Tuesday, February 24, 2009

  • Teaching Chairs decision delayed
  • Budget scenario to be discussed
  • Pascal Lectures will rescue Darwin
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

University Teaching Chairs decision delayed

Brandon Sweet, Communications and Public Affairs

The final decision on the fate of the proposed University Teaching Chairs was postponed yet again after a lengthy discussion at yesterday’s Senate meeting with a motion to refer it back to committee.

Amit Chakma, vice-president, academic and provost, and Geoff McBoyle, associate vice-president, academic, spoke in favour of the proposal, which first came before Senate in January. The idea for the teaching chairs comes from the Sixth Decade plan, which calls for the creation of teaching innovation fellowships.

According to McBoyle, the teaching excellence council seized the initiative to develop the idea further, and the resulting proposal was endorsed by Dean’s Council, which then circulated the document to all six faculties.

The rationale for the proposal is that there already exists on campus a number of faculty members who are well known for their excellence in teaching, who “also have the capacity to be mentors and to promote best practices and research related to teaching and learning,” reads the proposal. “The University Teaching Chair (UTC) would recognize these leaders.”

Senate was again divided over the issue. Senators lauded the objective of the program, which is to both reward and promote teaching excellence, but voiced concerns over the perceived vagueness of the proposal’s criteria and the money — $200,000 a year at steady state — allocated to the program.

Comparisons, both favourable and unfavourable, were drawn between the University Teaching Chairs and the Distinguished Teaching Awards. Concerns were raised over unnecessary duplication, and the vast difference in the size of the financial compensation between the two awards. Other senators wondered if the money could be better spent by investing in infrastructure to support teaching efforts at UW, including more faculty and teaching assistants, lecture facilities and computers.

After a few members came forward and suggested amendments and modifications to the proposal, a motion was passed to refer the whole thing back to the committee that originally developed the UTC concept.

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Budget scenario to be discussed

The Senate Finance Committee meets today at 2:30 in Needles Hall, room 3004, to discuss the university's updated 2008/09 operating budget, as well as a “scenario” for the 2009/10 budget that will come up for approval in April. At the Board of Governors meeting three weeks ago, provost Amit Chakma summed up the issues the university faces as it prepares to begin the next fiscal year on May 1 in the middle of an international financial downturn.

Chakma said then that Waterloo would have to both increase income and cut costs, possibly cutting as much as 5 per cent, in line with what some other universities are planning. Suggestions are that the biggest likely source of increased income would be from international students. Fees from Canadian and foreign students provide about 45 per cent of UW’s total operating funds, with grants from the Ontario government accounting for about the same. The government’s potential contribution is the big unknown factor.

Cost cuts could come from a number of sources. The possibilities to be discussed could include smaller than expected salary increases for staff and faculty in 2009/10, or higher pension plan contributions.

Universities across North America have been trying to adapt to the hard times. At Kent State University, for example, 60 professors’ sabbaticals for 2009/10 have been cut. In January, Wilfrid Laurier announced a plan to cut 16 per cent from its budget over the next three years.

Waterloo announced a hiring and spending “postponement” last fall that is to extend at least until the current fiscal year ends on April 30. After that, Chakma said, he does anticipate that there will be some hiring, but he has told faculties and departments to “review all your hiring plans” to see what positions need to be filled and which ones can be postponed still longer.

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Pascal Lectures will rescue Darwin

Pascal Lectures Committee media release

Denis AlexanderIn this bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, as well as the sesquicentenary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, the Pascal Lectures Committee is delighted to announce that this year's lectures are entitled "Rescuing Darwin" and "Is Darwinism Incompatible with Purpose?" These two free public lectures will be delivered by Professor Denis Alexander (left) of Cambridge University on Wednesday, February 25 (Rescuing Darwin) and Thursday, February 26 (Is Darwinism Incompatible with Purpose?) in Conrad Grebel Great Hall at 8 p.m.

Dr. Alexander, the 2008-9 Pascal Lecturer, is the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, and a Fellow of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge. He is also a Senior Affiliate Scientist at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, where he supervises a research group in cancer and immunology and was, for many years, Chairman of the Molecular Immunology Programme and Head of the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development.

Denis Alexander began his academic career at Oxford, where he was an open scholar reading biochemistry. He earned his PhD in neurochemistry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London and then spent 15 years developing university departments and laboratories overseas. From 1981-86 he held the post of Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the Medical Faculty of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, where he helped to establish the first prenatal diagnosis clinic in the Arab World. Prior to moving to Cambridge in 1989 to join the Brabraham Institute, Dr. Alexander worked at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, now Cancer Research UK, in London.

Dr. Alexander has published numerous books, articles and reviews, particularly in the research area of lymphocyte signalling and development, including Protein Phosphatases (2004), co-authored with J. Arino. He also writes, lectures and broadcasts widely in the field of science and religion. Some of his recent contributions include Rebuilding the Matrix: Science and Faith in the 21st Century (2001), Beyond Belief: Science, Faith and Ethical Challenges (2004) and Science, Faith and Ethics: Grid or Gridlock? (2006), both of which he co-authored with Robert White. His latest book, entitled Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? was published last year. Since 1992 he has been Editor of the journal Science and Christian Belief. He currently serves on the National Committee of Christians in Science and is a member of the International Society for Science and Religion.

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Babor is new FEDS president

Allan BaborAllan Babor (right) is the next FEDS president, the Federation of Students election committee announced yesterday afternoon. Arts student Babor won by 1,216 votes, edging out his nearest rival, science student Sam Andrey, who received 1,168 votes. “Of the eligible voters, 15.44 per cent cast a ballot in the election for FEDS president,” says John Andersen, chief electoral officer.

Sarah Cook was elected vice-president, internal; Justin Williams will be the new vice-president, education. Both won by a large margin. Earlier, Chris Neal was acclaimed as vice-president, administration and finance.

Undergrad students also voted to elect representatives to the student council from the faculties and St. Jerome’s, and student representatives to Senate. The full results are online.

CPA staff

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When and where

Employer interviews for spring co-op work term resume; rankings open February 27, 1 p.m.

Canadian Computing Competition organized by UW for high school students today. Details.

Freedom to Read Book Sale at UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, February 24 and 25, 9:30-4:30.

Tax information session for international students 10 - 12 or 2 - 4, Davis Centre room 1302.

Employee Assistance Program presents “Seven Strategies for Highly Healthy Eating” 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Feng Shui and Ways to Help Your Finances, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, noon, Math and Computer room 5136.

Exchange program information session for electrical and computer engineering students 12:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 307.

Imprint Publications annual general meeting 2:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Senate finance committee today 2:30 p.m. and March 12, 11 a.m. Details.

Career workshop: “Success on the Job” 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Pancake Tuesday dinner at Mudie’s cafeteria, Village I, 4:30 to 7 p.m. Mardi Gras beads in REVelation cafeteria, Ron Eydt Village, 4:30 to 8:00.

Black History Month lecture: Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents Dana Weiner, WLU, “Conflicting Visions of Equality: The US Anti-Slavery Movement”, 5:30 p.m., Biology I room 221.

UAE campus event for potential students and others in the United Arab Emirates, 7 to 9 p.m., InterContinental Hotel, Dubai. Details.

Live and Learn Lecture: Gerd Hauck, drama and speech communication, “Convergent Telematic Theatre: A New Fad or the Future of Live Theatre”, 7 pm, Waterloo Public Library.

Drama thesis project: “High Life” by Lee MacDougall, directed by Monty Martin, February 24, 26 and 28, 8:00, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $10.

Free noon concert: “Encounters with Carter and Messiaen: Really Interesting Things about Time”, Cheryl Pauls, pianist, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Garage sale fund-raiser for drama student trip to Italy, Wednesday 1 to 4, Theatre of the Arts. Drop off items for sale at Modern Languages loading dock Monday.

One Waterloo Diversity Campaign auditions for the 2009 “Telling My Story” series (performances in March) Wednesday 2 to 6, Humanities room 344, and Thursday 4:00 to 7:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 208. Details.

WICI seminar: Matthew Hoffman, University of Toronto, "Governance Avalanches," Wednesday, 3 - 4:30 p.m., Burgundy Room, University Club. RSVP cmombour@uwaterloo.ca Details.

Graduate Student Association deadline for nominations in annual executive elections, Wednesday 4:30 p.m. Election, if required, March 10-12. Details.

PsychSoc Magic Workshop with UW Magic Club and UW Prof. James Danckert, Wednesday, 8-9 pm, Arts Lecture Hall room 105.

Drop (penalty 1) period ends, February 27; last day to receive a WD grade for dropped courses.

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