Wednesday, May 16, 2007

  • Administrators' retreat a time to plan
  • WUSC sends 3 UW students overseas
  • Storm damage, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[UW + IS50 + IN = 2007]

Readers of Phys 13 News, published for high school science teachers by UW's physics department, are treated to this 50th anniversary puzzle this month. "Each of the five letters U, W, I, S and N is a different positive single-digit integer," writes emeritus professor Anthony Anderson. "You may also assume that W>N. After solving for these values, find the numerical score X of the slogan UW WINS: X=U+W+W+I+N+S."

Link of the day

Guess who's 95 today

When and where

'Chronic Diseases in China' forum with officials from China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, hosted by UW-based International Tobacco Control project, 9:00 a.m. to noon, Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute; information ext. 3-3580.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting 1:30 p.m., Ron Eydt Village room West 102.

'Evenings with the Stars' public lecture presented by department of physics and astronomy: Brian McNamara, "Powerful Explosions from Supermassive Black Holes", observatory tour follows, 8 p.m., Physics room 145.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group "wildlife awareness" group, Thursday 12 noon, Student Life Centre multi-purpose room.

Education Credit Union presents Stewart Duckworth, "Estate Planning 101", Thursday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302.

International spouses group meet at Columbia Lake Village [Brubacher House]community centre, walk to historic Brubacher House (right) for tour, children welcome, Thursday 12:45 p.m., information e-mail

'Design camp' aimed at local and student digital designers, Thursday 2 to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre, information online.

Aging, Health and Well-being lecture: Lewis Lipsitz, Harvard Medical School, "Fainting, Falls and Blood Pressure Regulation in the Elderly", Thursday 3:30 p.m., Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Orchestra@UWaterloo first rehearsal for spring season, Thursday 7 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall, information online.

Ladies' car care clinic organized by UW Recreation Committee, scheduled for this Saturday, postponed to June 2.

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx closed this Saturday because of holiday weekend.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 21, classes cancelled, UW offices closed. Columbia Lake Village South Community barbecue.

Winter term grades for undergraduate courses become official on Quest May 22.

MBET (Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology) information session Tuesday 4 p.m., Accelerator Centre room 240, reservations ext. 3-7167.

Safety Awareness Day with sessions on gas cylinder safety, inspecting the workplace, lab safety and other topics, plus exhibits and vendors, Thursday, May 24, details and registration 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.

Waterloo Math@40 anniversary celebration, dinner at Federation Hall, remarks by founding chair Ralph Stanton, Friday, May 25, 6:00 p.m., Federation Hall, tickets $67, registration online.

Conrad Grebel University College sleepover for alumni from the first decade, May 25-26, evening reception, then single or shared rooms available, information ext. 2–4381.

You @ Waterloo Day open house for future students Saturday, May 26, details online.

City of Waterloo 150th anniversary parade Sunday, May 27, 1:00 p.m., King Street from William to Central, followed by afternoon picnic in Waterloo Park, details online.

Procurement and Contract Services annual trade show for faculty and staff: VWR scientific supplies May 28, computer suppliers May 29, Basics Office Supplies May 30, all in Davis Centre room 1301.

5-km run and family walk raising funds for a new facility for Hildegard Marsden Cooperative Day Nursery, Sunday, June 3, 10:30 a.m., details and registration online, donations welcome.

Groundbreaking for Optometry building addition Friday, June 8, 11:15 a.m. on west side of existing building.

Positions available

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

• Administrative assistant, Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, USG 6
• Manager, science computing, dean of science office, USG 13
• Manager, campus bar operations, USG 8
• Library assistant, library, USG 7
• Events coordinator, Federation of Students, USG 6
• Cashier/receptionist, school of optometry, USG 3
• Administrative assistant, school of pharmacy, USG 6
• Associate director, public affairs, communications & public affairs, USG 10/11 (maternity leave replacement)

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Administrators' retreat a time to plan

Deans' offices across campus will be deanless for the latter part of this week, as two dozen of the university's top officials go away on their annual planning retreat at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre near Barrie.

The gathering at "K-Bay", tonight through Friday, is a longstanding UW tradition: each May deans, vice-presidents, and associate provosts get away from campus — far enough away that nobody's tempted to dash back to the office for a few minutes — and immerse themselves in major issues and priorities for the year ahead.

Participants are the members of executive council, which meets monthly, chaired by the president. It includes the senior officers responsible for all UW's departments, both academic and non-academic. The retreat is also an opportunity for some bonding with newer or soon-to-be members of the top administration. Terry McMahon, who takes over as dean of science on July 1, will be attending along with current officials. And Meg Beckel, who becomes vice-president (external relations) next fall, will be there briefly to take part in a discussion of an external relations “review” headed by the chair of UW’s board of governors, Bob Harding, and fund-raising consultant Marnie Spears.

Provost Amit Chakma said on Monday that the K-Bay get-together will have two main themes, both growing out of the university’s Sixth Decade plan, which was still being developed a year ago but is now complete and waiting to be turned into action.

The first question, said Chakma: “What does it take for us to achieve our goals, in financial terms, and what do we need to do to get there?”

He cited an example: back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that UW needs to create 100 entirely new faculty positions to move things toward the student-faculty ratio that the plan calls for. That also implies 200 new staff positions, on the basis that UW has about two staff members for each full-time professor.

So what would that cost? Say $15 million annually for faculty salaries and benefits, $15 million more for staff salaries and benefits, and $20 million for general expenses — altogether $50 million a year in new money that would need to come from somewhere.

Endowments produce a return of about 5 per cent per year, so to generate $50 million a year, UW would have to create a billion dollars in endowment. Is that possible within the sixth decade, 2007 to 2017, Chakma asks? Probably not; “but can we reach half of that? Probably yes.” So that might be half the problem solved, anyway. “We need to aim high,” says the provost, adding that “we need to be prepared to fall short.”

He commented that the money UW raises privately, for endowments or for immediate use, comes mostly from individuals, not companies, and that leads to some conclusions about what has to be done to bring in more of it. There will likely be an increase in “planned giving” efforts, encouraging alumni and friends to remember the university in their wills, for one thing. More broadly, “we need to build a culture where it will be everybody’s business to promote the university,” and to make UW a place where students develop a life-long sense of “ownership” and attachment.

“If that’s the goal,” Chakma repeated, “what do we need to do?”

Then he moved on to the second major issue for discussion at K-Bay this week: making the best use of UW’s resources. There’s a need for “efficiency measures”, he said, not in the sense of saving money, but in the sense of improving “our performance, our working conditions”, reducing duplication and delay and workload.

A key example, one that he’s mentioned before, is the process for admitting graduate students, which currently involves multiple steps in various departments. He’s hoping to see it streamlined, involving less paper, fewer people and less time before a would-be student gets a welcome-to-Waterloo response.

“Those are the kind of things we’ll be working at on a high level,” said Chakma. “We’ll probably pick a few projects.” He stressed that executive council can’t (and shouldn’t) work out the details of how students are admitted, but it can send a strong message that it supports time-saving, labour-saving changes.

One implication is likely to be that systems should be the same in all the faculties, and he thinks the deans are behind that principle: “We can’t have six different rules. Some of the cultural barriers have to go!”

During the discussions at K-Bay, the top administrators try to look at the long term, but inevitably there will be some talk about shorter term issues as well, he said. Two examples: the coming year’s budget, and the current effort to increase graduate enrolment in time to take advantage of extra Ontario government funding that expires before the end of this year.

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WUSC sends 3 UW students overseas

Thirty students from across Canada, including three from Waterloo, are heading off to spend this summer on volunteer placements thanks to an innovative program of World University Service of Canada.

Students Without Borders connects postsecondary students to volunteer work opportunities with local partner organizations and field offices in developing countries. “In a changing global environment, Students Without Borders helps Canadian post-secondary students gain valuable citizenship skills,” says Paul Davidson, executive director of WUSC. “They make meaningful contributions to culturally diverse communities in the developing world and gain added abilities that are valued in the workplace.”

During their two to four-month placements, they will fill roles as varied as social workers, nutritionists, English teachers and basic education researchers. The students will also trace their progress before, during and after their placements through a blog that’s accessible from WUSC’s web site.

One UW participant is Barrett Schitka, who has just finished the 1B term in chemical engineering term and has arrived in Lima, capital of Perú, to work at the National University of Engineering. “The project I am working on,” Schitka writes, “is a wastewater treatment project here in Lima, and the objective is to reduce the amount of waste produced at the treatment plants.”

A second participant is Arija Batura, of the environment and business program, and the third is Allister McGillivray, a student in environment and resource studies and economics, who's off to Malawi. “The position that I will occupy has been pretty poorly described to me,” he says candidly, but says that the job description calls for him to do “a situation analysis (environmental impact assessment) of natural resources, train staff and farmers in natural resources management, promote natural resources management techniques. So that's the position, and I will be filling it for three months. I'll be leaving on May 20, and returning on the 17th of August. It's a three day flight. I will be staying with a host family.”

WUSC describes itself as “a leading Canadian international development agency . . . a network of people and post-secondary institutions whose mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training. Active on over 70 campuses across Canada and in 17 countries, WUSC has been engaging Canadians and improving lives for over six decades. Our alumni include leaders in the public, private and voluntary sectors in Canada and around the world.”

SWB volunteers start their placements three times each year. The summer 2007 participants, from 17 different campuses, will leave throughout May and June to work in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Peru and Vietnam. “SWB,” the agency explains, “offers students the possibility of earning academic credits and applying theoretical knowledge to real work environments in developing countries. It also gives Canadian students who have a global consciousness a tangible way to tackle inequality head on. In some cases, bursaries are available.” Some students earn degree credit, while others fulfill co-op work term requirements or complete internships.

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Storm damage, and other notes

The high winds and fierce rain that hit Waterloo early last evening did only minor damage to most of UW's main campus, although a 30-foot (9-metre) Austrian pine tree near the Minota Hagey Residence was destroyed. In other incidents, a large branch from a maple tree was blown onto a car parked near the Columbia Street playing fields, and a car in parking lot H suffered water damage after a blocked storm drain caused minor flooding. That's about the extent of things, according to Alan Binns of the UW police, who surveyed the aftermath last night, and Tom Galloway of plant operations. For many people — the ones who aren't dealing with more serious damage at home, anyway — the biggest effect of the storm will be the traffic situation this morning, as the lights at University Avenue and Seagram Drive, the main entrance to campus, are still out of action. Municipal officials have promised to get to the problem "as fast they can", Binns said.

One of the "groups" in UW's information systems and technology department has a new head. "As you may know," said a memo Monday from associate provost Alan George, "Roger Watt recently retired as Director, Network Services in IST. I am pleased to announce that Bruce Campbell will succeed Roger as Director. Bruce has been Manager, Science Computing, since 2005, and prior to that served in various capacities within Engineering Computing from 1984 through 2005. He has been instrumental in the development of a number of innovative systems that are being used across campus, including the Network Authentication Appliances (NAAs) and the network switch management tool (ONA). Bruce was the key developer of the WATSTAR/PC system which has, over the years, evolved to the NEXUS system, currently deployed in all six Faculties. More recently, he led a CNAG subcommittee dealing with campus network standards and identifying end-of-life network components, and is currently serving as co-chair of the campus email project. On behalf of everyone in IST, I am delighted to welcome Bruce as our newest member and look forward to working with him in his new role."

City council in Stratford, west of Waterloo, heard a consultant's report Monday night about the economic and employment impact if plans go ahead for a UW branch campus there. Construction would bring $56.4 million to the city and create 415 jobs, Deloitte & Touche analysts reported, and when the campus was in full operation it would provide 180 jobs and turn over $26.7 million a year. "The campus will during the initial phase cater to approximately 500 students," said a summary presented to council. "The campus would be expected to grow to approximately 1,000 students. The development also contemplates a conference facility (The Stratford Centre) that will operate between May and September each year. A 250 unit residence will be constructed in partnership with private sector partners."

I noted yesterday that a 2006-07 "donor recognition" document might be expected soon from UW's development office. Not so soon, says Shelley Rudd, who handles donor relations: "The next donor report won't be published until the fall, distributed with the alumni magazine at the end of November. This year it will be more of a campaign report with an emphasis on the last fiscal year but also highlights of the campaign period (2000-2007)."

Roughly 100 people will be at Ron Eydt Village today, and again tomorrow, to write licensing exams for the Society of Actuaries. • The recently held spring conference of the Pragma Council, which advises the UW school of planning, had as its theme "Planning the Greater Toronto Area's Transportation Systems". • The Federation of Students is selling tickets at $37 for an outing to the Canada's Wonderland amusement park on June 8.

And here's word from the UW library: "On Friday, May 18, access to the Dana Porter Library will be through the side entrance, what is currently an emergency exit. This is on the side facing the Grad House. Dana Porter will be closing at the unusual time of 5:00 p.m. on Friday. This is all due to carpet being laid at the entrance, where the attendant kiosk was formerly situated. We will be open on Saturday morning as usual."


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