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Thursday, May 15, 2003

  • Faculty face stress, director warns
  • Visiting prof in feminist philosophy
  • Pixels in the big picture
Chris Redmond

Buddhists mark Vesak: birth, enlightenment, passing away

[Standing around chassis]

Hard work is the order of the day in Topeka, where the Midnight Sun solar car team hit a setback yesterday with the failure of the motor controller. The team is hoping to complete repairs in time to qualify today for this summer's American Solar Challenge.

Faculty face stress, director warns

"Happy, relaxed people make better teachers," says Barbara Bulman-Fleming, director of the teaching resources and continuing education office, who warns that stress is "a serious problem for faculty and staff members, and one that is not likely to go away any time soon."

Bulman-Fleming (pictured below), who is a faculty member in psychology, writes in the new issue of the TRACE newsletter Teaching Matters that "Faculty and staff members do not seem to be as comfortable with working conditions as they were when I began my position at the University -- a little over a decade ago. It appears that many people are experiencing moderate to serious psychological difficulties associated with increasing pressure to do more with less, and to get it done faster. . . .

"I can think of two main reasons for why we're in this situation: the decrease in government funding for universities' operating expenses, and the technological and communications revolution.

"On the first point, one obvious change is that classes are getting larger without a corresponding rise in the number of faculty and support staff positions. Also, when someone retires or leaves, often that person is not replaced, putting added pressure on those remaining. Another, less obvious, change is that there are some wonderful incentive programs for young faculty members (like PREA, CFI grants, etc.) for which they're encouraged by senior administrators to apply. But some of these awards have strings attached in that the researcher or institution has to come up with matching funds.Furthermore, a significant amount of time is required to prepare the application, not to mention administering it if it's awarded. Starting out in a new tenure-track position is stressful enough (preparing courses, submitting the 'standard' grant proposals) without these other (albeit attractive if one is rewarded) things to worry about.

[Bulman-Fleming] "Email and the relative ease of word processing on a computer are definitely double-edged swords. . . . Students think it's a great way to contact their professors without having to trudge over to their offices. I respond to students' email, but certainly have sympathy with colleagues who have a policy of not doing so, preferring to tell students that, if they want to have a question answered, they should show up during office hours. . . .

"Finally, there is pressure to use some form of electronic-delivery technology in one's classroom, and to learn how to put part, or all, of one's course on-line. These things all take a fair amount of time to learn how to do efficiently and effectively. Where is this time supposed to come from?

"It seems unrealistic to expect faculty members to become better, more innovative teachers and to supervise more graduate students and to apply for more grants. Perhaps a small number of very bright, unusually energetic people would have this capacity, but most of us, I think, would crack fairly soon under pressures of this sort."

Her article includes some advice, based in part on suggestions from counselling services, about how to combat stress:

"Talk to people -- collaborate with others on research if that's feasible. . . . Teaching should be fun, too. If you dread it, your students probably dread your classes. Come and talk to us at TRACE -- we really can help. . . .

"Your family and close friends are most precious -- spend time with them doing things that everyone enjoys. Partnerships don't last unless they're nurtured, and you can't ever make up for time not spent with your children when they are young.

"Get help if you need it."

Visiting prof in feminist philosophy

An expert on feminist theory and applied ethics has been named to UW's newly-launched visiting professorship in feminist philosophy.

Christine Overall, a faculty member in philosophy at Queen's University, is the first holder of the Churchill Humphrey and Alex P. Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy. Her appointment is for the spring term.

The professorship was established by philosophy professor Anne Minas, who retired in February 2002, in memory of her father and grandfather, Judge Churchill Humphrey (1885-1970) of the circuit court in Louisville, Kentucky, and his son, Judge Alex P. Humphrey (1911-1997), also of Louisville.

"This generous gift creates a professorship that brings to UW a leading philosopher in feminism," says dean of arts Bob Kerton. "It is especially wonderful for our students, but the interaction with researchers will also be a significant benefit."

The visiting professor will teach a course on advanced studies in feminism and give a series of five public lectures based on her most recent book on aging and human longevity. She will collaborate with faculty members and students in the areas of feminism, women's studies and gender issues across campus.

[Overall] "I am delighted and honoured to be the first holder of the Alexander Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy," said Overall (left). "Feminist philosophy is an exciting scholarly field and I look forward to working with students and faculty members who share my passion for feminist research."

Overall teaches and researches in the areas of feminist theory, applied ethics, philosophy of religion and philosophy of education. She also serves as an associate dean in the faculty of arts and science at Queen's. In 1996, she was the winner of a provincial award for teaching excellence presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998.

She is the author of several books, most recently Aging, Death, and Human Longevity: A Philosophical Inquiry, published this year by the University of California Press.

While she will be based in the philosophy department, Overall's appointment will also attract attention to one of UW's oldest interdisciplinary programs -- women's studies, which now offers more than 60 courses drawn from nearly every faculty across campus and more from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Events today

Second day of Clubs Days in the Student Life Centre, 10:00 to 4:00.

"Personality and Spirituality in the Workplace", 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

First meeting of support group for individuals impacted by war, 2 p.m. at counselling services, Needles Hall (information ext. 5483).

Psychology colloquium, "Procedural Justice and Organizational Dynamics", by Tom Tyler of New York University, 2:30 p.m., PAS room 1229.

"Realities of Foreign Work Terms", information session sponsored by co-op and career services, 2:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.

Electrical power shutdown in parts of Needles Hall, 6 to 9 p.m.

Pixels in the big picture

Carol Ann Olheiser of UW's co-op and career services department has been chosen president-elect of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers for the 2003-2004 term. CACEE is a national non-profit partnership of employer recruiters and career services professionals. Olheiser currently sits on the association's national board of directors, where she is also the vice-president (education) and chair of the professional development committee. Olheiser has worked in CECS for 23 years and has, says a colleague, "devoted her career to the Career Services profession". Her job focuses on the management of the graduating student recruitment program and on UW alumni seeking employment opportunities.

Saxes, trumpets, trombones, guitar, bass, drums, piano . . . the UW stage band needs them all. "Come out and play some great jazz band charts," band director Michael Wood invites all those with the beat in their souls. "Openings are available for all positions." He can be reached at 271-1488 or percwood@orc.ca.

The Modern Languages coffee shop reopened for the spring term with spiffy new counter-style seating along two walls, in place of the ancient booths. . . . Hartley Thompson, who came to UW with the school of optometry in 1967 and retired as a senior demonstrator in 1988, died May 11, aged 82. . . . Ajoy Opal of the electrical and computer engineering department was named director of first-year engineering as of May 1. . . .

The spring issue of the retirees' association newsletter includes a chatty interview with Al Galbraith, who retired in 1996 after 31 years working on the UW grounds crew. "I loved every minute of my time at UW," he tells the interviewer (not identified, but almost certainly Bob Whitton, retired from a long career in media relations). Says the article: "He recollects chatting with Ira Needles and Gerry Hagey whom he would run across from time to time when he was busy working on campus. . . . Retirement hasn't ended Al's income earning activities. He has branched into a few profitable enterprises, one of which involves teaching woodworking in the basement."

The senate undergraduate council recently approved creation of two first-year courses especially for UW's legal studies and criminology option, which is reorganizing itself. LSC 101, "Introduction to Legal Studies", and LSC 102, "Introduction to Criminology", are described as "interdisciplinary foundation courses that will introduce students to basic concepts, issues, theoretical models, and methodologies".

The Debating Society hosted its annual Summer Tournament the other day, with dozens of students from universities across Canada taking part. "Unique among intervarsity debating events," says club president Michael Currie, "the tournament featured 24 straight hours of non-stop debating, from 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday. After 16 rounds of debate on issues such as 'US relations with Syria' and 'whether Superheroes should tell their girlfriends their secret', a team from the University of Toronto took the top prize. In a separate contest that took place Friday, Ian Freeman of Ottawa won Top Public Speaker. As Public Speaking is a 'funny speech' contest, instead of a conventional brass trophy, he was awarded a highly coveted Beta-Max Videocassette Recorder." The Debating Society meets weekly. "To join the fun, please contact debate@michaelcurrie.com."

The Iron Warrior, the engineering student newspaper, recently reported on this year's annual "debt survey" of engineering students. It provides some data points on student financing, at least in a faculty where everybody is in co-op and work term salaries tend to be on the high side. "Have you applied for OSAP?" Yes and received 23 per cent; yes and denied 27 per cent; no 50 per cent. "How much debt do you expect to be in by graduation?" No debt, 22 per cent; less than $999, 6 per cent; up to $4,999, 16 per cent; up to $9,999, 18 per cent; up to $19,999, 22 per cent; over $20,000, 16 per cent.


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