Thursday, December 4, 2008

  • How $112 million in gifts helps UW
  • Notes: CUPE ratifies 2-year contract
  • Notes: Aboriginal high schoolers visit
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Aerial view with yellow railing]

The Chapel Choir performs at yesterday's noon-hour Christmas concert in the Davis Centre great hall. Len Enns of the Conrad Grebel University College music department conducts.

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How $112 million in gifts helps UW

Jim Dam certainly didn't think learning Hebrew and Arabic would be part of his university experience as an undergraduate computer science student. But gifts to the university made the unexpected happen.

The story is told in UW’s 2007-08 “Report on Giving” — briefly in the print edition, which is being distributed this month on campus and to tens of thousands of alumni, and at greater length on a new “giving” website.

The report, telling half a dozen stories amid big bright colour photos, is this year’s successor to past “donor reports”. The word “donor” is being played down this year, says Ryan Jacobs of UW’s development office, because the emphasis this year is less on who gave the money (some $112.2 million in the course of the year) and more on who received it or how it was used at the university.

[Dam, overlooking Haifa]That’s where Dam (left) comes into the tale. He was chosen, the report explains, to participate in the UW-Haifa International Experience Program in Israel. “On a 12-month exchange at the University of Haifa,” it says, “Jim not only developed a competency with each language, but fell in love with a new culture.

“The program, established by Toronto-area business leaders Heather Reisman, president and CEO of Indigo Books, and Gerry Schwartz, CEO of Onex Corp., is helping fulfill two key goals for UW's sixth decade: increasing international opportunities for students and enhancing the undergraduate experience. Strong proponents of furthering Canadian-Israeli relations, Heather and Gerry established this program to spur academic and research exchanges with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members from both UW and the University of Haifa.”

Before this exchange, the report goes on, Dam had rarely left Ontario. Yet he knew that this experience was more than just a chance to immerse himself in Middle Eastern culture and history; it was an opportunity to develop his skills for the future. "My experiences have strengthened my character," he says, "and I believe I'm better equipped for living and working in Canada now, especially in a large corporation with international interests."

Readers are told that “International research collaborations are at the core of many faculty members' research, and this program supports faculty who wish to explore those connections with Israeli academics. UW computer science professor Alex Lopez-Ortiz spent three weeks in Haifa last year, meeting research colleagues and giving lectures. One of his four lectures sparked a new research partnership — exactly the kind of outcome the program's founders envisioned."

Lopez-Ortiz is one of three faculty members, and Dam is one of six students, who participated in the exchange last year. UW also hosted several Haifa students and faculty, “laying strong foundations for future international collaborations, personal connections, and cultural appreciation.”

The giving report tells readers that 17,612 donors supported UW last year, including 11,899 alumni and 937 faculty members, staff members and retirees. The money went to support programs ($32.2 million), scholarships ($14 million), chairs and professorships ($37.7 million), buildings ($27.6 million) and the library ($700,000).

More stories from the “Report on Giving” will be appearing in the Daily Bulletin over the days ahead.

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Notes: CUPE ratifies 2-year contract

Members of Canadian Union of Public Employees local 793 have ratified a contract agreement with UW that’s retroactive to last May 1. A previous two-year contract expired April 30, and the union and university had been negotiating for a new one, leading to a proposal that was put to the union membership on Friday for a vote. Neil Murray, UW’s director of staff and labour relations, says he’s been told that about 90 per cent of the members — some 300 staff in plant operations and food services — voted yes. Murray says the contract is for two years, providing a 3 per cent across-the-board pay increase, retroactive to May 1, and another 3 per cent increase on May 1, 2009, which is the same figure UW’s non-union staff will be expecting as their scale increase. Murray adds that CUPE “also received the same vacation entitlement enhancement as non-union staff. We did agree on a number of language issues involving issues of overtime and apprenticeship guidelines, job posting requirements, and CUPE's continued support of a multi-workplace joint health and safety committee for UW. There were also a few anomaly adjustments and agreement to increase the shift premium by 10 cents in each year of the agreement.” The full text of the new contract will be posted on the HR website soon.

As fall term exams begin tomorrow, one student who isn’t apprehensive is Kaleigh Eichel, a member of the pioneering first-year class in the Knowledge Integration program. She’s written her exams already — early, by special arrangement — and is off to Sweden, where she’ll attend next week’s Nobel Prize presentation ceremonies. Eichel will also receive an award of her own, the Seaborg Award, earned last spring at the International Science & Engineering Fair in Atlanta. While in Stockholm, she will give a talk about her science fair project, which attracted considerable publicity and a few piscine puns. As one blog explains it: “The girl trained a 19-cent goldfish that herds its tank mates like cattle. Really. . . . The Comet goldfish exhibited altruism and an ability to survive when their habitats change suddenly.”

The UW police are looking for anybody who saw what happened late Monday afternoon at the University Avenue entrance to campus: “At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 1, a collision occurred involving a taxi cab striking a pedestrian. The victim was crossing Ring Road at the South Campus Hall crosswalk heading towards Parking lot A (University Avenue). Anyone who witnessed this collision is asked to please contact the University of Waterloo Police at 519-888-4911 (ext. 22222 on campus).”

The UW senate won’t be holding its December meeting — an annual fixture that is often cancelled because of end-of-term, pre-holiday time pressure. The senate’s executive committee met on Monday, and, a memo announces, “determined there would be no December meeting of the Senate for two reasons: there was no business held over from the November meeting that required action prior to Senate’s meeting in January, and the Committee understood that the January business of Senate should be able to be transacted within Senate’s normal time frame.” The November meeting, which ran well into the evening with discussion of the planned Abu Dhabi campus, did close with some agenda items untouched; they’ll now wait for attention in the new year.

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Notes: Aboriginal high schoolers visit

UW Aboriginal Services, located at St. Paul’s College, is hosting three Aboriginal High School Enrichment Conferences this year, offering First Nations students what coordinator Emerance Baker calls “hands-on pre-postsecondary enrichment education experiences”. Each conference is designed to involve about 30 Aboriginal students from across Ontario, she says, including some from remote and northern communities. “As each conference is high school retention focused, the theme, Imagine Yourself Here, is premised on providing Aboriginal high school students with a vision of themselves pursuing any form of postsecondary education from university to college to apprenticeship and training.” The first of the conferences, for grade 12 students, has just finished, and included everything from UW lectures to a workshop on traditional medicine led by a local elder. “The students rounded out their week with a field trip to the CanAb Festival (SkyDome Powwow) Education Day at the Rogers Centre,” Baker reports. “Friday evening’s closing ceremony was a presentation by the students of their filmmaking and drum-making accomplishments.” Grade 11 students will visit for a week in March and grade 10 students in May.

A memo sent across campus this week comes from the human resources department and is addressed to all faculty and staff members in the UW pension plan, but particularly those who have maxed out their RRSPs and are looking for a way to put aside more money towards retirement. It makes the annual suggestion that money can be invested in the Flexible Pension Plan, but only with caution — the more so since the end of compulsory retirement at age 65. "Caution is advised to those members intending to work past age 65 who have participated in the past or plan to participate now in the Flex Plan," it says. "There is a greater risk of losing your flex contributions." That's because (the rules are complicated) the pension generated by those extra contributions can be used only in certain ways, and one of the chief of them is improving the level of pension after early retirement. There are details on the HR web site.

With fall term classes over, it’s time to consider who the real stars are: the faculty members or other UW instructors who deserve to be nominated for teaching awards this year. There are two different awards, in fact, the Distinguished Teacher Award (for professors, lab demonstrators and other ranks) and the Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student (primarily for TAs). Nominations for both will be due in early February, but since a certain amount of paperwork is involved, to document the individual’s worthiness and achievements, December isn’t too early to get started. Details are on the web site of the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

And . . . now that Imprint is publishing snippets of overheard conversations, I’m thinking that somebody should be collecting snippets of Facebook “Wall” postings and notes. For instance, this item written last week: “After getting my first Gardasil shot this morning at 10:15, I went into the SLC and chilled in the piano room until 10:45. It was kind of depressing when I found out that the low low F string is missing.”


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Link of the day

Patron saint of architects and mathematicians

When and where

Holiday book sale at UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, last day.

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

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

English Language Proficiency Examination 1:30, 3:00, 5:00 and 6:30, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

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

Centre for International Governance Innovation panel debate: “The World Food Crisis, Which Way Forward?” 7:30 p.m., 57 Erb Street West.

Fall term exams December 5 through 19. Details.

Philosophy colloquium: Shannon Dea, UW, “Synechism and Intersexuality,” Friday 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 334.

Comic City Film Series linked to “Dominion City” exhibition in Render (UW art gallery): “The Rocketeer” (1991) with introductory comments by Peter Trinh, Friday 6:00, East Campus Hall gallery.

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ by Grand Philharmonic Choir, Chamber Singers, Nota Bene Period Orchestra and soloists, Friday 7:30 p.m., First United Church, Waterloo, tickets $20 (students $10), order online; also Saturday 3 p.m., St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cambridge.

Winterfest, staff association family skating party Sunday 1:00 to 3:00, Columbia Icefield, free for association members and adult guests, children $9, registration closed.

Blood donor clinic Monday-Tuesday (10:00 to 4:00), Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

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

Outers Club presents Tavi Murray, Swansea University, Wales, speaking on living and working in the Antarctic, Monday 6:00, Math and Computer room 2065.

UW-ACE Instructor User Group Thursday, December 11, 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Ontario Ballet Theatre presents “The Nutcracker”, Monday, 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).

Christmas and New Year’s holidays: Tuesday, December 23, last working day at UW for 2008. First working day of 2009 is Monday, January 5, the day classes begin.

Optometry continuing education “CE on the SEA” Caribbean cruise and professional upgrading, January 3-10. Details.

Social Innovation Generation project presents “Studio Earth”, with remarks by environmentalist Severn Suzuki, sessions on social finance, social technology, political advocacy, Sunday, January 11, 12:30 to 5:00, Kitchener City Hall, registration $10, call ext. 38680.

Drama department production of “Mad Forest” by Caryl Churchill, Mach 11-14 at 8 p.m. and March 14 at 2:30 p.m.., Theatre of the Arts, tickets from Humanities box office, 888-4908.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Matthew Stevens, “Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Powertrain Development Considering Power Source Degradation.” Supervisor, Michael Fowler. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, December 11, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 3517.

Chemical engineering. Jeff Gostick, “The Multiphase Mass Transfer and Capillary Properties of Gas Diffusion Layers for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells.” Supervisors, Michael Fowler and Mark Pritzker. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, December 12, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 3517.

Optometry, biology. Wei Shen, “Fish (Oreochromis niloticus) as a Model of Refractive Error Development.” Supervisor, Jacob G. Sivak. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, December 15, 10:00 a.m., Optometry room 347.

Psychology. Gillian Munro, “Electrophysiological Indices of Information Processing in Psychopathy.” Supervisors, Jane Dwyan and Michael Dixon. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2419. Oral defence Tuesday, December 16, 2:00 p.m., PAS building room 3026.

Biology. Peter G. Njuru, “Physical and Biogeochemical Gradients and Exchange Processes in Nyanza Gulf and Main Lake Victoria (East Africa).” Supervisors, Robert E. Hecky, Stephanie J. Guildford and William D. Taylor. On display in the faculty of sciences, ESC 254A. Oral defence Wednesday, December 17, 2:00 p.m., Biology I room 266.

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