[University of Waterloo]


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

  • 3.2 per cent hike for staff
  • Distinguished teachers are announced
  • Happening at the very end of term
Chris Redmond

Maple syrup season

[Carts on wheels]

Robots do not have to look like R2D2: this one, built by a crew of high schoolers for last weekend's FIRST Robotics competition in the Physical Activities Complex, is more like an audio-visual cart decked for Mardi Gras. Photo by Frank Dunn from Flickr.

3.2 per cent hike for staff

A two-year salary settlement for UW's non-union staff was announced by memo yesterday to the more than 1,700 people across campus who are affected by it. It includes a "range adjustment" of 3.2 per cent this spring and again in 2007 -- the same figure that was the scale increase in the recent settlement between UW and faculty members.

The memo, signed by associate provost Catharine Scott, told staff that the Staff Compensation Committee, following the procedure set out in the staff salary policy, had "considered a number of items, including a recent survey of relevant staff salaries within the community and the Memorandum of Salary Settlement between the University and the Faculty Association," before making its recommendations. They've been approved by the provost, and will go to the UW board of governors for a final okay on April 17.

On May 1, 2006, and again May 1, 2007, there will be "a range adjustment of 3.2% to all USG job values." In addition, the regular merit program will be run in each of the years covered by the agreement. In other words, there won't be a 3.2 per cent pay increase for each individual staff member. Individuals can get more than 3.2 per cent, or in some cases less, depending on the merit program "grid", which bases increases on a staff member's performance rating and his or her position in the range for the job.

There's also a 3.2 per cent increase to the hourly rate for non-union Janitors and Housekeepers, who are paid on a one-rate system.

The agreement also involves extension of the 2% vacation trade in for pension purposes "to April 30, 2013 for retirement on or before May 1, 2016, with the understanding that the latest date for retirement is age 66".

And there will be a 3.2% increase to the Staff Training and Development Fund on May 1, 2006, and May 1, 2007. "This recommendation is made with the understanding that the Provost will fund, under the Associate Provost, Human Resources & Students, an Office of Human Development (or some other appropriate name), which would, among other things, oversee, increase and enhance the programs already offered to staff."

Scott's memo added one other note: "With respect to the introduction of an anomalies fund in the Faculty settlement, the Committee wishes to acknowledge that anomalies among the University Support Staff group have always been managed outside the salary program."

The annual salary settlement is the most visible work of the Staff Compensation Committee, which includes representatives of UW management and of the staff association. But it does other work behind the scenes, says its secretary, Trenny Canning of the university secretariat. For example? "The committee reviews Human Resources' surveys and market analyses and recommends salary job value adjustments and/or general increases; reviews and recommends policies on matters of compensation other than salaries such as overtime, leaves, vacations, paid holidays, moving expenses, working conditions, or any other matters referred by the President, Vice-Presidents, or members of the Committee; recommends procedures and controls to be used each year in administering the staff salary program; considers and reviews any special circumstances or inequities in the administration of the University's staff salary policies or procedures."

And, Canning said, "Over the course of the next six months or so, the Committee intends to review the salary program (e.g., how merit is distributed, appropriate increases for employees below a rating of '3'), aspects of the performance appraisal process (e.g., online form), and continue its review of the Special Recognition Award Program."

Distinguished teachers are announced

Some of UW's top teachers got a round of applause from the university senate last night, after a nominating committee announced them as the winners of this year's Distinguished Teacher Award. This year's four winners:

• George Davidson, mechanical engineering professor and director of admissions in the engineering faculty, cited by some engineering students as "the best prof in the entire universe".

• Erik Woody, clinical psychology professor specializing in statistics and psychometry, who is said to have achieved the unthinkable: getting Psych 800 students to laugh out loud.

• James Barnett, lecturer in the school of accountancy and director of the Master of Taxation program, who is praised for clear expectations and pointed anecdotes.

• Owen Ward, professor of biology and director of the science-and-business program, who is known as a mentor to students and is singled out by many alumni as the instructor they remember best.

Citations for the DTA winners will be published by the time they are honoured at June convocation. The criteria for the award call for "intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter. The teacher's human quality and concern for and sensitivity to the needs of students is an obvious criterion. the Selection Committee will look for a clear indication that the nominee has favourable and lasting influence on students. Evidence of successful innovation in teaching would support a nomination, but it is also clear that excellence in teaching does not necessarily require innovation."

Also announced last night were four winners of the Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student Award: Spencer Rand (architecture), Julie Gauley (biology), Daniel Olsen (geography), and Jason Tsang (planning). Again, citations will be published this spring.

Blood donor clinic continues 10 to 4, Student Life Centre (through Friday).

School of Computer Science distinguished lecture: Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, "Minix 3: A Reliable and Secure Operating System", 4:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 101.

Videos on Japan: monthly free screening of "Japan Video Topics" and other features, Wednesday 12:30, Renison College Link Lounge.

Fine arts graduation show: "1230 Phillip", painting, sculpture, new media and installation by 23 students, opening reception Thursday 5 to 8 p.m., East Campus Hall, show continues through April 4.

Athletics Banquet with award presentations, Friday evening, Columbia Icefield.

Happening at the very end of term

It's a very special day for students in the environment-and-business program in the environmental studies faculty. Five years ago, the first students enrolled in that brand-new program, and on September 10, 2001, attended the first meeting of their first core course: Env Studies 102, "Introduction to Environment and Business", taught by Ian Rowlands. Today, that same group of students is attending its last class in the Environment and Business Project, taught by Jennifer Lynes. "Now with five different cohorts across the Environment and Business plan," Rowlands reports, "nearly 200 students are working towards their degree. That pioneering group -- 33 students in all -- will today be presenting their projects to professionals in the community and to the Dean of Environmental Studies, Deep Saini. These projects include, amongst others, a new marketing plan for the Toyota Prius, a comprehensive waste management strategy for a local manufacturing firm and a feasibility study of biomass energy production for an Ontario lumber company. After their presentations are complete, the students will be off to Towne Bowl in Kitchener to Bowl for Kids, a charity event supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters. The class hopes to raise $1,000 for this event as a way of giving back to the community. There will, no doubt, be a bit of celebrating as well!"

For students in two of UW's six faculties, there's one more day of classes -- things wind up tomorrow in engineering and mathematics. In arts, environmental studies, science and applied health sciences, classes run through Monday, April 3. Winter term exams are scheduled for April 6 through 22.

The new "Sharcnet building" -- actually an extension to the Physics building, linking to Engineering II -- has been quietly coming into use over the past little while. The Science Computing group, including the helpdesk, is moving there today, manager Bruce Campbell advises. The helpdesk will be in Physics room 2008 -- imagine, a four-digit room number in the Physics building! -- and all of the Science Computing staff, the IST Client Support specialist, and the two Sharcnet staff will be in a group of offices at the south end of the second floor of the new building. Engineering Computing has already moved into the building, as has the Sharcnet computing equipment that was the original reason the wing was built.

A sizeable UW delegation is back from a weekend in Cleveland, attending a regional conference of the National Orientation Directors Association and picking up ideas about the annual September programming. "The UW delegation won two awards," reports Becky Wroe of the Federation of Students -- one for sending the largest group (a total of 29, mostly Federation volunteers) and one for "best overall presentation" for its case study. That, Wroe explains, was "a scenario-based question, where a group from each institution was asked to present their response. This year's scenario involved information provided on facebook.com which left a parent concerned about the quality of the orientation program at the institution, and asked questions to orientation programmers." The students who collected that award for UW were Morgan Grainger of software engineering, Tammy Sitler of pre-optometry, and Nhu Nhat Nguyen of economics.

A former member of UW's staff, Esther Foster, died March 9. She worked in the food services department from 1965 until her retirement in September 1976.

A memo from the staff association to its members this week asks for nominations for the executive, for terms that will start June 1. The current president-elect, Joe Szalai of the library, will become president then, and 2005-06 president Stephen Markan of information systems and technology will become president. That leaves a vacancy for president-elect (to become president in 2007-08), and slots for vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and two directors. There's more information on the association's web site.

As a study of the co-op job process continues, two focus groups -- one of students, one of employers -- are meeting today in the Tatham Centre. . . . The "30-Hour Famine" fund-raising event for World Vision is scheduled for this weekend, and pledge forms are available from the Food Bank office in the Student Life Centre. . . . Richard Hastings, an attendant in UW's libraries since 1981, officially retires April 1. . . .

Finally, March 31 -- this Friday -- is the official application deadline for students interested in entering most UW undergraduate programs this fall. There are some exceptions (deadlines for engineering, architecture and some other programs are already past). "Applications received after the deadline," says UW's admissions web site, "will be processed only if spaces are available." And already a good many thousand applicants, some of whom started the process back before Christmas, have received offers of admission and are thinking about what to pack when they come here on the Labour Day weekend.


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