Thursday, April 12, 2007

  • Entrepreneurs' prize, and other news
  • Board sees figures on 'productivity'
  • Library adds accessibility features
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Yuri's Night

When and where

Surplus sale of UW furniture and property, 12:30 to 2 p.m., central stores, East Campus Hall.

'Online Peer Mentoring Programs for Distance Faculty' web conference, sponsored by PDEng program, 1:00 p.m., details and registration online.

Shine Dance recital today from 4:00, Friday 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday all day, Humanities Theatre.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Barbara Liskov, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "From Viewstamped Replication to BFT", 4:30, Davis Centre room 1350.

Student Life Centre hot water shut off Friday 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., with a possibility cold water will also be turned off.

David Johnston, president of UW, speaks at annual Leadership Breakfast organized by Leadership Waterloo Region, Friday 7:30 a.m., Bingemans Ballroom.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Paul Masson, University of Toronto, "The IMF: Victim of Its Own Success of Institutional Failure?" Friday 11:45 a.m., 57 Erb Street West, reservations online.

Women's studies 35th anniversary colloquium: Deborah Steinberg, University of Warwick, "Beggars and Choosers: Genes, Phantasy and the Neo-Liberal Subject", Friday 1:30 p.m., Humanities room 334.

Accounting and Financial Management Admissions Assignment final sitting Saturday for potential accounting students, at UW, in Vancouver, or on their own.

Climate Change Day of Action sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Saturday 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Kitchener city hall, details online.

Super Cities Walk to support Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Sunday 10 a.m. (check-in 8:30), Federation Hall, details online.

Conrad Grebel University College Convocation, Sunday 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Women's studies 35th anniversary colloquium continues: Ellen Balka, Simon Fraser University, "The Intersection of Language, Technology, Gender and Knowledge about Women's Health", Monday 1:30 p.m., Humanities room 373.

Alumni in western Canada: special events April 16 in Victoria (Belfry Arts Centre, 6 to 8 p.m.), April 17 in Vancouver (Sequoia Grill Restaurant, 6 to 8), April 19 in Calgary (Art Gallery of Calgary, 6 to 8), details online.

Architecture student projects end-of-year review, April 17 through June 16, Design at Riverside gallery, Architecture building; opening reception Tuesday 6:30 p.m.

Education Credit Union seminar: Tony Verbeek, "Tips on Purchasing and Financing a Vehicle", Tuesday 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research workshops:"EHealth Risk-Opportunity Report Card" April 17-18, "Health Privacy" April 18-19, details online.

'Passport to Health' Fair for staff and faculty, Thursday, April 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Student Life Centre; stations include blood pressure reading, ergonomics, "reading your stress level".

Friends of the Library authors' event: lecture by history professor Ken McLaughlin, launch of his book Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy, and display of work by UW authors, Wednesday, April 25, 3:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Alumni networking workshop on campus April 26, 6:00 to 9:30 p.m., details online.

'Learning about Teaching' symposium, including Presidents' Colloquium on Teaching and Learning, speaker Ken Bain, April 30, 2 p.m., Humanities Theatre; workshops and discussions May 1-2, details online.

Toronto 50th anniversary alumni celebration with chancellor Mike Lazaridis, president David Johnston, co-op director Peggy Jarvie, Thursday, May 24, 6 to 8 p.m., Liberty Grand, Exhibition Place, details online.

One click away

'How often do you do laundry?'
Where are the photos of old graduating classes?
'Setbacks and successes' for environmental groups (Imprint)
'I have made the most of my time' as an earth sciences co-op student
UW advertising campaign in Globe and Mail
UW president named to board of MasterCard Foundation
Looking back at UW's Fortran pioneer
What the US student loan scandal is about
Guelph students to pay fee for energy conservation
'Top school salaries balloon' (Kingston Whig-Standard)
Life at the University of Baghdad
Conestoga ranked as 'best college' for a 9th year
Plans moving ahead for Kitchener-Guelph highway

Entrepreneurs' prize, and other news

[Two very happy faces]Grinning for the camera are Jasmin Hofer and Ashley Smith, UW arts students and the brains behind Energrow, after winning first place in the national Wes Nicol Undergraduate Business Plan Competition in late March. As winners of the local contest, they went to Ottawa for the finals under the sponsorship of UW's Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology. Energrow designs and builds presses to process soybeans into livestock feed plus an oil that can be converted to fuel. "This is about being able to give farmers control of their own commodity," says Hofer, who developed the company out of a co-op work term job. The duo came home with a $5,000 prize thanks to entrepreneur Wes Nicol (who also financed the regional competition at UW) and memories of meeting billionaire Terry Matthews, an Ottawa business leader and donor of the March Networks Atrium in UW's CEIT building. Photo courtesy of Photolux Studio.

Today brings a retirement celebration for one of the key figures in UW computing over several decades: Roger Watt, who's winding up his career in the post of director, network services. I'll be saying more about him some time next week, after I hear his reminiscences — billed as "Watt's Last Stand" — that will take the place of the regular weekly seminar tomorrow morning in Information Systems and Technology (Friday 9 a.m., Math and Computer room 5136). "Where does 44 years go while you are busy having fun?" Watt asks. "This Friday morning, I'll try to summarize my views on that . . . starting with why I chose to come to Waterloo to be a university student back in the dark ages when my friends hadn't heard of UW, stopping here and there at some of the things I remember most fondly, and ending with a few of the things I see in UW's future over the next 35 years." Meanwhile, a retirement party is scheduled for this afternoon, 3:30 to 5:00 at the University Club, RSVP ext. 3–8018.

UW president David Johnston will be among the speakers tomorrow as leaders of the city of Waterloo ask a community forum: “What's in your Waterloo?” Or more accurately, what’s going to be in Waterloo, the city, in the years ahead? “What they hear in response,” the city web site explains, “will help them refresh the community vision and set strategic [City logo]priorities for the short and long-term in Waterloo.” Tomorrow’s event is a day-long “community forum” at RIM Park — the public was invited, but registration has now closed. During the morning, community leaders including Johnston, Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer, and TechCapital Partners' Tim Jackson will participate in a panel discussion hosted by CTV’s Daiene Vernile. In the afternoon, the whole group has the opportunity to join in a workshop to share ideas. And for those who won’t be at RIM Park tomorrow: “Starting April 10, a random sample of Waterloo residents will receive a telephone call asking them to respond to a series of questions about the community vision and strategic priorities. If you don't receive a call as part of our random survey, or if you want to make sure you have your say, you can take our online version of the survey.”

The electronic security system at the Dana Porter Library did indeed (as history will record) go into operation on Tuesday. • The retirement lunch for Les Richards of the distance education office and the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology was held Tuesday, not Wednesday as I wrongly said. • The UW continuing education office has scheduled a one-day course on "Report and Proposal Writing" for Thursday, April 26.

Kelly Costa writes from the faculty of applied health sciences: "Hardy Hearts is a cardiac rehabilitation program that has been operating for the past 30 years. We are holding our annual major fundraiser, the 'Hardy Hearts Health Walk', on Saturday, May 5, at Waterloo Park. At the walk, we will also be holding a silent auction with over 100 items up for bid, as well as selling tickets for a raffle that will be held later on in the year. Pledge forms and more information can be obtained from the Hardy Hearts website."

A party from the UW Recreation Committee will be heading into Kitchener tomorrow evening to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Auditorium. • Food services outlets are starting to shut down for the end of term — today, for instance, is the last day of evening service at Bon Appetit in the Davis Centre, which will shut at 2:30 for the rest of April. • The UW staff association has invited applications for staff seats on the UW joint health and safety committee, the president's advisory committee on traffic and parking, the staff grievance committee, the staff training and development committee, and the association's own finance review committee.

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Board sees figures on 'productivity'

More than a dozen ways to measure “efficiency” and “value for money” at UW are sketched out in a report brought to UW’s board of governors April 3 by provost Amit Chakma.

The one-page report was in the board agenda material but didn’t come up for discussion. It includes some indicators of “quality” and some of “productivity/cost management”. For example:

• The student-faculty ratio is a familiar figure cited as an indicator of the quality of teaching. UW’s ratio hit 27.6 (students per professor) in 2004-05; the goal is to get it down to 20.0 within a decade, the chart says.

• Per-student spending is another way of measuring quality; UW’s figure in 204-05 was $14,349, and performance over recent years is “improving vs. Canada, deteriorating vs. USA”, the report says.

• Graduate enrolment as a percentage of total enrolment is listed as a “quality” measure and shown as 10.3 per cent in 2005-06; the goal is an increase of 10 per cent a year, or doubling enrolment within a decade.

• The first “productivity” indicator is “annual revenue per staff position”, which the report says has been rising at about 5 per cent per year.

• Energy consumption (measured in easy-to-remember gigajoules per square metre) was at 1.35 in 2005-06, a slight increase from the previous figure of 1.27, but still making UW one of the three lowest energy consumers among Ontario universities.

• The number of lost work days as a result of work-related injuries has averaged 400 annually over the past several years, and was 384 in 2006, “among the lowest” for universities.

Other indicators refer to fund-raising, co-op placement, the marks of entering students, purchasing consortiums, administrative costs and the value of deferred building maintenance.

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Library adds accessibility features

from articles in the UW library’s e-newsletter

Last year, the Student Life Endowment Fund provided partial funding for several projects aimed at improving the accessibility of the Library's public facilities and study space. One of these projects involved upgrading the control panels inside and outside of the public elevators at the Dana Porter Library.

"I think the new elevator panels are cool!" exclaimed fourth-year French studies student Ashley MacDonald. "In the past, my personal guide would need to press the elevator buttons since I couldn't tell them apart. Now that the new buttons are available in Braille, it provides me with a stronger sense of independence."

[Wood paneling, elevator buttons]PhD geography student Kate Hano (right) is a veteran when it comes to studying at the Dana Porter Library. However, she would typically avoid using the elevators since she was unable to navigate the control panel. "I still remember having my Friday night date with Dana Porter back in my second year as an undergraduate student. I remember becoming familiar with using the staircase to get to the stacks," she joked. "While stair access is okay, it is not perfect."

"It is nice that the Library, which is used by many students, is equipped with accessible elevators," Hano explained. "The improved panels are necessary, especially for those who use wheelchairs, have low vision, or can't see at all — it helps that the panels are lower, while the buttons incorporate a combination of Braille and raised numbers."

Other projects supported by the Student Life Endowment Fund last year included new ergonomic study chairs for the Davis Centre Library, and installation of large-print range-end signs for the Dana Porter Library's fifth floor, making materials easier to locate.

Meanwhile, an annual gift from the Ross and Doris Dixon Foundation assists the Library with purchasing equipment and furnishings that enhance services to persons with disabilities. This year's purchase includes a desktop flat screen colour video magnifier to be used by patrons with low vision. This new piece of equipment will soon be available at the Davis Centre Library.

The ClearView+ 19 inch Flat Screen System from the Optelec Tieman Group (providers of adaptive technology equipment for the blind and visually impaired) will be beneficial for UW community members with low vision needing to access print materials. Including a 19-inch flat screen monitor, the ergonomically-designed magnifier provides features such as instant focus, one-touch zoom, a position locator, and reading and reverse reading modes. This particular model of magnifier will provide users with access to text, diagrams, illustrations, maps, and other detailed print information that relies on colour to represent key elements of the publication being read.

UW provides academic accommodations, services, and support to more than 1,300 students registered with the UW Office for Persons with Disabilities. The UW Library collaborates through cost sharing with this office in offering services to registered students. One of the main services provided to these students and other members of the community is the Adaptive Technology Centre on the main floor of the Dana Porter Library, which offers a variety of adaptive software and equipment. Also available is a coordinator, Janet Wason, who assists students with disabilities complete research and assignments with a greater sense of independence. She also helps with locating alternative format materials, such as Braille and audio resources.


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