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Monday, January 20, 2003

  • Aboriginal counsellor starts work
  • Final applications count: 101,668
  • Funding for language and literacy
  • Happening as the week begins
Chris Redmond

Amerians mark Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

Aboriginal counsellor starts work

Jean Becker, who helped develop a Native studies program at St. Paul's United College, started work January 2 as "aboriginal counsellor" for the college and UW, and is now hoping to hear from Native students across campus.

Plans to appoint such a counsellor were reported in October, and the college has now announced Becker's arrival.

"Becker has always been passionate about post-secondary education and her Native heritage," says Brent Charette, director of development at St. Paul's. And she's looking forward to her new role. "I have had a connection to St. Paul's for years, so I am very comfortable here," says Becker. "I am looking forward to getting to know the on-campus Aboriginal community, and begin looking for ways to make their university experience more comfortable and rewarding."

Charette says Becker's office includes ample space for formal and informal gatherings of Aboriginal people. "Equally important will also be the need to improve recruitment of Aboriginal students to UW, as well as identify sources of financial support for what will certainly be a growing program. Key duties are to provide to Native students, staff and faculty the services of counselling, advising, recruitment support, programs of awareness regarding issues affecting Native persons, and liaison with local Aboriginal organizations and communities."

Says Becker: "In addition to providing programming and counselling support for currently enrolled students, I plan to look at the larger issue of access to education for Aboriginals. It is a misconception that all Natives get free tuition, therefore they are breaking down our walls to gain access to UW. In fact, many of those Natives on our campus do not have a tuition benefit, and there is a significant lack of participation in science and technology among young Native peoples."

On the other side of the campus, Sujeet Chaudhuri, dean of engineering, says he's delighted to get some assistance as his faculty tries to increase Aboriginal student enrolment. "In the coming years, we plan to put greater emphasis on recruiting talented Aboriginal students to our faculty, and we are looking forward to working with Jean."

Says Charette: "It is the hope of St. Paul's that this initiative will encourage a greater number of Aboriginal students to consider attending UW in an environment where their Native heritage is acknowledged and celebrated."

An advisory council, including members of the local Native community and senior UW officials, will support and guide Becker's work. Funding for this new position comes largely from the Ontario government's Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy Program. UW and St. Paul's have provided additional funding, Charette said. "Many universities across the province are creating similar positions. The position is a one-year term, with the possibility of renewal."

Becker can be reached at 885-1460, extension 209, e-mail j2becker@uwaterloo.ca.

Final applications count: 101,668

The Council of Ontario Universities said Friday that 101,668 Ontario high school students have applied for university admission this fall -- just short of the predicted 105,000, and 46.7 per cent more than last year.

It's "preliminary figure", COU pointed out. (January 15, last Wednesday, is a "soft deadline", meaning that applications received later can still be considered but may get a lower priority.) Figures on how many of the applicants chose UW and other individual universities are expected to be available this week.

Says a COU news release: "The double cohort, the result of the elimination of Grade 13, has had the most significant influence on the volume of applications. Two other factors, specifically rising participation rates and an increase in the 18- to 24-year-old population, are contributing to growth that will continue over the decade.

"Now that the size of the double cohort is known, universities will continue to work with government to determine how they can accommodate as many students as possible while maintaining quality. . . . Ontario faces the challenge of providing these growing numbers of students with a quality education throughout their four years of study. The universities are discussing with government to provide additional resources so that all students will receive the quality university education that is central to their ability to succeed as students and graduates. . . .

"The universities have indicated to the provincial government the number of additional secondary school applicants they could accept based on earlier enrolment projections. Each university's enrolment growth plan formed the basis for a formal Enrolment Target Agreement with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. In these agreements, each university committed to a specific number of secondary school graduates it would be prepared to accept in 2003. In September 2002, the sum of the spaces identified in the Enrolment Target Agreements was 61,286, sufficient to meet the enrolments projected at that time.

"Universities will be working with government to consider how they can accommodate as many students as possible. This may well involve additions to Enrolment Target Agreements. They will also continue their discussions with government to provide additional resources. . . .

"To ensure that access to university remains synonymous with access to excellence for the double cohort generation, universities must be in a position to enhance facilities, acquire more learning resources and hire more faculty and staff."

COU notes that "During the last 10 years for which data are available, the number of secondary school applicants who registered ranged from 65% to 71%." The rest of the applicants either chose not to go to university or weren't eligible because of their final marks. Multiplied by the 101,668 applicants, that would mean somewhere between 66,084 and 72,184 qualified students needing spaces this September.

Says the news release: "The earliest that admissions decisions will be issued will be the second week in March. It is expected that the majority of decisions will go out in late April and May, which will enable universities to receive and evaluate second-semester interim grades. The latest date that a university can respond to an application is June 9."

Funding for language and literacy

Andrew Telegdi, MP for Kitchener-Waterloo, Friday announced funding of $168,335 for two projects at UW and one at Wilfrid Laurier University, sponsored by the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.

"The Network's research activities focus on early child development because language and literacy deficiencies are best addressed and prevented early in life. The solutions to these problems require collaboration between many scientific disciplines, practitioners and private and public partners. The Network was created to build these linkages and exchanges," said Telegdi.

Some of the funding is for a project on "Vision Screening in Preschool Children" headed by UW optometry professor William R. Bobier. The development of literacy is thought to begin in infancy and early childhood with handling books and visual inspection of print in books. Young children may miss these developmental opportunities when they have undetected vision problems. Because young children do not usually indicate their vision problems, verbally or behaviourally, 80 per cent of vision problems are undetected prior to their preschool assessment. Working with the Oxford County Board of Education, Bobier and his team will explore the relationships between early visual impairments and emerging literacy in young children.

Also based at UW is a project on "Acoustic Properties of Children's Voices and their Impact on Communication", headed by Kathleen Bloom of the psychology department. It is not just what you say but also the sound of your voice when you speak that influences other people's attitudes toward you and the thoughts you try to convey to others. Bloom and her team are investigating how the acoustic qualities of children's voices enhance successful communication with teachers and peers. For example, children who have too much air coming out of their noses when they speak can sound "whiny" and then be judged by adults and other children as less likeable. The research team is testing a treatment to reduce the nasal quality of children's voices. They also plan to establish new methods for speech therapy that include the measurement of social acceptance and communicative success of children's oral language.

"Our Network is dedicated to applying scientific knowledge to address issues of great social and economic importance to Canadians," says Donald Jamieson, CEO of the Language and Learning Network. It was formed two years ago and is supported by a four-year $14.2 million grant from the federal government's Networks of Centres of Excellence program. The Network's mandate is "to generate, integrate and disseminate bias-free scientific research and knowledge that is focused on improving and sustaining children's language and literacy development in Canada".

Happening as the week begins

UW's dean of arts, Bob Kerton, is also a specialist in consumer economics, and he'll be wearing that hat when he speaks at noon today as part of the Kitchener Public Library's Monday "Ideas and Issues" series. Kerton's topic today: "Complaints for Fun and Profit".

The UW senate will hold its monthly meeting at 4:30 today in Needles Hall room 3001. Agenda items include a report on first-year scholarships; a proposal to introduce an "arts and business" co-op program that's expected to replace the "applied studies" program; and the usual "environmental scan" from the president of the university. There will also be a discussion of how UW does in the annual Maclean's magazine ranking of universities and, perhaps, what UW could do to raise its score on some of the magazine's criteria.

Co-op students who will be taking part in the interview process this term, leading to spring term co-op jobs, should hand in one copy of the resumé package to the co-op department by 8:00 tonight. The dropoff slot is now on the lower level of the new CEC building, "next to the photocopier".

The elevator in Chemistry II is going out of service this morning for two weeks, the plant operations department warns.

Coming tomorrow: Jean MacKinnon of Certified Management Accountants Canada will be available at a drop-in session (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Humanities room 289F) to talk about what the CMA designation means and "why it can help to enhance" students' careers. There will be a more formal information session starting at 6 p.m.

Also tomorrow: a workshop on "Group Work in the Classroom", part of the continuing series sponsored by the teaching resources and continuing education office. It starts at 12 noon in Math and Computer room 5158, and the number to call for preregistration is ext. 3132.

Finally, a couple of apologies. On Friday I mentioned a concert featuring the Diesel Dogs and others, and said it would be at Federation Hall; in fact it was at the Bombshelter pub, part of the continuing Friday series there, and I hope everyone who wanted to hear the dogs (and the Fat Cats) found the right place to go. Also on Friday I forgot to change the "link of the day" at the top of the Daily Bulletin, so that it read the same as on Thursday. Sorry about that.


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