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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

  • All will get less, some will get more
  • Other features of the budget
  • Four more federal research chairs
  • What else is happening today
Chris Redmond

The day the megillah is read

[It Came From South Campus]

Eye-grabber: That's the poster for today's "location sale" in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre: the bookstore and UW Shop are offering hundreds of titles plus T-shirts, hats, giftware and odds and ends. The sale runs from 10 to 5 today and again tomorrow.

All will get less, some will get more

Deans will have some money to spend in the coming year, as the result of a UW operating budget that features millions of dollars in "strategic investments", the senate finance committee was told yesterday.

Provost Amit Chakma said the budget had been "reviewed, modified and agreed" by deans' council and executive council, the two committees of top administrators, and yesterday it got an okay from the finance committee as well. It's on its way to senate next week and the board of governors in April.

"We are looking at some modest level of resource reallocation," said Chakma, who devoted much of his budget presentation to listing the areas where new money will be spent.

At the same time, he admitted, departments across the university will suffer from an "expenditure reduction" (formerly known as a budget cut). This year's slice will be 2 per cent, on top of 2 per cent in 2002-03, 3.5 per cent the year before, and so on. The reduction will provide $3.4 million towards new spending in the faculties, new money for graduate scholarships, and other priorities.

Other funding for the "investments" -- and for increases in utility bills, salaries and pension premiums -- will come from tuition fee increases and enrolment growth. Altogether, UW's spending is expected to reach $273 million in 2003-04, up from $248 million this year.

Chakma said what he's bringing forward is a "good news budget" in the sense that it gives deans some flexibility to spend money where it's needed. In the faculty of engineering, for example, new funds will exceed the "reduction" by $1.6 million. Much of the money in all the faculties will go to pay the costs of teaching more students in new programs, the result of enrolment expansion.

In arts, the dean will have $1 million to allocate. "Last year, that was a negative number," dean of arts Bob Kerton told yesterday's meeting. In other words, for 2002-03 he was having to cut departments' spending; now he'll have at least something to give out for, say, teaching equipment. (Salary increase funds appear elsewhere in the budget and aren't up to the deans.)

In many areas there will be new faculty members -- about 30 new positions, Chakma estimated.

Non-academic departments will also get some new money. "The strain is showing up, so we need to make some new investments," Chakma told the meeting. "We're going to invest $1.6 million, selectively." He acknowledged that those departments "take a bigger share of the burden, because we know that our priority is to deal with the double cohort and support our faculties."



Who are you?

On-campus student -- 316
Staff or faculty member -- 172
Co-op student on work term -- 179
Alumni, "friend", distance student -- 103
Future student or parent -- 22

I'm sorry to report that we had technical problems in the morning and lost 80 minutes' worth of responses to the poll question. These figures reflect about 22 hours and 40 minutes of clicks received. I wish I knew what percentage of total readers they represent. (And by the way, my apologies for not listing UW retirees as a category of reader -- I know you're out there.)

Other features of the budget

Some of the other areas that will get special attention after the 2003-04 round of belt-tightening and redistribution: "The challenge," Chakma added, "is to pay faculty and staff well, and to manage the workload by doing innovative things. . . . Our ability to grow out of our problem is probably gone." So future growth, he said, is likely to be modest. Waterloo can look forward to more fee increases (as long as the government allows them) and more "expenditure reductions" in future years.

And maybe, sooner or later, "something more positive will happen" with government funding. For now, the basic grant to UW is expected to be the same in the coming year as it was this year, about $106 million. Special funding, mostly for growth, will bring the total government funding to $133 million.

That's only a short distance ahead of the $113 million that UW will collect in tuition fees, after the fee increases that go into effect May 1. (Chakma said that of that total, $17 million will come from international students, who pay higher rates. "That's becoming a significant portion of our revenue stream," he noted.)

[Beside Canadian flag]

Pure math professor Cam Stewart speaks at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing last year, at a reception honouring winners of international mathematical awards.

Four more federal research chairs

The federal government yesterday announced 106 new Canada Research Chair appointments at Canadian universities, including four at Waterloo.

UW's new chairholders:

Cameron Stewart, "Canada Research Chair in Number Theory", based in the pure mathematics department. Stewart's research involves the use of high-performance computers to solve mathematical problems, with potential applications for telecommunications and electronic commerce.

Khaled Soudki, "Canada Research Chair in Innovative Materials and Systems for Structural Rehabilitation", based in the civil engineering department. Soudki's research involves fundamental and applied engineering research on the serviceability, long-term durability and monitoring of structural rehabilitation in cold conditions, with the hope of developing advanced materials and systems to extend the service life of deteriorated structures.

Michel Gingras, "Canada Research Chair in Condensed Matter Theory and Statistical Mechanics", based in the department of physics. Gingras is described as doing "fundamental research into microscopic mechanisms in materials with magnetic and superconductivity properties".

Norman Zhou, "Canada Research Chair in Microjoining", based in the mechanical engineering department. Zhou will work on fundamental and technological aspects of microjoining, including bonding mechanisms, new or improved joining processes, dissimilar material combinations and computer modelling, and is expected to make significant contributions to miniaturization of microdevices and microsystems.

Soudki's chair is funded for five years, renewable, at $100,000 a year in salary and other costs. The other three chairs are at the upper "tier" of the Canada Research Chair program and are for seven years, renewable, at $200,000 a year.

"By retaining outstanding researchers at our universities and attracting others from beyond our borders, the Canada Research Chairs Program is helping Canada stay at the forefront of the global knowledge-based economy," said Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development).

And industry minister Allan Rock described the program as "one we can be proud of. It will serve three generations of scholars and scientists: the senior researchers, the younger ones, and the graduate students who will benefit greatly by being able to work with world-class researchers."

The government proudly noted that 33 of the 106 new chairholders are "exceptional international researchers and expatriates".

Funding for the new appointees, over the years, is to total $107.4 million, made up of $95.3 million for the actual positions and $12.1 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to provide infrastructure funding for the chairholders' research. Research funding for the four Waterloo chairholders, announced yesterday, adds up to $489,000.

The Canada Research Chairs program has awarded 847 Chairs to date, with a goal of 2,000 Chairs by 2005.

Talk today on saving the turtles

The Sierra Club of Canada and the UW Sustainability Project are co-hosting a slide presentation today -- "Gentle Giants: Sea Turtles of the South" -- about the future of sea turtles in the waters of Central America and how a small group of people can make a difference. The speaker is Enriqueta Ramierez of CESTA Friends of the Earth El Salvador, whose efforts to protect declining turtle populations have broken new ground. Her talk and slide presentation will start at 12:30 in Arts Lecture Hall room 113; afterwards, UWSP holds an open house about its work in solar technology, alternative transportation and other areas.

What else is happening today

Novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Hay will read from her work today at 1 p.m. in the common room at St. Jerome's University. (Sorry, I gave the wrong time for this event when I mentioned it yesterday.) Hay's latest book, A Student of Weather, is "a psychologically penetrating investigation into the nature of obsession", according to the jury that nominated it for the Giller Prize.

As I said at some length yesterday, an important talk is scheduled for 4:00 today in the Humanities Theatre. Kelly Thambimuthu, the current TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor, will be speaking on his particular environmental work: "Fossil Fuels and Climate Change". Admission is free. According to an advisory issued yesterday by the UW media relations office, an announcement, also important, will come just before the lecture: "The TD Bank Financial Group will announce a major endowment for the Graduate Scholarships in the Environment program. The commitment will provide a big boost to Canada's future experts in environmental teaching and research." Stay tuned for details.

The LT3 technology centre begins another cycle of its "New Classroom" series of planning sessions for faculty members today. . . . The career services seminar series offers "Making Polished Presentations". . . . UW Graphics gives a repeat of its noon-hour seminar on digital archiving today (information, ext. 2210). . . . The credit union will offer a noon-hour session on mortgages, starting at 12:15 in Davis Centre room 1304. . . .

[Origami crane] As people all over the world have peace on their minds, today will be paper-crane-folding day. The Konnichawa Japan Club presents "Yume, Wish Crane Project" in the Student Life Centre, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Everyone is encouraged to participate in showing their support for world peace, by making an origami crane of their own. Each paper crane folder is encouraged to write their dream on the wings of these cranes. After 1,000 of these cranes are made, they will be carefully sent to the memorial site in Hiroshima, Japan."

The Graduate House "wine club" will be gathering at 5:30 today (new members come at 5:00). . . . I haven't heard much about the Buffy Watchers Club for a good while, but apparently they're still at it, and will be watching "Buffy" and "Angel" tonight in the POETS Pub in Carl Pollock Hall. . . .

And much more tomorrow: In honour of Nutrition Month, health services will be offering "healthy snacks" (2 to 4 p.m.) and a chance to speak to a nurse about fats and vitamins. . . . The computer store will hold at noontime "lunch and learn" session about new Macintosh laptops. . . . The "smarter health" lecture series presents "Electronic Healthcare Record Solutions" at 3 p.m. (Davis Centre room 1302). . . . Engineering students with talent, of whom there are many, will perform at TalEng, from 8:30 to midnight at Loose Change Louie's. . . . And the Conrad Grebel University College student production of "Godspell" opens at Kitchener's Registry Theatre (more about this show tomorrow).


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