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Monday, June 2, 2003

  • 'Procurement and contract services'
  • Grants offered from learning fund
  • June 17 event with spinoff firm
  • Other notes and events today
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Coronation Everest, 50 years ago


[Golf cart in background]

On the course: King Warrior, the athletics department mascot, gives UW president David Johnston a hard time at last year's President's Golf Tournament, an annual fund-raising event involving athletics and alumni affairs. This year's tournament, sponsored by Descartes Systems Group of Waterloo, is a sold-out affair. It's being held today at Kitchener's Deer Ridge Golf Club. The organizing committee, chaired by local businessman and UW alumnus Peter Paleczny (president of Able-One Systems), is hoping to raise more than $40,000 for the Athletics Excellence Fund.

'Procurement and contract services'

That's the new name of what has traditionally been the purchasing department, which is raising its profile with a series of special events over the next three days.

Shows in the Davis Centre will feature computers (Tuesday), health and safety and chairs (Wednesday), and office supplies (Thursday). Tracey Ens (pictured) of the department tells more:

[Ens] Due to the overwhelming success of last year's computer show, we are doing the same show again. We feel that with the fast changing technology available with computers, this show will offer something new every time we hold it. The computer show for faculty and staff will be June 3.

June 4 will be something new for the show. We are holding a Health and Safety show. Angelo Graham will be there to assist people in finding the right products to make their work space more ergonomic. We will also be having the Stevens Company, who is UW's new systems supplier for medical supplies. Basics Office Furniture will also be present with a line of chairs and ergonomic products. Praxair will be holding Cylinder handling and Safety training seminars 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. It will be a great day.

Basics Office Supplies will be back by popular demand on June 5, bringing with them a number of their suppliers. Staff love this show and this year should be no different.

All three events will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the "fishbowl" lounge, Davis Centre room 1301.

But now what's this about "procurement and contract services"? Simple enough, says Steve Cook, the department's manager. "We've changed, and the image of 'purchasing' no longer reflects what we actually do. The new name does."

The name has been in use for a while, Cook notes, though it hasn't had much publicity. "We have taken the approach that as people grow to know the name, they will also know the service that we offer." It involves not just buying things that are needed somewhere in the university, but more work in finding suppliers, negotiating contracts, complying with Canada's complex Agreement on Internal Trade, interpreting customs regulations, and seeing that shipments arrive on time. "It's the whole life cycle," says Cook, starting with plans for a proposed purchase or contract, ending perhaps when an obsolete item is sold as surplus or junk.

What does UW buy? The department's list of "commodity assignments" includes such headings as Appliances, Computers, Chemicals, Fine arts supplies, Furniture, Gases, Moving and relocation services, Office equipment, Printing, Software, Travel, Vehicles . . . oh, and Pest control.

Procurement services has an on-line Requisitioner's Guide for people on campus who need to make purchases, and also a Supplier's Guide for firms that want to do business with UW.

Grants offered from learning fund

Departments that are making major changes to their course offerings can draw on a new $250,000 fund to do things that will "enrich the learning experience of students" as the change is being made, says a memo that's going out from the deans this week.

Grants are also offered for "enhancements to current learning experiences" and creation of "innovative programs, curricula, and learning and teaching methods". The memo invites applications for a share of the money.

It begins: "The University of Waterloo is committed to enhancing the quality of the learning experience for our students and to continuing our history of innovative approaches to learning and teaching. The Learning Initiatives Fund will assist departments, schools and Faculties in projects that enhance student learning and support the strategic plans of the academic units."

Projects can be in one of three categories:

Program Adaptations: "For applications focused on assistance related to modifications of programs in the context of academic program reviews, the objective is to enrich the learning experience of students in programs whose curriculum is being revised significantly. For example, a department planning a reduction in course offerings might apply for support to design a new course or to provide special co-curricular activities for students. Priority will be given to applications that provide benefits to as many undergraduates as possible and that assist departments and schools in implementing the recommendations related to academic program reviews."

Learning Outcomes Enhancement: "For applications focused on enhancements to current learning experiences in UW courses, priority will be given to proposals that include assessment of learning outcomes before and after the proposed project, and in which the enhancements will have the potential for application in other departments and schools. For example, a department may request funds to develop a new instructional resource -- a course manual or exercise, an interactive online tutorial, a repository of case studies -- to address a specific course topic or a skill common to several courses."

New Initiatives: "For applications focused on the development of innovative programs, curricula, and learning and teaching methods, priority will be given to proposals that meet some or all of these criteria: demonstrate clear potential for a substantial contribution to enhance the learning environment in more than one academic program adapt innovative approaches from other institutions to the UW context, or pioneer new approaches that can serve as models for others explain what measures will be used for formative evaluation and refinement."

A project can get funding of up to $20,000. Applications in the first two categories are due by June 27, the memo says, and in the third category, by August 29.

Computing courses are scheduled

The Information Systems and Technology department (IST) is offering computing courses in June to UW faculty, staff and students. The following courses are being offered for students, staff, and faculty: Using PowerPoint for a Class Presentation, Overview of Macintosh OS X, More Unix.

The following courses are part of the Skills for the Academic e-Workplace program, and are offered to faculty, grad students, and staff with instructional responsibilities: Scientific Computing Using Matlab, Parallel Programming with OpenMP, Course Web Page Creation, Statistical Analysis with SAS, Finite Element Analysis Using FEMLAB, Database Management with Access, Scientific Charting Using Excel, Technical Drawing Using Visio, Web Survey Software.

Information about the courses, along with a registration form, can be found on the web.

June 17 event with spinoff firm

Links between UW and one of the biggest spinoff companies will be celebrated -- and some new ones planned -- at an event later this month titled "Collaboration Technology Vision".

The company is Open Text Corporation -- the company behind Livelink, "the leading collaboration and knowledge management software for the global enterprise". Open Text grew out of UW-based research into text analysis and the New Oxford English Dictionary in the 1980s. It now employs more than 1,000 people, many of them at its world headquarters beside the campus on Columbia Street.

The special day is set for June 17 in the new Tatham Centre, clearly the glamour location for UW events this year.

Says Jason Coolman of UW's development office, which is playing a major role in planning the event: "Keynote presentations by University of Waterloo President, David Johnston and Open Text Chief Executive Officer, Tom Jenkins will begin at noon and are preceded by sessions on research efforts, technical synergies and vision. People are encouraged to attend any sessions that are of interest. No RSVP is required."

In advance, students are being invited to participate in the "Open Text Challenge", with a couple of tough questions that could lead to scholarships or jobs with Open Text. The questions appeared in a full-page ad in last week's Gazette and are also on the web site about the June 17 program.

Says Coolman: "This event is to celebrate a relationship, since OpenText is a UW start-up company. We have a historical relationship and current relationship with research and co-op. We are hosting the event to celebrate these relationships. We hope to have future relationships in the areas already mentioned as well as other possibilities."

[Cartoon]

Commuters should be walking, biking and busing today and all this week, to be part of the annual Commuter Challenge. (The UW Sustainability Project will have a booth set up in the Davis Centre this afternoon to make it easy for people to register for the challenge -- something that can also be done on the web.)

Other notes and events today

The UW staff association will hold its annual general meeting today at lunchtime. Refreshments will be available at 11:30 and the business meeting starts at 11:45, both in Davis Centre room 1302. It's an opportunity hear updates from the executive and ask questions about anything in the association's recently-distributed annual report. And the newly-elected members of the executive will take office today.

The fall term must be getting close, as students can start signing up for their courses today. Says the registrar's office: "Class enrolment appointments for fall 2003 continuing undergraduate students will occur June 2-28 using Quest, and appointment dates and times have been posted in Quest. Class enrolment period for undergraduate students enrolling for the first time will occur July 7-26. Open enrolment will begin July 28."

Work starts today to move UW's research office from the crowded third floor of Needles Hall down to its new space on the first floor. The move is expected to take through Wednesday to complete. As a result, the research office won't be open for business these three days, but staff are promising to check their e-mail and voicemail periodically. The financial branch of the research office, on the second floor of NH, will be making its move later this month, and so isn't affected by this week's disruption.

The executive committee of UW's senate will meet today at 3:30 in Needles Hall room 3004, to set the agenda for the monthly meeting of the full senate. Expected items include procedures for grade changing in the two faculties (environmental studies and applied health sciences) for which policies weren't approved in April. There's also documentation on a proposed Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology.

The annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society, which began on the weekend, continues, mostly in the Arts Lecture Hall. . . . Cooling (chilled water) will be turned off in Matthews Hall tomorrow morning, 8 a.m. to noon. . . . The UW board of governors will hold its summer meeting tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3001. . . .

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, independent of UW but with close ties, offers a special event tomorrow night. It's a talk by Lee Smolin, author of Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, and starts at 7:00 at the Waterloo Recreation Centre. Title of the talk: "Why Does Science Work?" Smolin is a world leader in quantum gravity research and co-developer of "loop quantum gravity", an important approach to unifying quantum theory and Einstein's theory of space, time an gravity. He's now a researcher at Perimeter. Tickets for the talk tomorrow are free but should be reserved in advance -- call 886-2375.

Finally . . . I want to mention a local group called K-W Extend-a-Family, an agency that helps children and families with developmental and physical challenges. A couple of UW people are among its board members: Trenny Canning, of the university secretariat, and Dave Carter, of the school of accountancy. The agency is looking for people to work part-time providing "in-home and community support", and I'm told that many of the existing workers are university students. Also, this Friday night Extend-a-Family is holding a fund-raiser, "an Evening in the Enchanted Garden", an auction (plus refreshments and entertainment) in the Victoria Park Pavilion, and tickets are available at $25. Information about all these things is available at 741-0190.

CAR


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