[UW logo]
Sunday is Fathers' Day

Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Yesterday's Bulletin
Previous days
Search past Bulletins
UWinfo home page
About the Bulletin
Mail to the editor

Friday, June 16, 2000

  • Three more convocation ceremonies
  • Talking about health insurance
  • UW will offer licence plates
  • The talk of the campus

[Arm full of red roses]
For some 15 years, Marilyn Woods has been working for the UW Shop during convocation. The satellite business -- set up in the Physical Activities Complex -- offers grads and their families roses and other items to help make the day special and to remember their days at UW. "It's always fun," says Woods.

Three more convocation ceremonies

And still they come -- the thousands of students receiving degrees from UW at the 80th Convocation, not to mention their parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, children and admirers. With two sessions down, there are three convocation ceremonies to go, at which UW will send 478 graduates from science out into the world, 481 from mathematics, and finally 712 from engineering.

Along the way, the university will also present honorary degrees, medals and other forms of recognition, both to its own (including a Distinguished Teacher Award tomorrow) and to prominent visitors. And although every student is the star of the show to his or her special audience, here are some of the public highlights of the remaining ceremonies this week.

Convocation is held in the main gym of the Physical Activities Complex.

Today at 2 p.m., faculty of science:

Saturday at 10 a.m., faculty of mathematics: Saturday at 2 p.m., faculty of engineering: (As of this morning, the convocation program, listing other awards to be given Saturday afternoon, wasn't ready yet. Watch for next week's Gazette.)

Talking about health insurance

Massage, orthodontic work, chiropractors, prescription drugs that get ever more expensive and exotic -- they're adding up to big costs for the health and dental plans that cover UW's faculty and staff, a problem that will be the focus of a pension and benefits committee meeting this morning.

Premiums for the health plan (which come straight out of the university budget) have gone up by 32 per cent this year, provost Jim Kalbfleisch told the board of governors last week. That's on top of a 20 per cent increase last year. For the dental plan, the increase has been smaller, but still hefty compared to the 10 per cent boost that the provost thinks might be "manageable".

Something needs to be done during the current fiscal year, which started May 1, Kalbfleisch told the board. "As an interim step, we have renewed for only eight months," with an eye to putting in some cost control measures by next January 1. The extended health care plan -- which pays for prescriptions, nursing care, physiotherapy and many other services -- is managed by Great West Life, and the dental plan by ManuLife Financial.

The committee discussed the problem at a meeting in late May, and heard background information from two experts. According to the minutes, the committee was told that prescription drugs account for 65 per cent of costs in the health plan; 7 per cent of the money goes for semi-private hospital rooms, and "paramedical" expenses, such as chiropractors, psychologists and masseurs, 16 per cent. UW's experience is "way above the norm" for massage bills, the committee was also told.

As for the dental plan, it has "seen a significant increase in orthodontic claims together with more 'intelligent billing' by dentists."

The general idea of UW's benefits program is to provide coverage for "catastrophic" costs: "First-dollar coverage is contrary to the philosophy," the minutes say. That's why individual staff and faculty pay a share of their prescription bills, for example, up to $104 each year for an individual or $208 for a family.

The minutes indicate that the committee gave some attention to the idea of "flex benefits", by which employees could choose the benefits they expect to need most rather than everybody being covered by every benefit program. Today's meeting is to continue discussions of how to keep costs under control "and, with hope, identify a short list of changes to be considered".

Ontario news

  • Provincial government will pay for more spaces in faculties of education -- news release
  • University of Guelph approves the sale of its rural Cruickston property -- news release
  • College system ready for a major shakeup -- Toronto Star story
  • UW will offer licence plates

    UW has been approved for membership in the Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Program, says Jason MacIntyre, marketing manager for the retail services department.

    Queen's is among universities that already offer licence plates with the institution's logo
    Says MacIntyre: "It's an excellent opportunity to promote the University of Waterloo across the province, and for members of the UW community to show their support. Moreover, since we have decided to contribute the royalties earned on plate sales to a student bursary fund, there is a direct benefit to our students."

    He said the first batch of regular-series UW plates will be manufactured this summer, just in time for September sales on campus in the UW Shop. Orders for personalized plates -- also available starting in September -- will be handled through the ministry of transportation. In addition, Ontario drivers will now have the option of transferring existing plates to UW graphic plates when their vehicle registration comes up for renewal.

    The talk of the campus

    In yesterday's Bulletin I mentioned UW graduate Ka-Ping Yee, the keynote speaker today at a Shad International conference, and said he had studied computer science. "Ka-Ping Yee was a proud engineer," an annoyed e-mail message soon told me, "a graduate of computer engineering 1998. He has been talked about so much, I would have thought everyone would know that by now." Sorry.

    [JD] Why isn't James Downey (left), former UW president and currently filling in for the vice-president (university relations), on campus this convocation day? Because he's in Ottawa for a similar ceremony at Carleton University, where he was an English professor early in his academic career, then served as dean of arts, and was president pro tem for a year (1979). Downey is receiving an honorary degree from Carleton this morning, "in recognition of extraordinary service to higher education in Canada".

    Today is the last day of interviews in the regular cycle for co-op students seeking fall term jobs. Ranking forms will be along on Tuesday, and students should learn on June 26 what jobs they've been matched with.

    The morning is sunny, which will be a relief to the people at UW's four child care centres. They're holding their fourth annual "fun morning" on the Village green, across the ring road from the Physical Activities Complex. The party runs from 9:30 to 11:00, with guest performer Ronno.

    The biology department will honour the winners of two awards today as the science convocation takes place. Chenhong Zhang, a graduate student, is the winner of the first E. B. Dumbroff Award in Plant Sciences, which is presented to the author of an outstanding MSc or PhD thesis in plant sciences. Zhang won the award for her master's thesis. The award is named after Erwin Dumbroff, plant physiologist who retired from the biology department in 1996. The other departmental prize -- the Jonathan R. Matthews Memorial Award -- will be given to Tracey Campbell for her academic achievement in undergraduate studies. The $500 scholarship is named after Jonathan Matthews, who earned a PhD in 1976. He was a post-doctoral fellow when he died in a car accident.

    Today's the last day for the exhibition of artworks by graduating students from the fine arts department, which has graced the art gallery in the Modern Languages building since the end of March.

    The Contemporary School of Dance has booked the Humanities Theatre for the weekend, with performances Saturday night at 7:00 and Sunday at 2 p.m.

    Judi Carter writes from the faculty of applied health sciences: "I am one of the local bridge community organizing an ACBL sanctioned tournament the weekend of June 24-25 which will take place at Ron Eydt Village. On the Saturday we are having a special novice duplicate game for people new to duplicate bridge, and/or less experienced bridge players. Paid up members of the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) are aware of the tournament but people in the general UW community are not as we don't usually publicize these events. Everyone is welcome to attend. People can play in the event and if anyone wants to see what duplicate bridge is all about, they are welcome too." For more information, she can be reached at jdcarter@healthy.

    The Waterloo International Soccer Tournament is taking place this weekend at various fields around the city, and Steve Breen of UW's information systems and technology department will be a busy fellow as tournament chairman. "This is our 28th annual," he writes, "with 126 teams and 18 players per team plus parents and family. Teams are coming from Windsor to Ottawa and north to Sudbury and places in between. Profits go to helping kids' soccer." Spectators are especially welcome (free) at the championship games on Sunday afternoon at Bechtel Park.

    [Ducky] Yet another note about spare-time activities comes from Brian Dietrich of the design and construction section in the plant operations department. Dietrich serves as vice-president of the local Kinsmen Club, and writes that the K-W club along with Kinsmen from Preston (Cambridge) are planning a Community Event for Victoria Park, Kitchener, on Sunday, July 9: a duck race. There are, he says, "25,000 little ducks entered to win 11 prizes, with the grand prize being a JEEP TJ 2000 (yellow of course). Tickets are available for $5 each, with all proceeds going to K-W Habilitation Services and other Kinsmen supported causes in the local community." There will be events from noon to 4 p.m., with the actual race starting at 2:00 that afternoon.

    Tomorrow brings "a day in Niagara's Wine Region" for the Waterloo Alumni at the Head of the Lake, which is to say those from Hamilton and the surrounding area. It's the latest of several special events organized by enthusiasts there, who are surveying fellow alumni on-line to see what they'd like to do next.

    And with wine, finally, comes cheese -- which for some reason is featured on this week's menu from the food services department: "Cheeses enhance other flavours and make meals more satisfying as well as adding eye appeal to every dish. . . . Over the past 20 years, the average Canadian has gone from eating 4.5 kg of cheese per year, to 10.6 kg. By putting more cheese dishes on your menu, you're filling a strong and growing appetite!"


    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 © 2000 University of Waterloo