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Monday, March 4, 2002

  • Cut 2 per cent, gain $1.5 million
  • PeopleSoft conference is in Vegas
  • Senate executive, and other events
  • A look at the rest of March
Chris Redmond

Faculty go on strike today at Dalhousie

[Red bike, red pipes]

The red and blue of winter are captured in this photo of the Davis Centre, from the new CD-ROM of campus winter pictures taken by the photo/imaging staff of UW Graphics.

Ploughshares could get new home

The Record reported on Saturday that there are plans to turn the old Seagram Museum building in central Waterloo into "a world-class research institute dedicated to peace", carrying a $25 million endowment and operated by Project Ploughshares. Ploughshares is currently based at Conrad Grebel University College.

Cut 2 per cent, gain $1.5 million

Provost Amit Chakma would balance UW's budget for the coming year by cutting $3.1 million in campus-wide spending, equivalent to a 2 per cent slice off most budget items, according to documents being presented today.

The 2 per cent reduction amounts to 1.3 per cent of total spending, because some items, including student aid and utility bills, aren't open to being cut.

At the same time, $1.5 million in new allocations is being distributed to various departments, both academic and non-academic, to cover extra costs as the number of students grows.

Chakma's budget, with a bottom line of $238.9 million for 2002-03, comes to a joint meeting of the senate finance committee and long-range planning committee at 1:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3001.

The provost is predicting that grant income from the Ontario government -- which now makes up 47 per cent of operating income -- will go up from $107.2 million in the current year to $111.6 million next year, "based on 75% of full average funding for growth", which would be better than this year's experience of about 40 per cent funding for the number of new students who arrived.

Tuition fees would go up from this year's $78.4 million to $86.9 million in the coming year, from a combination of fee increases and enrolment increases. Chakma isn't calling for any increase in co-op fees or student services fees.

The budget charts say 67.0 per cent of the university's money will go to salaries in the coming year, and another 11.2 per cent to benefits. That would be more like 13 per cent if not for a continuing partial reduction in the amount of money going into the pension fund.

The budget includes a $1 million "contingency reserve", "to deal with income and expense uncertainties including variances in the operating grant".

PeopleSoft conference is in Vegas

Some 30 people from UW will join thousands from other North American universities this week to talk about the software company they all deal with: PeopleSoft.

The latest Quest milestone

"The end of January marked another important accomplishment of the Quest team, but most particularly those involve din implementing academic standing and academic progression" says a memo from the top managers of the Student Information Systems Project. "We successfully 'promoted' students from the Fall 2001 term to the Winter or Spring 2002 terms. This was perhaps the most significant remaining set of processes which needed to be put into production use. . . . In terms of our old systems, this replaces and enhances a suite of seven decades-old marks-processing programs, and provides students with the ability to view official grads and unofficial transcripts on-line.

"We also take note of the time and effort devoted to initial trials of the 'academic advisement' module for students graduating at the end of the Fall 2001 term. We will be building on this initial success throughout the current term, in order to support the main bulk of annual graduations that occurs at the end of the Winter term."

The PeopleSoft Higher Education Users Group is holding its annual conference in Las Vegas. The conference, says Dave Mason of UW's information systems and technology department, "has become the place to learn about the applications, technology and experiences of others, even more so than the PeopleSoft annual conference. During the last one or two years, the SISP team has had their heads down dealing with the go-live, and now we are sharing our experiences and re-investing in this group as we move forward with the further development and evolution of our systems."

SISP is the Student Information Systems Project, which led to the creation of Quest last year as well as behind-the-scenes systems for everything from admissions to marks processing. In addition, the UW people going to Las Vegas include some from the other big UW activity that uses PeopleSoft software, the Human Resources Management System project.

HEUG was formed in part to improve the relationship between university customers and the huge software company that is PeopleSoft Inc. -- a relationship that hasn't always gone smoothly. Universities are very different from PeopleSoft's big corporate customers, people in IST departments explain, and it's taken time to make their different needs clear. The stakes are huge: the multi-campus California State University alone could be looking at a $1 billion project by the time it adopts PeopleSoft systems for all its accounting and student records.

The conference, which has its web site in the UW "applications technology" webspace, will include hundreds of technical sessions, as well as the usual features of a conference, from receptions to a vendors' exhibit hall and a golf tournament. The keynote speaker is Don Tapscott, businessman and author of Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs, as well as an adjunct professor in the University of Toronto's Rotman school of management.

Mason said participants from Waterloo include people from the faculties as well as from eight central departments -- IST, the registrar's office, the graduate studies office, distance education, institutional analysis and planning, finance, human resources, and co-op and career services.

Half a dozen people from UW will be among hundreds giving presentations during HEUG: Derek Kirkland of IST on "data purging", Kevin Oberle of IST on update methodology, Pam Fluttert of IST on "reporting in HRMS", Connie van Oostveen of IST on upgrading to version 8 of HRMS, Reg Quinton of IST on "externalized authentication", and Charlene Schumm of the registrar's office on the Ad Astra room scheduling system. In addition, there will be a presentation on data conversion strategies, given jointly by a UW team and staff from Ciber, which calls itself "one of the largest and most successful PeopleSoft implementation firms" and is one of about 50 companies involved in HEUG.

A correction

I said Friday that John Thistle, who organized UW participation in the Ontario Engineering Competition, was a professor in systems design engineering. In fact, he's in electrical and computer engineering. A number of systems design students in the contest, including all those who brought back medals for UW, were advised by Carolyn MacGregor, who is indeed in the SDE department.

Senate executive, and other events

The executive committee of UW's senate will meet at 3:30 this afternoon (Needles Hall room 3004) to set the agenda for the March 18 meeting of senate itself. Major items tentatively will include a report on internationalization at UW, a presentation on technology-mediated learning and the LT3 technology centre, a new series of reports on undergraduate program reviews, and amendments to UW Policy 59 on reduced workload.

Preregistration -- sorry, "class enrolment" -- for spring term courses begins today, and appointments through Quest stretch through the whole month. It's also Plan Modification Week, meaning the season for making application to switch from one subject to another, or change a minor or option. The most-asked question probably is going to be, when do we get to choose courses for next fall? The answer: sometime in June, the Quest folks think.

This week is also International Women's Week, with a number of events organized by the Womyn's Centre in the Student Life Centre. Today, and I quote:

Also happening in various parts of the campus today: Tomorrow, the computer store will offer a day-long seminar, "Powerful Computing with Mac OS X", in Davis Centre room 1302. Says Noemia Fernandes, communications manager for retail services:
Powerful computing. Many applications require it. Many professionals demand it. Typically, powerful computing requires expensive Unix workstations to manage intensive calculations. In addition, one or two separate systems are required to handle publication, presentation, and productivity applications -- until now.

Apple now provides the ideal solution for those who want mission critical applications and productivity applications on the same desktop. With Mac OS X, Apple combines the ease-of-use of a Mac with the robustness of Unix -- all in one computer.

Tomorrow's talks concentrate on "performance" (morning) and "solutions" (afternoon). Registration is requested, through a link on the store's web site.

On-line voting by faculty members continues this week, as they consider ratifying new articles for the Memorandum of Agreement, dealing with program closings, "financial exigency" and layoffs.

A look at the rest of March

Much will happen between now and the day March goes out like a lion (or ostrich, or echidna, or bonobo, or something else suitable to the weird winter we've been having). The month actually ends with a holiday weekend, as Friday, March 29, will be Good Friday. Some highlights of the intervening four weeks:
March 6-7: student-organized peace and conflict studies conference, Conrad Grebel College.

March 7, this Thursday: launch of Midnight Sun VII in the Student Life Centre (3:30 p.m.).

March 8, this Friday: "First Nations: Expressions and Impressions", evening, Renison College.

March 8-9: Black Forest Coffee House, St. Paul's United College.

March 12: Campus Day for high school visitors.

March 16: "Once on This Island", Caribbean Students Association show in the Humanities Theatre.

March 17: installation of Richard Gwyn as chancellor of St. Jerome's University (2 p.m., St. Agatha Church).

March 20-23: drama department's production of "The Crucible".

March 21: Kerr-Saltsman Lecture, Lewis Lapham speaking on "An Audible Silence: The Media's War Against Terrorism".

March 23: Stephen Lewis speaks at The Cedars in Waterloo, sponsored by Project Ploughshares.

More on these events as their various dates get closer, of course.



March 4, 1974: Students in Ron Eydt Village West E take their clothes off and hold the first mass voluntary streak in Canada. March 4, 1982: The Engineering Society's Ridgid Tool, stolen two months ago, is returned inside a 45-gallon drum of concrete and with the letters "U of T" engraved on it. March 4, 1987: Prime minister Brian Mulroney visits campus. March 4, 1998: St. Jerome's College becomes St. Jerome's University.

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