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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

  • Time to move, as 156 Columbia is sold
  • Scientist gives noontime talk today
  • Task force studies Needles Hall malaise
  • Spring starts with 486 unemployed
  • Tell me what's a-happening

Staff candidates speak tomorrow

Tomorrow's the day for the noontime open meeting introducing the two candidates to be president-elect of the staff association -- Joe Szalai of the library and Ed Chrzanowski of math computing. The question-and-answer session will start at 12 noon in Davis Centre room 1302.

Time to move, as 156 Columbia is sold

Two departments are looking for new space, as UW's lease isn't being renewed at 156 Columbia Street, the warehouse-style building at the corner of Columbia and Phillip that's home to the part-time studies and distance education office and the university archives.

"It was our intention to renew the lease" when it expires on August 31, says Dennis Huber, associate provost (general services and finance). Negotiations, involving a rent increase, had even started. But "an offer came to the landlord," Huber said yesterday, and the sale was agreed on. He said UW officials have not learned who the buyer is.

The university is currently using three "bays" of the building: two for the office of distance education and part-time studies, and one for library storage, including the archives. A fourth bay and an upstairs office area are rented to two subtenants -- high-tech firm Arise Technologies Corp. and the Canadian Innovation Centre, respectively.

The sale "is certain" though the legal formalities haven't been finished yet, Huber said. The result: UW officials, along with the heads of the library and the distance education office, are looking for new space, either on campus or off.

156 Columbia has 45,625 gross square feet of space, he said, and for UW's own purposes perhaps 20,000 to 25,000 square feet somewhere would do. "We don't mind working cooperatively with the tenants" and finding a home for them at the same time, he added. Huber predicted that library storage space can be found somewhere in UW's existing buildings, but that distance education will likely have to be housed off campus somewhere that offers easy public access.

The building at 156 Columbia, long known as Annex 2, was built in 1964 by Major Holdings, then a big player in Waterloo-area real estate, to be a temporary home for UW's psychology department. Psych moved to the present PAS building in 1974, and 156 Columbia has been used for a series of other UW purposes since then.


Scientist gives noontime talk today

One of UW's leading researchers, laser chemist John Hepburn, will share his thoughts on scientific explorations at a noon-hour event today sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Hepburn will give the Friends' eighth annual lecture, beginning at noon in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Hepburn's research interests include laser spectroscopy and laser chemistry using short wavelength laser light.

Says a news release: "His reputation as a layperson's scientist puts him in demand internationally as a speaker and he is expected to be both entertaining and inspiring. In his speech, 'Scientific Explorations: Follow the chart or random walk?' Hepburn will share his view of the scientist's world."

The Friends of the Library lecture is a public event that has become a rite of spring at UW. "This event is one of the best attended on campus, for we take great pains to select as our speaker not just a person who is highly respected and admired at the university itself but someone who is well known outside the university community," said Judi Jewinski, a Friends of the Library board member. "One of the best parts of this celebration is that we are also able to applaud those members of the university community whose productivity has revealed itself in some concrete way -- through publication or performance over the past year."

Since its launch in 1989, the group has displayed the published works of close to 200 UW authors, musicians and artists.

The Friends of the Library is a group representing people who contribute, either financially or through gifts of collections, to the university library. The group is interested in the well-being of the library as well as promoting the central role it plays in academic and creative pursuits.

After today's lecture (admission is free), there will be refreshments served on the Theatre of the Arts stage.

Task force studies Needles Hall malaise

A multidisciplinary task force meets for the first time today in an effort to find out what's making some staff members in Needles Hall feel sick.

Director of health services Barbara Schumacher heads the group, which includes other members of the joint health and safety committee: Bill Anderson, a chemical engineering professor and specialist on indoor air quality, who represents management; Cathy Jardine, who represents staff and works in Needles Hall in the graduate studies office; Stu McGill, a kinesiology professor who brings an ergonomics perspective; Ian Fraser, a member of the safety office staff, who is familiar with the history of the concerns, the response of the safety office, and the information from the most recent air quality review of the building; and Schumacher, who represents the occupational health perspective and will provide information on symptoms and absentee rates.

The task force was struck by the joint health and safety committee after a review of air quality conducted by the safety office and plant operations staff. It showed "the overall air quality of Needles Hall is well within Federal and Provincial guidelines," says a March 21 report from the committee.

Areas which met the guidelines but "could be improved to provide occupants with more appropriate conditions" include: room temperatures at the high end of the guidelines, lack of individual room temperature controls, excessive occupancy levels on the first floor, and areas used for a purpose other than what the ventilation system was designed for. "As these areas were identified, adjustments were made within the limits of the ventilation system."

The air quality review was made as a result of "concerns raised to JHSC by a significant number of occupants" of Needles Hall. Since no problems were found with the ventilation system, the committee was left wondering "what could be causing health problems for staff." It recommended the formation of a multidisciplinary task force consisting of an ergonomist, psycho/social specialist, health and safety specialist, and an occupational health specialist.

New co-op programs must follow the rules

Starting new co-op programs at UW must include an effort to make sure there will be jobs for the students who register in it, under new rules that have been approved by UW's senate. The full story appears on the front page of today's Gazette.

Until now, the process has been "ad-hoc-ish", says Bruce Lumsden, director of co-op education and career services. He says, "The (co-op) department was not always involved in the early stages of planning a new program with a co-op component." In some cases, when the department did come on board, there were difficulties in finding co-op employment for students in the new program.

Under the new scheme, CECS "must be involved in planning for new academic programs to be offered as co-op, and a representative from CECS should sit on any development/initiation committee. General issues such as work-term sequencing, length of work terms, academic goals, number of students, potential job availability need to be raised at the earliest stage possible," according to the document, Initiation, Approval and Review of Undergraduate Programs Offered Under a Co-op Model.

If a new program is approved by committees at the department and faculty level, CECS (assisted by the academic department/faculty) "will investigate employment possibilities with potential employers to determine whether there are relevant jobs for students". The employer check may take the form of surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one discussions, says Lumsden, "to ensure the business community understands and is willing to participate with relevant, meaningful work related to the program being considered."

A system of regular reviews for existing programs will help ensure students, faculty and employers are satisfied. "The changes support the academic goals of the co-op program, and strengthen the whole process -- particularly as we go into an expansionary phase," says Lumsden, referring to the increase in enrolment resulting from the elimination of Grade 13 and the subsequent "double cohort" entering the province's universities.

Spring starts with 486 unemployed

As the spring term got going last week, there were 3,674 co-op students with jobs and 486 still looking for employment, the co-op department says. That's an 86.77 per cent employment rate -- somewhat lower than the 88.39 per cent figure at the beginning of spring term last year.

Still, there are more students with jobs this year (3,674) than a year ago (3,634).

Employment rates range from 97.96 per cent in accounting and 93.55 per cent in applied health sciences to 78.22 per cent in architecture and 66.67 per cent in the teaching option. Other figures: 82.80 per cent in math, 90.31 per cent in engineering, 86.36 per cent in ES, 82.75 per cent in math, 86.17 per cent in science.

"The spring term is our most difficult term for co-op employment," says department director Bruce Lumsden, "as we are competing with the normal influx of students looking for summer employment. We will continue to work with the employers and the students over the next few weeks to insure a successful work term for both."

Meanwhile, time marches on: students who just got back to campus after the winter work term can get their first glimpse today of job that will be available in the fall term. Job posting #1 goes up at noon on the "Access" computer system and on co-op bulletin boards.

And Mark Schaan, vice-president (education) of the Federation of Students, writes that the Co-op Student Services Commission will hold its first meeting of the term today. The meeting will take place in Student Life Centre room 2134/35 at 4:00. Says Schaan: "Drinks and snacks will be provided. Please come out and help make co-op a better place for all students!"

Tell me what's a-happening

There's pizza for lunch, for one thing. "The Math Grad Committee has a pizza day every Wednesday in the term," writes communications director Matt Slager, "from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third floor of Math and Computer outside of the C&D. Pizza is provided by Domino's. MGC buttons are also for sale, and button owners receive a discount on the cost of the pizza. All proceeds go to support the 2001 math grad class."

New graduate students and temporary and casual employees are asked to come to a sign-up session today, if they didn't get to yesterday's session. It runs from 10 to 11 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302. "They should bring Social Insurance Number and bank account information," says a note from the human resources department.

The Institute for Improvement in Quality and Productivity and the statistics department present two talks today by overseas visitors. At 2:30 the speaker is Nanny Wermuth of Germany's Universität Mainz ("A Sweep Operator for Triangular Matrices and Its Application"); at 4:00 it's David Cox of Oxford University ("Likely Factorization"). Both talks will be given in Math and Computer room 5158.

The UW-based Carousel Dance Centre struts its stuff this week, with student performances of Sleeping Beauty (ballet) and Millennium Memoirs (modern dance) tonight and Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Tickets for the annual recital by Carousel students, who range from five-year-olds to university age, are available at the Humanities box office, ext. 4908.

The staff association sent out word this week that "the discount tickets are beginning to arrive" -- passes that show up each summer season for major attractions such as Canada's Wonderland, the African Lion Safari, Ontario Place, and Sportsworld. "Bingemans are providing us with Splash Cards again this year," a memo adds, "and Marineland has sent discount coupons. Flyers will be sent out soon listing these tickets and their prices," or the staff association office at ext. 3566 can provide more information. The association also notes that there are some spaces left on its two Niagara wine tours, May 27 and June 3.

A note from the Volunteer Action Centre: "Help all children enjoy track and field. Volunteers are needed to provide one-to-one assistance to a child athlete with a disability. The Kitchener-Waterloo Track and field Association Fastrack program needs flexible volunteers to take direction from the coach and the child regarding the amount of assistance required. Volunteers with an interest in track and field and in working with an athlete with a disability will enjoy being part of this innovative program."


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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