Wednesday, January 17, 2007

  • Ontario applications set a record
  • Free workshops offered to students
  • Maggie the Cat is alive; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Fifty years ago on a Canadian campus

When and where

Blood donor clinic continues through Friday, Student Life Centre, make appointments at turnkey desk.

Leave the Pack Behind registration for stop-smoking competition, 10:30 to 2:30 (also varying hours Thursday and Friday), Student Life Centre, details online.

English tutors information session for potential volunteers to teach English as a second language, 4:30, Student Life Centre room 2134; another session January 23; details online.

Montréal artists Héloïse Audy and Julie Faubert, "The Hive Dress", 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, as part of the Render Lecture/ Performance Series on contemporary art; details online.

Housing information sessions about second-year life in residence: tonight 10 p.m. at Beck Hall community centre, UW Place, and West 3 lounge, Mackenzie King Village. Other sessions Thursday night.

Graduate studies in mathematics: information session for third and fourth-year students, Thursday 4:30, Math and Computer room 5136.

UW art gallery, East Campus Hall, opening of new exhibitions (Héloïse Audy and Julie Faubert, "The Hive Dress", Allan Harding Mackay, "Somalia Yellow Vignettes", Chris Down, "Death to Everyone"), Thursday 5 to 8 p.m.; exhibitions continue through February 24.

Columbia Lake Village community potluck Thursday 7 p.m., bring a dish to share, reservations e-mail

Benefit concert for Amnesty International, sponsored by UW International Health Development Association, Friday 9 p.m., Bombshelter pub, $5 advance, $6 at door.

Know Your Workplace sessions for staff on "Delivering Performance Appraisals", January 22 at 11:30 and 12:30, January 24 at 11:30 and 12:30, all in Davis Centre room 1302, no preregistration required.

Master of Business, Education and Technology program information session January 24, 4:00 p.m., Needles Hall room 1001, reservations ext. 3-7167.

Nobel Prize winner Tony Leggett, professor of physics, "Does the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?" January 26, 2 p.m., CEIT room 1015, reception to follow; for free reservations e-mail

Positions available

On this week’s list from the human resources department:

• Administrative assistant, physics and astronomy, USG 6
• Director of development, faculty of mathematics, USG 14
• Records and systems assistant, office of the registrar, USG 5/6
• Academic assistant (undergraduate), health studies and gerontology, USG 5

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

[High in the air, beside Biology greenhouses]

Jeff Yoo's perspective is from somewhere aloft near the Biology greenhouses. A fourth-year science student, he's the latest figure to be profiled on the diversity program website, although anything more than a lively series of photos of his daily life is still in the "coming soon" category.

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Ontario applications set a record

a statement from the Council of Ontario Universities

It is another year of extraordinary growth in applications to Ontario universities. As of January 11 — the deadline for submission of university applications — 79,568 secondary school students have applied for first-year admission to Ontario universities for fall 2007. This is an increase of 3,908 applicants or 5.2% over 2006.

Updated application figures for individual universities, including UW, are expected to be available today.

This significant growth comes on top of major increases in applications in recent years, even after the double cohort had been accommodated. This year’s applications represent an increase of 9.0% over 2005 levels and 11.7% over 2004.

The number of applicants exceeded projections, as in 2006 and 2005. This aspiration and commitment to university education is good for Ontario — university graduates contribute immensely to Ontario’s social and economic development, to the health and well-being of its citizens, and to its competitive position in the global knowledge economy. But the increased demand poses significant challenges for the university sector.

This positive trend in applications can be attributed in no small part to the province’s Reaching Higher plan, introduced in 2005 to enhance quality, accountability and accessibility in postsecondary education in Ontario. The Reaching Higher plan improved financial support for students and allocated $2.8 billion over 5 years in new funding to universities.

The province and the universities anticipated that the increased investment would fund quality improvements on campus, including improved student-faculty ratios to enhance the student experience. However, higher-than-anticipated enrolments have constrained the universities’ capacity to make quality improvements. These enrolments, which this year are 14,000 higher than planned for in the Reaching Higher projections, have created a funding shortfall of about $100 million in 2006-07, a figure that will grow to at least $300 million annually by 2009-10.

Funding these additional students requires new expenditure by the province — funds announced in the Reaching Higher plan for graduate enrolment expansion and quality improvement must not be diverted for this purpose.

Ontario universities want the 2007 applicants to have at least the same prospect of acceptance as previous years’ applicants, but need the province’s help in funding the unanticipated enrolment growth. The quality improvements sought by government and universities will be undermined without additional funding to meet the demands of additional students. In fact, universities are still waiting for the province to flow funding for the growth experienced in 2006-07.

This year, each Ontario university entered into a multi-year accountability agreement with the Minister of Training, College and Universities. The agreements bind the universities to substantial quality improvements on campus, improvements that will be at risk if the province does not commit new funds to meet the demands of additional students.

“Different universities are in different positions to respond to these enrolment pressures but all universities want to see these new applicants accommodated, without compromising the commitment to quality,” said Ian Clark, president of the Council of Ontario Universities.

Over the past decade, the universities and the Government of Ontario have done an extraordinary job of accommodating massive growth in demand for a university education. The current 2006-07 enrolment of 357,300 students represents an increase of over 40% since 2000-01.

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Free workshops offered to students

Several of UW's departments are offering training this term that can help students position their pronouns, manage their time, cut their stress levels, tackle midterm exams, answer interview questions, and even ace the Law School Admission Test.

That's not all at once, of course, but in one workshop or another from counselling services, career services, and the English Language Proficiency Program. Among the workshops is one on "Career Exploration and Decision Making", scheduled for tomorrow to coincide with the first day of job postings for spring term co-op jobs.

Here's a summary of programs that have been announced:

Counselling services workshops under such titles as "Re-Claiming Your Self", "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction", and "Assertive Communication", meeting in three to six weekly sessions; most programs start next week.

• Study skills programs from counselling services (note-taking, reading, exam studying), a four-session workshop that starts this week or in mid-February.

Writing skills workshops sponsored jointly by counselling services and the ELPP, with single sessions on such topics as "articles/pronouns/prepositions", "mechanics and document design", "report writing", and "verbs and voice".

Career development workshops in the Tatham Centre, many of them geared to the calendar of co-op job applications and interviews. Topics range from "Preparing for Interview Questions " to networking, "working effectively in another culture", business etiquette, writing CVs and cover letters, and "Successfully Negotiating Job Offers". There are also specialized sessions on law school, international options, and "starting your own business".

The workshops are free, although in some cases a materials fee is charged. "If cost is a concern, please let us know when you register," says a memo from counselling. "Individual study skills and personal appointments are also available. To register, please drop into Counselling Services, Needles Hall room 2080."

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Maggie the Cat is alive; other notes

Well, it appears that the siren who was pictured in Friday's Daily Bulletin chatting with associate vice-president Gail Cuthbert Brandt wasn't Joan Crawford after all. That's according to drama student Jocelyn Urquhart, who was inhabiting the lady's persona at the time, during the 50th anniversary launch party last week. She says she was Elizabeth Taylor, not Crawford. In 1957, according to the Internet Movie Database, Taylor was getting ready for her famous role as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" — interestingly, that's exactly the kind of roof UW's first engineering students had over their heads that hot summer in the temporary buildings of Waterloo College Associate Faculties.

After losing Monday to a university-wide closing, thanks to a morning ice storm, the people who use East Campus Hall lost yesterday as well. Something went wrong with a Waterloo North Hydro transformer on Phillip Street near the building, and it took all day to make repairs. Staff in the finance and procurement and contract services offices went home (it's not smart to be in a building with neither plumbing nor fire alarms working), the fine arts department cancelled classes, and central stores struggled to provide basic services with the help of a temporary generator provided by plant operations. Things are supposed to be back to normal today, unless yet another disaster strikes.

Today's the day that final-year electrical and computer engineering students show off their design projects in the Davis Centre (from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Upper-year E&CE classes are cancelled for the day. "Talent and innovation" are at a premium, says E&CE faculty member Bill Bishop. Among the projects is one by Farhan Malik, Ray Zhao, Yiwen Yu, Jim Metropolit and Ibrahim Mir, who worked last summer with BlackRock Financial to develop "a trading simulator which simulates the execution of fixed income derivative trades to hedge complex mortgage assets. . . . It is a well designed and documented system built in Microsoft Excel and Access with VBA code for executing the strategy. It incorporates risk and market data provided by BlackRock and implements a library of derivatives pricing software." Among other project topics: Steel Floor Frequency Response; RFID Grocery Management System; Multi-Channel Wireless Routing; Feedback Controlled Smart Light System with Intensity Selection; Prostate Ultrasound Image Segmentation Processor.

A UW student was among three young entrepreneurs who won $1,000 awards in the 2007 iGNITION $1K business-pitch competition, held Friday at Wilfrid Laurier University. The 44 participants had 90 seconds each to present their business ideas to a panel of judges. Jennifer Yorke of the business, entrepreneurship and technology program presented, an online service to provide personal clothing suggestions and to link clients to retailers. “The judges had a challenge choosing among the excellent pitches this year,” said Steve Farlow, executive director of Laurier’s Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship. “This is a key step for all these entrepreneurs to actually start their businesses and compete for funds as part of the LaunchPad $50K program this spring.” LaunchPad, which runs in May, is a platform designed to develop and encourage entrepreneurs in Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph. Started in 2004 by WLU and UW, it has grown to include Conestoga College and the University of Guelph.

"Campus Rec is excited to announce a new fitness program," Kate Shippey writes from the Physical Activities Complex, "to track your physical activity, stay motivated and win great prizes. All you have to do is sign up for free, choose your workout level and then get started." The program is called Active Living Rewards, and is a successor to the former Cross-Canada Challenge. Registration is online. Also in campus rec, a "fit blitz" is about to start: "four weeks, four different muscle groups, for free!" The sessions are Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Columbia Icefield fitness centre, starting with upper-body exercises on January 22 and continuing with lower-body exercises January 29; core exercises, cardiovascular and fitness training February 5; and program design February 12. Facility hours for this term: the Icefield and PAC are open Monday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday 7:00 to 9:30, Saturday 9:00 to 7:30, and Sunday 9:00 to 11:30.

University secretary Lois Claxton says she's checking out whether any of the items on the agenda for Monday's weather-cancelled meeting of the UW senate will require urgent action rather than waiting until the senate's next scheduled meeting on February 26. • The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations is holding a one-day conference Friday in Toronto on "Restructuring the Academy: Current Realities and Preferred Directions". • A note in the new issue of the faculty association's Forum newsletter says the association is keeping a close eye on any possible danger of asbestos-related illness, since asbestos was used in the construction of some of UW's early buildings.


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