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Thursday, May 10, 2001

  • Budget leads to bigger cuts
  • UW makes more offers of admission
  • Classics scholars learn about baths
  • Data points for today

[Birdbath and watering can]
A new garden has appeared around Matthews Hall, the work of Gabe Moreira (left) and Sherry Bell (centre) of UW's grounds crew. Anne Ross of the recreation and leisure studies department checks on one of the flowerbeds, and a birdbath that Bell herself provided. It all started when someone left a bag of daylily bulbs, "free to a good home", at the building entrance, and she adopted them.

Budget leads to bigger cuts

News reports this morning are talking about generous funding for colleges and universities in yesterday's Ontario budget, but it doesn't look that way from the office of UW provost Alan George.

"It's not very pretty," George said this morning, commenting on yesterday's announcements by provincial treasurer Jim Flaherty. "There is no immediate relief."

It's good to have a three-year funding commitment, he added, but the numbers aren't so good: "The funding increases are based only on projected enrolment increases. There is no provision for inflation."

While Flaherty did promise some big dollars for higher education, most of the money won't come until two years from now. The government will increase its grants by just 1.6 per cent this year, 3.9 per cent next year, and then 13.2 per cent in 2003-04, the year the "double cohort" is expected to put sudden enrolment pressure on the campuses.

By the time the money arrives, it'll be too late to hire new professors to teach those new students, the provost says. And universities can't go into the red now to get things ready for 2003, because another provision in yesterday's budget says universities (and hospitals) can no longer legally run deficits.

George said this morning that officials are waiting for decisions on how the new funding, such as it is, will be distributed. Flaherty said the distribution among universities will be based on "growth", and there are different ways to measure that. Depending on which one is chosen, UW might be much worse off than earlier budget projections, or only a little worse off.

George's draft budget, submitted to the senate and board of governors earlier this spring, was predicting a 3.5 per cent campus-wide spending cut to avoid a $5.5 million deficit. Yesterday's funding announcement boosts that figure to somewhere between 4 and 5.5 per cent.

"It's insidious," said George this morning, "the creeping rot that underfunding does to you!"

Not all universities are equally distressed by yesterday's budget news. Paul Davenport, president of the University of Western Ontario and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, issued a statement: "Today's commitment to full funding for increased enrolment demonstrates that the government of Ontario recognizes the importance of investing in students. We applaud the premier, finance minister, and the minister of training, colleges and universities for this commitment."

The president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations was less enthusiastic. "It's not enough, and it's too late," said Henry Jacek. "Universities will be in real trouble now."

Flaherty himself called yesterday's announcement "one of the largest investments ever made in Ontario's post-secondary education system". Among his other announcements:

UW makes more offers of admission

"We have made considerably more offers to OSS (Ontario Secondary School) applicants this year than last year at this time," says a report from Peter Burroughs, UW's director of admissions, on the process of putting together next fall's first-year class.

He says that as of Tuesday, 4,714 offers had been sent out to high school students, compared to 3,396 at the same time last year. The biggest increase is in the faculty of science, which has made 1,388 offers to high school students, compared to 768 by the second week of May last year.

"A limited number of scholarships" have been offered to applicants, he says, based on students' marks from grades 11 and 12 and whatever marks are available from their current OAC courses. The rest of the scholarship offers are due to go out May 29.

The report also gives figures for the number of offers made to "non-OSS" applicants -- those coming from other provinces or other countries, from community colleges or from jobs. That number is down from 953 last year to 689 so far this year, says Burroughs. "Most of this decrease is likely due to the fact that such applicants were acknowledged later than in the past and it is taking somewhat more time for applicants to provide the necessary documentation." More offers will be going out through May and June.

Last year UW made 14,220 offers of admission and eventually registered 4,200 first-year students.

The university is aiming for 4,062 first-year students this fall: 277 in applied health sciences, 1,117 in arts, 735 in engineering, 283 in environmental studies, 950 in mathematics, 600 in science and 100 in software engineering.

The admission process is being handled this year through the new Student Information System, which will be introduced later this year for many other registrar's office functions.

NSERC grants announced

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council yesterday announced this year's batch of grants, some $346 million worth to more than 2,500 researchers across the country. The list of grant recipients includes dozens at Waterloo, from Aagaard to Zima. Among the grants:

  • A $130,224 equipment grant for "Gas chromatograph/Mass spectrometer with solid phase microextraction sampling" to a team headed by James Barker, earth sciences.

  • A five-year $59,000 grant to Nick Cercone of computer science for work on "Integrated methodologies for data analysis (knowledge discovery) and natural language processing".

  • A four-year grant of $26,000 to Kostas Kontogiannis of electrical and computer engineering for work on "Design driven re-engineering of legacy systems to object oriented and web-enabled environments".

  • A four-year $43,000 grant to William Taylor of biology for work on "Phosphorus-cycle and food webs in lakes".
  • Classics scholars learn about baths

    Some 200 Canadian and U.S. high school teachers, students, professors and researchers are converging on Waterloo this week for the annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada.

    Workshops and presentations of papers will be held today and Saturday in the Arts Lecture Hall, with a publishers' exhibit on display in Modern Languages. On Friday, the venue shifts to Wilfrid Laurier University.

    Sessions focus not only on the study of classical literature, history, philosophy, and archaeology, but also on sports, gender relations, disaster and disease, drug use, and the classical tradition in modern literature. Among the sessions:

    Computers even find a place in the discussions, thanks to a talk on pedagogy -- What Kind of Muse is This? -- by Elizabeth Ellison of Elmwood School, Ottawa, who will discuss the use of computer technology in teaching classical languages.

    Data points for today

    Plans for the north campus "research and technology park" seem to be moving ahead. On Tuesday the planning and works committee of Waterloo Region endorsed the plan, recommending that regional council commit funding to it and support an application for provincial SuperBuild money. The regional council is to meet March 14. The first stage of the proposed "park" could open next year.

    People have been asking about the repairs to the stairway and pavement at South Campus Hall -- wasn't that just done last year? Well, actually it was two years ago, in the summer of 1999. Anyway, some of the pavement has buckled and needs to be levelled, says Gene Starchuk of UW's plant operations department. He said the work is under warranty and it's the responsibility of the contractor to get it re-done right.

    It's meet-the-executive day for the Graduate Student Association, as GSA leaders will be at the Grad House between 10:00 and 2:00 to say hello. Tonight, the Grad House hosts a mixer starting at 8:00: "a great way to meet fellow [graduate] students and partake in the fun -- free munchies, games and prizes, great music".

    The Touring Players come to the Humanities Theatre for a kids' show today and tomorrow at 10:00, 11:45 and 1:30, so watch for buses on the ring road. I don't know what the performance is.

    Children are "less active and more obese" than they used to be, says Phil Campagna, who's at UW this year as the Lyle S. Hallman Professor of Health Promotion. (His base is Dalhousie University in Halifax.) "What Can We Do?" asks Campagna in a lecture he'll give at 3:30 this afternoon in the Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute (west wing of Matthews Hall).

    The next in a series of workshops on reducing poverty in urban areas, sponsored by the Urban Environmental Management Project, is scheduled for tonight at 7:00 at Kitchener city hall. The speaker is Michael Parkinson of the House of Friendship social agency, plus others to be announced.

    Movie nights sponsored by the Math Society are resuming, and tonight brings the first show. "The Rock" will be shown at 7:00 and "Finding Forrester" at 9:00, and I think the location is Davis Centre room 1302.

    There will be a brief ceremony tomorrow to dedicate a memorial to Ron Press, a staff member in information systems and technology who died last year. Friends have raised funds to place a new rock -- a Manitoba Tyndall stone -- in the rock garden south of the Math and Computer building. The dedication ceremony will be held there at 3:00 Friday afternoon.

    And tomorrow brings a "Learning Technology Faculty Institute" sponsored by the LT3 learning centre. The session, starting at 1 p.m., will hear a talk on "the Map Datums Project" by Doug Dudycha of environmental studies. It'll be held in Engineering II room 1307G.

    CAR


    [UW logo] 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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