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Friday, March 24, 2006

  • Ontario funds for Quantum, Perimeter
  • Audio-visual becomes part of IST
  • Theologian speaks, and other notes
Chris Redmond

World TB Day

Ontario funds for Quantum, Perimeter

Big grants for UW's Institute for Quantum Computing -- and for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, independent of UW but closely linked with the department of physics -- were announced in the Ontario budget yesterday afternoon.

UW is also expected to benefit from other funding that was announced as part of "nearly $1.7 billion over five years" to be spent by the ministry of research and innovation, headed by premier Dalton McGuinty, "to strengthen and promote Ontario as an innovative economy . . . through research, commercialization and outreach programs".

A news release last night said UW "welcomes today's tremendous announcement". It quoted president David Johnston: "The announcement of the $100-million commitment supporting Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing is a splendid, outstanding piece of province-building. In today's knowledge economy it is critical that we invest in fundamental research, and in the people who will take us to new frontiers of discovery. Premier McGuinty, as Minister of Research and Innovation, has shown superb leadership with this budget."

Raymond Laflamme, director of IQC, called the grant "tremendous news for our research program. We are simply overwhelmed with this indication of faith in our research program into the fundamentals and laws of quantum physics. We have already been building a great team of international scholars. This funding will help us to ensure that our work will continue at a global level of excellence."

Similar grants from another level of government were proposed by then prime minister Paul Martin as he campaigned for the re-election of his Liberal government in December.

Among other research and innovation projects that the province will support, according to yesterday's budget, are $17 million for three new awards to recognize new research and innovation talent; $25 million to establish the Premier Summit Awards to support excellence in medical research; $16.2 million for development of Phase II of MaRS Discovery Project, a biomedical research district in downtown Toronto; and $160 million for accelerating the commercialization and growth of innovative startups.

Provincial treasurer Dwight Duncan noted that the government is continuing with its Reaching Higher plan for post-secondary education, announced last year, with its pledge of $6.2 billion cumulative investment in postsecondary education by 2009-10. This year will see more improvements to the student loan and grant system, and the treasurer said college and university operating grants will be up by $736 million in 2006-07 from the base funding as it stood in 2004-05 when the Liberal government took office.

Such a commitment "is commended and appreciated", says the Council of Ontario Universities. However, COU pointed out in a statement last night that enrolment has been increasing faster than the government had projected in the 2005 budget. "Strong enrolment growth at universities is good news for Ontario," said Paul Davenport, president of the University of Western Ontario. "It means that the government's access goals are being achieved even more quickly than anticipated. The challenge is to provide these students with the quality of education the government wants and the students deserve."

COU said the resources per student "are unlikely to keep pace with university inflation over the period of the Reaching Higher plan, and could leave Ontario still near last place among provinces in per-student funding for universities. . . . For this reason, the Council of Ontario Universities strongly supports the government in its determination to secure at least an additional $750 million for higher education in the Reaching Higher time frame, as set out in the Budget Papers commentary on federal transfer payments."

Yesterday's budget included targeted funding to extend the Toronto subway system to York University's main campus at Keele and Jane Streets, and to boost agricultural and animal research at the University of Guelph.


From the audio-visual centre's web site

Audio-visual becomes part of IST

The audio-visual centre will become part of the information systems and technology department as of May 1, the associate provost (IST), Alan George, has announced.

He said approval had been given by executive council, the committee of deans and other senior UW officials, to move A-V into IST, away from the learning resources and innovation group where it has been based for the past few years. A-V has its offices and studios in Engineering II building.

"This move," says George, "is a reflection of the increasing convergence of the technologies with which both AV and IST are involved -- video, audio and data. At UW, personnel with expertise and responsibilities in those technology areas report to separate departments, and we believe this realignment will allow us to provide better service, particularly in the management, support, maintenance and upgrading of electronic classrooms."

George said the A-V department as a whole, headed by director Dominik Gratzer, will become part of the Instructional Technology and Services Group in IST -- a group that was recently created out of the former Electronic Workplace unit of IST and part of its Client Services unit. Andrea Chappell is interim group director of ITS, and the director's position was posted for applications this week.

"Initially there will be little change," said George, adding that the new group director "will have the task of reviewing in detail the various responsibilities currently carried by A-V and ITS. That review will suggest whatever subsequent adjustment of roles and responsibilities might be appropriate." He added that conversations between A-V and IST people have already been going on "and are ongoing".

Rhythm Dance Festival Friday through Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

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

FIRST Robotics high school competition continues in the Physical Activities Complex: seeding matches today 10 to 4 and Saturday 9:30 to 11:30, final rounds Saturday 1 to 3, awards ceremony 3:00, spectators welcome.

Teaching workshop: "Motivation and Enthusiasm", 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, details and registration online.

'The Vagina Monologues' final performance 7:30, Studio 180, Humanities building, sold out.

Warrior Weekend activities Friday and Saturday evening including rock-paper-scissors tournament, free food; movies "Fun with Dick and Jane" tonight, "Memoirs of a Geisha" Saturday, Student Life Centre, details online.

Blood donor clinic in the Student Life Centre, Monday-Thursday 10 to 4, Friday 9 to 3, appointments at the turnkey desk.

Joint health and safety committee Monday 10 a.m., Commissary building room 112D.

Senate long-range planning committee Monday 2:30, Needles Hall room 3004, to continue discussion of Sixth Decade plan.

UW Senate Monday 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

'Are we losing our minds? Reconnect your body and mind through exercise,' brown-bag presentation sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, March 30, 12 noon, CEIT room 1015.


Theologian speaks, and other notes

Douglas John Hall (right), considered Canada's leading Protestant theologian, will speak tonight at St. Jerome's University. It's something of a homecoming for Hall, who was the founding principal of St. Paul's United College at UW (1960-62), then a faculty member at St. Andrew's College, Saskatoon, and eventually at McGill University. He is author of some thirty books, including an autobiography. Hall's primary interests as a theologian, says David Seljak of St. Jerome's, have included "the necessity of developing a theology indigenous to the history, experience and problematique of the dominant (predominantly Protestant) culture of English-speaking North America." He'll speak tonight -- 7:30, Siegfried Hall -- on "Many Churches, Many Faiths, One Planet".

The music ensembles based at Conrad Grebel University College are mostly giving their end-of-term concerts this weekend, and here are the details. The UW Chamber Choir sings ("Food and Drink") tonight at 8:00 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Kitchener. The UW Choir sings ("Reflections") Saturday at 8:00 at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church on Allen Street. The Stage Band performs ("Spring Jazz") at 2:00 Sunday afternoon in the great hall at Grebel. And the Chamber Ensembles perform Monday at 7 p.m. in the Grebel chapel. Tickets are $10 for the chamber choir, UW choir and stage band, with student discounts available; admission to the chamber ensemble concert is free. Some details of the programs are on the web.

Tuula Canini of the library's cataloguing department will retire April 1, ending a UW career that began in September 1982. . . . The campus recreation program's "March Madness" three-on-three basketball tournament goes today and tomorrow. . . . A general meeting of the Federation of Students, originally announced for today, will instead be held next Friday, March 31, at 3:30 in the Student Life Centre. . . .

A feature of the Warrior Weekend, announced elsewhere, will be a euchre tournament, starting at 9:00 tonight on the upper level of the Student Life Centre. . . . A memo announces that nominations for the President's Circle Awards for Volunteerism, presented to students each fall, will now be accepted year-round, and I'll be saying more about that shortly. . . . The continuing education office will offer a course in "Writing for Public Relations and Marketing" on four mornings starting in mid-May. . . .

With exam season approaching, the UW library begins its extended schedule this weekend. From this Sunday until April 21, the Davis Centre library will be open 24 hours a day (except Sundays from 2 to 8 a.m.). The Dana Porter Library will be open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.


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