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Monday, June 28, 1999

  • Three from UW are named FRSC
  • Public opinion on universities
  • What I've been reading lately
  • An eye to lenses, and more


Three from UW are named FRSC

Three UW faculty members are among 60 new Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada -- a title "considered Canada's senior academic accolade to which scholars and scientists aspire".

The party's Thursday

July 1 will mark Canada's 132nd birthday -- so Thursday is a holiday at UW (no classes, offices closed, few services) and the day brings the annual Canada Day celebrations on the north campus, with music and fireworks. Just a reminder.
The Royal Society of Canada announced this year's newly elected Fellows at the end of last week. Said its news release: "In keeping with the motto of the Society, 'different paths, one vision', these newly elected Fellows come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, and are deeply committed to excellence within their chosen fields."

The news release also said: "Since its inception 117 years ago, the Royal Society of Canada has been regarded as a force for the enrichment, interpretation, and strengthening of Canada's intellectual heritage. It differs from most scholarly and scientific societies in that it encompasses a broad range of disciplines -- natural and applied sciences, medicine, social sciences and humanities. Its mandate is the promotion and development of learning and research in the arts and sciences, achieved through the work of its three Academies: the Academy of Science / Académie des sciences, the Académie des lettres et des sciences humaines, and the Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences."

Here are the three new FRSCs from Waterloo, and the citations provided for them by the Society:

The new Fellows will be inducted into the Royal Society of Canada at a ceremony in Ottawa in November.

Public opinion on universities

"Education has climbed the ranks on the public's agenda during the past year," says the Angus Reid Group in summarizing a survey done for the Globe and Mail. The survey also found "strong" opposition to increases in tuition fees. The results were announced last week.

From an Angus Reid news release:

"On the skilled trade versus university education debate, a slim majority of Canadians would steer today's young people in the direction of learning a trade/skill at a community or technical college instead of acquiring a more general education at a university (the preferred option of one in three). The trade/skill route has been the majority public choice since the early 1990s and contrasts sharply with Canadians' very divided and uncertain views back in 1986, when each option was chosen by roughly one in three and a similar proportion were unsure as to which approach would be best for young people to take.

"Public support for four potential reforms to post-secondary education in Canada was measured in this survey. Listed in order of the overall support received by each proposal:

"Canadians are very receptive to allowing the private sector to provide funding for certain post-secondary programs such as business schools -- fully nine in ten of those polled expressed overall support.

"Two-thirds of Canadians would like to see universities specialize in certain areas rather than offer a broad range of programs.

"A majority -- just over half -- would also be in favour of establishing some privately owned and operated universities in Canada, but many Canadians continue to be opposed to this prospect.

"Meanwhile, public opposition has grown to the idea of hiking tuition fees so that university and college students pay more of the actual costs of education: whereas 34 percent of Canadians surveyed in 1993 expressed support for tuition fee increases, this figure has fallen to 19 percent today. In fact, a clear majority now voice 'strong' opposition.

"And, similar to their views on funding for public schools, a clear majority of six in 10 Canadians say government funding for post-secondary institutions in their own provinces should be increased from current levels. In comparison, around one in three are satisfied with present government funding of post-secondary education and only a very small minority argue for financial cutbacks in this area."

What I've been reading lately

A shuffle of deputy ministers in the Ontario government last week brought Robert Christie to the new ministry of training, colleges and universities. There he rejoins Dianne Cunningham, now minister of TCU; he was deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs when Cunningham held that portfolio. Says columnist Ian Urquhart in the Toronto Star: "They will make a comfortable fit as they try to launch the new ministry. But policy in the training and post-secondary field is expected to be driven from 'the centre', as the Premier's office is euphemistically known at Queen's Park, and Christie is very much trusted there."

The human resources department newsletter had this note in its spring-summer issue: "Since the current pension system is not Year 2000 compliant, a search was conducted early in 1999 for a new pension system. A subcommittee of the Pension & Benefits Committee interviewed several vendors and Buck Consulting Group was chosen to provide this system. Due to activities associated with conversion to this new system, this year's pension and benefit statements will be delayed. The Human Resources Department thanks members for their patience during this busy time."

The television comedy "Felicity" is being renewed for next season on the WB network, says the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Students say Felicity's characters are naive and the plots far-fetched. Still, they can relate to some of the crises it presents, such as preparing for that first college party, dealing with annoying roommates, and worrying about money. [The campus-based show] explores many issues that give real-life college administrators sleepless nights: date rape; academic cheating (Felicity adds a few touches to Ben's English paper, unbeknownst to him, and both are nearly kicked out of the university); gambling (Ben bets on basketball games and gets in over his head); and an affair between a male professor and a female student."

And novelist Jane Urquhart, who lives just outside Waterloo and is married to a UW faculty member, received an honorary degree at the Memorial University of Newfoundland the other day. Said Urquhart in her speech: "The generation of people graduating from our schools and universities in this millennium period are going to have their work cut out for them if they wish to preserve the spirit-filled places of the world. There will be those who will encourage them to believe that if something cannot be exploited for personal or corporate gain, then it is not worth preserving. The spirit of a place curls up and dies in the face of exploitation. But, hopefully, humanity's need for authenticity will prevail and we will continue to be able to read the landscape, the townscape, and even the cityscape in a meaningful way. For that is one of the wonderful things that a place with its spirit still whole permits us to do."

An eye to lenses, and more

UW's Centre for Contact Lens Research is currently conducting a study to investigate three different contact lens solutions compared to a control solution when used with three different contact lens materials. All products are currently on the market. Individuals who currently wear soft contact lenses are sought. Two sessions of approximately 1.5 hours each are involved. Participants receive all study supplies free of charge and $30 upon completion of the study. For additional information without obligation, you can call ext. 4742. This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the office of human research.

UW's Midnight Sun V solar car was holding down 11th place in Sunrayce '99 when the 29 vehicles rolled into Macon, Georgia, on Saturday night. (No results are on hand yet from yesterday's leg of the race, which took the cars south to Tallahassee.) The University of Missouri at Rolla was in first place, having covered the route from Washington, D.C., in a little more than 35 hours; Queen's University was second (36 hours) and Midnight Sun's time was a hair less than 49 hours. The race finishes tomorrow night at Epcot Center in Orlando.

"Fee statements," says the registrar's office, "will be mailed the week of June 28," which is now, "for students that have pre-registered for the fall 1999 term. Included in this mailing will be 'Do You Have Questions' and 'Registration Information for Undergraduate Students' information sheets." A reminder, for those who need it: fall fee payments are due August 31.

The pension and benefits committee will be meeting this afternoon, starting at 1:00, in Needles Hall room 3004. On the agenda: a report on the current value of the UW pension fund; updating of Policy 23 on "eligibility for pension and benefits".

Needed these days by the Volunteer Action Centre: "a journalist or public relations expert" to help with the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled, July 16-17; retired people to help with the social and recreational program (card games, shuffleboard, bingo) at the Sunnyside Seniors Day Program; someone to volunteer in the office for the K-W Association for Community Living. More information: call the VAC at 742-8610.

In world news . . . a busload of Serbian faculty members at the University of Pristina in Kosovo fled towards Serbia over the weekend, after one faculty member and two staff members, all Serbians, were found murdered. The University of Pristina was an Albanian-language institution until 1991, when Yugoslav authorities converted it to Serbian, and Albanians created an unofficial "parallel university". Then came the war. With the recent ceasefire agreement, the university, like the rest of the city of Pristina, has been reclaimed by ethnic Albanians, and Serbians now fear massacres in revenge for what happened earlier in the conflict.

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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