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Thursday, March 23, 2006

  • Region considers med school grant
  • UW prepares for 'freedom of information'
  • The robots, and other notes
Chris Redmond

World Meteorological Day

[Spread wide across Humanities stage]

Orchestra@UWaterloo will give its winter concert tonight at 8:00 in the Humanities Theatre. First-year engineering student Alan Li, winner of a concerto competition, will play Chopin's piano concerto in E minor; the orchestra also tackles Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and a piece by local composer Boyd McDonald. The orchestra, with conductor Erna Van Daele, is seen in rehearsal during the fall term; photo by Ron Hewson from the Orchestra@UWaterloo web site.

Region considers med school grant

A delegation headed by the presidents of UW and McMaster University appeared at last night's meeting of Waterloo Regional Council to ask for a multi-million-dollar grant to help build a medical school on the planned downtown Kitchener health sciences campus.

Council agreed with a recommendation from Ken Seiling, the regional chair, to set up a special committee "to review the request and make a recommendation" following a public meeting to get input on whether the Region should spend money in that way. It's the same procedure followed when the Region was asked for -- and eventually approved -- $37 million in capital grants for local hospitals.

The Regional Municipality is the mid-level government that covers the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge as well as the four surrounding townships.

"A unique opportunity exists to build a satellite Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine" on the UW branch campus, university president David Johnston said in a letter to Seiling that was distributed with last night's agenda. The DeGroote School is McMaster University's medical faculty.

Said Johnston: "The benefits to the community are substantial, particularly with respect to improved access to health care services. . . . We realize a request of this importance will need careful consideration by councillors and the community alike. . . . As students are to be enrolled in September 2007 an expeditious process leading to a decision prior to the end of April 2006 would be appreciated."

Johnston's letter didn't say how much money he'd like the Region to provide, but last night he and Peter George of Mac suggested $19 million. They said the total up-front cost of the medical school will be $34 million.

"I expect that the public will be behind it all the way," said one council member, the mayor of Wilmot Township west of Kitchener. Others were sceptical about the cost, as they discussed the request and agreed to schedule a public meeting for discussion.

Last night's meeting also dealt with regional property tax rates for 2006, bicycle lanes on University Avenue, and controversial restrictions on pesticide use.

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  • UW prepares for 'freedom of information'

    UW is getting ready to comply with Ontario law on freedom of information, which will apply to the province's universities starting later this spring, says a memo from the provost.

    The memo notes that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act "was enacted in Ontario in the late 1980s and most private and public institutions were mandated to comply with it. Universities at that time made representation to the provincial government that, for a variety of reasons, they were different from other organizations and warranted exclusion. The provincial government was persuaded on the condition that universities put in place practices that were in the spirit of the legislation."

    Lawyers for the Council of Ontario Universities prepared a "FIPPA template" which universities, including UW, put into effect. Waterloo's Privacy Protection and Freedom of Information Guidelines are part of the university's Policy 19. The university is also covered by the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

    However, provost Amit Chakma goes on, "A couple of years ago, following a freedom of information request made to universities, the response to which was deemed less than satisfactory, the provincial government renewed its interest in having universities under FIPPA legislation. Universities again, through COU, argued for a sector exclusion, but this time were unsuccessful and so, effective June 12, 2006, universities will come under FIPPA legislation.

    "In the circumstance, COU has again done what it did in the 1990s: engage a couple of wise heads, with recognized expertise and experience in FIPPA compliance within the university sector, to work with a small task force to produce both documentation and an implementation plan which universities can use. . . . While there will be more prescriptive directions on how universities must deal with freedom of information and privacy protection matters, the principles on which all is based remain similar to those articulated in UW's Policy 19.

    [Claxton] "In anticipation of preparing UW for FIPPA compliance, I have asked Lois Claxton (right) to chair a committee to address implementation. Bruce Mitchell, Jack Rehder, Catharine Scott, Susan Sykes, and Roger Watt have also agreed to serve. Terms of Reference for this small committee are straightforward: in concert with COU's work/recommendations on implementation of FIPPA, to recommend on documentation, implementation, training and resources which UW will require to ensure compliance with FIPPA and, to the extent possible, to harmonize them with PIPEDA requirements. The Committee will consult across campus, as necessary."

    Claxton, the chair of the committee, is secretary of the university. Mitchell and Scott are associate provosts; Rehder is assistant to the dean of mathematics; Watt is in information systems and technology; and Sykes is director of research ethics and grants, and the key person in current freedom-of-information procedures.

    Feng Shui session sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, 12:05, Math and Computer room 5158.

    Cultural Caravan with cultural performances, displays and food, 3 to 8 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

    Art gallery reception for the closing of "Inscriptions" by Jane Buyers and "The Black Notebooks" by Brigitte Radecki, 7 to 9 p.m., East Campus Hall.

    'The Vagina Monologues' student production 7:30 tonight (Bombshelter pub) and Friday (Humanities Studio 180), student tickets $8 at Student Life Centre turnkey desk.

    Jewish studies lecture: Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, "Can All Religions Be True?" 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall.

    Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Dave Kibble, "Corporate Applications Directions at UW", Friday 8:45, IST seminar room.

    Bake sale for juvenile arthritis research, Friday 9 a.m. to noon, CEIT third-floor foyer, sponsored by electrical and computer engineering.

    Theologian Douglas John Hall speaks at St. Jerome's University, Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

    UW Chamber Choir end-of-term concert Friday 8 p.m., "The Magic Mozart", St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, tickets $10 (students $8).

    Warrior Weekend activities and movies Friday and Saturday evening, Student Life Centre, details online.

    UW Choir concert "Reflections" (Faure, Britten, Vaughan Williams), Saturday 8 p.m., St. Louis Church, 53 Allen Street East, tickets $10, students $8.

    'Single and Sexy' auditions for September performances, Wednesday, March 29, 7 to 9 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

    The robots, and other notes

    I got a day ahead of myself in yesterday's note about the FIRST Robotics competition that's bringing 30 teams of high school students to campus for three days of activity. Trucks and crews were indeed at the Physical Activities Complex yesterday to start the setup, but it's not until today that the teens themselves arrive with their robots, unpack and begin practice rounds. Serious competition runs tomorrow from 10 to 4 and Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30, and final competition is from 1 to 3 on Saturday afternoon. Spectators are welcome throughout the event.

    Yesterday's Daily Bulletin referred to Harriet Lyons of the anthropology department as an "associate professor", but in fact she is a full professor. . . . Today's the last day for the exhibition "Eden: The Marshlands of Iraq" in the Modern Languages building gallery. . . . University leaders will be listening eagerly as Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan brings down a budget today (4:00 in the Legislature), a statement that might just include something about higher education funding or research. . . .

    PhD oral defences

    Accountancy. Guoping Liu, "Enhancing the Quality of the Audit Enquiry Process." Supervisors, Alan Webb and Steve Salterio. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, March 24, 1:30 p.m., Humanities room 178.

    Chemistry: Ziba Parsi, "Non-Discriminating Flash Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry." Supervisor, T. Gorecki. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, April 10, 1 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

    The schedule of April on-campus exams has been available for a while, but there's a complexity, as this memo from the distance and continuing education office warns: "Students taking courses via distance education this term are reminded to look at Quest (under Academics) for their distance education exam schedules. Those taking more than one DE course should choose 'view all'. Distance education examinations are scheduled separately from on-campus exams. Please check this information within the next 24 hours, and contact examinations@uwaterloo.ca if you have questions about what appears on Quest."

    The Federation of Students finds itself in difficulties before the Ontario Highway Transportation Board, where Greyhound Canada has complained that the Fed buses from UW to Toronto, Hamilton and London are a violation of Greyhound's licence to provide bus services. "The Fed Bus is offered to students as an alternative to other more expensive bus services," says a statement from Fed president John Andersen. "There's a growing need for students to have a low-cost transit option." The board has scheduled a hearing on the complaint for March 30 in Kitchener.

    There's a celebration tonight to wind up this year's "Let's Make a Deal" promotion sponsored by the Leave The Pack Behind stop-smoking organization. "We'll have great food, great music, and great prizes," promises Rosanna Morales, the graduate student who's been the key organizer for the Deal this winter. "We will be drawing the prize winners live at this event. We encourage all participants to come on out for their chance to win their well-deserved prize! There's even prizes for Buddies to congratulate them on supporting contestants throughout the contest." The party runs from 4:30 to 6:30 in the Bombshelter pub in the Student Life Centre.

    The faculty of environmental studies "is excited", writes Karin Davis of the dean's office, "to be hosting a Regional Geographic Information Skills competition for Skills Ontario at the secondary level. Twenty-seven students from local high schools will be participating in a six-hour competition that will test their abilities in digital map generation and data analysis." They'll be on campus today for the activities, and three top teams from each local school board will move on to compete at the provincial level in May.

    The latest announcement from the student-run UW Sustainability Project is a series of "pre-garden sessions" to be offered by geography student Jayme Melrose on the next three Friday afternoons. They're described as "casual and interactive", with a fee of "$0-10 sliding scale", and will run from 3 to 5 p.m. in Environmental Studies II room 173. Tomorrow's session deals with seeds ("simple magic") and sowing.


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