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Friday, May 13, 2005

  • Payday for some, increases for all
  • Teens visit computer science school
  • Prof studies status and access
Chris Redmond

Why Friday the 13th is unlucky


Winner of a province-wide teaching award from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations this year is Jean Andrey of UW's geography department. She'll be presented with the award at a ceremony in Toronto on June 10 -- one of six faculty members and one librarian receiving OCUFA's honour this year. Andrey is recognized as a star teacher, won one of UW's own Distinguished Teacher Awards in 1995 and serves on the Teaching Excellence Council.

More about the Ontario budget

  • Budget documents, including 'Reaching Higher: The Plan for Postsecondary Education'
  • UW's official public statement
  • 'Light at the end of the tunnel,' Federation of Students says
  • 'Universities hail best budget in decades' (Western)
  • Reaction from U of Toronto
  • Criticism from Conservative opposition leader
  • 'Liberals cut budget, spend by degrees' (Star)
  • Educators await the details (Chronicle-Journal)
  • Payday for some, increases for all

    May 1 pay increases start to become a reality today, as it's the first payday of the new fiscal year for unionized staff members in food services and plant operations who get their pay every two weeks. The year's first payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff -- the great majority of them -- will come May 27.

    Just about everybody who's employed by UW received a pay increase as the 2004-05 fiscal year began 12 days ago. The key figure is 3.3 per cent, which is the increase to salary scales for unionized staff as well as non-union housekeepers and janitors, the "range adjustment" for non-union staff (a figure agreed to as part of a two-year settlement in July 2003), and the scale increase for faculty (again, dating from a two-year agreement in 2003).

    Among faculty and staff groups, individual increases can vary, depending on "progress through the ranks" merit assessments (faculty) or performance ratings and position in the salary grid (staff). Sandie Hurlburt of the human resources department says individual notices of salary increases are going out in the campus mail this month, and individuals can check their take-home pay on the myHRinfo system by May 24.

    For unionized staff, individual pay is based on job classification, and notices aren't being sent out to individuals.

    Graduate students who work as teaching assistants are also getting a pay boost as of May 1, the beginning of the spring term. Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student affairs), says the overall figure there is 3.3 per cent as well: "The intent was to achieve an agreement consistent with the increases in the staff and faculty agreements." Administration and graduate student representatives agreed to a 2.3 per cent increase in TA rates, with the other 1.0 per cent going to increase graduate scholarships and the Millennium Bursary Fund.

    Some of UW's "casual" employees -- those paid by the hour for part-time work -- could also be enjoying a pay boost, as the Ontario minimum wage went up to $7.45 per hour as of February 1. However, most on-campus jobs pay more than that.

    Many employees will be paying more into the UW pension plan as they receive higher salaries, and some will also pay more for Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. Information isn't complete yet about the possible impact of changes in premiums for benefits, Hurlburt said.

    'A minor miracle' till the power failed

    Some notes of interest about Wednesday night's power failure are on hand from Prabhakar Ragde of the school of computer science:

    Working from home as I do on Wednesdays, I had no idea what was going on. We have PowerBooks with wireless cards communicating with an Airport Base Station hooked up to a router (off which a wired desktop also hangs) hooked up to a cable modem hooked up to Rogers broadband, and for whatever reason, various of our machines could get through to various Internet sites (on campus, and off) at various times, while others could not. I reconfigured and power-cycled in an attempt to figure out what was going on, resorting to a cell-phone browser at one point.

    Had we not been trying to access machines on campus, we probably wouldn't have noticed anything. The Record said that the blackout started at 5, but we were having problems before then, so it's possible that electrical transients were affecting electronic equipment earlier.

    The original goal of the ARPAnet, the first predecessor of the modern Internet, was to maintain distributed computing in the face of nuclear attack. What is clear to me today, as on 9/11 and other such dates, is that our electronic infrastructure is a minor miracle when things are operating normally, but it is quite vulnerable to disruption, and we do not have good methods for dealing with that.

    Teens visit computer science school -- from the UW media relations office

    The school of computer science is hosting a new event, CS4U@Waterloo Day, on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Davis Centre. The event is aimed at students in grades 9 and 10, their families and interested computer science and mathematics teachers. Those attending will be acquainted with computer science and introduced to some of the cutting-edge research being carried out at UW.

    "Computer science is changing the world in more ways than anybody could have imagined," organizers of the event say. "The fundamental concepts of this young intellectual discipline are reshaping the way we think -- the scientist, the banker and the social worker must all think computer science."

    The event will "explore the breadth and depth of computer science, what computers can and can't do, and how computer science is changing everything from entertainment to health care." The activities require no computer science background.

    Among the topics and speakers tomorrow are John-Paul Pretti and Troy Vasiga ("What Is Computer Science?"); Shai Ben-David ("What Can We Expect Computers To Do?"); Chrysanne Di Marco ("Helping Physicians Communicate Better with Patients: Automated Generation of Personalized Medical Advice"); Craig Kaplan ("A Whirlwind Tour of Computer Graphics"); and Srinivasan Keshav ("E-mail Explained -- Or What Happens After You Click 'Send'?").

    Visiting students will also get a chance to simulate computer networking, as each student becomes a "node" in a multi-node network and is given information about his or her neighbours. Students are asked to deliver messages from several sources to several destinations. The goals are to deliver the messages in the least amount of time and in the smallest number of hops.

    Clubs Days 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre.

    [Fournier] Dance Dance Dance continues through Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

    Colloque Margot: "Dix ans de recherche sur les femmes écrivains de l'Ancien Régime", conference hosted by department of French studies, through Saturday, honorary chair Hannah Fournier (right).

    Chemistry lectures by Peter Stang, University of Utah: "Chemical Publishing in the 21st Century", 11:00; "Nanoscale Molecular Architecture", 3:30, both in Davis Centre room 1302.

    LaunchPad $50K Venture Creation Competition, announcement of three winning teams, 4 p.m., Schlegel Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University.

    Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada youth convention, today through Sunday, Ron Eydt Village.

    Canada's role in Afghanistan: International conference continues through Saturday, sponsored by Centre for International Governance Innovation. Bill Graham, minister of national defence, speaks at dinner event at WLU tonight.

    UW Debating Society presents Third Annual Debating Death Trudge: events this evening, then 24 hours of debates from 10:00 Saturday to 10:00 Sunday, Coutts Hall. Debaters from across Canada; spectators welcome.

    Bombshelter Pub presents Barry Taylor, 102.1 FM The Edge, spinning tonight.

    Retirees' Association tour of "Old Town Toronto" led by Gordon Nelson, UW Heritage Resources Centre, Saturday, information 699-4015.

    Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi, first woman to be ordained in the Anglican communion, 61st anniversary memorial service sponsored by Renison College, Sunday 4 p.m., St. Paul's L'Amoreaux Church, Scarborough.

    Da Capo Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, closing concert for the Guelph Spring Festival, Sunday 8 p.m., Holy Rosary Church, Guelph.

    Friends of the Library lecture and authors' event: Howard Burton, Perimeter Institute, "Creativity Unbound", Tuesday 12 noon, Theatre of the Arts, all welcome.

    Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Joan Sanger, former chair of the prime minister's Ethics and Public Policy Reform Platform Committee, "Balancing Opportunity, Personal Accountability and Meaningful Work", Tuesday 5:30, Needles Hall room 1101, register by e-mail lcurtis@uwaterloo.ca.

    UW Retirees' Association annual general meeting Wednesday 1:30, Ron Eydt Village room 102.

    W. B. (Bill) Pearson, department of chemistry and former dean of science, memorial event Tuesday, May 24, 3 to 5 p.m., University Club, information ext. 2294.

    In another activity, several students will collaborate on being a "robot," with one being its eyes, another its left hand, and so on. The students will then collaborate on building an object out of wooden blocks.

    Posters and invitations were sent to schools with membership in the Grand Valley Math Association. The group reaches a broad southern Ontario area, including Brantford, Goderich, Milton and Stratford, and all the communities and schools in between. Participants were asked to register online in advance, and there's also more information on the CS web site.

    Prof studies status and access -- by Naomi Sunderland, from the Arts Research Update

    The Canada Research Chair in Health Economics and Technology, Lori Curtis of UW's department of economics, was recently awarded Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Provincial funding to establish the Waterloo Health Economics Data Laboratory (WHEDL).

    Curtis will use the WHEDL facility to conduct research that helps policy makers, service providers, and researchers to better understand how socio-economic status -- in particular income status, education, lone parenthood, and gender -- affects people's access to health and social systems in Canada.

    She observes that a broad range of societal variables impact on health and well being. "Health and wellbeing are affected by any number of factors that are present both in the home and beyond it. Factors such as female labour force participation; gender roles in the household; and access to technologies and information are all significant," she said.

    In addition to researching the factors that affect access to health and social systems, Curtis will also investigate how this access to health and social systems actually affects people's health and well-being. "We cannot assume that 'access' to health and social services automatically produces the results we are after in terms of people's well being. Some groups, in particular women, children, and immigrants, are still quite vulnerable. In addition, these groups are vastly underresearched. We need to find out how these people are faring with the health system -- both at present and over time," she said.

    A core function of the WHEDL facility will be to gather and analyze data from disparate sources, forming a central resource for health related economic research in Canada.


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