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Wednesday, March 8, 2000

  • Colleges still wish for more space
  • '2020' lecture series continues
  • Changes 'will improve' payroll service
  • Restless as a willow in a windstorm

[Gotta wear shades]
Phyllis Diller's sunglasses are among the treasures of UW's Museum of Visual Science and Optometry. They're modelled by curator Lauren Walker. See page 5 of today's Gazette.

Colleges still wish for more space
-- by Barbara Elve

A chill wind was blowing from the northwest last week when the leaders of Renison College and St. Jerome's University met to rethink expansion plans in the wake of the province's decision not to fund their joint building proposal.

Michael Higgins of St. Jerome's and Gail Cuthbert Brandt of Renison couldn't help wondering if they had been left out in the cold as a result of the provincial government's frosty attitude to support of the arts and humanities in Ontario.

Higgins admitted he was disappointed by the decision of the province not to support the $7 million learning centre proposed by the two schools. The project would have consolidated library holdings in a new building, freeing space for new classrooms in existing libraries. As well, it would have provided computer labs for teaching and language training, an East Asian resource centre, and a multi-function lecture theatre that could also be used for music and drama.

Brandt and Higgins say they'll meet with Dianne Cunningham, Ontario minister of training, colleges and universities -- not to appeal the decision, said Higgins, but to reinforce the importance of a liberal arts education. "I'm dismayed at the attitude that the arts don't appear to matter a great deal," he said, "that the province's attention, energy and money is being focused on certain very specific economy-driven and pragmatic measures that have marginalized arts and humanities in Ontario."

"The Queen's Park direction flies in the face of our data," added Brandt. "It's a fallacy to think we're turning out people who can't get jobs." A case in point is the "great demand" for the graduates of Renison's new Bachelor of Social Work program. The only graduates who don't immediately find employment are those who choose to go on to graduate study, she added.

As for the building proposal now left in limbo, both Higgins and Brandt will go back to their boards and supporters to determine how to proceed without capital funds. "It may take some radical rethinking," says Higgins.

"We're hoping we can move ahead with St. Jerome's on this. We're attracted by the ecumenical aspect," says Brandt, "and it makes sense to collaborate, not duplicate. But we're bursting at the seams. If we don't collaborate, we'll be looking at another plan to meet our needs."

While the other colleges affiliated with UW -- Conrad Grebel and St. Paul's United -- "were 100 per cent behind us" on the proposed development, says Higgins, they were not ready at this time to make a financial contribution to the project. "We'll be going back to them as we formulate our revised plans," says Brandt.

Possum watch

Animal enthusiasts have hastened to tell me that opossums are nothing new in this part of the world, despite what I said in yesterday's Bulletin. "We have had opossums visit us for a few years now," said one e-mail message, "and a couple of nights ago there were at least three of them. They are remarkably fearless, and come right up to the kitchen glass doors to look for food -- unfortunately they prefer to appear between midnight and 3 a.m., which makes opossum-watching a bit of a challenge."

Said another note: "You bet there are plenty around. Most of them live in my neighbourhood!"

And a third note was poignant: "There's a dead one on Columbia Street."

According to a reliable source, Didelphis Virginiana, known as the Virginia opossum, is North America's only marsupial. It is adaptable and able to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, insects, and small vertebrates, and does well in urban areas.

'2020' lecture series continues

Firoz Rasul, chairman of Ballard Power Systems, will give the third lecture in the student-run "2020: Building the Future" series tonight.

He'll speak, starting at 8 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre, about "the implications of the Ballard fuel-cell on social evolution over the next twenty years". A question-and-answer period will follow the talk.

The last lecture in the "2020" series presented John McCallum, chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada, on February 16. It was "more than a mere success", says economics student Wafi Abdulla, one of the organizers: "By addressing the question 'Will Canada Matter in 2020?' McCallum's prognostications resulted in a call for tax cuts by the national media."

He notes that by making the text of his speaking notes available on the web and issuing a news release, McCallum drew attention that led to two articles in the National Post and several mentions in the Globe and Mail. "Indeed, even the CBC morning show featured Dr. McCallum expounding on his remarks on Tuesday, February 22."

McCallum's talk began with these words:

I am delighted to participate in the University of Waterloo's "2020: Building the Future" lecture series. Of all the places to ask whether Canada will matter in 2020, I would choose a university. And of all the universities in the country, I would choose Waterloo. Why a university? Because it is the younger generation that will ultimately provide the answer to my question tonight. By 2020 people of my generation will, at best, be drawing our pensions. Why Waterloo? Because Waterloo students epitomize Canada's web-sensitive young elites whose choices regarding Canada, whether to leave or stay, will have a bearing on the future of our country.
"With such a prominent and respected Canadian leader outlining his view of this university," says Abdulla, "coupled with the coverage '2020' received, one would hope that Waterloo will be able to attract, in even greater numbers, men and women of significant merit and achievement. It is UW's responsibility to capitalize on this opportunity."

Changes 'will improve' payroll service

Department offices are getting a memo this week about two changes in the way the payroll section of the human resources department operates. Both "will improve the service we provide", says the memo from Sandra Hurlburt, assistant director of HR.

She notes that the department's work has "grown significantly over the past 16 months, with the implementation of our new Human Resources Management System as well as the increased volume of transactions such as casual pay and scholarships. We appreciate your understanding and support during this period of adjustment."

Starting March 20, the memo says, each department will have "one contact person (Payroll Benefits Assistant) for all payroll and benefits information. Each Payroll Benefits Assistant will be responsible for faculty, staff, graduate students and temporary employees." (Currently, each payroll assistant looks after one pay group -- faculty or staff or graduate students or temporary contracts -- and there's one benefits assistant who does signups and answers benefits questions. So an administrative assistant who has a number of payroll or benefits questions would have to make several calls to HR.)

Under the new system, departments are assigned to one of six staff in HR: Carol Kube, Dawn Ciupa, Sue Koebel, Lilijana Skobo, Denise Kettle and Donna Howe. The exception: "Casual Earnings payroll will continue to be handled by Boyanka Martinez."

The memo makes this request to all departments: "Please ensure that new employees with appointments of one year or more phone to make an appointment to sign up for payroll and benefits. We ask that when submitting any payroll/benefits paperwork to Human Resources, you include the appropriate ID number, Social Insurance Number and active account number. This will assist us greatly in processing the paperwork in the quickest possible way."

Second, payments through the "casual earnings" payroll will be made by bank deposit, rather than by cheque, starting with the April 14 payroll. Says the memo: "Because of the high cost of producing and sorting thousands of cheques each month, and the inconvenience to employees who must pick up their cheques personally, we have determined that service can be improved by setting up direct deposit for all employees paid on Casual Earnings forms. (Please note that cheques will only be provided for one-time payments, such as honorariums.) . . .

"We will not be able to provide cheques for casual employees past April 14, 2000 (except for one-time payments, such as honorariums) so it is important that you inform all your casual employees to complete and return this form as soon as possible to ensure non-interrupted earnings.

"The pay advice for each casual employee will be sent to his/her respective department, so we ask that there be a place identified where these can be picked up by your employee(s). Pay advices may be destroyed if they have not been picked up within a month and employees will not be issued duplicates. T4's summarizing all the applicable earnings in the tax year will be produced and made available in February of each year."

People who are paid through the casual earnings payroll should fill out a direct deposit form by March 31, to tell the HR department what bank account their pay should go into, the memo says. A copy of the form is being distributed with the memo.

Restless as a willow in a windstorm

"But it isn't even spring," added Oscar Hammerstein II. Close, though. The temperature at the weather station on UW's north campus got up to 19.5 degrees yesterday, says the coordinator of the station, Frank Seglenieks, "and it looks like today might be the day." The day, that is, when somebody wins the station's contest for predicting when the temperature will first reach 20. "Earlier than I hoped," says Seglenieks, "but what can you do?"

Delegates to the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference will be arriving on campus today, as sessions start bright and early tomorrow morning. Preregistration for fall and winter courses continues through this week. And there's much else happening on the campus:

The career development workshop series continues, with a session at 10:30 today (Needles Hall room 1020) on "Successfully Negotiating Job Offers".

There's a talk at 11:30 this morning of special interest to people in civil and environmental engineering. The speaker is Gary Kramer, a UW graduate in civil who has been working with the consulting firm of Hatch Mott MacDonald and recently received "the American Society of Civil Engineers' John O. Bickel Award for tunnelling". He spent five years working on an extension of the Los Angeles subway -- a project that "experienced both good and bad engineering, political intrigue, controversy, success and failure that had all of the makings of a Hollywood movie script" -- and will speak about his experiences. Location: Carl Pollock Hall room 3385.

I know I announced it yesterday, but it's really happening today (and my apologies to anybody who was misled by the announcement a day early): the noon-hour concert at Conrad Grebel College will be "Jazz in the Afternoon" with, among others, Barry Wills, of UW's systems design engineering department, on piano. Some of the tunes to be tickled today are his own, including "Taking Care of Pleasure" and "Sweet Adolphe's Line". The concert starts at 12:30 in the Grebel chapel, and admission is free.

Jason MacIntyre of retail services sends word that "Altiris, a PC management company, will be on campus to demonstrate their software called 'Vision', which gives instructors full control of the PCs in their classroom. With Altiris Vision, instructors can remotely monitor, evaluate, demonstrate, control, or lock-down one or several student PCs in a classroom environment." The event, which is hosted by the Computer Store, will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today in Math and Computer room 2009.

I see it's Italian Night in the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria this evening; never did get around to asking whether they were serving pancakes yesterday for Pancake Tuesday. In REV and the Mudie's cafeteria in Village I, food services has been holding a draw for an RCA three-CD changer system, sponsored by Primo, one of several promotions going on at UW food outlets this month.

What comes after Pancake Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent -- traditionally a season of self-denial and self-assessment for Christians. A special Ash Wednesday service, in the Anglican tradition, will be held at 7:00 this evening in the chapel at Renison College.

The Juno Awards will be presented Sunday at SkyDome -- this year's honours for top Canadian music performers -- and four tickets to the awards ceremony are available to be won at the Bombshelter pub tonight. Customers can fill out a ballot any time during the evening.

International Women's Week continues, with noontime crafts and, from 6 to 8 this evening, a "Rubberware Party" featuring AIDS prevention and "toys" (call ext. 3457 to sign up for one of the limited number of spaces).

Tomorrow afternoon brings something called "Reality Check" to the Student Life Centre, sponsored by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. It's a forum theatre performance about youth poverty, involving some 17 young people from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Audience members will be invited to help the actors decide how to resolve the situations they perform. The free show will begin at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

Finally, a correction to yesterday's Bulletin. I spoke of a UW senate meeting scheduled for March 20; in fact, the meeting will be March 27. (The senate, which generally meets on the third Monday of each month, has permanently moved things to the fourth Monday for February and March, the patient folks in the university secretariat remind me.)


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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