Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Announcing the event, the Feds note that universities across Ontario see the tuition revenue gained through enrolment growth as the key to preventing further budget slashing. The effect on the quality of education resulting from this growth is unknown. "The Federation of Students feels that it is important for students to know the future plans of the University of Waterloo and how it will affect them as students," said Dawn Phillips (left), the Feds' vice-president (administration and finance). "Students need to know what the university is doing to prepare for the expected future growth."
At the forum, which will feature question and answer panels, will be David Johnston, UW president, and Amit Chakma, the provost, along with Federation president Yaacov Iland and several other student representatives. The audience can also ask questions.
The double cohort results from changes to the high school curriculum in Ontario, leading to this year's grade 12 students and this year's grade 11 students both graduating at the same time in 2003.
While UW is looking at growth over the next few years, there's a first-rank university that is taking the opposite approach: Queen's, which was ranked as "highest quality" in Canada by Maclean's magazine this month while UW was dubbed "most innovative".
What's the party line at Queen's, which is facing a budget cut of 4 per cent next year and possibly the same amount in each of the next two years? A letter from Queen's principal Bill Leggett, sent across campus last month, explains "the basis of this shortfall". Some excerpts:
In a word it is inflation. In the university sector, inflation has averaged approximately 4% per year over the past four years. We expect similar levels over the coming three years.
The Government has made several base budget investments in Ontario's colleges and universities since the devastating $400 million budget cut in 1996/97. However, in most cases, these grant increases have either been targeted to specific program initiatives, or more recently focused almost entirely on enrolment growth. After a decade of budget cuts, followed by a major budget setback in 1996, we have come to the end of our ability to absorb the increased costs associated with inflation.
Many universities have attempted to counter budget shortfalls by dramatically increasing enrolment. We have carefully modelled several enrolment growth scenarios for Queen's. It is our view that it will simply not be possible to grow our way out of this budget dilemma. Short-term gains would quickly lead to the need for increased infrastructure, services and faculty -- none of which would be fully supported by inadequate government operating funds. A growth strategy would also alter the character and learning environment of Queen's in ways most faculty, staff and students would consider damaging.
Queen's is one of a very few universities in Canada with the potential to achieve true international excellence in the next century. We should aspire to a high level of excellence while retaining the characteristics distinctive to Queen's -- a size that ensures that we continue to treat our students as individuals, a strong commitment to high quality undergraduate education, international recognition for much of our research and scholarship, and a learning environment that ensures personal and intellectual growth. We should do everything possible to remain true to this vision despite the formidable challenges currently before us.
We will continue working to ensure more competitive government funding. Ontario's universities are engaged at Queen's Park and in Ottawa pressing for improvements in our collective financial outlook. We are approaching this effort on many fronts. However, even if we secure a more favourable foundation of government funding, we must recognize that the level of excellence we seek at Queen's is unlikely to occur without dramatically increased levels of support from alumni and friends.
And we should not turn our backs on further deregulation of tuition. Combined with an unswerving commitment to accessibility, higher levels of needs-based student assistance and predictability about rates of increase, tuition revenues can significantly improve the quality of the learning environment.
He'll deliver his speech, "Beyond Kyoto: How Can We Resolve The Climate Change Crisis," at 9:30 a.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Admission is free.
In announcing the public lecture, three UW environmental studies faculty members -- Ian Rowlands, Jean Andrey and Greg Michalenko -- said that Dauncey will offer some solutions for the transportation sector. "With the world's scientists agreed about the reality of global warming, and concerned about the dramatic extent of the possible temperature increases during the next century, our planet's leaders face an urgent need to craft the policy and technology changes that will enable us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by far more than that agreed to in the Kyoto Protocol," they said in a statement.
"Globally, transportation produces 21 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases. Guy Dauncey argues that a hydrogen-based transportation system is technically possible, pointing to early prototypes that are already on the roads. Iceland, for example, is planning to switch its entire economy to hydrogen by 2030.
"Without major policy initiatives to encourage the transition, however, Dauncey maintains that the change will be too small, too limited and too late. The challenge, therefore, is to combine smart technology and smart systems-based planning with smart politics. In his public lecture, Dauncey will outline how it can be done."
After the lecture, Dauncey will be available for discussion about his ideas in Environmental Studies I room 221 from 10:30 to 11:20. His visit is sponsored by the department of geography and the Environmentalist-in-Residence program, centered in the department of environment and resource studies.
A resource of the LT3 (Learning and Teaching Through Technology) Centre in the Dana Porter Library, the Flex Lab provides IP video conferencing -- delivered via the Internet -- which has expanded the reach of Gilbert's Recreation 354 (Leisure Education, Concepts and Practices) all the way to Thunder Bay.
The real-time video link gives 10 recreation therapists in Thunder Bay a chance to participate in Gilbert's class when visiting lecturers give presentations. For a northern community struggling with budget cuts to health care -- and fewer resources for professional development -- the link allows staff access to new information in the field of therapeutic recreation.
But the benefits of videoconferencing flow in both directions, says Gilbert. The interaction also gives her students an opportunity to learn from the experience of practitioners in the field. This month, guest speakers presented sessions on the use of therapeutic recreation in treating people with addiction, and the use of recreation therapy in employee rehabilitation.
While Gilbert had noticed past articles in the Gazette about learning technologies available on campus through LT3, she didn't consider incorporating them into her own classroom until a chance meeting at a conference with a colleague, Keli Turpin from Thunder Bay. Turpin described the problems of accessing professional development, and the idea of the video link began to "percolate" in Gilbert's mind.
The costs of the link -- about $300 per session -- were borne by Thunder Bay, and preparations on this end didn't take a lot of additional time, said Gilbert, who e-mailed handouts to the participants in Thunder Bay before the presentations.
"It's a new way of thinking about how we reach out and educate and communicate with others," she added. There are no therapeutic recreation programs offered by post-secondary institutions in Thunder Bay, said Gilbert, who considers the effort part of "a responsibility to a larger community. There are 10 people in Thunder Bay who've never been to Waterloo who may think differently about us now."
From Thunder Bay, Turpin said the participants -- from St. Joseph's Care Group (where an electronic classroom is located) and Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital -- appreciated having the links "for ideas and for contacts with presenters. It was nice to interact, ask questions, see faces." She would like to reciprocate with "a presentation to Adrienne's class about the unique situation up here".
Although more evaluation will be needed before future links are planned, Gilbert and others in her department are envisioning more applications for the technology, such as links to external examiners for PhD defences.
And a note of special interest to staff and faculty who hope to get paid this month: payday will come Thursday, December 20, the human resources department says. (January's monthly payroll will come on the usual day, the last Friday of the month, January 25.)
There's action many places on campus today, notably in the department of fine arts in East Campus Hall, where a preview continues for the "miniature art" show and sale that opens Friday afternoon and continues Saturday. Previews run from 9:00 to 4:00 today.
"This is the last week the Bike Centre will be open for the fall term," writes volunteer Ted Harms. "We will be open our regular hours until this Thursday: we open at 9:30 on Monday and Wednesday, 11:30 on Tuesday and Thursday, and we close each of those nights at 7 p.m. For those planning ahead, the new/returning volunteer meeting for the winter term will be January 8 from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Bike Centre. We're located in Student Life Centre 101A in the southwest corner of the building (close to the loading docks) and can be reached at ext. 5174."
The music department offers free melodies at noontime today in the chapel at Conrad Grebel University College. It's a student recital day; performing are Cherith Tse (trumpet), Todd Schiedel (cello), Mandi Cox (mezzo), Francis Chen (piano), Edwin Vane (violin), Jennifer Black (mezzo), Malinda Exel (piano), Jessica Jones (soprano), Beth Ann Lichti (soprano), and Rachel Molnar (mezzo), most of them accompanied by Sandra Mogensen on piano. The music starts at 12:30, and admission is free.
It'll be "customer appreciation day" at Brubakers cafeteria in the Student Life Centre, with $2.29 specials from 11:00 to 2:00. "And," says a note from food services, "our suppliers will be working to help serve our customers. Coca-Cola will be offering samples of their new product, Diet Coke with Lemon. Alfresh will also be there providing samples."
The scholarships and student aid committee will meet at 1:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3004.
A seminar under the title "Smarter Health: The Value of IT in the Health Industry" starts at 4:00 this afternoon in Davis Centre room 1302. It's sponsored by the InfraNet Project and the Education Program for Health Information Professionals, and the speaker will be Craig Lehmann, dean of health technology and management at the State University of New York (Stony Brook).
Now, about the event that's happening in the Student Life Centre from 4:30 to 8:30 this evening. In yesterday's Bulletin I described it as "Country Caravan", and several readers immediately protested. Don't come looking for line-dancing, one of them advised, or you're going to be grievously disappointed. In fact today's event is Cultural Caravan, sponsored by the Federation of Students to show off the crafts, cuisine and culture of various ethnic groups. "Food has a minimal cost, and entertainment is free," notes Ryan Eagles, clubs director for the Feds.
And if Cultural Caravan should get you in the mood for, say, Vietnamese food, you can slip over to Bon Appetit in the Davis Centre afterwards; it's Vietnamese menu night there, 5 to 7 p.m.
There will be a meeting tonight for people who might be interested in the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, being sponsored by UW but held in Toronto January 17-19. The meeting runs from 5:30 to 7:00 tonight, in Davis Centre room 1304, and features "snacks and refreshments" as well as speakers explaining what the conference will have to offer.
The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group sponsors "Media Watch Movie Nite" starting at 7:00 tonight -- right after the CUTC meeting, I guess, in the same room, Davis Centre 1304. To be shown are the National Film Board flicks "Only the News That's Fit to Print" and "Truth Merchants".
Tomorrow and Friday will bring the eighth annual pre-Christmas craft sale, sponsored by UW's staff association, all day in the Davis Centre lounge. The sale offers ornaments, chocolates, potholders, stained glass, and a great deal more, as I'll mention tomorrow.
Tomorrow night, co-op students who are stranded in Toronto, far from the bright lights of Kitchener-Waterloo, can enjoy the consolation of a night out organized by the Math Graduation Committee. "We're hoping for a large turnout," say organizers Laura Atkinson and Jennifer Symons, asking for advance reservations: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, the details? Things start at 6:30 at the Peel Pub, corner of King and Duncan Streets.