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Monday, March 22, 2004

  • The year's top co-op students
  • Smaller group seeking co-op jobs
  • No flex benefits, report tells employees
Chris Redmond

World Water Day

[Group of students from above]

Clockwise from left: Stevens, Djeric, Helmer, Duiker, Stephens, Allman, Miles.

The year's top co-op students

Three students -- two from arts and one from engineering -- share the title of Co-op Students of the Year for 2003 at UW. The award were announced by the co-op education and career services department in time to mark National Co-operative Education Week, which starts today.

CECS says Ava-Ann Allman, Matthew Stevens, and Gorica Djeric were chosen as UW's top co-op students from 29 nominees based on their work term accomplishments, academic achievements, contributions to co-op and commitment to the community as demonstrated through volunteer and extracurricular activities.

  • Stevens is in 4B chemical engineering and has been working for Polymer Technologies Inc. "During his last work term," says the CECS tribute, "Matthew saved his employer nearly $1 million through tax claim revisions. He also solved a contamination issue and initiated an exciting final year engineering research project on conductive polymers that brought Polymer together with UW and an external funding agency."

  • Djeric is in 4B economics and has been working for Export Development Canada. "Gorica's expertise in marketing and international trade has made her an asset to her employers and a natural choice for the Ontario Global Traders Award of Merit for Excellence in Export Development for 2002. She is an avid volunteer to numerous organizations, including UW Career Services, Revenue Canada, Canadian Blood Services, and the Kitchener Public Library."

  • Allman is in 4B psychology and has been working for the National Research Council. "For her past four work terms, Ava-Ann has been working in the field of neurological research. She has presented her findings at international conferences and has contributed to papers pending publication in top-tier medical journals."

    The three students were all automatically nominated for external awards, CECS says. Allman's name was submitted for the Co-operative Education Internship Association Intern of the Year Award and Matthews was nominated to be Co-op Student of the Year Award. Stevens and Djeric's names were submitted for the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education Co-op Student of the Year Award, for which Stevens earned an honourable mention.

    There's also a new award from CECS this year, as one student from each faculty (at least, "each faculty with suitable applicants") is being honoured based on their contributions to one or more of their work term employers over the past year. The 2003 winners:

  • Jesse Helmer, 4B English literature, for arts; employer, Peartree Software Inc.
  • Eric Duiker, 4B mechanical, for engineering; employer, Teleflexgfi Control Systems.
  • Sarah Stephens, 4B math and business, for mathematics; employer, University Health Network.
  • Natalie Miles, 4B biology, for science; employer, Turner Fenton Secondary School.

    Applications for the 2004 awards will be received until December 15.

    [Smiling faces on invitation card]

    Everybody's welcome to the launch of Campaign Waterloo, tomorrow from 11:30 to 1:00 in the Davis Centre great hall.

    Smaller group seeking co-op jobs

    The co-op department has issued a "progress report" on jobs for the 3,425 students who are scheduled for a May-to-August work term.

    By March 16 -- Tuesday of last week -- two-thirds of them were placed in jobs, CECS says. That's 2,280 students, leaving 1,145 still in search of employment. "Of these," says the CECS report, "515 (45%) were in Engineering and 373 (33%) were in Math."

    Last year at the same time -- past the halfway point in the winter term -- there were 3,936 co-op students scheduled for a spring work term. In other words, there are 511 fewer students in the process this year. "A number of reasons explain this dramatic drop in numbers," says CECS. "Computer Engineering became a two-stream plan, which split the first-year class in half, accounting for approximately 100 fewer students in need of employment for each of the January and May work terms. Mathematics admitted fewer students to the 4-stream option in the fall of 2002 and a number of students switched to the regular plan due to the lack of 'math' jobs as a result of the economic climate. Kinesiology changed the sequencing of their students so that this year there are no first-year kin students in co-op process, compared to 64 last year. These students will not take their first work term until after their 2A academic term."

    For the students still in search of jobs, employer interviews continue daily and will carry on until exams. "At that time," says CECS, "when students begin leaving campus to return home, CECS will implement its referral plan where the remaining unemployed students' skills and interests are matched with job openings. Resumés of qualified students are then sent to employers for screening and the successful candidates are contacted by the employers directly to make interview arrangements."

    The next co-op employment progress report will be issued at the end of April. The spring work term starts at the beginning of May.

  • Professors outline 'impact of Harris/Eves policies'
  • UBC will create campus in the Okanagan
  • Excellence in Education Award for Promotion of Sustainable Practices
  • Bake sales protest affirmative action
  • The Next Wave: Liberation Technology
  • 'Budget needs to do more than tinker with loans'
  • Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists
  • Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access
  • The dream of elite universities in Germany
    Climate Change Expo, today through Friday, 10 to 4, Student Life Centre great hall, more information online.

    Graduate and research council, 10:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

    UW senate, 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001. Agenda includes 2004-05 operating budget.

    Student accommodation study, city of Waterloo public meeting, 7 p.m., City Hall, Regina Street -- text of report available online.

    Sisters in Spirit event sponsored by aboriginal student office and association: drum songs, and two speakers about aboriginal women who have been murdered, Monday 7:30, St. Paul's United College.

    Persian new year dinner, details online.

    Graduate Student Association annual general meeting (open to all grad students), Wednesday 6 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 101, agenda on the GSA web site.

    'Mimetic Flesh', final drama production of the season, Wednesday through Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m., at the Lang building, Kitchener, details on drama department web site.

    Internet Videoconferencing for Teaching demonstration by Hazel Austin of engineering computing, Thursday 9:30, register on LT3 web site.

    Two for Blue Day in support of juvenile arthritis research, Friday, March 26, details from Michelle Banic, institutional analysis and planning, ext. 3533.

    No flex benefits, report tells employees

    "Flexible" benefits aren't going to work for UW's staff and faculty, says the annual report of the pension and benefits committee, which is being distributed campus-wide this week. Here's a section from the report:

    "Benefits are a source of great interest and concern to all members of UW, particularly since they are so much a part of how we, as individuals, handle our finances and provide for ourselves and our families. Benefits are a major concern to the Committee and to UW's administration as well, since the premium costs of extended health, dental and basic life insurance benefits are born solely by the University. Increased cost to the current $9.5 million premiums means that more money must come from the University operating budget. In the past few years, these costs have been rising at a much faster rate than University income.

    "Remember that the word 'insurance' in the context of extended health care is misleading. Every cost that a UW employee incurs against the Extended Health Care Plan is identified and, with an added administrative cost, charged back to the University. The more employees use the plan, the greater the costs to the University.

    "Throughout 2003, the Committee searched for more efficient and innovative methods for delivery of services and medications with a view to containing costs without reducing benefits. . . .

    "Flexible benefit plans involve choice for individual employees according to their personal circumstances. Employees are allocated a fixed amount of money from which they purchase benefits that are relevant to their family or life situations. There are many variations on the types of plans available. They range from those that provide for minimal benefits coverage and allow for employees to supplement that coverage from their flex funds, to those that provide no base coverage and allow employees to select which benefits are of particular interest to them. Generally, the amount of money allotted to purchase benefits is increased each year by the employer but this is not always the case.

    "The main advantage of this type of plan is that it provides employees with choice and the ability to construct a benefit plan that is relevant to their life situation. A family with younger children may spend more on dental benefits while a single person may be more interested in massage therapy or other paramedical coverage. However, if increases in costs can't be funded (by either the employer or the employee) then the level of benefits will be reduced.

    "A local insurance company has recently moved to a flexible benefit plan for their several thousand employees and they delivered a comprehensive presentation to the Committee on the pros and cons of this kind of benefit plan.

    "While the Committee was interested in the concept of choice for employees, there was a consensus that a flexible plan would be perceived as having some 'winners' and some 'losers'. Committee members also felt that there might be a perception that rising costs would be transferred to the employees with no obligation from the employer to help meet those costs. Members agreed that this was not appropriate for UW at this time."

    Among other issues mentioned in the annual report:


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