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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

  • Article reviews grad student funding
  • This week's staff positions
  • Happening today at Waterloo
  • Pixels in the big picture
Chris Redmond

St. George's Day

  • Earth sciences prof speaks to Milton teenagers
  • UW helps study of Credit River fishery
  • Standards for Success: what first-year students need to know
  • Hope for reviving Iraq's universities
  • Teaching and learning conference next week at Guelph
  • Secret shoppers judge U of Windsor service
  • Security of campus card systems (Slashdot)
  • Tablet PCs, the next generation
  • What is the European Academy of Sciences?
  • What do associate deans do?
  • Article reviews grad student funding

    Graduate students at UW were paid a total of $36.2 million last year in teaching and research assistantships, scholarships and other funding, says a study published in the grad student newspaper The Third Degree a few days ago. Two-thirds of the money is classed as "earned", mostly through TAs and RAs.

    [Third Degree logo] Jim Frank, associate dean of graduate studies, tells me the information in the article by biology student Heather Murray looks accurate, and in fact some of the data she provides, about variations in TA rates across campus, hadn't been centrally collected before.

    "Guaranteed funding for graduate students is offered by an increasing number of other Canadian universities," Murray writes, "but at UW the amount of money students receive is ultimately determined on an individual basis; as a result, the amount of support a student without a major scholarship may receive can vary from none at all to a guaranteed minimum of over $20,000. . . .

    "It should come as no surprise that the highest paying program on campus is Math, followed by Engineering, with the average annual funding being $19,400 and $18,100 respectively. A close third is Science, with $17,300 given out, on average, to its funded students last year. Applied Health Sciences, Arts and ES students received comparatively low amounts, and in Arts the percentage of full-time students receiving funding was 77.5%, when university-wide it was 91.5%."

    She also has figures about teaching assistantships in particular: "If the TA is intended to be a primary source of income for students the value tends to be high ($4,000-$5,000), whereas if a TA is intended to be a supplement to research assistantships (RAs) the value is lower." A graph shows department-by-department figures that range from $2,963 to $5,492, "based on ten hours of work per week for four months".

    This week's staff positions

    There's a longer-than-usual list of "positions available" from UW's human resources department this week. As always, most of the jobs are offered to internal staff applicants only.

    The weekly list, as published on the HR web site, also includes the exalted position of associate vice-president (academic), which is -- as I was saying yesterday -- offered to a tenured faculty member for a five-year term.

    But here are the regular staff positions on this week's list:

    There's also a temporary position listed, as junior data analyst in the health behaviour research group.

    As always, "the university welcomes and encourages applications from the designated employment equity groups: visible minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people."

    Happening today at Waterloo

    Yuguang (Michael) Fang of the University of Florida will speak at 10:30 this morning, in an event sponsored by the Institute for Computer Research. His topic is "Wireless Medium Access Control Protocols" -- a major issue in maintaining quality of service in wireless transmission. The talk is scheduled for Davis Centre room 1304.

    The Quest and Winq student inquiry systems will be shut down until noon today for a system upgrade. . . . Repairs start today on the first floor of the Doug Wright Engineering Building, so the entrance across from Engineering II, as well as the adjacent corridor, will be closed for about a week and a half. . . . The K-W Symphony's "Planet Baroque" series presents Spanish music tonight at 8:00 in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. . . .

    Scheduled for 12:00 is a session on "Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy". Psychologist Theresa Casteels will talk about "an innovative, clinically proven approach that unites Eastern mindfulness meditation practices with Western cognitive therapy. Mindfulness practice involves developing a capacity to allow (distressing) feelings, thoughts, and body sensations to occupy awareness, but to 'step out' of one's reactivity to them. . . . MBCT is now being used to treat stress, anxiety, binge eating, pain, chronic fatigue, as well as other health problems." The session is sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program in Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 301; preregistration was suggested, but there might be some last-minute space.

    The senate long-range planning committee will meet at 1:30 (Needles Hall room 3004) for a discussion of matters that range from UW's "innovation strategy document" to the proposed relationship with the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences -- and, perhaps, development of a "sixth decade plan" to succeed the current Fifth Decade document.

    Did you know it was Canada Book Day? No, me neither. But to mark the occasion, the UW-based magazine The New Quarterly has something special happening tonight at 7:00 at the Kitchener Public Library, main branch: "What's your favourite book? Want to know what others are reading and how they respond? The New Quarterly, together with the Waterloo Regional Arts Council and KPL, invite you to a stimulating evening of readings and book talk. A panel of avid readers, with ebullient host Michael Higgins of St. Jerome's University, will share passages from their favourite books. This is a chance to rediscover the pleasure you took in being read to as a child and to extend that pleasure to others as proceeds from the evening will go to support the work of the Literacy Group of Waterloo Region. Tickets will be available at the door and are $10 per person."

    Tomorrow, the LT3 technology centre holds a session on something called SynchronEyes, new computer lab instruction software available in the Flex lab in the Dana Porter Library. The session starts at 11 a.m.; people wanting to attend should call Koorus Bookan at ext. 6749.

    And tomorrow evening, the Interdisciplinary Coffee Talk Society will hold its monthly session, this time to hear computer science graduate student Jinbo Xu talk about his award-winning work on protein structures.

    Pixels in the big picture

    Discussion and "due diligence" are going on towards a closer relationship between UW and the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences, provost Amit Chakma told UW's senate on Monday. He announced that UW's board of governors -- which discussed Michener in a closed session of its meeting earlier this month -- and the Michener board had both given approval to moving forward with the talks. The target is to have a proposal to bring forward by the end of the summer, he said. "Whatever happens clearly will end up at senate and at our board" for approval," the provost noted. "By no means do we have a deal."

    Also at Monday's senate meeting, there was a brief acknowledgement of university librarian Murray Shepherd, who will be leaving that post April 30 and retiring this summer. The university librarian is an ex officio member of senate, and that makes Shepherd, who has been in the librarian's job since 1973, by far the longest-standing member of the governing body.

    The Centre for Contact Lens Research is looking for more subjects for a study that's now under way about the use of rigid gas-permeable lenses with two different care systems. "We need your help," a memo says, "if you are at least 18 years old and you currently wear rigid gas-permeable contact lenses." Eligible research subjects will be paid to attend a total of seven one-hour appointments over the next half-year. Anybody interested can get more information from Leona Voss in the optometry school, lvoss@sciborg.

    A survey has been sent to some 30,000 of UW's alumni by the alumni affairs office and career services "to determine the career advising needs of University of Waterloo alumni". . . . A Weight Watchers group will meet on campus this summer, starting May 5, if there's enough interest, so anyone who is interested should get in touch with Melissa Latour at mmlatour@uwaterloo.ca as soon as possible. . . . The Keystone Campaign "annual event for the campus community" is scheduled for June 18, with details to be announced soon. . . .

    The staff association has set next Monday, April 28, as the deadline for applications for a position on the very influential staff relations committee. Anne Jenson, chair of the association's nominating committee, can be reached at ext. 3893 for more information.

    Anne Pathammavong of the Meal Exchange program sends this end-of-term note: "The Feds Food Bank and the UW chapter of Meal Exchange would like to thank the University of Waterloo community for the support and donations in the past year. We have raised over 12,000 dollars worth of donations and have helped over 250 needy students at the Feds Food Bank as well as the Waterloo Regional Food Bank. A special thank you to our major contributors: Mark Murdoch of Food Services, the Federation of Students, and IST."


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