[University of Waterloo]


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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

  • Consultant ranks UW's benefits
  • Four institutions hold job fair
  • Feds vote, Chinese new year, and more
Chris Redmond

Confirming Islamic new year

[Two needles at different spots]

Speedometer-style graph from the Hewitt Benefit Index presentation shows UW's "employer-paid value" is above average for pre-retirement health care benefits.

Consultant ranks UW's benefits

UW ranks about fourth among thirteen universities in the value of benefits offered to its employees, according to data that were made public late in the fall term.

An analysis of UW using the patented Benefit Index provided by the consulting firm of Hewitt Associates was presented at open meetings called by the pension and benefits committee for interested faculty and staff members. The index uses "100" as the average value for a benefit and calculates how a particular employer's plan compares.

The P&B committee administers UW's pension plan as well as such benefits as life insurance, the dental plan, the extended health care plan, sick leave and long-term disability. "Benefits are provided by the University," its presentation reminded the audience, noting that UW spent $40.3 million on benefits and pension contributions last year, which adds some 21 per cent to the $191.5 million spent on salaries. (That included "statutory costs" such as employer contributions to the Canada Pension Plan and workers' compensation premiums.) Individual employees also carry some costs, including pension plan contributions and a share of insurance premiums.

Measuring benefit programs is tough, says the committee's consultant, Allan Shapira of Hewitt Associates, because there are "hundreds of different provisions" at various employers. At UW, by longstanding policy, the same benefits are offered to faculty and staff, but at many universities that's not the case. So Shapira did the comparison with faculty plans, "under the assumption that faculty benefits are generally better than staff benefits when the plans are split."

The comparison put UW among half a dozen of Canada's biggest universities, as well as nearby institutions such as Guelph and Laurier. The central finding: If 100 is the average value of benefits at all the institutions, UW has benefits worth 101.9, and an "employer-paid value" of 105.3.

Waterloo ranked between first and second in the comparison group on the value of pensions; about seventh on pre-retirement death benefits and disability benefits; about eighth on health care benefits (but well above average, at 111.4, on the share of those benefits that's paid by the employer rather than the employee).

On health care benefits as a whole, the total package rated 96.2, putting UW sixth or seventh in the group, but employer-paid value rated 121.0, putting Waterloo third or fourth.

The presentation reminded listeners that the committee sticks to five "guiding principles" in making decisions about the benefit programs: "One pension and benefits plan for all members of the UW community without reference to the type of work performed or the employee group to which one belongs. The current level of benefits should be maintained. Employees should be covered for catastrophic events. Benefits should not be designated for the employee alone, but should provide family coverage where relevant. Cost implications to both the University and its employees should be considered."

The PowerPoint presentation used in the open meetings about the benefit plan will be available through the secretariat's web site.

[Slide shows Dana Porter Library]

At the centre of great ideas . . . is the Library. That's the message of a Flash media presentation prepared by the UW library and the development office, and now accessible on the web. A group of UW alumni thought to be interested in the library received e-mail in December letting them know where to see the presentation and how to find out more about the library's current fund-raising priority, the Kresge Foundation challenge. The buttons superimposed on this night-time picture of the Dana Porter Library say "Learn More" and "Make a Gift Today".

Four institutions hold job fair

More than 4,000 students and alumni, as well as more than 175 employers expecting to hire within the next six months, will attend the winter 2006 University/College Job Fair to be held at RIM Park tomorrow.

The annual event -- the largest post-secondary job fair of its kind in Canada -- is sponsored by Partnerships for Employment, a collaborative effort involving Conestoga College, the University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as UW.

The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is open to students and alumni from the four post-secondary institutions. Shuttle buses will run all day, leaving from the Humanities building every half hour starting at 9:30. Organizers expect 4,000 students and alumni will attend the fair -- resumés in hand -- as they seek full-time, part-time, contract, co-op and summer employment.

"Over the past two years the number of participating employers has increased -- this is obviously great news for students and alumni," said Carol Ann Olheiser, employment co-ordinator in UW's co-op education and career services department. "At the same time, the variety of disciplines and skills represented by these first-rate students and alumni is a key reason why employers return each year."

The fair has attracted a diverse group of employers from areas such as agriculture and forestry, consulting, financial services, retail and wholesale, government, manufacturing, health services, hospitality tourism, information technology, marketing and advertising, social services, sports recreation, telecommunications, and transportation. Among the organizations registered this year are Upper Canada Forest Products, Wells Fargo Financial Corporation Canada, DataMirror Corporation, the Ministry of Transportation, Schlumberger, York Regional Police, and Micron Technology Inc.

Faculty of engineering planning process information session for students, 5:00, Carl Pollock Hall room 3385.

Music of India free concert featuring Anwar Khurshid, Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Faculty association special (confidential) general meeting on issues related to the elimination of mandatory retirement, Wednesday 2:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshop: "Business Etiquette and Professionalism" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Perimeter Institute public lecture: John A. Grant, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, "Mission to Mars: Still Roving on the Red Planet", Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, lineup for available seats 6:00.

Feds vote, Chinese new year, and more

Campaigning officially starts this morning as students get ready to elect the Federation of Students executive for 2006-07. Four positions are to be filled, for a president and three vice-presidents; they'll work for the Feds full-time for a year, starting May 1. Also on the ballot as students vote (February 14-16) will be seats on students' council, student positions on the UW senate, and referenda on proposed student fees. Watch for much more publicity on the various aspects of the election. Meanwhile, I have to report that apparently I took a fifty-fifty gamble the other day and lost. One of the candidates for Feds vice-president (internal) is Michael Davenport, and I wrote that it was the Davenport (middle initial M) who's in civil engineering. In fact, the candidate is Michael L. Davenport of physics.

Today brings the beginning of the two-day LunarFest celebration of Chinese new year. Celebrations will run from 10:30 to 4:00 in the Student Life Centre, with food, crafts, and entertainment. Tomorrow there's an evening event with dancing and music, starting at 10 p.m. in Federation Hall (tickets $15 at the door). Writing a few days ago about the various Chinese new year celebrations and the organizations sponsoring them, I listed half a dozen groups involved in LunarFest but omitted one: UW Dimensions, responsible for the widely-circulated Chinese-language magazine on campus. It's part of the University of Waterloo Alliance of Asian Student Clubs along with the various groups I did mention.

Planning is under way for a conference on "Effective Development Through Foreign Aid", to be held on campus March 3 and 4. It's the second annual UW International Development Student Conference, and will feature prominent speakers -- including Naresh Singh of the Canadian International Development Agency -- as well as papers and poster presentations from UW students. Today's the official deadline for submission of abstracts for student papers: "Submitters can comment on the effectiveness of a current policy, and/or present novel ideas on how foreign aid can be more effective." There are two $1,000 prizes for the best papers. Details are on the UWIDSC web site.

A total of 313 people have contracted to stop smoking, cut down, or (the great majority of them) resist any pressures to start, as this year's "Let's Make a Deal" contest is under way. "We are very excited with these results," writes coordinator Rosanna Morales, and in fact the turnout was more than organizers expected. "Due to overwhelming demand, we ran out of mouthpieces for our carbon monoxide testing machine," she reports. "Therefore we gave students who didn't have a chance to complete their registration -- because a baseline CO test is mandatory -- this week to come to our booth and complete it." Things are now under way, with the competition running until mid-March. "Participants can drop by our booth in the Student Life Centre on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 to 1:30," she notes, "to ask any questions they have or to let us know how they are doing."

Canadian Blood Services sends a thank-you to the campus for the 288 people who donated blood during the recent clinic in the Student Life Centre. . . . "Two Degrees of Separation", a student-curated show in the UW art gallery in East Campus Hall, continues there through February 9. . . . The UW bookstore opens yet another sale in the South Campus Hall concourse today (it runs through Thursday). . . .


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