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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

  • President, provost comment on budget
  • Workplace 'principles' on the wall
  • Professor studies ability to stand
Chris Redmond

World Telecommunication Day

[Burton with bow tie]

Howard Burton is comfortable in front of a microphone, if this photo from last fall's "gala celebration" at the Perimeter Institute is any indication. Burton, who is Perimeter's executive director, is the speaker today for the annual Friends of the Library lecture, starting at 12 noon in the Theatre of the Arts. Title of his talk is "Creativity Unleashed: Pushing the Perimeter". Of course.

'Centre for Seniors Care' launched today

In a celebration at 9:45 this morning at the Village of Winston Park retirement home on Kitchener's Block Line Road, community partners will launch the Winston Park Research and Learning Centre for Seniors Care, a collaborative initiative involving UW, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, and Winston Park. The new initiative draws on expertise at UW's Research Institute for Aging, which seeks to enhance the care of seniors in community-based and institutional accommodations. As well, Conestoga's Training Institute for Seniors Care participates by developing clinical programs for the elderly and staff training for enhanced caregiving for older adults.

President, provost comment on budget

People in the universities should be "smiling" but not "dancing in the streets", the president and provost said last night as they briefed the university senate on the recent provincial budget and how it will affect UW.

President David Johnston repeated the praise he offered last week after provincial treasurer Greg Sorbara announced an influx of new money for colleges and universities: $683 million in 2005-06 on top of last year's funding, and additional increases every year through 2010. "It was a very good day for post-secondary education," Johnston said, adding that he was glad to see the budget "front-end loaded", with the bulk of the money coming in the first three years.

Features of the budget include new financial aid money that will help support some 135,000 students this year, special funding to boost enrolment in medical schools and help expand graduate study, and a commitment to raising the quality of undergraduate education, including a reduction in the student-faculty ratio.

In return for additional funding, the universities will be expected to commit to multi-year plans for enrolment and quality improvement, with specific "accountability measures". They're also being asked to work on "pathways" between institutions and between systems, such as clear ways of earning university credit through college courses. And the universities and colleges will become subject to provincial freedom of information and privacy legislation.

Institute for Polymer Research 27th annual Symposium on Polymer Science and Engineering, today and Wednesday, Conrad Grebel University College.

Career development workshops: "Are You Thinking About Graduate Studies?" 2:30, "Mastering the Personal Statement" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Engineering faculty council 3:00, CEIT room 3142.

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", 5:30, Needles Hall room 1101.

Carousel Dance Centre spring performance, today-Thursday 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $12, students $9.

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

Society of International Students welcome party and movie night, Wednesday 6:00, Coutts Hall room 308; general meeting Thursday 6 p.m., location to be announced.

Rock Out Against AIDS concert at the Bombshelter pub, Thursday from 8:00, five bands, fund-raiser for UW International Health Development Association project in Tanzania.

Making noticeable improvements will take time, Johnston said, but he reiterated that the government is now clearly committed to supporting education. Lobbying cabinet ministers and MPPs clearly helped, he said, thanking those who took time to write letters to Queen's Park calling for the province to implement the kinds of improvement recommended in the recent Bob Rae review.

Now, the president added, the university community, including senate members, should "drop a note to Premier McGuinty", with a copy to Liberal MPP John Milloy (Kitchener Centre), expressing their appreciation for what's been done. Templates for such letters (Premier, MPPs) are available on the web.

Provost Amit Chakma spoke briefly about the immediate impact of the funding increases on UW. He noted that although the announced increase in operating grants this year is $447 million, only $280 million of that is for universities, with the rest going to colleges. And about half of the $280 million is already taken into account in financial plans, such as UW's 2005-06 budget, which included a figure for "fee compensation" and a prediction of revenue to help pay for enrolment growth.

Take away money that's intended for expansion of medical schools and other special purposes, and the real new funding is even less, Chakma went on. He's estimating that UW will have perhaps $5 million to $6 million extra to spend in the current year as a result of the provincial budget.

"It is a good thing to have," said the provost, but repeated Johnston's assessment: no dancing in the streets just yet.

Chakma did note that UW will get a share of some $20 million this year, and much larger sums in future years, allocated for expanding graduate enrolment across Ontario. He called it "a great opportunity" to do something that's already been identified as a Waterloo priority.

Workplace 'principles' on the wall

The five "Basic Principles for the UW Workplace", familiar to many staff who have taken training programs under various titles, are likely coming to a wall or bulletin board near you.

  • Beware the SOBER.K worm in your e-mail
  • English grad 'is doing away with words'
  • Math faculty reviews its 'probation' rule (uwstudent.org)
  • 'Regions Apart': UW sociologist is co-author of new book
  • U of Guelph making cuts for new budget year
  • Student assembling a library for China
  • Education savings plans 'improve practices' (Star)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council seeks to expand its role
  • 'Fighting back against phishing'
  • Dispute continues over Morgentaler honour at Western . . . and continues
  • 'The science of gender and science'
  • Council of Ontario Universities monthly highlights
  • York U abandons stadium project
  • Journeyman: Getting Into, and Out of, Academe
  • First Nations Technical Institute in jeopardy
  • 'Digitally flattening pages of old manuscripts'
  • 'Women want more room at the top'
  • The principles come originally from the consulting and training firm Achieve Global, but UW is among employers that have adopted them as well as the training programs that deliver them -- "Leadership 2000", "Frontline Leadership, "Working", and the current "Leadership for Results".

    The five basic principles for the UW workplace

  • Focus on the situation, issue, or behaviour, not the person.
  • Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
  • Maintain constructive relationships.
  • Take initiative to make things better.
  • Lead by example.
  • "A few years ago," says Neil Murray of the human resources department, "these were adopted by the University as 'The Basic Principles for the UW Workplace' as senior management believes strongly in their use to foster good communication skills and build strong working relationships.

    "Through recent discussion in the Staff Relations Committee, it was agreed that it would be beneficial if these principles could be posted in every department on campus."

    So 300 posters have been printed, and copies offered to all departments at no charge. "It is the Committee's hope," Murray writes, "that they will be displayed in a prominent area of your department as a reminder to all of their use and effectiveness."

    A recent memo to department heads added that UW Graphics "has negotiated a preferred price" for getting the posters mounted as a plaque, if departments choose to do that.

    Professor studies ability to stand -- by Graeme Stemp for the UW media relations office

    "Most people don't question their ability to stand up until they lose that ability or the consequences are huge, like when they are walking along a steep cliff," says kinesiology professor Jim Frank, an expert in human posture, balance and gait.

    A member of the Centre for Applied Health Research, he's working on "identifying properties of neural strategies which control upright stance". He also evaluates changes in balance control in the elderly and methods of reducing falls. This area of research, conducted with other professors, led to the establishment of the Physical Assessment Centre for the Elderly.

    His studies have shown that a person can become "de-tuned" in the ability to stand. To counter this, Frank urges seniors to walk as often as possible. "We have worked closely with physiotherapists and exercise specialists at retirement homes in the Waterloo Region and we have found that through simply standing upright more often people are less likely to fall," he said. Canes can also help and are good for seniors "because their sensory information is dulled." The cane adds "another level of sensory input through telling the hands what the ground is like. People should swallow their pride a little bit and use a cane because that can help a lot," he said.

    "What most people don't realize is that our body has to learn how to stand," says Frank. Experience is what tells the central nervous system how to respond to a given condition, which is why athletes such as figure skaters or skiers who haven't been training for a while need time to adapt.

    "Those athletes have become 'de-tuned' and they almost need to remember how to stand," he explained. This problem affects more than just athletes, though, and is common with the elderly who spend much time in bed or sitting. Older people have slower and weaker responses to balance challenges, but a sedentary lifestyle can greatly increase the risk of falling.

    [Frank] "Walking is a great exercise for elderly individuals. Chair exercises are okay but studies have shown that it is not a matter of strength but of experience," said Frank (right). One study put young and healthy men in bed for 10 days. At the end of that time, they were asked to walk heel-to-toe for three metres. Regardless of whether someone just lie in bed or did bed exercises, it still took three days to regain that ability.

    He notes: "Our nervous system is given the demanding task of coordinating over 200 muscles in our legs and back just to keep us upright, not to mention correctly shifting our weight over the three joints of our legs. It does this through information gained from three major sensory systems." Those would be the inner ear, the eyes, and physical sensations in the feet and legs. These sensations are processed in the brain and spinal cord, where the nervous system decides what is the most important aspect to deal with. Once that is decided, a signal is sent out and muscles are triggered to keep from falling.

    Balance is not regulated through response to crises but through anticipation, he says. However, in cases such as Parkinson's disease, people lose the ability to anticipate the balance requirement of different situations.


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