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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

  • $183 million for Waterloo so far
  • Why a campaign? The official word
  • City studies housing issues
  • Highlights of the federal budget
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Stop Tuberculosis Day


[T-shirts spell it out]

UW's cheerleaders were joined by the president, the chancellor and the chair of the board of governors to spell out something special at the end of yesterday's lunchtime celebration. Earlier -- without the VIPs -- they did pyramids and tosses high in the Davis Centre great hall.

$183 million for Waterloo so far

Cheers went up not just for the cheerleaders but for the official speakers too -- especially when they announced at noon yesterday that Campaign Waterloo has already raised $183 million as it enters its "public phase".

The campaign, aimed at "building a talent trust" with $260 million for scholarships, chairs, equipment, books and bricks, has been going quietly for some two years now, raising initial gifts from alumni, friends and the people right on campus. It's now scheduled to run publicly until July 2007, the university's 50th birthday.

The public launch was held yesterday in the Davis Centre great hall, and included the first showing of the new campaign video, which makes Waterloo's pitch in the voices of students, faculty members and campaign leaders. "Thanks to you," the announcer tells potential givers as the video ends, "we're building a talent trust!"

An unannounced guest at yesterday's ceremony was William G. (Bill) Davis, premier of Ontario 1971-85, who was the builder of much of the province's public education system. No longer young, Davis was in lively form as he spoke from the black-and-gold platform, telling the crowded audience how proud they should be of Waterloo, and how glad he was to be back in the building that's named for him.

The event also heard from UW president David Johnston; Bob Harding, the Brascan executive who is chair of the board of governors; Mike Lazaridis, chancellor of the university and founder of Research In Motion; Chris Edey, president of the Federation of Students; Simon Guthrie, president of the Graduate Student Association; and accountancy professor Howard Armitage, co-chair of the on-campus Keystone Campaign.

The audience was thick with faculty and staff, but there were plenty of students too, including many leaning over the rails on the upper levels of the great hall. They joined in the laughter for Bill Davis, the appreciative gasps for UW's cheerleaders, and the applause for the punchy speeches about the campaign and the great things it'll do for Waterloo.

Afterwards, a large delegation of UW leaders climbed onto a bus for the trip to Toronto, where they were joining big-city alumni and friends for a second campaign launch event last night at the Design Exchange.

Why a campaign? The official word -- from a news release issued yesterday by UW's media relations office

"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.

[Campaign logo] "Waterloo has earned a reputation as the most innovative and entrepreneurial university in the country, with demonstrated strength in five areas critical to Canada's future -- information technology, the environment, health, materials and systems, and innovation, society and culture," said Bob Harding, Chair, UW Board of Governors and Campaign Waterloo. "The goal of Campaign Waterloo is to promote major growth in these important areas and to bring people from different disciplines together to solve real-world problems."

"We must ensure that all qualified students have access to university education and that outstanding students have the opportunity to go on to graduate studies," said David Johnston, UW President. "We must also ensure that we have the classroom and laboratory space to accommodate them, as well as library and recreational facilities."

Specifically, Campaign Waterloo aims to: attract excellent students and enrich their undergraduate experience; recruit and retain leading scholars and teachers; strengthen research and graduate studies; reaffirm Waterloo's leadership in co-operative education; and harness technology to enhance teaching and learning.

A fundraising initiative is essential because government operating grants to public universities in Canada have fallen by 30 per cent for each student during the past two decades. In the same period, they rose by 20 per cent in the United States.

Although in recent years the Ontario government has allowed tuition increases, these rises have not offset government funding cuts. This has been a particular challenge at Waterloo, where running the largest co-op program in the world adds an estimated 15 per cent to operating costs. The related work experience offered by co-op is a fundamental part of the academic experience.

Despite significant cutbacks, UW has introduced new programs, such as the innovative interdisciplinary degree program in Software Engineering, as well as new initiatives like Enterprise Co-op, which allows students to use co-op work terms to get businesses up and running.

Campaign Waterloo's key projects are as follows:

Attracting and rewarding talent: Student Scholarships; Faculty Fellowships; Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology; Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology; Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance; Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies; Chair in Building Science; Waterloo Centre for German Studies.

Enabling talent: Technology Enhanced Teaching and Learning; The Next Generation Library; East Asian Studies Learning Centre; Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing;

Making room for talent: Centre for Environmental and Information Technology; Applied Health Sciences Building addition; School of Optometry expansion; Co-operative Education & Career Services Building; School of Accountancy Building expansion; New facilities for the School of Architecture.

Creating a culture where talent will flourish: Athletics Facilities and Student Life Centre expansion; Theatre of the Arts, Communication, and Culture; Leaders of Tomorrow Seminars; School of Architecture Rome Program Endowment.

Pharmacy agreement signed with U of T

UW has now signed a "non-binding memorandum of agreement" with the University of Toronto as a step towards opening a school of pharmacy, provost Amit Chakma told the UW senate on Monday night.

Toronto has the only pharmacy school in Ontario, and it doesn't come close to filling the demand for pharmacists in the province. "We are going to work together," Chakma said, "to try to establish a satellite campus of the school of pharmacy."

Students might get a joint degree from Toronto and UW, he suggested, and would probably have access to UW co-op placements. "Of course," Chakma warned the senate, "it's not a done deal yet." Pharmacy is proposed as the initial school at a "health sciences campus" that UW has expressed interest in opening in downtown Kitchener.

City studies housing issues -- shortened from today's Gazette, by Barbara Elve

UW business director Bud Walker hopes the City of Waterloo's new Student Accommodation Study will lead to more large multi-unit student dwellings and fewer of the lodging houses that blight neighbourhoods across the city. The city released a discussion paper on the study this month that suggests the need for more student accommodation can best be met by creating small apartment buildings along major streets.

"It's a good start," says Walker, but he would like to see the city go further and also allow these "college style" low-rise buildings to replace groups of dilapidated lodging houses in the Albert/Hickory neighbourhood east of the campus. The area is so dense with student housing that it is increasingly referred to as a "student precinct" and begs for improvement.

"Our goal," he explains, "is to create an environment that is very conducive to the academic and social development of students, yet preserves the homes of the single family residents in the Albert/Hickory neighbourhood." His vision is housing that is convenient to both UW and Wilfrid Laurier University, with opportunities for lots of peer interaction, even residence life programs run by the university. That "good living/learning environment for students" is best realized with the "critical mass" -- 100 students or more -- necessary to provide facilities for students similar to the kind they would find in university residences.

WHEN AND WHERE
'Mastering the Personal Statement', career workshop, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

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

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

'Mimetic Flesh', drama department production at the Lang Building, 184 Joseph Street, Kitchener, 7 and 9 p.m. tonight through Saturday.

Paul Heinbecker, former ambassador to the United Nations, speaks on "The UN in the 21st Century", 7 p.m., senate and board room, Wilfrid Laurier University.

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

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

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

'Feminist Spirituality in a Multi-Faith Context', Ginny Freeman MacOwan, sponsored by Spiritual Heritage Education Network, Thursday 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 4021.

Two for Blue Day fund-raiser for juvenile arthritis research: wear blue and contribute $2 to the cause. Friday; details from Michelle Banic, ext. 3533.

Having private developers build and maintain larger apartment complexes and the university provide "a certain amount of support in terms of safety and security," would be the best of all possible worlds, says Walker -- especially for a university reaching the limits of its debt load. A similar private-public partnership is helping UW provide more housing for graduate students on the north campus.

The option of higher density housing in the Albert/Hickory area is supported by Federation of Students president Chris Edey. The plan would help ensure that a better supply of student housing develops close to the university, ideally in the area between Phillip and Albert Streets. What comes up consistently in student focus groups, says Walker, is the desire for good quality housing, close to campus.

The reason: it's important for students to participate in the university environment -- in athletics, drama, volunteerism, entrepreneurial activities. Students who live close to campus don't need cars, he adds. "We can avoid a lot of parking issues, and promote the use of public transit." Currently, some 5,000 students live outside a 10- or 15-minute walk to the university. "We have to move them closer and plan for growth."

Although the city is under pressure from some residents of the Albert/Hickory neighbourhood to restore more of the neighbourhood to single-family housing, Walker sees that as a tall order. Some 80 per cent of the homes in the district are already occupied by students (based on a survey conducted by the Federation of Students), and schools serving the area have closed. "Given the economic realities of student housing, it's hard to imagine how the neighbourhood could be restored."

The discussion paper on student accommodation was presented to city council on Monday night, and public meetings are planned to discuss student housing options with groups in the community. On June 22, council will receive a final report with recommendations and an implementation plan.

Highlights of the federal budget

The federal government, as expected, found some money for education -- especially student assistance -- in the otherwise tight-fisted budget brought down yesterday by finance minister Ralph Goodale.

"Learning is the key to securing a higher standard of living and a better quality of life for all Canadians," says the budget, and so there will be "a new up-front grant of up to $3,000" -- up to half the year's tuition fee -- for first-year college and university students from low-income families. The government says about 20,000 students will receive those grants in 2005-06.

The finance minister also announced a new Canada Learning Bond, money for children born in 2004 and later when they get to post-secondary age. There will also be a boost to the Canada Education Savings Grant, the money Ottawa adds to family savings under the Registered Education Savings Plan. And there are also new grants for disabled students.

The limit on Canada Student Loans is being raised, from $165 a week to $210. "The increase," the government says, "also takes into account the growing need for study tools, such as computers." The government will also reduce the "parental contribution" expected from middle-income families, and will expand the debt relief program for graduates who are having trouble paying off big loans.

The budget "provides solid recognition of the key strategic role university education and research play in building Canada's future", says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, representing university presidents across the country. "AUCC welcomes the package of student assistance measures contained in the budget, designed to encourage growing numbers of students, particularly from lower and middle-income families, to pursue a postsecondary education. The next challenge will be to make sure that universities have the capacity to provide these students with a quality higher education."

But the Canadian Association of University Teachers was more sceptical. CAUT president Victor Catano said the increases in loan limits, enriched RESPs and new learning bonds "are inadequate and fail to address the root of the problem facing students -- rapidly rising tuition fees and an insufficient number of spaces because of under-funding." Said Catano: "Forcing students and their families to take on even larger debts and to struggle to save more isn't a solution. . . . What students and their families really needed in this budget was for the federal government to increase core funding of post-secondary education."

Under the theme of "Building an Innovative Economy", the budget also set aside new funds "improve the capacity for commercialization at universities, hospitals and other research facilities". There will be funding increases for research through the three federal granting councils, new funds for the indirect costs of research (an issue dear to the hearts of university presidents), and a funding boost for the Community-University Research Alliance program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

AUCC praised those measures, and endorsed the funding for the new Canada Corps, which will send young Canadians to work in underdeveloped countries.

CAR


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