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Tuesday, June 8, 1999

  • Working relationship for staff
  • Saudi visitors sign agreement
  • Strike continues in Mexico
  • And a few other things

Working relationship for staff

"The relationship between the Staff Association and the University administration is unique," says a document distributed this week to

3-year-olds wanted

"We really need volunteers to meet a deadline," writes Michelle Pearce, research assistant in the psychology department's Centre for Child Studies:

"We are currently conducting a study examining how three year olds learn adjectives. We are trying very hard to meet a June 30 publication deadline and would like to ask UW faculty/staff members if they would be interested in participating in our study. We specifically need children between the ages of three years (36 months) and three years and six months (42 months).

"The study is designed to be like a game for the children and parents are with their child at all times. It takes about 45 to complete and requires only one visit to the Centre. For further information, please contact the Centre for Child Studies at 885-1211, ext. 5416. Appointments can be set up in the daytime or evening. Lunch hour visits are also possible. Thank you!"

all UW's non-union staff members. "This document attempts to capture the essence of this relationship."

It's a printed, slightly edited form of the statement "A Working Relationship", which was created in the fall of 1997 and posted on the web for staff to read. Now it's available in booklet format, with an insert that summarizes the salary program for the "University Support Group" of staff.

The document was written by the staff relations committee, and revised by that committee this spring. "We went through it again just to make sure we've got everything covered," says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), on behalf of the committee.

Says Scott: "Nowhere have we ever actually written down how the staff association represents staff to the university community." The Working Relationship booklet attempts to do that:

The Staff Association is not a union, but it does confer with the University with a view to reaching agreements on compensation issues (including salaries) and working conditions. The emphasis is on collegial problem solving. This does not mean that meetings are without conflict or that opinions are always the same. It does mean that both the Staff Association and the administration representatives work diligently to find the appropriate solutions for issues and concerns of staff members with a respect and regard for each party's situation. The University has a history of harmonious staff relations and has long been respected among other institutions for the relationship it has with staff members.
Staff at UW may not realize just how much representation they have in the running of the university, says Scott, and that's one reason the booklet has been produced. "Our belief is that we have a truly collegial relationship" in the key committees where staff meet management, she said. A section of the booklet describes the four "primary committees" that affect the lives of staff: staff relations, compensation, pension and benefits, and health and safety.

Other sections deal with the staff association; communication vehicles on campus (including this Bulletin); problem resolution for staff; and help mechanisms and sources of information.

The insert about the staff compensation program explains such matters as job evaluation; job values and salary ranges; how salary increases are calculated; performance appraisal; and "merit pools" for pay increases.

Saudi visitors sign agreements

A high-level delegation from the government of Saudi Arabia visits campus today to see this university and sign one of a series of agreements between Canadian institutions and the universities of Saudi Arabia.

[Saudi flag] The visitors are headed by Khalid bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Anqari, minister of higher education of Saudi Arabia. The rectors of three Saudi universities are among officials who will be with him, as well as vice-rectors, deans and other academics, and Canadian government representatives.

"This visit signals a serious interest in Saudi Arabia in Canadian universities and colleges," says Maria Longo of UW's international programs office. She quotes from a letter sent to UW's president by the Canadian ambassador to the middle eastern nation: "Canada has several advantages over the UK and US, particularly cost, quality, and an excellent reputation. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information in Saudi Arabia about Canadian schools."

The purpose of today's visit is "to heighten the profiles of Canadian Universities, to enhance opportunities for collaborative activities and to sign Memorandums of Understanding with four Saudi universities. The delegation will visit 17 top Canadian Universities; UW's strengths and excellent reputation has put us among the top three on their list," says Longo.

A "Memorandum of Understanding" will be signed this morning at the University Club. "Visits to selected laboratories are also planned," says Longo. The MOU, she said, will initiate a process for potential collaborative activities such as faculty and student exchanges, joint research programs, short-term training and distance education/degree studies. "We hope this meeting will also serve as link in establishing collaboration with neighboring Arab countries."

Strike continues in Mexico

A six-week student strike could end soon at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, one of the biggest universities in the world -- and one of the cheapest.

UNAM (its initials in Spanish) has about 150,000 university-level students, 28,000 academics and 26,000 staff, mostly at the central campus in Mexico City. Tuition fees are approximately two cents a year. The strike has been a protest against a plan to raise the fee to about $100 Canadian per term. Late last week, UNAM's rector (president) announced that the higher fee would stay on the books, but that paying it would be voluntary.

Cheap higher education is a cherished tradition in Mexico, although some of the private universities that compete with UNAM charge fees that reach American and Canadian levels.

A fee increase at UNAM was proposed in 1986 and again in 1994, and finally approved by the governing board in March. That brought on the strike, in which student protesters have occupied the campus and refused to leave.

"Despite the reversal by the rector," the news service Academe Today reports, "the student strikers have refused to leave the campus. They insist that other demands must be met, including a return to a system under which all graduates of high schools that are affiliated with the national university be granted automatic admission, regardless of their grades. . . . The protesters are also demanding that the rector resign."

And a few other things

The department of electrical and computer engineering today presents its annual George Sinclair Lecture for 1999. The speaker is Brian Barry, president of Ericsson Communications Canada, a firm that's deeply involved in the E&CE department's Centre for Wireless Communications. Barry will speak on "The New Telecom World", starting at 2:00 in Engineering Lecture room 101. Everyone is welcome. A reception will follow the lecture.

"A Machine in the Garden", a public exhibition of 14 "environmental constructions" by second-year architecture students, begins today and runs through June 25. Projects are located along the promenade in Waterloo Park. A reception at 5:00 today launches the exhibition.

A series of lectures in the Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures department continues with a talk tomorrow by UW's Paul Malone. He will speak at 9:30 a.m. (Humanities room 373) on "Cyber-Kleist: The Virtual Actor as Über-Marionette".

Celebrations are coming at the Hildegard Marsden Day Nursery, which marks its tenth anniversary this spring. "We would like to invite you to our special birthday party and share in the fond memories we all have of our time together," says a letter from the current staff and board of directors at Marsden. The party will take the form of a potluck barbecue, to be held June 23, from 5:30 to 7:30. The centre would appreciate hearing in advance how many people will be coming (phone ext. 5437).


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Yesterday's Bulletin
Copyright © 1999 University of Waterloo