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Wednesday, January 9, 2002

  • 'Open discussion' at appraisal time
  • Award for researcher on Cuba
  • Writing Wes Graham's life
  • Notes on a slippery morning
Chris Redmond

Waterloo Regional Children's Museum is being created

FASS auditions begin

Auditions start tonight for "FASS 2002: Dial F for FASS", a real live film noir that hits the Humanities Theatre stage February 7-9.

"For those of you who don't know what FASS is," writes producer Michael Brown, "we're a UW amateur theatre group that writes and produces a show once a year. If you're Faculty, Alumni, Staff or a Student then you're welcome to come out and enjoy yourself! We're a very social group that enjoys acting (or are we a theatre group that enjoys social events?) and we're looking for people to come out and participate.

"Auditions are happening on January 9, 10 and 11 starting at 6:30 p.m. in Hagey Hall 334. They'll be running until around 10 p.m., so show up anytime before 9:00 and we'll get you an audition. Everybody that wants to participate in FASS can, so if you've dreamed of being on the stage, now's your chance!"

After Friday's auditions, Brown adds, there will be a social gathering for FASSites.

'Open discussion' at appraisal time

There are some new things to discuss during staff performance appraisals this winter: workload, working conditions, equipment, "balancing personal and work life".

A new section to the appraisal form is being introduced in this year's version of the "Guidelines for Use of the Staff Confidential Performance Appraisal Form", which are being sent to department heads and other managers this week. They're being told that the once-a-year appraisals need to be done and returned to the human resources department by March 15.

As always, the appraisal form asks managers to comment on staff members' performance under such headings as "client service", "communication", "job knowledge and its application" and "managing change". Those parts of the form haven't changed. They provide the basis for a numerical rating, which is a factor in determining the staff member's annual pay increase (expected on May 1).

What's new is a section headed "Areas of Interest or Concern", which is not part of the numerical evaluation and is encouraged but not required.

Says the "Guidelines" memo: "Effective December 2001, the Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation added a new section to the performance appraisal. This section is not part of the formally rated portion of the appraisal and completion is optional.

"The intent of this section is to provide opportunity for open discussion on items of interest or concern which may not previously have been addressed in the performance appraisal process. Examples include personal development, training & development opportunities, workload, adequacy of tools available to do one's job, working conditions (ergonomics), balancing personal and work life. This discussion may bring about understanding or modification to enhance working relationships or the working environment."

The new element to annual appraisal interviews is the latest evidence of a growing management interest in workload and work life issues, as the university gets steadily bigger and busier.

Award for researcher on Cuba

[Gutiérrez] Mariela Gutiérrez (left) -- born in Cuba, raised in Montréal, now a faculty member at Waterloo -- is featured on the front page of today's Gazette, as she basks in the glow of a major award for her research on Cuban literature.

"Although she has never returned to her homeland, the island has remained in her heart, and the country's rich culture has informed much of her academic life," Barbara Elve writes. "Now, after being honoured with a membership in PEN International (Affiliated Cuban Letters) -- a human rights organization for writers -- the chair of Spanish and Latin American studies at UW feels truly part of the Cuban literary community."

Awarded last fall at the First International Colloquium on Cuban Letters: Creation Within and in Exile, held in Spain, the membership recognizes Gutiérrez's 22 years of research on the works of Cuban writer Lydia Cabrera.

Gutiérrez discovered "the magic of teaching" during her 10 years as a faculty member at Concordia University in Montréal, and has transported that magic to Waterloo, winning the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1993. As well, she has produced the majority of her writing since coming to UW. The focus of much of her research has been Cabrera, a Sorbonne-educated ethnologist, essayist and short story writer, "for Cubans, one of the our greatest -- a bastion of our culture". Cabrera's short stories became the focus of her PhD thesis at Université Laval, and since then, Gutiérrez has immersed herself in researching Cabrera's oeuvre -- a vast body of work ranging from ethnographies to short stories on the culture and beliefs of the Afro-Cuban community.

She is working on the first translation into English of "a vast volume that gathers 30 consequential literary works of Lydia Cabrera . . . with a substantial and detailed critical introduction." As well, she is supervising the English translation of a compilation of several of her own works on Cabrera.

Writing Wes Graham's life

A local writer is looking for help as he works on a biography of Wes Graham, long-time professor at UW and a pivotal figure in the development and teaching of computer science in Canada.

Kevin Stumpf, who calls himself "the nostalgic technophile", remembers meeting Graham when he was 18, "trying to get a glimpse of my first DEC PDP-45/11, which I heard was housed above the Bank of Montreal then at the corner of Phillip and University. Wes just happened to be there and he graciously welcomed me. He also invited me to drop by his office on campus whenever I wanted to chat more about computers and the computer biz in Canada. Over the next few years he spent many hours with me.

"I've spent my entire life working with computer technology. I love my wife and sons, but I really, really like computers. I even own the control panel from a computer identical to the first computer I ever saw -- the big old IBM 360/75 in the old Red Room.

[Graham in 1973] "In March 2001 I found a book at Chapters in Waterloo about Edwin Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation. It was a wonderful book about a 'successful techie'. I tried to find similar books about successful Canadian techies, but there is virtually a void. The solution was obvious: write a biography of a man whom I knew and who I know did much to demonstrate and promote how to take ideas successfully to the marketplace. It just so happened that that man was also instrumental in building one of the most competent and innovative computer science university programs in the world. It was obvious that I would write a biography about J. Wesley Graham." (The photo at right shows Graham in 1973.)

Stumpf has been writing articles about computer science for years, and has worked as a technical writer. He's also the author of a self-published book about collecting computers. And now he's tackling the biography. "At my request," he says, "close mutual friends of Wes Graham introduced me to members of Wes's family. They have encouraged me to continue and agreed to help as they can, but this is not a commissioned work, it is an independent endeavour.

"I hope this biography will tell people about a special man and the crucial times he lived in, explain why so many high-tech firms have located in K-W, describe innovative approaches to teaching a complex subject, and in so doing make one generation proud of a peer and encourage a new generation to achieve even more."

He'd like to hear from people with recollections of Wes Graham, and certain of Graham's achievements in particular: "I am most eager to know about the rationale behind the original WATFOR compiler. I would like to know what Wes and others on campus casually chatted about that led to the concept of WATFOR and then WATFIV. The next void is the origins of WATFAC, Waterloo Foundation for Advanced Computation. I have the official records, but I'd like to know the scuttlebutt." Stumpf can be reached by e-mail at kstumpf@unusual.on.ca.

Notes on a slippery morning

The news site "uwstudent.org" reported last night that the Federation of Students board of directors has ruled that the decision of a recent student referendum, on adding a fee to pay for expansion of the Student Life Centre and Columbia Icefield, was valid. "The Feds' Board is the third level of consideration on referendum procedure after the Referendum Committee and the Referendum Appeals Committee," says the report by Ryan Chen-Wing. "The results had been invalidated by the Referendum Appeals Committee based on the change of the referendum question during the polling period. The decision of the Feds' Board of Directors reads: 'The Board decided that the change of the question during the voting period was one which, though its occurrence is documented, was nonetheless insufficient to bring the administration or the results of the referendum into disrepute.' This decision means that the affirmative result of the referendum will be forwarded to University of Waterloo Board of Governors so that it can consider the $13.80 fee."

Graduate students being paid as teaching or research assistants this term who were not on the payroll in December should plan to do payroll paperwork today, if they didn't do it yesterday. "Students who were on monthly payroll in December 2001 and whose banking information has changed should also sign up. Please bring your Social Insurance Number and bank account information (void cheque if possible)." If you sign up at one of these sessions, and the department that's paying you does what it's supposed to do, the first month's pay will show up in your bank account on January 25. Today's signup session runs from 10 to 11 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.

There will be a surplus sale of UW property -- old furniture, unwanted computers, who knows what -- from 11:30 to 1:00 today at central stores, East Campus Hall. Ed Goodwin of stores says there hasn't been a decision yet on how often the sales will be held this year (they were two Wednesdays a month last year). It's definite that there will be sales on February 6 and February 20, but not on January 23, he said.

Here's a reminder that library books signed out by faculty, graduate students, and staff before the beginning of December are due today. Alex McCulloch of the library's user services department tells users that "If they are renewing on-line, the name of the tab in Trellis to go to is 'your library account'." He adds: "On-line help for renewing is available. Patrons should not try to renew more than 50 books at a time."

Graduate students are invited to meet the executive of the Graduate Student Association at the Grad House today, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. To sweeten the offer, there are free coupons available for the "Pizza for a Buck Lunch" that runs from noon to 1:30, also at the House.

Co-op students in most programs should note that work reports from the fall term are due by 4:00 today.

An information session for graduating students runs from 4:00 to 5:00 today in the Humanities Theatre. Subtitle: "Making the Transition from University to the Workplace". The session, sponsored by career services, will deal with such matters as "developing a personal career goal", using the resources of career services, the graduate employment interview process, and April's planned "Enterprise Boot Camp" for those with entrepreneurial ambitions. The department is urging all students who will graduate this spring to take the hour this afternoon and attend.

Hungry? Nostalgic for a time before you were a gleam in a baby boomer's eye? The Ron Eydt Village cafeteria is offering a "50's Dinner" tonight, 4:30 to 7 p.m., with "steer burger" or chicken sandwich or "BBQ pulled pork" or spaghetti or a veggie-burger -- the latter not being very fiftiesish, I'd say, but it's the thought that counts.

The Gays and Lesbians of Waterloo discussion groups are starting up again after the holiday break. Tonight at 7:00, the "coming-out discussion group" will talk about "What I Did Over the Holidays", in Humanities room 373. "This group," an announcement says, "provides a safe and supportive environment to discuss coming-out experiences."

The volleyball Warriors will host Guelph's Gryphons in the Physical Activities Complex tonight -- the women's teams at 6 p.m., the men's teams at 8:00.


January 9, 1964: UW leaders meet with the Advisory Committee on University Affairs and ask for 1964-65 grants from the Ontario government of $2,775,620 for operations and $9,641,796 for capital projects.

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