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Monday, June 14, 1999

  • Optometry rebuilds the curriculum
  • An eye on faculty salaries
  • Fund-raising cyclists return
  • Engineering professor is the star

Optometry rebuilds the curriculum

An overhaul of the curriculum in UW's school of optometry is the main agenda item for a meeting of the senate undergraduate council this morning (10:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3001). If things go smoothly today, the changes will go on to UW's senate for final approval.

Events at UW

The physics department's 15th annual Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Summer School is under way today (until Saturday) in the Ron Eydt Village conference centre and the Davis Centre.

Jeff Tuling, chiropractor in residence at the UW chiropractic research clinic, will run a one-hour session at noon today teaching "spinal health techniques to reduce those aches and pains and counteract those strain injuries". People wanting to attend should reserve in advance by calling ext. 5301; the session takes place in room 1633 of the Lyle Hallman Institute, attached to Matthews Hall.

A workshop for teaching assistants, "Designing a Course", is scheduled for tomorrow at 12 noon in Math and Computer room 4063. The teaching resource office, phone ext. 3132, is taking reservations.

The curriculum revision is major enough that the optometry school is getting ready to send a letter to new students emphasizing that what they read in the UW calendar is not what they'll get if they start their studies in optometry this fall. "Accepting this offer," applicants are being told, "requires that you sign the attached form which indicates you understand and accept that you will be admitted under the new curriculum."

The optometry school "has always kept pace" with changes in its professional field, the undergraduate council is told in the written proposal that's on the agenda today. "Individual courses are evaluated routinely for their currency. . . . The most recent major curriculum change occurred in 1991."

Well, the intervening eight years have been busy ones. The school changed its prerequisites in 1997 -- increasing the amount of background science that students must have before they can apply to enter the Doctor of Optometry program -- and now the OD curriculum itself is to be brought up to date, the proposal says. It adds: "The optometry students are very supportive of the proposed curriculum changes."

Says the proposal: "The scope of practice and the standards of practice in optometry are changing. There are three ways in which the current curriculum needs to change. . . .

"The scope of practice has expanded in the area of therapeutic pharmaceutical agents (TPAs). Since 1996, three provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick) have adopted legislation allowing optometrists to prescribe TPAs. Other provinces will soon follow. Canadian optometry is following a trend that has already occurred in the United States. In anticipation of this change in scope, the 1991 OD curriculum change at UW expanded its didactic pharmacology courses and added a four-month clinical rotation off-site where supervised interns could gain experience with TPAs. . . . We need to expand current course offerings in this area to increase their understanding of TPAs. This requires a greater depth of understanding in the area of ocular disease and its management.

"Co-management of refractive surgery has arrived in Canada to stay. Optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to provide this clinical service. Optometrists provide the pre-operative and post-operative care while the ophthalmologists provide the surgical intervention. . . .

"The standards of practice continue to increase in optometry. For example, the College of Optometrists of Ontario, the regulating body for optometry in Ontario, has been adopting written regulations that stipulate the standards of practice. The responsibility that optometrists now have regarding disease diagnosis and management is increasing. We must ensure that our curriculum maintains the correct emphasis by exceeding the minimum standards of practice."

A crowd of former optometry students were back at UW over the past weekend for the school's annual continuing education weekend.

An eye on faculty salaries

The salaries of professors at UW "are not competitive with salaries at US institutions", applied mathematics professor Ed Vrscay writes in the faculty association newsletter this month. "However, dear colleagues," he adds in what looks like an ironic tone, "take heart in knowing that our salaries are almost competitive with those at US two-year junior colleges!"

Vrscay bases his commentary in the Forum newsletter on average salaries for three ranks of faculty members at UW, as calculated by the faculty association over the past four years. One of his findings is that top administrators' salaries have gone up faster than the salaries of the most highly paid teaching faculty.

He cites the publicly disclosed salaries" of UW employees who were paid $100,000 or more in per year. "There appears to be a marked difference," he writes, citing the annual increase in the president's salary over the past three years as 3.8 per cent, 6.4 per cent and 6.2 per cent, and the annual increase for the provost as 4.4 per cent, 6.7 per cent and 3.8 per cent.

"By way of comparison," says Vrscay, "for the group of 27 professors with reported salaries exceeding $100K over the entire four calendar year period 1995-98, the average yearly percentage increases are 2.1, 3.0 and 0.9. These figures, as well as the graph of average salaries of Full Professors, illustrate clearly how annual increments of upper level non-administrative faculty salaries, i.e. those above 2.5F, have been and continue to be severely curtailed by the way in which the UW salary policy has been applied. . . .

"It is necessary to keep the salaries of our senior administrators in line with those of other comparable Canadian universities. However, shouldn't UW be just as keen, indeed more so, to attract and maintain excellence in its research and teaching ranks?

"Even though a claim might be made that UW faculty salaries are competitive within Canada, the sobering reality is that they are far from being competitive in the much more important global market. . . . The average salaries of UW Full and Associate Professors for the 1997-98 fiscal year were well below the 30th percentile relative to salaries at all US doctoral institutions."

Fund-raising cyclists return -- reported by Barbara Elve

The seven intrepid cyclists who pushed off from Vancouver May 1, on a quest to improve educational opportunities for students in Central America, are expected to return to UW today. The fundraising trek -- dubbed Cycling for Opportunity -- was designed to celebrate the academic achievements of the group of seven math, engineering and science students who will graduate this week, as well as raise money for scholarships for students in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Sarah Kamal, a math student who helped organize the project, reported via cell phone from Sault Ste. Marie on Friday that the trip had gone well, though not without incident.

"There was the day of seven flats, and the day of ferocious, ferocious 60 kilometre winds -- unfortunately not at our backs," she laughed. And there was the scenic side trip off the Trans Canada through the Rockies: "a painful, tortuous route" which left the cyclists with awesome leg muscles, as well as memorable sightings of elk and other wildlife.

Because the group had set a goal of returning in time for convocation, little time has been available for fundraising along the way, she said, and although the cyclists hoped to return to Waterloo with $4,500 (a dollar for every kilometre traveled), they've only managed to raise about $3,000.

"We're really relying on the dinner," said Kamal, about a fundraising event scheduled to wrap up the project on Saturday at Fed Hall. Tickets are $50 and available from Veronica Chau at the Federation of Students office. "We're hoping for sales of 150 tickets," said Kamal.

The idea for the project originated from Kamal's experiences working in Nicaragua and Guatemala, where underprivileged students in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods have few educational opportunities. Proceeds will go to the Fair Opportunities Group, a development organization founded by UW alumni, and Escuela de Espanol Pop Wuj, an educational organization in Guatemala.

Engineering professor is the star

A retired faculty member in systems design engineering is being honoured as the SDE department hosts the "HKK Conference on Graph Theoretic and Entropy methods in Engineering Analysis and Optimization" and the HKK Symposium on Engineering this week.

"HKK" is H. K. Kesavan, now a distinguished professor emeritus. Kesavan was one of the founders of graduate studies in engineering at UW, and was the second chairman of the department of electrical engineering and the supervisor of the first doctoral graduate of the university.

He left Waterloo for a time to be chairman of electrical engineering and the first head of the computer centre at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and served as dean of research there. On his return to Canada, he became chair of the new department of systems design engineering at Waterloo, and was the leader of the development of its undergraduate program.

Kesavan's research interests are in the field of multidisciplinary system modelling and optimization, particularly using graph theory and entropy methods. "Throughout his distinguished career," says a tribute, "he has had an abiding concern for students and curriculum both at the undergraduate and graduate levels." He has, in addition, published books dealing with Indian philosophy in the modern world.

The symposium is opening this morning with remarks by Ed Jernigan, now head of the SDE department, and Sujeet Chaudhuri, dean of engineering. Over the next three days, in addition to technical sessions and a panel on engineering education, it will include invited talks by Doug Wright (the first dean of engineering, and later president of the university), Archie Sherbourne (the second dean), and Tom Brzustowski (provost in the 1980s and now president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council).


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 | Friday's Bulletin
Copyright © 1999 University of Waterloo