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Monday, January 7, 2002

  • UW still leads in loan payment
  • Goal for on-campus donors: $4.5 million
  • Always in search of funds
  • What's happening this week
Chris Redmond

Ukrainians (and others) mark Christmas today

UW still leads in loan payment

Waterloo still has a lower rate of unpaid student loans than any other university in Ontario, according to annual figures from the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

[OSAP] UW's default rate in 2001 was 2.9 per cent, down from 3.5 per cent the previous year. Rates at some other Ontario universities: Guelph, 5.5 per cent; Laurier, 5.9 per cent; York, 9.6 per cent. Province-wide, the default rate was 7.4 per cent, up from the previous year's figure of 7.1 per cent. It's the first year the default rate has gone up since the government started a program to deal with unpaid student loans six years ago.

The default rate for colleges also rose slightly, from 17.2 per cent in 2000 to 17.5 per cent in 2001. But the rate for private vocational schools dropped (from 28.9 per cent to 26.7 per cent), allowing the government to say that the overall OSAP default rate was down to "the lowest annual rate since these rates were first measured in 1996".

The 2001 statistics measure the repayment status of students who received Ontario Student Loans in 1998-99 and finished their studies in 1999-2000 -- a total of 25,110 loans. At the end of July 2001, 1,851 of those loans were in default.

Last year at the same time, 2,140 of 30,218 loans issued in 1997-98 were found to be in default.

Institutions with a default rate higher than 25 per cent have to pay some of the costs of the unpaid loans, under OSAP rules. For this year, none of the universities has a rate that high.

The loan default rate is usually interpreted as a rough measure of how well graduates from a university, college or vocational school are doing at finding well-paid jobs after they graduate.

Goal for on-campus donors: $4.5 million

The "council" that guides the on-campus Keystone Fund campaign has set a goal for faculty, staff and retiree givings in UW's coming Campaign Waterloo: $4.5 million.

This spring, the Keystone Fund changes key, to emphasize capital funds as part of the broader campaign, which has a goal of $260 million by 2007. Says Bonnie Oberle of the UW office of development: "The campaign goal is to raise $4.5 million between May 1, 2000 and April 30, 2007 from faculty and staff, past and present."

She announced that 26 people have volunteered to be members of the Keystone Fund Campaign Council, and noted that campaign council members "will be instrumental in helping the campaign reach its ambitious goal". The council consists of faculty, staff, and retirees representing both academic and academic support areas.

It's headed by co-chairs who were announced earlier: Howard Armitage of the school of accountancy on behalf of faculty, Shirley Thomson of the math faculty on behalf of staff, and Jim Kalbfleisch, former provost, on behalf of retirees.

Then there are four people who will chair working groups within the council: Pat Cunningham of mathematics (launch and annual events, co-chair), Tom Galloway of plant operations (sponsorship), Nancy Heide of information and public affairs (volunteers), and Tina Roberts of the registrar's office (communications).

Other council members are Jean Andrey, geography; Don Brodie, retiree; Andrea Chappell, information systems and technology; Steve Cook, purchasing; Mariela Guti´rrez, Spanish; Cathie Jenkins, cooperative education and career services; Bill Lennox, civil engineering; Ron McCarville, recreation and leisure studies; Kathryn McKie, Renison College; Doug McTavish, finance; Pat Mihm, plant operations; Dawn Phillips, Federation of Students; Bill Power, chemistry; Paul Schellenberg, combinatorics and optimization; Ron Scoins, retiree; Susan Shantz, retiree; Ben Youn, Graduate Student Association. Development and alumni affairs staff supporting the council's work include Wendy Rose (who will co-chair the launch and annual events working group) and Oberle.

Council members "will have a variety of roles and responsibilities", says Oberle, including recruiting campus-wide Keystone Fund department representatives, demonstrating support, leadership, and commitment to the campaign, seeking campaign support from the campus community, and participating at Keystone Fund events.

Each council member is starting with a term of three years, to June 2004, with the option to renew for another three years, to the campaign's end in 2007.

Always in search of funds

In an interview published in the new issue of the UW Magazine, David Johnston, the university's president, talks about money -- surprise! -- as "a major problem" facing UW.

Says Johnston: "Because we depend on the largesse of others -- government grants, provincial and federal -- universities will always be in search of funds. If a university is as ambitious as ours is, it will make a good case that it can put those resources to good use."

He makes a point that he likes to make whenever he gets the chance: "In Ontario we are dead last among the 60 jurisdictions in North America in grants per student." More accurately, the measure on which Ontario used to be 59th and is now 60th is changes in grants over the years since 1995: while California grants went up 50 per cent in four years, for example, Ontario grants dropped 8 per cent. Says Johnston: "That gap is a challenge because increasingly we are competing in a North American market not simply to recruit and keep people, but to provide them with an environment -- laboratories, libraries, support for graduate students -- that permits them to do leading-edge work."

[Magazine cover]

Also in the "fall" issue of the UW Magazine, which has just appeared: UW initiatives to encourage young entrepreneurs; Waterloo alumni working at Kitchener's Globe Studios; awards for haute cuisine produced by Village chefs; and an annual report listing 2000-01 donors to UW.

He goes on in the magazine interview: "For seven years, there was no government investment in new buildings, no new labs for Ontario universities. That changed last year with SuperBuild, and we have one very large project that is supported by that program, our Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, plus several substantial additions to engineering and our new co-op building. There is some indication that kind of funding may continue."

Johnston -- who was interviewed just a few days after the September 11 attacks on the United States -- expresses some concern about the likely performance of the Canadian economy. "If private citizens are more affluent they will be more supportive," he notes. And he puts in a plug for alumni support: "Almost all of us who have been privileged with a university education have increased our own wealth as a consequence and have been able to do more interesting things with the talents we have. There is a responsibility to put something back into those institutions."

These comments fit nicely with more recent remarks by Amit Chakma, the provost, when I chatted with him on the last working day before Christmas. He spoke then of "a structural problem in our budget" and warned that "we cannot rely on provincial government funding to get us out of our difficulties and move ahead."

Said Chakma: "We need to gain some degree of financial independence." And where will that come from? Student fees, givings by alumni and other friends of the university, and new activities from which UW can make a profit -- the "diversified revenue stream" Chakma has mentioned on several public occasions.

"Hopefully," he said, "a little more will come from government. But let's not count on it."

What's happening this week

On this Monday of the first full week of classes, the staff in the co-op education and career services department will be out of the office today, taking part in their once-a-term professional development day.

To deal with the beginning-of-term rush, the bookstore, UW Shop and Techworx in South Campus Hall will be open extra hours this week: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Michel Fich of UW's physics department is the speaker today as Kitchener Public Library continues its noontime lecture series. He'll speak on "Astronomy from Space: A Canadian Perspective", at 12:00 at KPL's main branch downtown.

A public meeting will be held tonight to get input on UW's plans for the north campus, particularly the planned research and technology park. UW has (according to a legal notice from the City of Waterloo) submitted an "application for approval of a Draft Plan of Subdivision pursuant to Section 51 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. c. P. 13, as amended". The notice adds that "The Council of the corporation of the city of Waterloo will be forwarding its recommendation onto the Regional Municipality of Uwaterloo for consideration. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo will either approve the proposed draft Plan of Subdivision or refuse it." Tonight's public meeting to discuss the proposal starts "no earlier than 7 p.m." in the council chambers at City Hall on Regina Street.

The plant operations department sends word that the men's room in Engineering II, room 2419, will be closed for repairs tomorrow. "Repairs in two mechanical rooms will start on Tuesday. There will be some odor in the building because of the repair."

A purple brochure is out announcing the career development programs offered by the co-op and career services department this term. First up are a series of sessions under the title "Interest Assessment" (involving the Strong Interest Inventory) and "Exploring Your Personality Type" (the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator); later come skills sessions on résumé writing, interview skills and so on. The best way to find out more would be to drop by the career resource centre on the first floor of Needles Hall.

Central stores will hold the first surplus sale of the year at noon-hour on Wednesday, in East Campus Hall (off Phillip Street).

Here's a reminder that an information session for graduating students, about the employer interview process and similar matters, will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre.

A retirement reception will be held Thursday for two people who are leaving the parking office: Florence Foster, long-time attendant in the kiosk at parking lot H, and Jackie Weber, who was the kiosk attendant at lot B1 until it closed for the construction of the CEIT building. Thursday's reception will run from 3 to 5 on Thursday afternoon at the Laurel Room in South Campus Hall; RSVPs go to Elaine Carpenter, phone ext. 3510.

The Weight Watchers at Work program will be running again this term: an information and registration meeting is scheduled for January 14, a week from today, at 12 noon in Humanities room 373. "To confirm attendance," says a flyer, "please contact Sandy Hurlburt at ext. 3104."

The sustainability project announced last term, and sponsored by the Federation of Students and other groups, is getting rolling, with an office on the lower floor of the Student Life Centre. A grand opening is scheduled for January 22, says a note from organizer Sandy Kiang, who can be reached by e-mail (sandeebeach@yahoo.com) for more information.


January 7, 1980: The shuttle bus between UW and Wilfrid Laurier University collides with a car on Columbia Street on the first morning of winter term classes.

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