Monday, June 5, 2006

  • Privacy law leads to policy update
  • No 'early' job match this term
  • Student entrepreneurs sweep competition
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Keogh]'Tara for hire' is the headline on a full-page article in the spring issue of the UW Recruiter newsletter for co-op employers. It features Tara Keogh after four work terms in the arts and business program: "I've switched my career plans from social work to human resources because separating my emotions from work would be too difficult for me. . . . Co-op jobs have also been instrumental in helping me figure things out. I've seen what different companies are like and discovered what I am good at."

Link of the day

AIDS reported 25 years ago today

When and where

President's Golf Tournament in support of Warrior athletics, Monday, Cambridge Golf Club, details online.

Hallman Visiting Professor Lecture: Kermit Davis, University of Cincinnati, "When the Individual and the Workplace Interact: The Story of Low Back Pain", 3:00, Hallman Institute room 1621.

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Annual trade show sponsored by Procurement and Contract Services: computer suppliers for faculty and staff Tuesday 10 to 3, Basics Office Supplies (including ergonomic products) Wednesday 10 to 3, Davis Centre lounge.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001, preceded by campus tour.

Perimeter Institute presents Frank Wilczek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel winner, "The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity", Tuesday 7 p.m., tickets $15, details online.

Camp Keystone annual event for faculty, staff and retiree Keystone Campaign, June 8, 11:30 to 1:30, Graduate House green, begins with ring road parade.

International Spouses Group "summer stroll" on Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs (or visit to Conestoga Mall if weather is unsuitable), Thursday 1 p.m. All spouses of international students or professors welcome; contact

Ground-breaking for TechTown community centre, Research and Technology Park, Thursday 2 p.m., 340 Hagey Boulevard.

In case you missed them

Intern leaves for Kenya village
Optometry records going electronic
The welcomer in the D lot kiosk
Prominent curator will head UW art gallery


Privacy law leads to policy update

Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act comes into effect at universities starting this Saturday, and preparations at UW have included some updates to the longstanding Policy 19, “Access To and Release of Student Information”.

The policy is not one of UW's best-known regulations, although it's been around since 1984. The current revisions, dated June 1, continue the existing rule that most information is kept private. But there’s a new notification that “Grades, resumés, co-op work histories, and citizenship status (as required by federal employers) are routinely provided to prospective co-op employers as part of the interview process.”

A new web site went live on Friday with information on freedom of information and privacy protection rules and procedures at UW.

Otherwise, “Access is generally restricted to UW instructional or administrative staff with a legitimate need, such as for processing, information or analysis purposes, or for academic advisement purposes.”

Policy 19 also notes that students “may access information pertaining to them in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. . . .

“Provided the identity of individual students is protected, an instructor may convey information about student academic performance (e.g., grades on assignments, mid-term or final examinations) by posting results in a public place such as an office door, bulletin board or course website. Final examination and final course grades shall not be posted before the final examination period ends.”

Some things are usually made public if someone asks: “Faculty or College of enrolment, programs of study, sessions in which a student is or has been registered, awards based on academic merit, degrees received and dates of convocation are released by staff in the Registrar’s Office or the Graduate Studies Office, upon request, to authenticate a student’s current or past status at UW. Students who prefer that such information not be released are to notify the Registrar’s Office or Graduate Studies Office, in writing.

“The University routinely creates student address directories to facilitate communication among students; students may direct the Registrar's Office or the Graduate Studies Office to suppress their names from such directories. All other student information is considered private and confidential and normally will not be released to members of the public, except with the student's prior written consent, or on the presentation of a court order, or otherwise as required by law.”

The policy notes that “members of the public” means “any person or agency other than the student and those UW faculty and staff with a legitimate need to access student information. A student's parents, spouse, other relatives, employers, landlords, associations and members of other educational institutions or agencies are considered members of the public.”

The freedom-of-information law is new to universities, but has been in effect for government agencies for more than a decade. The law, dubbed FIPPA, has two parts. One half deals with personal information, making clear that an individual is entitled to see what the university has on file about him or her -- with certain exceptions, such as letters of recommendation. Policy 19 fleshes out the details of how UW will comply with that part of the law.

The other half deals with "freedom of information", meaning the right of the public to request and receive copies of "records" (paper or electronic) from UW's operations unless they are covered by an exemption that allows them to remain private.

Some major exemptions cover practically all records about employment matters; course teaching materials; and research records. There’s also an exemption that protects "information where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests of an institution or the competitive position of an institution".

Karen Jack of the university secretariat has been named as UW's Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator, responsible for the required paperwork if a freedom-of-information request is received. However, officials are emphasizing that there's no need to stop making information public unofficially when someone asks for it.

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No 'early' job match this term

A trial program designed to match co-op students with jobs months before the work term begins has been dropped because, the head of the co-op department says, it made things worse for some people while it was improving them for others.

Peggy Jarvie, executive director of co-op education and career services, explains the demise of the "early match" plan on the front page of this term's UW Recruiter newsletter for employers. A similar explanation has been issued to students both by e-mail and in the Inside Scoop newsletter.

In the employer newsletter, Jarvie gives the background to what was tried: "Every term, in spite of consistently high numbers of interviews with high numbers of students, many employers were not coming out of the first round with a match. Additionally, larger numbers of qualified students were not being interviewed. The Early Match Project was an attempt to increase the likelihood of successful matches during the first round of interviews.

"Starting in Fall 2005, we ran the test for two terms. Following the Fall test and hearing employer and student feedback, although some employers and students were very happy with the results, we recognized there were some flaws. We made a few changes for the Winter Term including a move from a daily match to a weekly match because both employers and students were requesting more choice.

"After the Winter term Early Match, we found in our final analysis of the numbers, that there was not enough improvement in the employment rates to offset the problems we were experiencing as a result of this match process. The test in fact, demonstrated conclusively that improvement in one area seemed to result in degradation in another area.

"The notion of employers posting jobs and students applying for them seems like a simple process. But once you peel back the layers, the variety of differing needs of both employers and students results in something which is far more complex than what appears on the surface." In fact, she explains, that's part of the background for the review of the whole job match process that's now being done by two faculty members from the department of management sciences.

Says Jarvie: "Until we have determined a better process, we have decided to return to our prior model for the Spring Term. Our experiences over the last two terms clearly demonstrated the employment process is not something that can be incrementally tinkered with. We do however; recognize the process needs to be updated to both todays employment demands and the sheer size of Waterloo co-op. . . .

"We are committed to providing the best process we can to ensure the best possible fit for students and employers. Although the size of our model presents unique challenges, the fact is we have a deep pool of great talent here. We are committed to identifying the balance between the greatest choice for both employers and students along with the optimal matches and ensuring our process provides this in a consistent and dependable manner." She tells employers that their comments are welcome, and that the management sciences researchers will be looking for advice and information from employers.

The main period of employer interviews for this term began May 25, and rankings will open this Friday.


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Student entrepreneurs sweep competition

from the UW media relations office

Three teams with students from the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program took the top spots in the recent 2006 LaunchPad $50K Venture Creation Competition.

Cellugen Inc., which is developing a cell-based therapy for a type of leukemia, won the first prize of $25,000, along with three months of free services in the Waterloo Research + Technology Park Accelerator Centre. Cellugen is made up of Diana Low, Liam Gore and Ryan Bentley, all candidates for the MBET degree, while Sabrina Perry is a PhD candidate in experimental medicine at McGill University.

The second-place team of College and University Explorations won $15,000. CUE offers chaperoned tours of post-secondary institutions for high school students. Teammates Gerry DeLuca and Josh Bohnen are MBET candidates, while Jason Lyall is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s business administration program and Adam Pearsall is a graduate of the commerce program at Ryerson University.

Third place went to Zapweed, consisting of Kshitij Kaushik, an MBET candidate, and Jennifer Prine, an engineering candidate at the University of Guelph. Zapweed is developing an environmentally friendly product that will remove weeds from lawns with little physical exertion by homeowners. The prize for third place is $10,000.

"The strong showing of teams from the MBET program continues a successful business plan competition year," said Paul Doherty, associate director of the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, which offers the degree program.

Last March, Cellugen Inc. placed second in the IBK CapitalIvey Business Plan Competition and had strong results in the USF-PSI International Business Plan Competition run by the University of San Francisco. Other MBET teams finishing in the top 10 teams in various international business plan competitions include RPT Inc., a recycling firm, and Nanodrivers, a technology-based firm.


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