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Wednesday, May 1, 2002

  • The sun's shining on a new year
  • Aiming for an 'exemplary' building
  • Colleges join in funding chorus
  • And a few other notes
Chris Redmond

It's a small world: person-to-person through the Net

The sun's shining on a new year

I see the bookstore's ExpressBooks service is set up in the fresh air outside South Campus Hall this morning, as the campus comes back to life this morning with the beginning of spring term classes. And no, you can't possibly be behind on your assignments yet.

But May Day -- which on one hand is marked worldwide as a labour holiday, and on the other hand carries traditions of spring flings and outdoor merriment -- means a new start at UW in many other ways as well.

Today, the department of computer science is suddenly a School of Computer Science. Launch celebrations were held in the Davis Centre great hall at noontime yesterday, with proud words from several speakers, including the invocation of great names from the past, including Wes Graham and the first chair of the "department of applied analysis and computer science", Don Cowan (still active as a professor emeritus). And the Warriors Band played the Muppet song, and tables of sandwiches were vacuumed up by the merry crowd.

May 1 is the official first day of a new fiscal year, in which the university's income is largely a big question mark, and in which departmental budgets have been cut by 2 per cent. Tuition fee increases also go into effect today, and so do annual faculty and staff salary increases.

And, starting with the spring term, students' co-op work terms are now recorded as a form of academic credit.

And a new senior appointment begins today: Tom Carey (left), director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, becomes associate vice-president (learning technology and innovation). Besides LT3, he'll be responsible for the teaching resources and continuing education office, the audio-visual centre, and distance and continuing education.

And student leaders begin their terms of office on May 1, including Brenda Slomka as president of the Federation of Students and Shannon Puddister as president of the Graduate Student Association.

Aiming for an 'exemplary' building -- by Barbara Elve, from today's Gazette

The call has gone out for an architect to renovate an abandoned factory in Cambridge to house the new UW architecture building -- a project that presents a gauntlet of design challenges.

"We would like to create an exemplary structure without being ostentatious or eccentric," says school of architecture director Rick Haldenby, who has spearheaded plans to relocate the facility from the UW campus to a site on the Grand River in the historic Galt section of Cambridge, 25 kilometres away.

But that's only the first challenge. The 84,000 square foot, three-storey brick structure (below) -- once the home of the Riverside Silk Mill -- will require an interior renovation to accommodate classrooms, offices, design studios, labs, a workshop, a library, a gallery and an auditorium. The building will also need to be fitted with new windows, roof, and entrances, as well as completely modernized "building services" - heat, hydro, water and modifications to support the technology infrastructure.

[Brick] "The interior is the major focus" of the $9.5 million renovation, says Haldenby. That doesn't mean the exterior is less significant. While most of the structure is brick, the section facing the river is covered with corrugated metal siding and needs a new façade.

In addition, the building "presents an unassuming face" to its neighbours in Queen's Square -- two 19th century churches, the Cambridge Public Library and an art gallery. That side will need a facelift, too. The architect will also be asked to design an exterior space along the river that will link to a system of public promenades. "The building represents a solid piece of construction with many virtues. My sense," says Haldenby, "is that the external treatment will transform pieces of the building. The side facing the river may be dramatically different."

He expects the architect will create a "counterpoint between the old and new." The century-old factory is "essentially a modern building, the kind of architecture out of which modern architecture grew." The functional, industrial design was seen to "address the modern condition in the most appropriate way."

Says Haldenby: "What we want is an architect who will work with the staff, faculty and students to create a design reflecting the activity, spirit and ambitions of the school of architecture at Waterloo. The coming and going of students at UW is unique," he adds, with the impact of the co-op program, international programs and exchanges on more than 300 students. "The building has to communicate with the diverse presences of the academic community. People are simultaneously extremely concentrated and diffuse. We're looking for a firm to help us articulate the kind of school we are. And we want it to speak very clearly and directly to the community about being part of the community -- which is different from being on a university campus."

A deadline of May 9 has been set for "expressions of interest" from architects. The submissions, which will include portfolios of "relevant projects" will be reviewed by a committee made up of representatives of the school, the university, and Cambridge city council and business community. Renovations are expected to start this fall, with occupancy by September 2003.

Colleges join in funding chorus

"It's not just a university problem," the Association of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology of Ontario says in newspaper ads this week about the double cohort of would-be students that's about to hit campuses.

An ACAATO news release says the ads are meant "to urge the new Ernie Eves government to take immediate action to address funding concerns around the double cohort and chronic underfunding".

The half-page ads call for the immediate infusion of $125 million per year into college operating budgets so that the colleges do not have to turn away students when the so-called double cohort (caused by the elimination of the fifth year of high school) begins.

"The need is immediate," says Howard Rundle, chair of ACAATO. "Already we've seen applications for this year rise by about 10 per cent. We must have additional funding from government to hire teachers and equip new teaching space."

Rundle says there is a mistaken perception that the double cohort is a problem faced only by the province's universities. "Nearly half of the high school grads who go on to postsecondary education, go to a college. This is not just a university problem."

The colleges expect a minimum of 33,000 additional students due to the double cohort as well as the baby boom echo. "Chronic underfunding over the past decade has jeopardized the system's ability to maintain high levels of quality, let alone handle an influx of thousands of additional students," ACAATO says.

"It's the students who will lose if government does not act," says Rundle. "Applied educational programming of the sort provided by colleges is in high demand across the province and globally. These programs train students for well-paying careers and contribute significantly to the economy of Ontario. The manufacturing, industrial and high-tech sectors are scrambling for well-trained employees. We're the solution."

Making the same point university leaders have been making, Rundle says the government got off to a good start by providing SuperBuild funding for classrooms and an initial three-year commitment to operating funding. "However, the operating funding, while helpful, is not sufficient to maintain the quality of education for which colleges have become known and would still be at a per student level that falls far short of what it was a decade ago."

The ACAATO ad can be be seen on the association's web site.

And a few other notes

Word has arrived from the faculty of engineering that the student team creating this year's Formula SAE car, intended to blow away custom-made cars from other universities on a competition track in Pontiac, Michigan, will be unveiled at 6:00 tonight in parking lot A. "We are aiming for gold this year," the team's web site says, "after placing 9th overall in the 2001 competition." The team is made up of fourth year student working on the car for their fourth year projects and volunteer students from across campus.

The weekly gay and lesbian discussion group series continues this term, on Wednesday nights at 7:00 in Humanities room 373. Tonight: "Coming Out to Yourself". A social time follows at 8:30.

Reminder: tomorrow 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.

The Graduate Association for Recreation and Leisure Studies will be holding its 10th annual leisure research symposium tomorrow and Friday. Theme of the graduate student event is "X-cellence Revisited: Recreation, Research and Reflection." It will take place at Matthews Hall in the Clarica Auditorium and adjacent spaces. The papers to be presented will focus on a variety of topics within leisure studies and may be either a completed research study or a work-in-progress. In addition to present papers, there will be poster sessions. Keynote speakers are Tom Goodale of George Mason University and Dorothy Dowling, president and chief operating officer of Royal Host Corporation.

Advance note: the annual general meeting of the Federation of Students -- postponed from a winter term date when a quorum wasn't reached -- will be held May 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. I understand Brenda Slomka, the Feds' new president, is working on ingenious ways to get students to turn out for this once-a-year ruling meeting of their government.



May 1, 1980: Irwin Rodin moves into the new position of "coordinator of computer-assisted reference service" in the UW library.

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