Tuesday, March 20, 2007

  • 'Please think carefully,' staff asked
  • Co-op student awards given tomorrow
  • Faculty members now on sabbatical
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Link of the day

'Earth's resurrection'

When and where

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for undergraduate courses: for spring term continuing through March 31; for fall term June 11-23.

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

Volunteer tax clinic to assist students with income tax returns, sponsored by Accounting Students' Education Contribution, today 9 to 5, Wednesday 10 to 4, Student Life Centre great hall.

LabView user group 11:30, Carl Pollock Hall, information 519-342-1168.

Gardening expert Marjorie Harris speakers on her new book, How to Make a Garden, 12 noon, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall (sold out); book signing from 1:15, bookstore, SCH, all welcome.

Green Party deputy leader Victoria Serda speaks on climate change, based on slide show from 'An Inconvenient Truth': 12:30, Architecture lecture hall; 4:30, Arts Lecture hall room 208; 7:00, Kitchener Public Library main branch, sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.

'Preparing Your Finances' seminar for newer faculty members, 12:30 to 4:30, sponsored by WatPort, details online.

Engineering faculty council 3:00, CEIT room 3142.

Super Smash Bros. team tournament sponsored by UW Gamers, 5 to 10 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Grand River Transit public meetings about possible rapid transit routes and station locations: tonight, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Kitchener; Wednesday, First United Church, Waterloo; Thursday, United Kingdom Club, Cambridge, all with displays at 6 p.m., presentation at 6:30, discussions 7:00 to 8:30; preregister by e-mail, rtinfoline @region.waterloo.on.ca.

Clueso: "Rap on the stage and in the classroom" concert and workshop, 6:30 p.m., Graduate House, sponsored by Waterloo Centre for German Studies.

UW Food Bank drive for non-perishable food, money, and Zehrs or Sobeys receipts, Wednesday-Friday, Student Life Centre and bins across campus.

Systems design engineering students' showcase of design projects, Wednesday 11:00 to 7:00, Davis Centre great hall.

Communitech lunch: "Doing Business with Post-Secondary Institutions", Wednesday 11:30, Waterloo Inn, details and registration online.

'Be a Ring Road Runner' spring workshop and release of Running Mates' Guide to Physical and Mental Health, Wednesday 12 noon, Rod Coutts Hall room 112, registration ext. 3-5418.

Music student recitals in the chapel, Conrad Grebel University College, 12:30 Wednesday, Thursday, Monday, Tuesday, March 21-27.

UW-Haifa exchange program for undergraduates in computer science and all of math, Wednesday 3 p.m., information session Math and Computer room 5158.

Federation of Students general meeting Wednesday 3:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Gwynne Dyer, journalist and military analyst, speaks on "Climate Wars", Wednesday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre, sponsored by Faculty of Arts, free tickets from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Accelerator Centre celebration event marking year's achievements, Thursday from 10 a.m., details online.

Surplus sale of UW furniture and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall.

First Robotics Waterloo Regional Competition for teams of high school students, Thursday-Saturday, Physical Activities Centre, details online.

Orchestra@UWaterloo end-of-term concert Thursday 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets free from Humanities box office. Program: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D (Wallace Wu, violin); Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture; Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D.

Financial Econometrics Conference (ninth annual), "Hedge Funds and Associated Risks", Friday, Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by Centre for Advanced Studies in Finance, details and registration online.

Alumni career planning workshop Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, details online.

K-W Academy of Medicine, McMaster University school of medicine, UW school of pharmacy and school of optometry, reception and dinner "to celebrate new opportunities in interprofessional health education", March 27, Waterloo Inn, by invitation.

Author Guy Gavriel Kay reads from his work Tuesday, March 27, 7 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, free, sponsored by UW bookstore.

UW board of governors spring meeting Tuesday, April 3, 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

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'Please think carefully,' staff asked

UW’s top management spoke out yesterday about efforts by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation to unionize UW staff members. “We preferred not to interfere in any way,” said a letter from Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), explaining why there has not been any statement from the administration since the OSSTF drive began in January. “However, it’s clear that many staff are concerned about our silence and wondering why we have not responded.“

So her two-page letter gives her view of staff relations at UW: “a unique employment environment where issues and challenges are jointly tackled by employees and administration. . . .

“Last year, the Staff Relations Committee initiated a change to the parental leave policy that increased the number of weeks of maternity leave top-up to 23 and added the benefit of 10 weeks top-up for partners and fathers. As with all of our policy changes and improvements, these matters were brought to the table for discussion, design and approval by a consensus of staff and administration.”

Over the years, the letter goes on, the SRC and the Staff Compensation Committee “have improved vacation, refined the overtime policy, created the Staff Recognition Award, developed bereavement and emergency leave guidelines, provided templates for panel interviews, established the Workplace Support Network, heard and decided appeals regarding the application of Policy 18 and the appropriate salary grades of individual staff members and developed the University's Pay Equity Plan. These committees have determined all major and minor employment issues at UW. These committees have been active, effective and responsive. . . .

“We do not believe that staff groups should bargain against each other for their ’fair share‘. Unlike many other universities, UW's principles of fairness have made the salary increase of faculty equitable to those of staff; the salary range increase for staff is equal to the scale increase for faculty.”

Scott asks employees: “Please think carefully about what the Waterloo way means to you and to UW's long record of cordial and respectful staff relations. You have every right to choose how you wish to interact with the University and we will respect your choice.”

Urging staff members to sign up, the union held several open meetings on and off campus during February. It announced that "nearly 100 staff" attended the first such meeting, at the Waterloo Inn.

OSSTF has not indicated how the campaign is going since then, although a union official said in February that "OSSTF would like to be able to make an application to the Labour Board by mid-March." That would require signed union membership cards from 40 per cent of the UW staff who are the target of the campaign. There are about 1,800 full-time regular staff, currently represented by the UW Staff Association, which is not unionized. OSSTF has also invited part-time and contract employees to sign up.

An application to the Ontario Labour Board would likely lead to a vote in which staff would say yes or no to unionization through OSSTF. The majority of those voting determines the outcome. If the answer was yes, negotiations would follow to define who is included in the bargaining unit, and then to establish salaries, benefits and working conditions in a contract between the union and UW as the employer.

Says Scott’s letter: “Signing a card means a very big change for you and UW. It means that an outside agency with many other interests will speak exclusively for you. It means that you will pay substantially for that service. It means that management and staff relations will be governed by decisions outside of the collegial environment in which we now work.

“It has been suggested that signing a card does not mean joining the union but is simply a request for a vote. This is not accurate. Please read the card carefully and you will see that it is indeed a commitment to join the OSSTF. . . .

“As well, although there may be some speculation that the organizing drive will have an end date in April, their union cards do not have an expiry date. Our understanding from other organizations that have experienced the same union drive is that the organizers are prepared to devote a year or more. . . .

“The University will continue to work with the Staff Association to ensure that our working environment is the best it can be and to address any concerns that arise, using a collegial and collaborative process that includes all — support staff, managers and professionals. . . . We give you our continued promise to work together to improve our UW workplace.”

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Co-op student awards given tomorrow

from the UW media relations office

In marking National Co-operative Education Week, UW will celebrate the achievements of six top co-op students on Wednesday, including one who has performed innovative work in cancer research.

Kristin Harris, a third-year health studies and gerontology student, will be given national, provincial and university awards at a ceremony in the Tatham Centre at 3:00 tomorrow. Harris, a graduate of Bluevale Collegiate Institute in Waterloo, will receive student-of-the-year awards from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education and Education at Work Ontario.

As well, the co-operative education and career services department will present six UW co-op student-of-the-year awards to top representatives from the six faculties. The awards recognize their contributions to work-term employers and co-op education, along with academic achievements and volunteer activities.

"We are delighted that for the second year in a row, the University of Waterloo has been recognized both provincially and nationally for the high calibre of our co-op students," said Peggy Jarvie, executive director of CECS. "This is the first time that the award has been granted to the same person in both categories."

Harris is sharing the CAFCE award with an architectural technology student from Conestoga College. She will also get the AHS student-of-the-year award and UW's 50th anniversary co-op student award. Harris has earned international acclaim for her research at the Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre. Her work on a Bone Metastases Module required her to travel to Portugal and England to present her research both orally and through poster sessions. She has authored and co-authored more than two dozen medical papers, while peer-editing manuscripts and reviewing grant applications.

She was honoured with the Early Career Investigator award at the International Society for Quality of Life Research held in Lisbon, Portugal. The award is normally granted to doctors in the early years of their profession. She will get a gift certificate and recognition plaque for each UW award, on top of a cash prize and plaque from CAFCE and EWO. She will also be given the Emery/Dufault award, a scholarship presented with the CAFCE award. Plaques detailing her accomplishments will be displayed in the lobby of the Tatham Centre.

The other recipients of the UW co-op student-of-the-year awards:

Science: Kathryn Dorman, 3B science and business. Dorman completed her fourth outstanding work term at Mount Sinai Hospital's Surgical Skills Centre by travelling to Ethiopia to help set up a surgical lab. While there, Katie organized a mini Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills test in order to assess the basic surgical skills of 20 surgical residents and 10 surgical faculty members.

Mathematics: Fiona Ng, 3B actuarial science and finance. While at Statistics Canada, Ng unearthed 3,000 problem cases located within the operating and statistical structures of her department using statistical analysis. As well, she made a comparative analysis of the new GST figures, checking them with past records in order to uncover discrepancies.

Environmental Studies: Katherine Howes, 4B environment and business. As a program developer in the waste management section at Bruce Power Inc, Howes implemented a site-wide compost program, a first at a nuclear power plant, which will save the company two to seven years in landfill lifespan.

Engineering: Simon Lancaster-Larocque, 3B mechanical engineering. While on his work term, Lancaster-Larocque submitted four patents for inventions designed at Research In Motion, including a revolutionary Testing Clip that uses reverse polarity magnets instead of springs, making the diagnostics process easier and more efficient.

Arts: Carolyn Fitton, 2A arts and business. Fitton acted as a product marketer at Sybase iAnywhere, generating almost $6,000 in sales, and over $13,000 in forecast sales. She also prepared customer success stories, video scripts, monthly field briefing reports and a monthly newsletter.

As well, four students will get honourable mentions: Leah Mattheus, 3B applied health studies; Caustan de Riggs, 3B environment and business; Patrick McVeigh, 3B physics; and Orlando Marquez, 3B software engineering.

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Faculty members now on sabbatical

Here’s another list of UW faculty members who are currently on sabbatical leave, with summaries of their plans for the sabbatical as reported to the university’s board of governors.

Murray McArthur, department of English (six months that began January 1): “I will continue my research into innovation or invention in Modernism through an article on beginnings in Joyce’s Ulysses. This research will contribute to an online DE course, and a scholarly monograph.”

Mark Zanna, psychology (six months that began January 1): “I plan to spend my sabbatical at the University of Minnesota with Professor Borgida conducting research designed to investigate he influence of smoking in the media on implicit (i.e., unconscious, automatic) norms. Given the potential theoretical and, especially, practical significance of such influence, I plan to focus on the formation of injunctive norms (i.e., beliefs about ‘what ought to be’) of adolescents.”

Robert Jan Van Pelt, architecture (January-June 2007 and January-June 2008): “I am under contract with W. W. Norton (New York) to deliver a book-length manuscript on the history of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe by November 1, 2007. I intend to use the first part of my leave to finish this book, and to use the second part of this leave to begin a new project entitled ‘A History of the German East and Polish West’.”

Otman Basir, electrical and computer engineering (six months that began March 1): “This is the applicant’s first sabbatical leave in ten years of academic service. The applicant plans to spend this leave with the Intelligent Systems group of the University of Guelph to conduct research in bio-systems design, and at Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. to help the company with its effort in commercializing some of the applicant’s research work in intelligent vehicles.”

Raafat Mansour, electrical and computer engineering (twelve months that began March 1): “I plan to spend the sabbatical year as a Research Visiting Professor in the following institutions: University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; University of Magdeburg, Germany; University of Bremen, Germany.”

Natalia Kotchetova, accountancy (six months that began March 1): “During my sabbatical leave I would like to continue aggressive work in finalizing on-going research projects, as well as likely revisions for four papers that are currently under submission. In addition, I am planning on applying for a SSHRC standard grant, which I had not been able to do earlier due to a heavy teaching load (3 Master’s level courses) every spring term since I came to the University of Waterloo. Finally, I am planning to visit one or two of the Big 4 accounting firms’ offices in Toronto (details to be arranged) in order to observe their implementation of new risk assessment standards.”


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