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Monday, April 14, 2003

  • 'New opportunities' for 55 profs
  • Revised policy defines staff files
  • Happening as exams continue
Chris Redmond

Smile: it's National Oral Health Month

[Thumbs up]

Giving the high sign to UW research at Friday's ceremony was Karen Redman, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre.

'New opportunities' for 55 profs

Grants to 55 UW faculty members, worth a total of $4.2 million, were celebrated Friday morning as the Canada Foundation for Innovation made official presentations of research grants it has awarded from its New Opportunities Fund.

Money from the fund provides infrastructure support to newly recruited faculty members (those in their first full-time academic appointments). "The grants allow them to undertake leading-edge research," a news release explains, "and enable institutions to recruit new faculty members in the areas identified as priorities in their strategic plans."

Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, was among those bursting with pride on Friday. "Today's announcement," he said, "means the University of Waterloo will boost its research infrastructure, which will allow it to better compete as an international leader and in turn, bring benefits to the local community and the region."

David Strangway, president of the federally-funded foundation, said CFI "is pleased to support these New Opportunities researchers, which will contribute to the development of world-class expertise at the University of Waterloo."

And UW president David Johnston declared that "This investment in UW assists us to attract and retain high-calibre researchers, especially those who have recently launched their careers, while boosting our research infrastructure."

Among the UW researchers being assisted under the New Opportunities program:

  • Diana Denton, drama and speech communication, who is researching human performance in the areas of leadership, conflict management, interpersonal and team communication, and theatre. The new infrastructure supports this research project by allowing her to observe, record and gather data of face-to-face interactions and to analyze various communication strategies.

  • Michele (Mike) Mosca, combinatorics and optimization, who is researching a new way of computing based on how nature behaves at the atomic level at the newly launched UW Institute for Quantum Computing. His award is for computing infrastructure for a collaborative environment for algorithm development, simulation and historical date warehousing.

  • Susan Tighe of civil engineering, who is researching ways to make roads and airport runways safer and longer lasting. The research focuses on characterizing properties of innovative materials for durable infrastructure. The goal is to upgrade conventional technology in design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation as well as improve the management of Canada's highways.

    A complete list of the 55 grant recipients -- grouped under 27 projects -- is available on the UW media relations web site.

    Revised policy defines staff files

    A new version of Policy 18 -- the UW document that defines the rules for staff employment -- was officially approved by UW's president on April 3, the university secretariat has announced.

    Most of the policy isn't new -- such as rules about recruitment, probationary periods, promotion, transfer, termination, disability, and the elimination of jobs because of changes in the university. Those sections mostly date from 1995.

    The changes are in the section on discipline, and in a new passage that defines what records are kept on file in the human resources department. Says a brief preface:

    The Staff Relations Committee has made modifications to this Policy to describe what is and isn't contained in staff members' employment files (formerly referred to as Human Resource files; addition of Appendix C), and has clarified the information contained in Section V.B., Stages of Disciplinary Action, vis-a-vis the length of time disciplinary letters are kept and, for potential candidates for a position, the situation under which disciplinary letters are disclosed to a hiring manager.
    The major change is the new appendix defining an "Employment File" for a staff member: "Located in and maintained by Human Resources, the File is a collection of documents relevant to the staff member's employment at the University of Waterloo. Staff members have access to their own File (subject to the Protection of Privacy & Freedom of Information Guidelines) to verify the accuracy of the contents, request removal of items, and add explanatory comments and materials. Staff members may challenge, under Policy 36, the inclusion of any item in the File. The material in the File will be the primary resource used in decisions respecting the employment of regular staff members of the University of Waterloo."

    The file is to include "performance appraisals from the last five years" as well as any disciplinary letters, and any documents required by the government.

    "Medical information," says the new policy, "is kept in a separate confidential file accessible only by the University's Medical Director or the HR Disability Advisor." The employment file is also not to include "anonymous, undated or unsigned material".

    A draft of the revised policy was made public for comment on campus earlier this year.

    Happening as exams continue

    Correction: the barbecue is Tuesday, not today
    The school of architecture will hold its "annual all-school barbecue and awards" from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight on the "deck" at Environmental Studies II -- "right after admissions interviews", says the school's director, Eric Haldenby. "Food will be provided," he promises. "There will be a cash bar.The snow will all be gone and the weather will be great."

    Tomorrow morning, members of the President's Circle (an association of high-rolling individual donors to UW) will have breakfast in South Campus Hall and hear a presentation from Paul Parker of the Residential Energy Efficiency Project. Last-minute information: the development office, ext. 4973.

    At noontime tomorrow, the faculty and staff credit union presents a talk on "What Is Estate Planning and Why Do I Need One?" RSVPs go to ext. 3574.

    Columnist and author Russell Smith will give a reading at 1:30 tomorrow in room 2118A of the Co-op and Career Services building -- sponsored by the Germanic and Slavic department.

    And here's a reminder that Wednesday is the deadline for nominations for 2003-04 positions on the staff association executive.


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