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Monday, April 29, 2002

  • Three staff grievances this year
  • $950,000 grant for microchip research
  • On the cusp of a new term
Chris Redmond

Japan marks its Golden Week of holidays

[Reds and browns]

'Negotiable Floor Plans' investigates Wojciech Olejnik's interest in "the relationship between image and surface", says an announcement of the current exhibition in the East Campus Hall galleries, showing off work by Olejnik and another Master of Fine Arts student, In-Sun Kim. Utilizing deep texture and abstract image, it goes on, Olejnik's work "relates to the Western notion of us and them. Constructing artwork which investigates both concepts on the same campus, Olejnik's work is about the possibility of the reconciliation of the two -- how surface and image can co-exist on the same plane. Olejnik attempts to reintroduce the physicality of the art. Using his own personal history as inspiration, the imagery is primarily landscape."

Three staff grievances this year

Three staff members filed grievances under UW's Policy 36 in the past year, says a report that's on the agenda for the annual meeting of the staff association next month.

Reports for the meeting are published in the April issue of Staff News. Here's what the report from the Committee of Inquiry on Staff Grievance says:

"Recent activity (Fall/01-Winter/02) on the part of Committee of Inquiry members has included receipt of three formal, written grievances, two of which proceeded to the hearing stage. One case did not (at the request/agreement of the parties, the hearing was put on hold while mediation was attempted; later, the staff member resigned from the University).

"Typically, in any given year, the Committee hears one or two cases. And, as mentioned last year, revised Policy/Procedure #36 (1999) has not materially affected the number of grievances or appeals heard. Likewise, revised Policy #33 (also 1999) and the dissolution of the Ethics Committee, which meant a change in where appeals go to be heard (i.e., staff under Policy 36) have not affected the number of cases. At the informal discussion stage, the administrative chain-of-command is relied upon -- as was the case prior to the revisions and when there was recourse to the Ethics Committee. The line organization has always been expected to assume major responsibility.

"The Committee of Inquiry consists of a pool of 12 (six named by the Association, six by the VPA&P, and approved by the President). Some may never be chosen to serve on a hearing committee (which is comprised of the Chair plus five). Members are automatically excluded if they are in the same department/faculty as the appellant/respondent; selection is then on the basis of availability and, sometimes (particularly if the case were to have a harassment component), there is an attempt to achieve male/female representation."

The report doesn't give any indication of what the three grievances were about, where they came from or how they were resolved.

Elsewhere in the same issue of Staff News there's a report from the association's Members' Advisory Committee, including material from the office of ethical behaviour and human rights.

Catherine Fry of the OEBHR writes: "In 2001, University Conflict Resolution Support Program cases included six RSP cases, with three being staff related, and seven CIP cases, with six being staff related. Support was provided in a variety of situations including individual conflict resolution guidance, preparation for grievances, mediation (facilitated discussions), meeting facilitation, and a customized day workshop for a department. Also, ten staff members received individual resolution consultations."

Anne Jenson, chair of the members' advisory committee, says there were inquiries from 16 staff members over the past year. "Topics of concern included advice and clarification on policy, and remedying difficult situations in the workplace. Of the 16 people that came to my office for help, 4 people were referred to the OEBHR."

The staff association will hold its annual general meeting June 3 at 11:30 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.

$950,000 grant for microchip research -- from the UW news bureau

[Elmasry] A leading University of Waterloo faculty member, Mohamed Elmasry (left), has been awarded a $950,000 grant over five years by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The money will go toward his research project entitled "VLSI Circuit Design for Gigabit Optical Communication." VLSI stands for Very Large Scale Integration.

"The project will deal with the development of tiny microchips to be used as transreceivers connecting many fibre optical communication links," said Elmasry, a member of UW's department of electrical and computer engineering.

Fibre optical communication links are expected to replace all existing wire communication systems in Canada and around the world. The development of the tiny microchips connecting them is a key to the wide use of the technology in the next five to 10 years.

Fibre optical communication allows huge amount of video, audio and data communications using optical rather than electrical signals. At the crossroads in the communication networks, optical signals must be converted to electrical signals to feed telephone lines, video and Internet connections. The tiny microchips used in such conversations must handle huge amount of data at high speed with the least amount of electrical power.

Elmasry's project is of strategic importance to maintain Canada's high-tech competitiveness in this area. His world-renowned UW research team is one of the best in Canada working on digital microchip design.

The award-winning Elmasry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His annual research budget is more than $400,000.

Elmasry's research interests include VLSI digital circuit and system design for low-power low-voltage applications using CMOS and BiCMOS circuit structures. The effect of technology scaling is explored, as well as high-speed ECL/CML logic structures.

Golf tournament nears

"Yep, it's that time of year again," writes Hazel Austin of engineering computing, announcing that Monday, June 17, is the date for the 13th Matthews Golf Classic, an annual event "aimed at faculty, staff and retirees".

The event, to be held at the Grand Valley Golf and Country Club, starts at 12 noon and winds up with a dinner at approximately 6 p.m. The format is a "scramble", says Austin, "which means that all members of a four-person team tee off at each hole and the team decides which of the four balls will be played for the second shot. Cost is $46 for the day, $26 for golf only, and $20 for dinner only."

The registration form can be found on the web and must be returned by May 31. Jan Willwerth at ext: 2376 (jan@uwaterloo.ca) or Jason Greatrex at ext: 6494 (jgreatre@uwaterloo.ca) can provide more information.

On the cusp of a new term

With the spring term due to begin on Wednesday, students who don't want to incur late charges should pay their fees by today at any friendly nearby bank. (Payments by cheque are already past the deadline.) The registration process is at the "open enrolment" stage through Quest, meaning that students can play with their course selections any time the system is up. (Another Quest note: I see that the posting of enrolment appointments for the fall term, which was supposed to happen last Friday, has been postponed for a week.)

Voting starts today in the election of a staff representative to the UW board of governors. The position officially comes vacant May 1, but voting actually continues until May 10. While unionized staff will get ballots in the mail, non-union staff will vote on the secretariat web site.

The pensions and benefits committee has another morning-long meeting today, starting at 8:30 in Needles Hall room 3004. First item on the agenda: a "review of utilization rates and costs per drug/procedure" of the extended health care plan. Before the morning's over, the committee will also discuss a "statement of investment policies and procedures" for the pension fund.

Something special in the department of philosophy runs all this week -- a "colloquium, public lecture series, and seminar" that's also both a graduate course and an undergraduate course. The title is "Problems with Liberalism: A Defense of Political and Moral Conservatism", and the event stars John Kekes of the State University of New York at Albany, author of A Case for Conservatism and other books. He'll speak each afternoon starting at 2:00; Friday afternoon there's a symposium in which Kekes will be joined by two other visitors "representing different sorts of Liberalism". The week's events take place in Humanities room 334.

Note from the plant operations department: the key control office will be open during the noon hour all his week, to deal with the brisk beginning-of-term demand for keys. Usual hours are 8:30 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 4:30.

Celebrations are scheduled for Tuesday as the department of computer science becomes a School of Computer Science. A panel on "the future of information technology", at 10:30 in Davis Centre room 1350, involves Jim Ingratta of IBM Canada, bill Buxton of Alias/Wavefront, and Nick Cercone, past chair of the CS department. That'll be followed by ceremonies at 12 noon, lunch, "and of course some cake" in the Davis Centre great hall. Wouldn't miss it.

Utilities shutdowns are scheduled for tomorrow in the Environmental Studies I building. There will be no heating all through the building starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow and continuing through Thursday afternoon, and water will be shut off in some first-floor areas from 8 a.m. to noon. It's all happening because of renovations to create a computer lab in room 107, the plant operations department says.

All the copy centres will be closed from noon to 2:30 p.m. tomorrow for annual inventory, UW Graphics warns. "Copy centres will reopen at 2:30 to only accept jobs. Jobs will not be processed until the next business day, May 1."

Reminder: Thursday will bring a two-part open house about the planned north campus research and technology park. A session particularly for on-campus people will be held in Davis Centre room 1301 from 12:30 to 3:30 on Thursday; it's described as "an informal drop-in style session featuring information displays. Stantec Consulting Ltd., Urban Strategies, Inc., Region of Waterloo, and City of Waterloo staff will be on hand with presentation boards to illustrate Plan of Subdivision details and Design Guidelines." Later in the day there will be another open house at Albert McCormick Community Centre, aimed at the external community. That one takes place in the arena complex's Beaupre Room, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Coming later this week: the tenth Graduate Student Research Symposium in the department of recreation and leisure studies. Grads will be presenting their work in the Clarica Auditorium on Thursday and Friday. I'll have more details in this Bulletin in a day or two.

And finally a correction: in Friday's Daily Bulletin I referred to the "Clemmer" day care centre. That should in fact be "Klemmer", with a K. You'd think I'd know by now.



April 29, 1993: In response to the Ontario government's Social Contract, May 1 pay increases for staff and faculty members are cancelled.

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