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Friday, May 5, 2006

  • Staff role in Sixth Decade seen
  • UW student wins with egg analogy
  • Southwestern Ontario leaders will talk
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Cinco de Mayo


[Thomson in office]

Retiring this summer is kinesiology professor Jay Thomson, who's been on UW's faculty since 1972 and has served the university in a multitude of ways -- including the past ten years as chair of the University Committee on Student Appeals, the body that deals with discipline issues and grievances. A specialist in nutrition and exercise biochemistry, he jumped into Internet teaching early, and is teaching Kin/Health Studies 346 online for one final time this spring. Thomson has been clearing out not only his office but also, a colleague whispers, his locker in the Physical Activities Complex, where he has exercised "at 11:30 a.m. almost daily for more than a third of a century", running an estimated 80,000 miles.

Staff role in Sixth Decade seen

Suggestions about the work of staff at UW -- how to reduce workloads, improve training, involve staff in decision-making and make the best use of their expertise in educating students -- came in a steady stream Tuesday morning during a two-hour meeting of about three dozen department heads and other leaders.

Provost Amit Chakma hosted the meeting, in the board and senate room of Needles Hall, but most of the talking came from leaders of four "working groups" that had been formed after an earlier meeting to talk about particular staff issues and how they should be reflected in UW's Sixth Decade planning report.

As it stands, the Sixth Decade document is silent about staff. That is expected to change now, with some words likely added about the role of staff as educators, the new challenges for staff as UW becomes more "diverse" and international, and the need for staff input as departments plan their futures.

The four working groups dealt with "Staff Engagement" (chaired by associate registrar Mark Walker); "Student Engagement" (chaired by Tom Galloway, director of custodial and grounds services); "Staff as Educators" (chaired by Karen Trevors, executive assistant to the dean of science); and "Co-operative Education" (chaired by Judi Carter, EA to the dean of applied health sciences).

The assembly that heard their reports Tuesday morning consisted of department heads and a few other senior staff from the "academic support" units -- the departments, from the library to the safety office, that don't directly teach students or do research but provide services to the people who do. Also included are the executive assistants to the deans of the six faculties, whose work includes overseeing the hundreds of staff members in their faculties.

It's a misconception that staff members aren't involved in teaching, said the "Staff as Educators" group. They noted that there are staff who serve as instructors, demonstrators and technicians; librarians who work one-on-one with students helping them to learn; "content providers" involved with textbooks and other course materials in the bookstore and Graphics; course designers in distance education and other departments; and so on.

Everybody would benefit if staff could be involved more in the academic process, the task force said. For example, UW operations could be used more often as case studies in courses; staff could act as guest lecturers in their fields of expertise.

And, somebody said during Tuesday's discussion, nearly every staff member encounters students in "teachable moments" over such issues as how to behave effectively in the workplace.

Another of the working groups urged that right along with the existing statistics on student-faculty ratios, UW should calculate student-staff and faculty-staff ratios as one way of judging workloads -- and setting targets for the number of staff as the university continues to grow.

The department heads' group has not been meeting regularly or formally, but after three gatherings called by Chakma in the past year, the members agreed Tuesday that the experience was valuable and they'd like to continue getting together at least once a term.

UW student wins with egg analogy -- from the Canadian Bureau for International Education

Competitors for the 2006 Elizabeth Paterson International Student of the Year Award depicted their academic, personal, and social experience in Canada in original ways. "Canadians are like eggs: hen eggs, ostrich eggs, quail eggs, all the different shells and sizes. But inside you will always find the same fresh egg yolk. And together they form an amazing omelette of a distinct taste," says Petr Chladek, a University of Waterloo chemical engineering student from the Czech Republic, in his prize-winning letter.

Chladek, along with 330 others, responded to the call for submissions to the second competition for the award. Receiving the $500 first prize, he is Canada's second International Student of the Year.

The Award Program managed by the Canadian Bureau for International Education invited international students to write a letter home telling family or friends what it's like to study in Canada. College and university students from across the globe offered their insights.

Two entrants received honorable mentions: Michael Dyen from the United States won the second prize of $300. For this McGill University Master's student, "Canadians' attitudes are more open, like the range of fashions including Wookie-boots and huge scarves: makes people watching more fun." Melline Jaini from Brunei, studying at Simon Fraser University, won the third prize of $200. In her view, "multiculturalism is not just a defining characteristic of this country, but a lived experience for everyone."

"What jumps out at you in reading the letters is the freshness that students bring to their new environment," says Jennifer Humphries, Vice-President, Membership and Scholarships. "These students from all over the planet help us see ourselves more clearly." The Award is named for Elizabeth (Liz) Paterson, who for 25 years served as Director of the International Student Centre at the University of Toronto, guiding and encouraging thousands of young people from diverse countries.

From the winning letter submitted by Petr Chladek: "All different races and nationalities mix in Canada and form a great mosaic. Do you remember how as kids we used to look forward to eating eggs from countryside because they tasted somewhat fresher? Canadians are like eggs: hen eggs, ostrich eggs, quail eggs, all the different shells and sizes. But inside you will always find the same fresh egg yolk. And together they form an amazing omelette of a distinct taste. It takes a little bit of time to get used to these new flavours, but you will quickly learn to tolerate the taste and before long you'll start loving the recipe and savouring it on every occasion.

"By eating mouthfuls your sense of hearing will start changing too. Not only will your knowledge of English improve dramatically over couple of months but Canada being bilingual gives you a great chance to start learning French and/or any other language. All you need is a desire to learn and of that, as I remember, you have plenty.

"As for the research, Canadians are top class chefs working on challenging hi-tech recipes with a significant impact on everyday lives. However, their cooking is not driven primarily by lust for success or recognition but they always keep in mind social and ecological implications and well-being of others."

WHEN AND WHERE
UW Accounting Conference with speakers and case competition, today and tomorrow, details online. Keynote speaker tonight is Erik Peters, former auditor-general of Ontario.

D-Force dance festival continues through Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

International student orientation 10:00 to 2:00, Graduate House, sponsored by international student office; additional event 5 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre, sponsored by student life office.

Bicycle auction sponsored by UW Bike Centre, 12:30, Student Life Centre courtyard, cash or cheque, bring UW identification.

Rapid-Cycling Event around the ring road in support of mental health awareness, Saturday 8 a.m. starting outside Student Life Centre, information at health services.

Columbia Lake tree-planting organized by City of Waterloo, Saturday 9 to 12, information 747-8642.

Master of Fine Arts graduating students exhibition by Rick Nixon and François Saint-Pierre, opening reception Saturday 2 to 6, East Campus Hall.

UW Stage Band rehearsals Mondays 7 to 10 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College room 1111; more players needed immediately in all sections.

Buteyko breathing therapy seminars at Conrad Grebel University College, May 8-12 and 15-19, 4:30 and 7 p.m., information 519-375-6069.

'Tales of an Urban Indian' one-man touring performance by Brandon Oakes, presented by Aboriginal Student Centre, Wednesday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $11 (students $6) 888-4908.

Accelerator Centre opening celebrations May 18, 11 a.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard, R&T park, north campus.

Southwestern Ontario leaders will talk

UW is one of three universities that will co-sponsor a gathering of industry, government and education leaders in southwestern Ontario later this month. The Southwest Economic Assembly is scheduled for May 23 and 24 at the Arden Park Hotel in Stratford.

The University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor are the other two sponsoring institutions. Its co-chairs will be Paul Davenport, president of Western, and Tom Jenkins, executive chairman of UW spinoff company Open Text Corporation.

"I am very excited about the Southwest Economic Assembly," says Jenkins. "The intent is to bring regional leaders together to collaborate and to develop strategies that will strengthen our regional economy. The event will focus on building on our strengths and understanding what is needed to promote greater economic growth."

Davenport observes that at Western, "We want to play a part in bringing all partners together to share information and ideas that will ensure future prosperity. It is our hope that the event will draw wide-ranging participation from all sectors of the economy."

According to a news release, "the goal of SWEA is to bring together a select group of people from a variety of sectors to build strategies that will fuel prosperity across the region. It will provide an opportunity for leaders to collaborate, develop plans for greater cooperation and find solutions to regional challenges. SWEA's program will focus on four sectors essential to prosperity in the Southwest region. Each sector is chaired by a prominent leader in the field, who together represent SWEA's advisory committee."

One of the four is UW president David Johnston, who will lead a section of the conference dealing with "Knowledge-based Industry (Health, Education and Research & Development)". The other sectors are trade and manufacturing, agriculture and agrifood, and tourism and culture.

An evening reception at the Stratford Festival's Avon Theatre will kick off the Assembly. Next morning, the agenda begins with a breakfast address by David Crombie, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute and former mayor of Toronto.

Stratford's mayor, Dan Mathieson, says, "This is an important event because of the regional approach. We face common challenges and opportunities, so it is important to work together. We are confident that this is the beginning of much more dialogue and cooperation."

"Future economic prosperity in the Southwest will be guaranteed by strong leadership and cooperation," says Ted Hewitt, Western's vice-president (research and international relations). "This first Economic Assembly will share information, encourage cooperation of private and public sectors, and explore the willingness of participants to work on shared agendas with measurable results."

CAR


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