial support as part of a plan to expand UW's enrolment in high-tech fields that was presented to the education minister in April but turned down by the government, UW's provost said yesterday.

It's now the school of
. . . planning

UW's school of urban and regional planning got a new name yesterday. It's now just the School of Planning.

The change was approved by the board of governors after Geoff McBoyle, dean of environmental studies, said its scope now includes much more than just "urban and regional" planning -- including social planning, information technology and design. Professionals in the field are generally designated just "planners", he added.

"We had a major commitment of funds," said Jim Kalbfleisch, telling the board of governors that Waterloo officials had proposed an increase of almost 30 per cent in first-year enrolment in computer science and electrical and computer engineering.

In a statement also issued yesterday, he says UW "had been working on expansion plans since last fall." Because Waterloo is "the largest source in Canada of high-quality graduates in Information Technology", the 30 per cent expansion "would represent more than a doubling at most Ontario universities. However, it is less than a doubling for Waterloo."

Instead of approving government money to support UW's plan, the province announced its Access to Opportunities program, under which universities will get extra funds -- plus permission to raise their fees in CS and high-tech engineering -- only if they double their enrolment in high-tech fields. But the provost pointed out that CS and E&CE already make up 18 per cent of UW's first-year students. "To double that number would profoundly change the nature of the University of Waterloo."

Besides that, "we would have needed to hire scores of faculty members in the very areas where high-tech companies are having trouble finding people," he said. Other difficulties would have included finding thousands more co-op jobs and getting laboratories set up.

And then there were the financial issues. The government is offering $5,000 a year for each new E&CE student and $3,500 for each new CS student -- significantly less than the current grants of about $7,000 for engineering students and $5,000 for students in CS.

"We decided that we could try an expansion of the order of 30 per cent, and still maintain the quality of our programs," Kalbfleisch said. The first-year enrolment would have risen from 435 to 550 in CS, and from 240 to 320 in E&CE. But the government wasn't interested.

"It frankly doesn't make a lot of sense," said the provost, "to have major expansion in the high-tech areas without Waterloo part of it! But our sheer size makes this a very different undertaking."

UW president James Downey told the board that he's hopeful the government will become more flexible and find a way to support what UW is able to do. "If you ask me to predict," he said, "I predict that a year from now, we'll be in."

So far Waterloo is the only university to decide that Access to Opportunities is an offer it can refuse. University of Toronto provost Adel Sedra told the Ottawa Citizen this weekend that "we will do our damnedest" to double enrolment:

He said he understood Waterloo's problems, but said it would be unfair to have different rules for different universities. "If the government is going to agree (to less than 100 per cent), I want to know that now, because it is not no easy to double. I am getting a lot of resistance from my own colleagues."

Budget and Memorandum approved

It was a long meeting yesterday for UW's board of governors, which discussed much more than just the enrolment levels in high-tech programs. Among the quicker agenda items, in fact, was approval of UW's 1998-99 budget, as recommended by the provost, the senate finance committee and the senate. It shows income of $183.0 million and spending of $183.9 million for the coming year, but a little surge in enrolment, or a few savings here and there, should fix that. "My expectation is that there will be no deficit when I bring the budget back in October," the provost told the board.

Also approved was the Memorandum of Agreement between UW and the faculty association. "We've put together a number of items into a complete package, which is something the faculty have been looking to for a long time," said faculty association president Fred McCourt. Approval of the Memorandum brings a new set of rules on discipline and grievances for faculty. As part of the package of changes, UW's ethics committee has been abolished. And there will be a vote by faculty members early in the fall term on whether to introduce the Rand formula for payment of faculty association dues.

The board heard a briefing from Ian Lithgow, vice-president (university relations), on the state of UW's fund-raising and the outlook for the years ahead. In about three years Waterloo will probably want to launch another major campaign, Lithgow said, but between now and then, his staff need to concentrate on developing individual donor prospects, because individuals, not companies, are the truly promising field for big money. "We have to pay attention to our own millionaires," he said, flashing a chart on the screen to show how many UW alumni will be getting into their fifties, sixties and beyond over the next decade.

President James Downey gave a "year in review" report, calling 1997-98 "the year the tide turned" for public and government support of post-secondary education. "There's a load-bearing beam missing," he said, switching metaphors, "and that's some form of income-contingent debt remission for students."

Another comment from the president, about how UW has coped with hard times: "We have had to ask our employees to accept wage increases lower than they might have wished, and workloads greater than are desirable."

15 projects sent to Ottawa

Applications went off to Ottawa yesterday -- minutes before the deadline, in a few cases -- for 15 "institutional innovation" projects that UW hopes the Canada Foundation for Innovation will support. Total value of the projects is about $70 million, of which CFI is being asked for $28 million.

Some of them have also been put before the CFI's provincial equivalent, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, and ORDCF has already given a yes answer to one of them, the multi-million-dollar Bell Emergis laboratories. All are also to get funding from industry and, in the form of faculty salaries and other participation, from UW.

Here's a list of the projects and the lead researcher in each one, as provided by UW's vice-president (university research):

A correction, and coming events

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin, listing the winners of alumni association gold medals at spring convocation, said the arts winner, Andrew Davidson, was from sociology and economics. In fact, he's from the department of English. Sorry.

The pension and benefits committee holds a day-long meeting today in Needles Hall. Among the agenda items: the annual valuation of the pension fund (latest figure I've seen is a modest $618,913,000); details of the "flexible" feature that will let some staff and faculty make extra pension plan contributions; the perennial issue of "purchase of past service" for people who were out of the pension plan for a period of time.

The senate executive committee will meet at 3:30 today in Needles Hall room 3004 to set the agenda for the June 15 meeting of senate itself. Among the agenda items is an annual report on scholarship fund donations and scholarships awarded -- and I was interested to see that the fund collected $79,238 last year from campus parking and traffic fines.

A surplus sale of UW property will be held tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at central stores, East Campus Hall (off Phillip Street).

The career development seminar series continues tomorrow with "The Work Finding Package" at 10:30 and "Interview Skills: Prepare for Questions" at 1:30, both in Needles Hall room 1020.


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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