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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

  • 'Talent trust' goes public at noon
  • Distinguished teachers are named
  • More to spend, despite budget cut
  • Drama inhabits former tannery
Chris Redmond

Joan Crawford, 100 years today

[TALENT, gold on black]

The four "pillars" of Campaign Waterloo are shown on four actual pillars for the stage at today's event in Davis. Showing off their handiwork, backstage at the Theatre of the Arts, are Dag Balzer of plant operations, Scott Spidell of the theatre staff, Ron Coulter of plant ops, and drama professor Bill Chesney. Photo by Barbara Elve.

'Talent trust' goes public at noon

Everybody's invited, as UW today launches the "public" phase of its $260 million fund-raising effort, Campaign Waterloo: Building a Talent Trust.

A release from UW's media relations office explains: "The initiative seeks to increase the concentration of talented people at UW and enhance Waterloo's ability to educate many future leaders of Canada. To accomplish those goals, Campaign Waterloo: Building a Talent Trust rests on four pillars: attracting and rewarding talent, enabling talent, making room for talent and creating a culture where talent will flourish."

The campaign is slated to run until UW's 50th anniversary in the summer of 2007. An announcement today will say just how much has already been raised from "pace-setter" donors in the pre-launch phase of the campaign.

The launch party runs from 11:30 to 1:00 today in the great hall of the Davis Centre. Among the activities: the Warrior Band plays to welcome guests; UW's cheerleaders perform winning acrobatics; the new Campaign Waterloo video is screened. There will be a light lunch.

Key participants will include Chris Edey, president of the Federation of Students; Simon Guthrie, president of the Graduate Student Association; Bob Harding, chair of the board of governors and also chair of Campaign Waterloo; David Johnston, the university's president; and Mike Lazaridis, Research In Motion executive and chancellor of UW.

Invited guests include Elizabeth Witmer, MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo; Andrew Telegdi, MP for Kitchener-Waterloo; Herb Epp, mayor of Waterloo; Carl Zehr, mayor of Kitchener; and Ken Seiling, Waterloo Region chair.

Tonight, VIPs and an invited group of Toronto-area alumni and UW supporters will attend a second launch event, a reception being held at the Design Exchange in the Toronto Dominion Centre.

Distinguished teachers are named

Winners of UW's two university-wide teaching awards for this year were announced last night as the selection committees reported to UW's senate as they do every March.

According to the terms of reference for the Distinguished Teacher Award, "The Selection Committee will look for intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter. The teacher's human quality and concern for and sensitivity to the needs of students is an obvious criterion. the Selection Committee will look for a clear indication that the nominee has favourable and lasting influence on students. Evidence of successful innovation in teaching would support a nomination, but it is also clear that excellence in teaching does not necessarily require innovation."

Here are the winners of the DTA for 2004:

And the winners of the award for Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student: The awards will be presented at convocation in June, or when the student graduates. Watch for profiles of the award winners in the Gazette and on the web site of the teaching resource office, which helps to manage the award program.

More to spend, despite budget cut

UW will spend about $295 million in the coming year, up from $278 million this year, under the operating budget proposed by provost Amit Chakma and approved by the university senate last night. It goes to the board of governors for final approval April 6.

There are many guesses in the budget, about such things as enrolment, government grant policy, and the possible need for extra money in the pension fund. Chakma told the senate an updated budget will be presented next fall. "The new government has made life even more complicated with a tuition fee freeze," he added -- noting that the rules about what fees are frozen, and what compensation the government will provide universities because of the freeze, also have not been announced.

The budget is thick with block allocations and transfers, thanks to the province's "growth funding", "quality assurance fund", "access to opportunities program", and so on, not to mention federal funding for "research infrastructure". As a result, it's not easy to see what departments are getting how much money, although Chakma gave some examples in his budget presentation last night.

Germanic and Slavic studies annual reception and presentation of student prizes, 3:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Federal budget to be released about 4 p.m. today.

'Extending LaTeX', Computer Science Club talk by Simon Law, 6 p.m., Math and Computer room 4058.

'X-rated hypnotist' Tony Lee, 8 p.m., Federation Hall, tickets $5 at Federation of Students office.

Fourth-year projects from systems design engineering, symposium Wednesday 9:00 to 3:00, Davis Centre lounge.

Student awards office closed Wednesday morning until 10:30 for staff training.

Hon. Horace Krever, who chaired the Royal Commission on the Confidentiality of Health Information, speaks in the "smarter health seminar" series, Wednesday 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

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.

'God and Torah in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews", 2004 Spinoza-Meir Lecture by Dennis Stoutenburg, Wednesday 8 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

'Creating CVs and Cover Letters', teaching resources workshop, Thursday 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218, registration ext. 3132.

'Beirut. Plan B', Arriscraft lecture by architect Bernard Khoury, Thursday 7 p.m., Environmental Studies II room 286.

He told the senate that he and the president have had letters from some 75 faculty members in arts, protesting what they have heard is a cut in funding for graduate studies in that faculty. In fact, Chakma said, when the cuts are balanced with the increases across various funds, there will be "at least $200,000 more," not less, for graduate work in arts. But the six-page budget document doesn't go into that kind of detail.

Increases in UW's income for the new year (which starts May 1) are partly the result of provincial "growth" funding and partly the effect of enrolment growth as the current first-year bulge moves into second year. In addition, the provost took pains to point out, UW would have enjoyed about $8 million more in the coming year if tuition fees had been allowed to increase at the levels he had intended.

Expenses are going up too, with more than $10 million already committed for May 1 salary increases and other money earmarked for new faculty and staff positions, additional library materials, higher prices for hydro, and so on and so on.

To balance the budget, there's a campus-wide cut of 2.0 per cent for the new fiscal year, the same as the cut made for 2003-04. It would have been more, Chakma said, if not for heroic efforts to cope with an extra enrolment increase this year, particularly in science and AHS.

"Activity-based budgeting" is shifting more funds into the faculties, where deans will spend them on teaching staff and whatever else their priorities are, the provost made clear. He repeated his promise that arts will have more to spend in the coming year, even after giving up the general 2 per cent cut.

Non-academic departments will lose $1.4 million to the cut, he estimated, but get $1.6 million in "new investment". At least 12 new staff positions are in the plans for the coming year, Chakma said.

He warned that there is "a small structural deficit" in the budget, about $800,000 in spending that isn't justified by the year's income, and that will have to be dealt with later. Annual budget reductions on the order of 4 per cent may lie ahead, he said, but "we'll be working hard to lower those numbers."

[Building in yellow]

Drama inhabits former tannery -- by Barbara Elve

The audience will be asked to play an unfamiliar role when the UW drama department takes its production of "Mimetic Flesh" to the site of the former Lang Tannery (right) in downtown Kitchener, tomorrow through Saturday.

Site-specific theatre -- written for and performed in a particular space -- represents a "movement away from a performance space where the living, breathing audience is denied," explains drama professor Andy Houston, director of the production. Traditionally, audiences are instructed to refrain from speaking, coughing, rattling candy wrappers, eating, drinking, moving -- and reminded to turn off their cell phones. Instead, the audience at UW's first site-specific production will be asked to wear comfortable shoes and "be careful," says Houston.

They'll be outfitted with Tyvek suits, "a kind of membrane or skin" uniform that defines their role as something like "work-study students." The audience will experience the performance as a tour of the site, being asked "to trust that we'll guide you through this."

What will transpire may be estranging, even "transformational . . . activating sensual qualities of live experience closer to a rave than anything you'd find in local live theatre," he laughs. Houston's students have been "devising the performance," creating characters along the way that "in some way go through a process of self-discovery through their body."

Drawing on their own experience, as well as on research in the special collections sections of the Dana Porter and Kitchener Public Libraries, old newspapers, and conversations with locals who are familiar with the history of the building, students have fleshed out such characters as a factory foreman and another based loosely on a descendent of the Langs. A number of "decidedly immigrant characters" explore political and cultural tensions in the factory.

The building itself is conceived as body, says Houston, with the loading dock as intake cavity, the freight elevator as esophagus. The audience will also visit the heart, the brain and the groin. As for the set, he explains, "we try to let the environment speak for itself, using found objects -- objects with imbedded memory -- as much as possible."

Houston sees his role as director as "trying to facilitate the vision of these young artists, creating a weave of their work, trying to develop their work as performers . . . as 'theatre artists,' who think about their relationship to the larger community, about language, identity, imagery. I'm trying to help them see they can create theatre from almost anything," even from the hulking remains of a building -- "an inert leftover of a dream about progress, modernity."

Two tours will be conducted each evening, one at 7 p.m. and another at 9 p.m. Tickets -- $12, $10 for students and seniors -- are available at the UW box office, ext. 4908, or at the door of the Lang Building, 184 Joseph Street, Kitchener. Tickets are limited to 50 people per tour.


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