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Thursday, May 6, 1999

  • 3 per cent pay hike for TAs
  • Drug plan problem gets fixed
  • Grants for four young profs
  • 'No monitoring' of everyone's mail
  • Just a few other matters

3 per cent pay hike for TAs

UW graduate teaching assistants have received a three per cent increase in rates of pay, effective May 1. The one-year agreement will add some $210,000 to the $7 million spent last year on TA salaries.

TA rates vary by faculty, with the average TA earning about $5,000 each term. "There is considerable variation in the availability of TAs, the number of hours assigned per TA course, and remuneration for TAs across campus," noted Dwight Aplevich, associate dean of graduate studies. Funds for TAs come out of the university's operating budget.

The one-year agreement also provides a 3 per cent increase (or approximately $35,000) to the UW Graduate Scholarship Fund, which stands at just over $1 million, said associate provost (academic and student affairs) Gary Waller. The scholarships also come from the UW operating budget, with money allocated to the faculties and used as entrance scholarships, merit scholarships and smaller one-term scholarships.

Last year, said Waller, there was no increase in TA rates, with money spent instead to boost the Graduate Scholarship Fund.

For the first time this year, "internally allocated scholarships" were included in the negotiations. The university agreed to increase funds for these scholarships by a minimum of $200,000 over the 1998-99 level, to about $2.5 million for 1999-2000. The scholarships include money from endowments, faculty budgets and generally, all other scholarships the university controls.

"There are literally hundreds of them," said Waller, the majority of which are not funded by the operating budget. Including the internally allocated scholarships in the negotiations was "just a public statement that we acknowledge the money is there and that it is important," he added.

According to Aplevich, teaching assistantships are awarded for a variety of reasons. They are "part of the culture," provide service to undergraduates and to departments, help grad students pay for their studies, and give grad students teaching experience.

Drug plan problem gets fixed

The problem that hit UW's faculty and staff health plan on May 1, when insurance coverage was taken over by a new company, was fixed by midday on Tuesday, says Rosanne Atwater-Hallatt of the human resources department. But it was a nasty one while it lasted, with employees being told at drugstore counters that the computerized system no longer recognized their spouses and children as having coverage for their prescriptions.

Yesterday the HR department issued this note to explain the situation:

Human Resources is aware that there has been dependent data transfer problems with the pay-direct drug cards during the conversion to Great-West Life. We have been assured that the situation was corrected at noonhour on Tuesday, May 4, 1999. It is a situation beyond the control of Human Resources and we worked as quickly as possible to rectify it.

We would also like to restate that the University did not choose to convert to Great-West Life; it was a consequence of Great-West Life purchasing the group insurance business of London Life.

If your Great-West Life pay-direct drug card did not work, please attach your drug receipt to a completed Great-West Life claim form and submit for reimbursement to:
Great-West Life Health Claims
Terminal 502
255 Dufferin Avenue
London, Ontario
N6A 4K1

Your patience and understanding are appreciated during this transition.

In a memo to staff and faculty last month, HR announced the change from London Life to Great-West Life. "We ask," it said, "that you notify your pharmacist of your new group benefits carrier (Great-West Life), pay-direct drug service provider (Assure Health), policy number (325156), and client ID (6 digit number)."

Grants for four young profs -- from the UW news bureau

More than $600,000 in provincial government, institutional and private sector funding will allow four University of Waterloo professors to recruit top young scientists for campus research projects.

The money comes from the Premier's Research Excellence Awards program, announced in the May 1998 budget. The program seeks to invest $75 million in public and private money over 10 years to help world-class researchers at universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutes attract talented people to their research teams.

The program is aimed at ensuring that Ontario attracts and retains the pre-eminent researchers it will need to keep the province's research capacity at an international level of excellence. It supports training for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research associates. . . .

The four UW faculty members are:

'No monitoring' of everyone's mail

The associate dean (computing) in the mathematics faculty issued a statement yesterday after complaints surfaced that someone had been "monitoring" the private e-mail of math students.

The charges, made in on-campus newsgroups, came along with speculation that the monitoring had something to do with the recent arrest of a math student on charges of making and selling drugs in a laboratory in Kitchener.

"Please be extra careful what you write," one poster said, "because someone is likely watching your mail." Others pointed out that under UW's Statement on Use of Computer and Network Resources, users have a "presumption of privacy", and system administrators are not routinely entitled to read people's mail. A major exception: when a court order is properly delivered to the university seeking certain information.

Wayne Oldford, associate dean in math, posted this statement late yesterday:

There has been some discussion recently on a few newsgroups about the alleged monitoring of undergraduate mail in the Mathematics Faculty. Be assured that no monitoring of mail has taken place except as explicitly required by a court order. Any account identified in that court order would have been monitored, no others. Beyond that, we cannot comment.

Just a few other matters

Staff in co-operative education and career services are attending a staff development seminar this morning, until 10:00. The speaker is John Hoicka of the Ontario ministry of finance. His subject: "Co-op employment in a Turbulent Economy".

The Institute for Improvement in Quality and Productivity, based in UW's statistics department, holds a workshop on "large data sets", today through Saturday in the Davis Centre. "Recent advances in computing and information technology have revolutionized the field of statistics," the workshop announcement says, "and enable us to tackle complex problems in industry and technology such as pattern recognition, process control and system optimization. The workshop will consist of invited talks in applied and statistical areas such as Data Visualization, Data Mining (analysis), Classification, Regression and Time Series. There will be ample time allotted for discussion." Bovas Abraham of the IIQP is the organizer, and will chair the first session this morning.

There's free food at the Graduate House today, says Stephanie Faint, vice-president (student affairs) of the Graduate Student Association, announcing "Welcome/Information day for new (or just curious) Grad Students. Meet the GSA executive, find out about the GSA, the K-W area, and the campus. We'11 be here from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free pizza (see an exec member), so stop on by!"

The Midnight Sun solar race car team is off to Michigan starting today, to take part in a three-day scrutineering and qualifying event at the General Motors Proving Grounds. "This event," says team manager Ruth Allen, "will determine our placing in Sunrayce 99, June 20-29."

Wilfrid Laurier University has announced that it's buying the Paragon Park housing complex on University Avenue just west of its main campus. "Over the next 15 months, Laurier plans to undertake the renovations needed to accommodate students," a news release says. "The 44 apartments, 14 townhouses and 18 maisonettes would in time house 240 students. . . . Laurier plans to minimize disruption to the existing tenants."


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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Copyright © 1999 University of Waterloo