[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Monday, June 27, 2005

  • Almost ready for Canada Day blast
  • Annual report on the pension fund
  • Faculty explain sabbatical plans
  • Hot news for a summer day
Chris Redmond

Canadian Airways, 75 years ago today

[Red arrow shows door off ring road]

Where the books are: The bookstore provides this diagram to show its temporary entrance for the next four weeks, as a minor renovation project takes place in South Campus Hall. Work is expected to start today. "We will continue to feature general books up in the concourse area," says Susy Kustra of retail services.

And the bookstore, along with the UW Shop, TechWorx and the Campus TechShop, will be closed all day tomorrow (Tuesday) for the annual retail services staff retreat. "We will be completing customer service and discussing topics related," says Kustra. The retreat this year is being held in the Architecture building in Cambridge.

Almost ready for Canada Day blast

The summer solstice came last week, the weather is hot hot hot, and the third requirement for a Canadian summer is about to be met: we're coming up to a long weekend.

Canada Day, the July 1 national holiday, is this Friday, meaning a day when UW is closed as far as classes and services go, but open to its biggest crowd of the year. More than 50,000 people typically come to the Columbia Lake Fields for the annual Canada Day celebration, sponsored by UW and the Federation of Students and climaxed by fireworks when it's dark.

Activities to celebrate the country's 138th birthday will start at 2 p.m. on Friday, says Dana Evans of UW's communications and public affairs office. That includes children's activities, an arts-and-crafts fair, food vendors, and live musical entertainment all day. The fireworks are scheduled for 10:00, followed by a post-fireworks performance by Allister Bradley and the No Games Band.

Celebrated children's author Robert Munsch will be reading at 5:00, and the UW orchestra gives its first-ever outdoor concert at 6:15. Elsewhere on the broad fields above the dry lake, there will be free activities and events planned for the entire family -- a water slide, dunk tank, obstacle course, petting zoo and pony rides are just a few.

Also new: the Activity World section will offer a larger-than-ever Home Depot kids' workshop; the Waterloo Children's Museum will be represented; and a local scouts chapter will be on the field teaching basic scouting skills such as knot tying and other outdoorsy things.

Parking is free in all UW lots for the day; visitors are advised to enter via University Avenue, as Columbia Street will be closed.

Call for nominations

Nominations are requested from full-time staff of the University to fill one staff seat on the Board of Governors, term to April 30, 2008. Full-time staff members who are Canadian citizens are eligible for nomination. At least five nominators are required in each case. Completed nomination forms should be submitted to the Secretariat, Needles Hall, Room 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Thursday, June 30, 2005.

Annual report on the pension fund

The faculty and staff pension plan is financially healthy again this year, the pension and benefits committee has reported to UW's board of governors.

And it's being kept that way by beefed-up payments from the university (the employer), which now puts $1.65 into the pension fund for each $1 paid in pension premiums from employees. That figure went up from $1.34 as of January 1, and means UW will put close to $17 million into the fund this year, while employees add $10 million.

On January 1, 2005, the market value of the pension plan -- invested mostly in stocks and bonds -- was $789.6 million. The investments brought a 9.4 per cent return during 2004, the committee said in its report to the board's June meeting.

The report notes that there are two approved ways for actuaries to calculate the financial position of a plan. Work the figures on a "solvency basis" and UW's plan has a surplus of $129.7 million. Work it on a "going concern basis" and there's a deficit of $4.7 million. That's a slight drop from last year's position and accounts for some of the increase in what UW, as employer, is expected to put into the fund.

This year's financial report "may be filed with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario", the board was told. Like other employers with pension funds, UW has to file a balance sheet with the commission at least every three years, and can choose when to do it.

Catharine Scott, UW's associate provost (human resources and student services), is chair of the P&B committee, and says the report shows the fund is in good shape. She also points out, as always, that the value of a staff or faculty member's pension after retirement is not based on what's in the fund.

The university operates a defined-benefit pension plan, which means that an individual's pension is calculated based on salary before retirement, age, and how long he or she contributed to the pension plan. UW pensions are also indexed for inflation, a feature that's not common in Canadian pension plans.

Faculty explain sabbatical plans

Here are some of the UW faculty members who will be on sabbatical leave starting July 1, 2005. Professors are asked to submit a brief paragraph to explain their sabbatical plans to the UW board of governors, which has to approve all such leaves, and those summaries are quoted as they appear in the board agenda.


ERS chair: Paul Kay becomes chair of the department of environment and resource studies as of July 1, taking over in that role from Susan Wismer.

Che Tat Ng of the pure mathematics department has a six-month sabbatical: "I will be visiting the School of Mathematics, Sichuan University, P.R. of China, working with Professor W. Zhang on the theory and applications of functional equations."

Robert Shipley of the school of planning also is on sabbatical for six months. "The first two months will be spent in the UK continuing a funded research project. Baseline data required to evaluate the Townscape Heritage Initiative was gathered in 1999, and 2005 is a fifth year assessment of the project. The remaining four months will be spent researching and writing in Central Europe as well a delivering a series of guest lectures."

K. T. Leung of chemistry has a twelve-month sabbatical: "I intend to conduct research with synchrotron radiation at ALS and CLS to fully commission all facilities at WATLabs, and to initiate new programs in 'smart' nano machines."

Wendy Mitchinson of the history department is on leave for six months. "The project," she writes, "is a study of English-Canadian medical attitudes toward and treatment of women, 1900-1950. Using medical journals, textbooks, patient records, popular health manuals, women's magazines, and interviews with physicians and women, I want to examine the way in which practitioners of medicine and their women patients interacted with one another."

Margaret Insley of economics is on sabbatical for July through December: "I will be working on an SSHRC funded project entitled 'Natural Resource Regulation Under Uncertainty: A Real Options Approach'. My research program will focus on the management of renewable resources in the face of price and environmental risk using the theory of real options."

Mary Louise McAllister of environment and resource studies is also on a six-month sabbatical: "I will concentrate on getting some research grants, finish and submit some articles to international journals co-authored with colleagues, graduate students, and community partners, and continue work on my department's initiative to develop innovative approaches to course delivery using UWone."

Mark Giesbrecht of computer science has a twelve-month sabbatical leave: "I have been invited to visit the Mathematics Mechanization Research Centre in the Academia Sinica in Beijing, China. This is one of the strongest research groups in Computer Algebra in the world. I have ongoing projects with a number of faculty there, in symbolic differential equations and symbolic-numeric computing. The largest annual conference in Computer Algebra (ISSAC) will be in Beijing this summer, and there will be many research visitors there."


Hot news for a summer day

Jennifer Ashworth (right), a faculty member in UW's department of philosophy, will retire officially on July 1. A Cambridge graduate with a PhD from Bryn Mawr, she came to Waterloo in 1969, after five years teaching at the University of Manitoba, and has been working in such fields as mediaeval and post-mediaeval logic and the philosophy of language. In 1988 she was awarded a Killam Fellowship, and three years later she was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, cited as "one of the best scholars in the world among specialists in the development of logic and semantic theory. . . Her pre-eminence in the field stems from her erudition and comprehension of difficult material, plus an almost unequalled energy."

Kim Phuc, "the girl in the picture from Vietnam", speaks 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Group Response Systems ("clickers") presentation sponsored by Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, details online.

Bruce Lumsden, director of co-operative education and career services, retirement reception Tuesday 330 to 5:30, Tatham Centre, RSVP ext. 3926.

Bachelor of Social Work students present Canadian Red Cross with a $2,000 cheque, proceeds from "international crisis" conference in March, Tuesday 5:00, University Club.

Midnight Sun solar car unveiling of this year's model, Tuesday 5:30, green space outside Graduate House.

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory speaks in Student Life Centre, Wednesday 2 p.m.

Also retiring July 1 is June Richardson, who has been a UW staff member since 1978. She's worked in the Village II tuck shop, in the finance office, and finally since 1999 in information systems and technology, as an operator on the UW switchboard. Colleagues held a retirement party for her late last week.

Speaking of the telephone switchboard: another upgrade to the campus voicemail system is scheduled for tonight -- "hopefully the last for a while", says Bruce Uttley of IST. Voicemail will be unavailable after 6 p.m., for the entire evening. "All stored messages, greetings and passwords will be retained on the new system," IST promises.

And still in IST, there's a new chair for the web operations committee, with the retirement of Carol Vogt, who's been heading that group. Alan George, associate provost (IST), says the committee will now be headed by Pat Lafranier of IST's client services group. "She has been serving on the committee since its inception," says George, "and brings an excellent medley of skills and experience to what is obviously a very important task."

People across campus who are responsible for creating web sites may be interested in a midsummer training session, "Web Content Management Using Contribute", scheduled for the morning of Tuesday, July 19. Registration is online.

And . . . Lynn Judge, director of graduate studies services, has asked me to clarify something I said last Wednesday, to the effect that the graduate calendar is moving to electronic-only publication next year. I said it would be "following the precedent of the undergrad calendar", but Judge points out that, although distribution of the print version was much reduced this year, the undergraduate calendar does still exist in print form. As for the book at the graduate level, "Graduate Studies has published in both paper and electronic form for 10 years. We considered feedback from users on access and printing issues, implemented electronic management systems for university-wide updates and archive facilities, and considered costs including production, distribution, printing and staff resources before determining that we would publish only in electronic form with a feature for printing pages or sections."


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