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Wednesday, March 22, 2000

  • Finances: maybe okay, for now
  • Second thoughts about growth
  • Three candidates seek to represent staff
  • Energy project helps local co-op
  • Other things happening today

Finances: maybe okay, for now

"I can see the way to getting through the year without large budget cuts," provost Jim Kalbfleisch told the senate finance committee yesterday morning, as it met to hear about the university's financial prospects for 2000-01.

Kalbfleisch had plenty of numbers for the committee, but not a finished budget, largely because salary negotiations with staff, faculty and graduate students are still in progress.

He did tell the committee that the way things look right now, there's about enough money to pay for a 1 per cent pay increase for faculty, staff and teaching assistants (plus merit increases where they apply) and still balance the operating budget. The cost of those increases would be about $3,600,000, he said, admitting that "1 per cent is less than we'd like to provide."

If salary increases end up being more than that, he said, budget cuts would be likely, since there isn't any obvious way to increase income.

Christine Cheng, president of the Federation of Students, asked whether "the main reason tuition is being increased" was to pay for salary increases. Not just that, Kalbfleisch replied: many kinds of expense are going up, from hydro bills to the cost of library books, and "one of the important costs of running a university is to appropriately pay the faculty and staff."

Highlights of what was new in the information provided by the provost yesterday:

The current calculation is that UW's grant from the Ontario government will go up by about 1.6 per cent ($1.7 million) for the coming year, to $105.4 million, and tuition fee revenue will go up by $2.7 million to $75.8 million.

Second thoughts about growth

Ontario's universities are unanimous in feeling "great consternation" about this year's grant and fee announcement from the provincial government, but far from unanimous over what they can do about it, provost Jim Kalbfleisch told the senate finance committee yesterday.

He said several university leaders would be meeting with Dianne Cunningham, the minister of training, colleges and universities, last night to tell her how the five-year limit on fee increases and the complicated allocation of grant increases will make it hard for universities to manage, plan and maintain quality.

"None of what was announced," said Kalbfleisch, "bears any resemblance to what was discussed" over several months by the Working Group on University Capacity, a joint government-university group that was discussing how to cope with the expected growth in Ontario enrolment and the "double cohort" in 2003.

"Maybe we weren't talking to the right people," he said.

A committee member asked him what he thinks the government is driving at. "They want lots more places provided in the Ontario system, and they want to do it cheaply," he said. Enrolment is expected to grow by 3 per cent this year, while a 1 per cent grant increase is being provided to cover the costs.

None of that growth is likely to be at Waterloo. The first-year class at this university was 15 per cent over the target last fall, at some 4,600 students, and under the government's formula there will be no "accessibility" funds unless this year's class is even bigger, which the provost said just isn't going to happen.

A few weeks ago, he was saying that UW could plan to grow by 15 or 20 per cent in the next few years. "If this is the way they intend to fund growth," he said yesterday, "we're in big trouble. . . . We may want to reconsider whether we participate at all."

Three candidates seek to represent staff

Staff members will be invited to vote electronically when they choose a representative on UW's board of governors this spring.

Nominations for a staff seat on the board closed March 8, the university secretariat says, and three candidates came forward seeking to follow Barry Scott of the UW research office as a board member. (The other staff representative on the 36-member board is Stephen Markan of information systems and technology.)

Biographies of the three candidates appear in the Gazette today. Here they are briefly:

The election will start next week and close April 12, and something new is being tried: non-union staff members are being asked to vote electronically through UWinfo, starting at 8:30 a.m. on March 29. The exact URL and instructions will be available before voting begins.

To cast a ballot electronically, the secretariat's announcement says, a staff member will need to know his or her Employee Number (printed on pay statements). "During this period, a station will be open in the University Secretariat between 8:30-12:00 and 1:00-4:30 daily for those staff members without access to a computer or who require assistance."

And electronic voting is secret -- not even the secretariat will know who voted, let alone for whom. "There will be no trail," says university secretary Lois Claxton.

Ballots will be mailed to full-time union staff members on Monday, March 27. The election results will be announced on Friday, April 14.

Energy project helps local co-op

The K-W Urban Native Wigwam Project, a cooperative housing development -- not of wigwams, but of older homes in downtown Kitchener -- has taken steps to improve the energy efficiency of its properties with an evaluation by the UW-based Residential Energy Efficiency Project.

Throughout last summer and fall, 32 homes in the co-op housing project were assessed in an effort to reduce energy costs. The analysis includes the development of a prioritized list of suggested repairs or renovations.

Conducting energy audits of co-operative housing is a new development for REEP, a project of the UW faculty of environmental studies and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence. Since REEP was launched a year ago, some 700 homes in the region have been assessed by certified energy evaluators with the project, funded by the federal government's Climate Change Action Fund, Waterloo region, and the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

Performing analyses of cooperative housing developments is a new direction for the project, says Ryan Kennedy, a graduate intern with REEP. In addition to conducting energy audits of regular, single-family dwellings, talks are currently underway with two other housing cooperatives who wish to help their members conserve energy.

The energy assessment, valued at more than $300, is still available for $25. Based on findings so far, REEP can help homeowners reduce energy consumption by an average of 25 per cent, with an average annual savings on energy bills of 18 per cent. For more information or to book an evaluation, contact REEP at reep@fes or phone ext. 6661.

Other things happening today

St. Paul's correction

I said yesterday that the pre-graduation banquet at St. Paul's United College was being held last night. In fact, it's been rescheduled for Wednesday of next week, March 29. That gives a little time for anyone who wants to attend to get in touch with Darlene Radicioni at 885-1465. All present and former St. Paul's residents who will be graduating from UW this year are invited.
A one-hour program about the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, presented by UW's safety office and satisfying the legal requirement for WHMIS training, is offered at 10:30 this morning in Davis Centre room 1304. The session, which involves a video and brief quiz, will be repeated Thursday, March 30, in the same room.

Today brings a talk on "issues of depression and intimacy experienced by men", to be given by a pair of psychologists formerly on the St. Jerome's University faculty and now in private practice, John Theis and Peter Naus. Their visit and talk on "Emerging Masculinities" (Davis Centre room 1302, Wednesday at 12 noon) is sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program.

There's another noon-hour concert at Conrad Grebel College, this time a performance by the Greensleaves Renaissance Trio (viola da gamba, viols and recorders, and lute). The music starts at 12:30 in Grebel's chapel; admission is free.

Food services will be holding a charity auction at the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria. "Bid for partner merchandising items," a flyer says; that's all the information I have.

The Federation of Students will hold its annual general meeting at 4:30 p.m. today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. All fee-paying members of the Federation -- that is, practically all undergraduate students -- are eligible to attend and vote. Among the agenda items is a proposal to set the Federation fee at $25.40 per term as of September 1 (it's currently $24.75).

A wine and cheese party for women in engineering will run from 4:30 to 6:00 today in the "fishbowl" lounge of the Davis Centre. "All are welcome," says Emily Thorn of the Women in Engineering Committee.

The "Focus on Web Design" series, sponsored by the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology and WatCHI, continues today with a session on "Information Interaction Design" (4:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302).

The history department, along with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies and the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, present a talk tonight by Terry Copp, history professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and author of several well-known books about Canadian soldiers and World War II. He'll speak at 7:00 in Engineering Lecture Hall room 103, offering what's promised as "an interactive discussion on one of the most controversial Canadian military actions of the Second World War: Operation Spring".

The Graduate Student Association sponsors a pool tournament starting at 8 tonight at the Weavers Arms pub on Phillip Street. There's a $2 registration fee, in advance at the Grad House.


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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