Monday, December 1, 2008

  • Keystone makes a year-end appeal
  • Next year, classes on one Saturday
  • 'Truths about Canada' told in lecture
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[A crowd in the main beverage room]

Entering the home stretch, as the fall term winds up, are students who will graduate next spring. The arts faculty held a late-afternoon "Homestretch Event" Thursday for its class of 2009, and about 100 of them showed up, crowding the Graduate House to the walls. "Key messages to the students," says Alex Lippert of the dean of arts office, "included to follow your passion and your career will fall into place, to remember UW on your travels, and to be a productive member of your community. The students were also given academic information— when to fill out intent-to-graduate forms and what to expect in terms of resources from the Alumni Career Advisor."

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Keystone makes a year-end appeal

Staff and faculty members received a reminder late last week that the Keystone Campaign, which has so far brought in $8.8 million in gifts to the university from current and retired employees, still welcomes their support — and can provide a 2008 tax receipt for money received before year’s end.

“It has been another incredible year for the Keystone Campaign,” says Krishna Mistry, acting manager in UW’s development office, adding that more than 2,300 people have pitched in as donors since Keystone was launched as part of Campaign Waterloo.

“Much of the success this year,” she writes, “can be credited to the hard work of our outstanding Keystone volunteers. Led by Keystone Campaign co-chairs Bob Norman, Pam Helmes-Hayes, and Steve Brown, the three Keystone volunteer working groups have achieved great things this year. From the Viva Las Vegas June event, to the treat-a-gram program, to the Run/Walk for Excellence, and the many Keystone profiles posted on our web site, 2008 will be remembered. . . .

“Thanks to everyone who supported UW and its marvellous students through Keystone this year. Looking ahead to the new year, the Keystone Campaign shows no sign of losing momentum.”

A letter from the three co-chairs, distributed as part of the year-end reminder package, notes that “People who work at the University of Waterloo have a lot in common. We know that education and experience are key ingredients in the recipe of achievement. We value innovation, discovery, and collaboration. And we share a proven passion for investing in future leaders, ensuring that today’s successes are surpassed tomorrow.

“For many of us, supporting the Keystone Campaign is how we choose to channel these values into a tangible form.”

It goes on: “Through this tremendous support, the university is well-equipped to attain great heights in its sixth decade. Yet today, during this challenging economic time, your gift is needed more than ever. . . . At UW, it’s easy to see the lives that your donation affects –– just take a look at the students you see on campus.”

The package also included a pledge card as well as a desktop calendar for 2009, a now traditional Keystone keepsake that also serves as a reminder of the campaign all through the year for those who use it. This year, in addition to the pay dates and holidays, the calendar lists the three annual Keystone events, namely Treat-a-Grams, the June party and the Run/Walk for Excellence.

Julia Wegenast, also of the development office, was involved in putting the calendar together, and adds an assurance that “the listed pay dates have been checked and re-checked for accuracy” after it turned out that the 2008 calendar shows the wrong date for December’s monthly payday.

Keystone focuses on undergraduate and graduate scholarship programs, though its totals also include givings to the university that are earmarked for everything from library books to athletic equipment, as long as the giver is a staff member, faculty member or retiree.

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Next year, classes on one Saturday

Working out a timetable for the 2009 fall term that squeezes in 60 days of classes between a late Labour Day (Monday, September 7) and the last permissible day for exams (Tuesday, December 22) wasn’t easy, says UW registrar Ken Lavigne.

The result: the university senate will be asked to approve a set of calendar dates that includes Saturday, December 5, as a regular class day. Senate was actually scheduled to discuss the proposal at its November 17 meeting, but didn’t get through much of the agenda that day and will tackle it again in December or January.

“This whole exercise was prompted by the lateness of Labour Day,” says Lavigne, noting that the last time the beginning-of-term holiday fell on September 7, the latest day it can be, was in 1998. Since then, the rules about the number of study days students must have between exams have been tightened — also by senate action — and the result was that we were confined at both ends of the term,” the registrar explains.

And shortening the term isn’t possible because accreditation for some of UW’s academic programs, as well as longstanding senate rules, require a minimum of 60 class days.

Lavigne and his staff worked out various “scenarios” for the term, he said, and some of them included major changes to orientation week, which traditionally starts on Labour Day, with classes beginning a week later. It would have been possible to make the calendar fit if orientation were shortened, or if it took place before Labour Day, but “we didn’t want to force a change to orientation without proper analysis,” he says. He’ll be asking senate to advise that a review of the orientation process, which is under way anyway, “include an examination of the length of proceedings”, so that the problem will be fixed before Labour Day falls on the 7th again in 2015.

The schedule that’s finally being proposed is “a series of compromises”, Lavigne said, noting that it does provide the minimum 12 days of fall term exams, but in reality it’ll be “a tough challenge” to fit all the exams into that length of time.

The plan, if senate approves, is for orientation to start on Labour Day as usual, and classes to begin the following Monday, September 14. The last two days of classes will be December 4 (a Friday) and 5 (a Saturday, with Monday’s class schedule in effect). Exams will start on Wednesday, December 9.

Also coming up for approval — but not so complicated — are the calendars for the winter and spring terms of 2010. Classes are to begin on Monday, January 4, 2010 (last day of classes Monday, April 5), and Monday, May 3 (last day Wednesday, July 28).

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'Truths about Canada' told in lecture

a release from UW's media relations office

John Ralston Saul, one of Canada's leading public intellectuals, will share his insights about the country's identity and future at a public lecture hosted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and UW's bookstore tomorrow evening.

An award-winning essayist and novelist, Saul will give a talk entitled "Are You Ready for Three Radical Truths about Canada?" It's based on his latest book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, published in September by Viking Canada.

"John Ralston Saul is considered one of the world's 100 leading thinkers and visionaries," says May Yan, director of retail services. "He has had a growing impact on political and economic thought in many countries and we are honoured to have him speak in our community."

Saul is widely known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good, as well as for his critique of contemporary economic arguments. His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In his new book, he unveils a plan for change by challenging the conventional wisdom that has defined Canada's history to date. He argues that . . .

  • Canada is "a Métis nation".
  • Peace, Order and Good Government is a misnomer that should be returned to its original phrase — Peace, Welfare and Good Government — which conveys fairness.
  • The country's increasingly dysfunctional elite is damaging Canada.

Saul explains how recognition of the country's aboriginal nature and a return to an emphasis on egalitarianism can increase the effectiveness of the political and business elites. As a result, Canada's presence on the world stage will be strengthened. Tomorrow's meet-the-author event begins at 7 p.m. in the CIGI atrium, 57 Erb Street West. Admission is free; register online.


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After the snowfall, ready for exam season

Despite some anxious storm-watching last night, UW is open as usual today, on the last day of classes for the fall term. Exams will run December 5-19. (I note that science students are organizing a "classy day" today, with a dress-up group photo at 12:25 at the Chem-Bio link, followed by a trip to a suitable watering hole.)

A note from the registrar about what happens in case UW has a storm closing day during exams: "The make-up date chosen for examinations scheduled on a day on which the university closes is the next available day, including Sunday, on which examinations have not been scheduled." That would mean Sundays (December 7 or 14) or Saturday, December 20.

"Examinations held on the make-up date are at the same time and location as originally scheduled. Examinations could be rescheduled for times prior to that date by mutual agreement of the instructor and the students in the class. If this occurs, students must be given the option of writing on the official alternative date."

Link of the day

World AIDS Day

When and where

Staff association town hall meeting 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Christmas luncheon buffet at University Club, December 1-23 (Monday-Friday), $19.25, reservations ext. 33801. Dinner buffet December 10 and 17, $36.95.

UW Planning Alumni of Toronto 18th annual gala dinner, reception 5:00, dinner 7:00, Royal York Hotel, speaker Brent Toderian, director of city planning, Vancouver. Details.

UW Instrumental Chamber Ensembles end-of-term concert 7:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel, free admission.

WatITis 2008 one-day conference for information technology staff, “Making the Future”, Tuesday. Details.

Holiday book sale at UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, December 2-4.

Touring Players children’s show, “The Velveteen Rabbit”, Tuesday 10:00 and 1:30, Humanities Theatre.

Faculty association fall general meeting Tuesday 2:00 p.m., Math and Computer room 4020, speakers from Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

A-Z Dining Experience organized by UW Recreation Committee, Mandarin Restaurant, Kitchener, Tuesday 5:00.

Society for Technical Communication workshop: “The Proposal as Project, and You as the Leader” Tuesday 6:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304. Details.

International TA and professor relationships, workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday 11:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Christmas at the Davis Centre: UW Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir annual concert, concluding with carol sing-along, Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre great hall.

‘Improving Your Financial Health’ seminar by Heather Cudmore, Catholic Family Counselling Centre, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Alumni dinner in Hong Kong Wednesday 6:30, Craigengower Cricket Club, speaker David Li (PhD 1995), China International Capital Corporation. Details.

Perimeter Institute presents Ben Schumacher, Kenyon College, “The Physics of Impossible Things”, Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information 519-883-4480.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., East Campus Hall.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “A Course Design Model That Works” Thursday 12:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session Thursday 4:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard suite 240.

Winterfest, staff association family skating party Sunday 1:00 to 3:00, Columbia Icefield, registration closed.

Social Innovation and Community Change one-day event with displays and panel discussions, co-sponsored by UW Social Innovation Generation, December 8, 9:00 to 4:30, Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West. Details.

Graduate Student Association semi-formal December 13, 6 p.m., South Campus Hall, Festival Room. Tickets $25 for grad students ($35 guests), available at Grad House until December 1. Details.

Ontario Ballet Theatre presents “The Nutcracker”, December 15, 7:00 p.m., and school performances Tuesday, 10:00 and 12:30, Humanities Theatre.

Fee payment deadline for the winter term: December 17 (cheque, money order or fee arrangements), December 30 (bank transfer).

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