Monday, June 26, 2006

  • Recommend UW? Most alumni say yes
  • CFI support for health-related projects
  • Pixels in the big picture
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

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Travel allowances increased

The amount that UW will reimburse faculty and staff members for business travel was increased as of June 1, a memo has announced:

• The per-kilometre rate for use of a car goes up from 35.7 cents to 40 cents, recognizing increased costs. (The vice-president, administration and finance, says gasoline accounts for about 20 per cent of the mileage allowance, with the rest going for depreciation and maintenance.)

• The meal allowance rises to $50 a day from $40.

In other changes to the UW travel policy (Policy 31), air travel in North America "will be authorized at economy class"; overseas air travel can be at business class if approved by the provost or president. And, "The use of limousine service to/from the airport will be authorized."

Link of the day

Discovery Day

When and where

Canadian International Council launch reception hosted by Centre for International Governance Innovation and Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 4:30, Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto.

Retail services stores will be closed Tuesday for annual general meeting and staff training. Affects bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx, and Campus TechShop.

City of Waterloo public meeting to discuss the proposed "West Side Partnership" for constructing a public library and YMCA on UW-owned land, Tuesday 6 to 9 p.m., Sir John A. MacDonald School, Laurelwood Drive, details online.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre, "How the West Was Nearly One: Canada, NATO's Early Years and the Quest for an Atlantic Community," Tuesday 7 p.m., 57 Erb Street West, free tickets

Grant writing seminar for arts faculty members (others also welcome), Wednesday 9 a.m., workshop 12 noon, Tatham Centre room 2218, details online.

Ice cream party and magic show for staff and faculty, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Wednesday 12 noon, details online.

'Pilate' plays the Humanities Theatre Wednesday 8 p.m., tickets $23.50 from Federation of Students or Humanities box office.

California alumni reception featuring Duffy Knox, BA 1986, technical director at Sony Imageworks, Wednesday 6 to 8 p.m., Avalon Hotel, Beverly Hills, details online.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Liz Torlée, TerraNova Market Strategies, "Breaking Ground: Real-Life Research that Fuels Strategic Planning," Thursday 12 noon, Tatham Centre room 2218, reservations ext. 7167.

Alumni in San Francisco reception at Stanford University Faculty Club, in partnership with Toronto, Ottawa and Queen's, Thursday, details online.

Canada Day holiday observed Monday, July 3; UW offices and most services will be closed, classes cancelled.

[Sitting along lounge window; strange costume outside]
Library staff held their spring barbecue on Thursday, inside the staff lounge (on the first floor of the Dana Porter Library) as well as outside. That's a 50th Anniversary T-shirt on chief librarian Mark Haslett (far left); no explanation is at hand for the hat worn by Gladys Torres, or for the creature behind her on the patio. Also pictured: Wish Leonard, Ellen Clarke, Michelle McHugh. Photo by Carl Nagel of the library's systems department.

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Recommend UW? Most alumni say yes

"Would you recommend this university?" Definitely yes, say 77 per cent of UW graduates, in one of the many factoids that can be extracted from the Maclean's magazine "University Graduate Survey", published last week.

The magazine — already well known for its yearly rankings of Canadian universities, published in November — returned to higher education and statistics in the issue that's dated today, providing selected results from three surveys: the National Survey of Student Engagement (an American study that involves a number of Canadian institutions, including UW); the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium, which, like NSSE, asks students about their experiences; and the magazine's own survey of graduates from 23 institutions that agreed to cooperate.

The graduate survey asked alumni, "How would you rate your entire educational experience at this university?" For 64 per cent of Waterloo alumni the answer was "very good," with another 32 per cent saying "good." That puts UW in second place, behind Guelph, among the five "comprehensive" universities that were involved. Placings were the same — Guelph, then Waterloo, then Memorial — for answers to the question, "Do you feel that this experience was of significant benefit to your life today?" as well as the "would you recommend" question.

What readers of the magazine can't know is how the universities that didn't take part in the survey would have placed, including Toronto, Queen's, McMaster, and UW's frequent rival in the November rankings for "comprehensive" institutions, Simon Fraser.

Some of the institutions that didn't join the graduate survey did make data available from NSSE, which surveyed their undergraduate students. "If you could start over again," one NSSE question asks, "would you go to the same institution?" Answering "definitely yes": 57 per cent of final-year students at Queen's, 54 per cent at Guelph, 47 per cent at McGill, 46 per cent at both McMaster and Waterloo. "How would you evaluate your entire educational experience?" Saying it was excellent: 48 per cent at Queen's, 45 at Guelph, 38 at Mac and Waterloo. "How would you rate the quality of instruction in the third- and fourth-year courses you've taken?" Saying excellent: 45 per cent at Queen's, 41 at Acadia, 37 at UW.

The magazine points out that small universities (not just Acadia but Nipissing, Laurier and others) tended to score well on various measures of quality and satisfaction as perceived by students and grads. "But the universities that most Canadian students attend today are big, research-intensive institutions," the magazine says. "They see research as the pre-eminent part of their mission. And they have become excellent at it, training graduate students and pushing the frontiers of knowledge. But, on the flip side, surveys of undergrad students and the recently graduated suggest that they do not feel that anything like the same progress has been made in the traditional, less glamorous business of teaching them."

Maclean's devotes several pages to talking about innovations aimed at improving teaching — such as "so-called learning and teaching centres", student life activities, and integration of research and teaching. A paragraph is devoted to the planned Living-Learning Project in UW's residences.

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CFI support for health-related projects

from the UW media relations office

UW researchers have received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to perform work on several pressing health issues: high blood pressure, osteoporosis and workplace injuries.

David Spafford, professor of biology, along with Lora Giangregorio and Clark Dickerson, both professors of kinesiology, have been awarded grants totalling $393,556 from CFI's leaders opportunity fund. "This investment at Waterloo will help ensure that Drs. Spafford, Giangregorio and Dickerson and their students will have access to a world-class research and training environment," said Alan George, UW's vice-president (university research).

• Spafford's project is entitled State-of-the-Art Facility for the Development of New Biopharmaceuticals and Biomarkers for Stress Detection. CFI funding: $120,000. Total project budget: $402,461, including funding from provincial and industry sources.

Spafford will receive infrastructure support for advanced electrophysiology -- study of electrical activity in the heart -- to measure the activities of voltage-gated calcium channels in brain functions. The infrastructure is key in his discovery of calcium channel pharmaceuticals that can be used to treat high blood pressure, angina and arrhythmias, migraines, chronic pain and epilepsy.

• Giangregorio's project is entitled Optimizing Osteoporosis Diagnosis and Management: A Multi-Faceted Osteoporosis Research Centre. CFI funding: $95,521. Total project budget: $238,800, including funding from provincial and industry sources.

The award will provide infrastructure to conduct research aimed at understanding changes in bone geometry and structure with aging and immobility. As well, the research aims to improve physical function and preventing future fracture in individuals at risk.

Giangregorio's research interests take in osteoporosis and rehabilitation, along with promoting health in chronic conditions and disabilities. Her research endeavours to improve physical function, as well as preventing fractures and rehabilitating elderly individuals with impaired mobility.

• Dickerson's project is entitled Enabling Advanced Digital Ergonomics and Shoulder Biomechanics Research. CFI funding: $178,035. Total project budget: $470,630, including funding from provincial and industry sources.

The award will advance ergonomics and shoulder research at Waterloo. By enabling digital ergonomics, Dickerson's research team will be able to eliminate risky or stressful jobs even before workplaces or stations are built. As a result, the work will lead to lower injury compensation costs and better societal health.

Dickerson's research interests embrace ergonomics and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including low back, wrists and shoulder. His research seeks to reduce the frequency and severity of occupational shoulder injuries.

"These awards represent a significant boost to the research capacities of the University of Waterloo," said Eliot Phillipson, CFI's president and chief executive officer. Last week CFI announced a total of $20.5 million in new funds to support researchers at institutions across the country, including the UW projects. The CFI investment is provided through two funds: $17 million under the leaders opportunity fund and $3.5 million under the infrastructure operating fund, an accompanying program that assists universities with the operating and maintenance costs associated with new infrastructure projects.

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Pixels in the big picture

Two Waterloo students are among a group of five young people who are about to start a summer-long bike trip, pedalling Canada's highways to raise support for the Lung Association. The "Cycling for Clean Air" team is leaving Thunder Bay today for the west coast, where the actual trip begins on Canada Day; they're expected to reach St. John's in early September, "modeling sustainable travel from coast to coast". The lead organizer is Dominic Senici, an environment and resource studies student, whose personal experience with lungs and clean air includes severe childhood asthma. Among those joining him on the trip is Vanessa Wong, also an ERS student. "Vanessa's motivating for participating in the campaign," publicity says, "is to honour her late grandfather, who was a heavy smoker, and to live up to her environmental responsibility." Recent ERS graduate Kristen Boorse is also a member of the team.

[Drawing of face]Local police are hoping to identify the man pictured at left — it’s a composite drawing of a suspect who has apparently touched, "massaged" and otherwise annoyed female passengers on city buses several times over the past year, mostly near the campus. Witnesses spoke of a man who appeared "east Indian, 20-25 years old, brush cut, wearing black rim or gold rim thick glasses". Information can be reported to the Waterloo Regional Police at 650-8500 ext. 8671.

Today begins the “embargo” announced by the telephone services office, in preparation for a big conversion of UW’s phone system. Extension numbers in offices and workshops across UW's sprawling campus have been four digits long for forty years, but there's now such a demand for numbers that they'll have to go to five digits, information systems and technology, with conversion day set for Tuesday, August 8, the day after the Civic Holiday long weekend. "In preparation," a memo from IST said several weeks ago, "there will be a restriction of moves, adds and changes to telephone extensions on campus as of Monday, June 26, 2006 until the conversion has been completed." There's more information online, and inquiries can be directed to Ginny Polai of telephone services at ext. 2745 (soon to be 3-2745).

William Inniss, a retired faculty member in UW's department of biology, died May 16. A specialist in fields ranging from microbiology to cold environments and wastewater treatment, Inniss was active at UW from his arrival in 1963 to his departure under the early retirement program of 1996. He attended the Ontario Agricultural College and earned his PhD at Michigan State. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, formerly of UW's health and safety office. They had been living at Little Pike Bay on the Bruce Peninsula.

The President’s Golf Tournament, held earlier this month in support of Warrior athletics, raised about $60,000. . . . Kristen Dimmick is this year's recipient of the J. R. Matthews Memorial Award, given to recognize academic achievement in undergraduate study in UW's biology department. . . . . Herman Guttensohn, a cook in the food services department, officially retired June 1, ending a UW career that began in 1985. . . .

Today’s forecast involves east winds and “isolated showers”, a bit of a comedown from that splendid weekend and from the average weather over the 92 days of spring 2006. “We haven't had a season with below average temperatures since the winter of 2004-05,” writes Frank Seglenieks of the UW weather station, pointing to an average daily high of 16.6 Celsius, “about a degree above what we would expect. We haven't had this warm a spring since 1999.” However, he observes, “There were no prolonged heat spells (of over 7 days) during the spring — most of the really hot weather only lasted for 4 or 5 days in a row. There were about 10 days in a row of colder than average temperatures in the middle of May. The high temperature recorded on May 29 of 32.7 C was the highest spring temperature recorded in the eight year history of the University of Waterloo Weather Station.” And while precipitation was close to average for spring as a whole, “The total precipitation of 33.8 mm that occurred on May 31 was the highest one day amount of precipitation that we have ever seen during spring at the station.”


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