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Tuesday, May 23, 2000

  • Renovations coming to Ron Eydt Village
  • Graduation rate is 'understated'
  • Team is tops in 'evaluation' contest
  • Bad news, and other news
  • Today, tomorrow and forever

[Hose sprays sidewalk]
Aquacide in progress: Murray Dubrick of plant operations, along the University Club driveway, zaps weeds with a chemical-free hot water wand.

Renovations coming to Ron Eydt Village

A $2.5 million program to renovate the central complex in Ron Eydt Village -- modernizing the cafeterias and adding facilities much like the ones that were built recently in Village I -- should be done in the summer of 2002, says a proposal that's coming to the executive committee of the UW board of governors today.

The project is to come for approval from the board itself next month. It would be paid for partly through Villagers' meal plans (a $25-a-term increase in the fee is proposed) and partly through residence fees (which are going u p 2 per cent this fall).

The proposal comes in a report the board's building and properties committee, as one of many items that the executive committee will check out as it sets the agenda for the June 6 meeting of the full board. (The executive committee meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3004.)

Says the report: "Ron Eydt Village (REV) is a 31-year-old residence which houses 1000 first-year students during fall and winter. Throughout the summer, REV accommodates the University of Waterloo Conference Centre guests from across Canada and around the world. Since its construction in 1969, REV has not been renovated with the result that many amenities within the central complex are outdated and not effective in serving clients' needs.

"The Department of Housing and Residences and the Department of Food Services agree on the need to renovate the existing central complex (cafeteria, kitchen facilities, dining rooms, administration area and overall community space) to enhance the living environment, meet service demands and provide an efficient facility. The proposed renovations would take place during the summer of 2002.

"A similar initiative took place in Village 1 central complex in 1998. The redesigned cafeteria now provides students with a variety of menus and food products which better suit the diverse lifestyle of today's student. The new kitchen facilities, updated equipment and redesigned space, allow Food Services to accommodate increased clientele with greater efficiency. The lounge, games area, Internet cafe and central laundry facility were keenly appreciated by the students and have been instrumental in quickly establishing a sense of community within the residence environment. It is anticipated that the project will breathe new vibrancy, recruitment appeal and financial viability into REV as has resulted from Village 1 redevelopment.

"A Ron Eydt Village Redevelopment Committee has been struck with representation from Housing, Residence Life, Conference Centre, Food Services, Plant Operations, UW Business Operations, student representatives from REV and the Federation of Students. The Committee is in the process of reviewing the needs of the various constituencies and developing a plan on items to be included in the renovation."

A little more than $1.0 million of the budget would come from the department of housing and residences, and slightly less than $1.5 million from food services.

Graduation rate is 'understated'

UW's "overall graduation rate" is 77.0 per cent, according to statistics calculated by the Ontario government -- a number that's "somewhat understated", says the UW office of institutional analysis and planning.

For all universities in Ontario, the IAP report says, the overall graduation rate is 73.2 per cent. The government uses the graduation rate as one factor in calculating "performance" funds that have been made part of university operating grants beginning this year.

The table published by IAP shows the percentage of first-year students in September 1991 who had received a UW degree by 1998. Some students changed programs during their years at UW, the page points out: "Of those who received a UW degree, about 66% of them graduated from the same program category in which they started in 1991. This varies from category to category."

The rates are calculated based on the government's categories of program, which aren't the same as the six UW faculties. For example, they show that 69 per cent of students in "physical sciences" graduated, 80 per cent in "agricultural/bio science", 82 per cent in "social sciences", and 72 per cent in "other arts and science" -- which also includes humanities students. The one category that clearly corresponds to a UW faculty is engineering (81 per cent).

IAP says the numbers are "understated for UW" because Waterloo doesn't have such professional schools as law and medicine. "Students who study for one or two years at UW then transfer to a program at another university, say medicine, which UW does not offer, are computed as not receiving a degree at UW."

It also notes that the graduation rates published this month "are not the same as those provided in the Macleans annual ranking issue. Macleans computes the graduation rate of students from second year to accommodate the fact that some university programs do not require students to choose their program until year two."

Team is tops in 'evaluation' contest

A UW team last week won the top prize in a national contest sponsored by the Canadian Evaluation Society and held at the society's annual conference in Montréal.

The five students on the team, from the department of health studies and gerontology, bring home a crystal trophy reflecting great performance "under very high pressure circumstances", says their coach, HSG professor Anita Myers.

Team members were Liz Cyarto, Jen Yessis, Trisha Gavin, Adam Spencer and Candace Nykiforuk. Myers coached them along with Mark Seasons of the school of planning. A team of planning students was also entered in the national contest, but wasn't one of the three teams invited to Montréal for the finals.

Says Myers:

Students are presented with a case and given five hours to read and critique the materials and develop either a briefing report (prelim round) or an oral presentation (final round). They have no idea ahead of time what the case will be about or the terms of reference/nature of the task. As you can imagine, the pressure is enormous -- especially in the final round where they present before a panel of judges, the case sponsors and an audience (and are videotaped). Following each team's presentation, the judging panel asks questions.

This year, the case chosen for the preliminary round was Canada Place -- consisting of a web site as well as permanent physical sites developed by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The competitors were asked to identify key indicators and design an evaluation plan for the website.

The case chosen for the final round this year was the Community Access Program begun in 1995 by Industry Canada and Human Resources Development Canada to provide increased affordable Internet access to Canadians. The case presented the results of the evaluation of the rural component of the CAP and asked the teams to outline the lessons learned, issues to be resolved, and to design a plan to evaluate the urban component of the initiative.

While the judges were deliberating, the sponsors from Canadian Heritage and Industry, respectively, described what they faced in implementing and evaluating these real initiatives. In fact, Anne Scotton, Director General, Corporate Review Branch of Canadian Heritage, came in person to present and meet the students at the reception following the competition. And, she offered them jobs!

Myers said the event provided "an invaluable learning experience for our students, as well as contacts and employment opportunities. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to showcase the talent we produce in a national forum to representatives from both governmental bodies and non-profit agencies."

Bad news, and other news

The aerial robotics group, based in the electrical and computer engineering department, received a devastating blow Sunday morning with the theft of some of its equipment, including irreplaceable data in the memory of laptop computers.

"The team, which is currently third in this international competition, really needs this equipment back or else we may be forced to withdraw," says the team's advisor, E&CE professor David Wang.

He provides just a few details: "Between Sunday midnight and Sunday morning at 10:00, someone made a very direct hit on the Waterloo Aerial Robotics Group lab. Equipment essential to the success of this project were stolen. Laptops, including ones which contained irreplaceable student projects and data, were stolen. If anyone saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of the E2 and CPH buildings, please let campus security know. . . . Three years of hard work could be flushed down the drain unless someone decides to return our stuff to us."

Co-op web site: There's an update to last week's news about an unauthorized, student-created web site that provides an interface to job information in the co-op department's Access database. The information is intended only for UW co-op students, and officials weren't too happy when it became known that the student was making it available in a way that, in theory, anybody in the world could see.

By Friday, the student -- who still hasn't been identified -- had added a password protection feature to his site, so that only co-op students who can legitimately use Access can get at the job listings through his interface.

Also on Friday, Open CECS Online, a group of students that has been seeking to be involved in designing the official new co-op computer system, said the creator of the rogue page had agreed to join them. Engineering student George Roter also said he and other representatives of OCO had met with co-op department administrators to talk things over. During the weekend, a version of the web interface was made available on the student group's web site, but restricted to on-campus users. "Sorry!" it says if you try to reach it from outside UW. "At present, this system can only be accessed from on-campus computers. Login authentication coming soon."

Teams compete: The Formula SAE Car team, made up of engineering students, have been racing their car over the past few days at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. Detailed results aren't in, but it's reported that the UW car was one of the few competition entries to complete the important "endurance" part of the event on Saturday. And no results are on hand this morning from the Ethanol Vehicle Challenge, in which UW's Alternative Fuels Team was competing.

Money for Conestoga: The Ontario government has announced "an investment of $14.2 million" for expansion at Kitchener-based Conestoga College, a project that will create "an extra 1,430 new spaces for postsecondary students". The money comes from the latest phase of the province's SuperBuild program to help pay for buildings at colleges and universities.

Conestoga had been indignant at being left out of the original SuperBuild earlier this year -- in which UW received $31.2 million -- but more money turned up in the provincial budget last month. The new student spaces "will be in a full range of programs including the liberal arts as well as the emerging programs that students are demanding", colleges minister Dianne Cunningham said. Conestoga had originally hoped to get SuperBuild funding to create a new campus on the east side of Waterloo; it seems more likely that the new funding will go for construction on the college's main Doon campus in south Kitchener.

Today, tomorrow and forever

The pension and benefits committee is meeting this morning (Needles Hall room 3004) to look at a variety of matters -- foreign investments for the pension fund, the wording of the pension plan text, the ballooning costs of the health and dental plans for faculty and staff. The meeting is to last all morning (from 8:30 to noon), as P&B meetings so often do.

In a presentation today, the Ontario Teachers' Retirement Village (Kitchener) Inc. will give an initial $50,000 of an approximately $550,000, five-year donation to support UW research on improving the quality of life for elderly people. The donation will support research and enhance community education in aging being conducted by the Physical and Psychological Assessment Centre for the Elderly, based in UW's faculty of applied health sciences. Today's event is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Matthews Hall room 1403.

Communications and Information Technology Ontario, a "centre of excellence" with much UW involvement, is holding one of its periodic Research Review sessions today in Toronto. Topic this time: "Information Systems and Management . . . the storage, retrieval and application of data". Next week, May 31 to be precise, another Research Review is scheduled, this one to be held in Waterloo and this one concentrating on modelling and simulation.

The career resource workshop series continues, with a session tomorrow on "Interview Skills: Selling Your Skills", at 10:30 in Needles Hall room 1020. This Saturday there's a six-hour production of the whole seminar series under the title of "The Whole Kit 'n' Kaboodle"; a sign-up sheet is available on the first floor of Needles Hall.

A memo from the department of co-operative education and career services: "Are you a co-op student going on your final work term this fall and graduating in 2001? If you are, and if you would like to know more about taking part in the grad employer interview process, you may be interested in attending the Job Information session on Wednesday May 24, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Engineering Lecture room 101. The session, given by Co-operative Education & Career Services, will include topics such as website registration, interviews and application process, employer information sessions, important dates and deadlines, and career development seminars/workshops."

The Federation of Students will hold an open house on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at its offices in the Student Life Centre. "Come meet the volunteers, staff and executive," says the new vice-president (issues) of the Federation, Desiree Taric. "We are really working hard to tell everyone that we are accessible," she writes, "and we love to have people come into the office and talk to us, because it is very hard to keep in touch with the campus when we are stuck at a desk all day. We thought this would be a good way to get everyone in at one time!" So she can plan the refreshments, she'd appreciate RSVPs for the open house (phone ext. 3780, e-mail fedissue@feds), but last-minute visitors are also welcome.


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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