Thursday, June 4, 2009

  • Optometry wing, resource centre to open
  • Mennonite bands offer free concert
  • HR memo tells costs of benefit plans
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Bustling behind the counter]

Camp Day “was a huge success” yesterday, says Deb Harrison, manager of the Tim Hortons outlet in the Student Life Centre. The day is a fund-raiser for the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, in which profits from coffee sales one day a year are donated to a children’s camp fund along with donations from customers. “Thank you,” says Harrison, “to all those that supported Camp Day. It will change a child’s life forever.”

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Optometry wing, resource centre to open

based on releases from UW’s media relations office

An eye-catching addition to the UW Optometry building, on the north side of Columbia Street, will officially open tomorrow, expanding the facilities for the optometry school’s teaching and research program in eye and vision care.

John Milloy, Ontario's minister of training, colleges and universities, will join Waterloo officials for the celebration tomorrow at 11:15 a.m.

"This is a wonderful milestone for the school of optometry, a research and education leader in North America," says UW president David Johnston. "Through the school's increased student enrolment and this new expanded facility, we will be better prepared to train optometrists to practice in an evolving profession and embrace their expanding role in family health care."

With the passing of new legislation, leaders of the school say, optometrists now will be able to practice in a manner more consistent with their education and training, including a central role in the management of glaucoma. This wider scope of optometric practice will make it easier for optometry students to obtain more of their training in Ontario, rather than travelling to other jurisdictions where optometrists were long ago granted prescribing privileges.

The 40,000-square-foot addition will accommodate the school's surge in enrolment. With a large atrium, the two-storey building expansion enhances the profile of the school. It includes a 125-seat lecture theatre, a new home for the museum of vision science, study rooms and quiet study rooms, expanded space for the TLC laser surgery centre, and the new Witer Learning Resource Centre.

In 2001, the optometry school began the process of gradually raising enrolment from 60 to 90 students for each year’s class. The growth strained the school's current facilities, which have remained virtually unchanged since the building opened in 1974, seven years after the College of Optometry of Ontario moved from Toronto to become part of UW.

To cope with the rise in enrolment, the school embarked on a $12.4 million fundraising campaign to support the expansion and renovation project. So far, $8 million has been raised through the support of alumni, friends and corporate partners.

"Through their passion and commitment toward the profession of optometry, the school continues to expand its profile and impact on the North American stage," says Thomas Freddo, director of the school. With the reality of higher construction costs, the school plans to extend its fundraising campaign to support the expansion and renovation of its facilities while ensuring critical funding for the clinical teaching program, the basis of optometric education.

Tomorrow morning’s ceremony is part of a big weekend for the optometry school, including the annual program of continuing education for practising optometrists; a parallel program for optometric assistants; the annual Woodruff Lecture, given this year by Judith West-Mays of McMaster University; the Clair Bobier lecture, given by UW faculty member William Bobier, UW optometry; and an alumni reunion dinner.

There will also be a dedication event for the Witer Learning Resource Centre at 6 p.m. Friday, at which family, friends and optometry colleagues will recognize a $500,000 gift from philanthropists Marta Witer and Ian Ihnatowycz. The gift is the largest donation the school has ever received from an alumnus.

"Marta's and Ian's passion and commitment to the school and the profession of optometry will help enhance optometric education and will ensure that we are prepared to embrace growth and change in optometry practices across Canada," says Freddo. "The Witer Learning Resource Centre, a hub of student activity and study, seems a fitting way to recognize this generous support of optometry."

The 4,000-square-foot facility is located on the second floor of a new addition to the school, which officially opens earlier in the day. The WLRC includes the main collection room, quiet study areas, study carrels and additional optometric education materials and resources. It plays a key role in student study practices and provides students with space, materials, technology and staff expertise to enhance their knowledge of optometry and pursue academic excellence.

"The profession of optometry has given me a fulfilling and dynamic career that has allowed me to work with patients to address the eye-care needs of my community," said Witer. "By giving back to my alma mater, I am acknowledging the meaningful educational experience I had here as a student but am also investing in the education of Canada's future optometrists."

Witer also helped lead her optometry colleagues from the class of 1979 in a special appeal to help support the school's expansion and renovation campaign, which raised more than $270,000. The class specifically supported the renovations of optometry's public clinic.

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Mennonite bands offer free concert

by Jennifer Konkle, Conrad Grebel University College

A dynamic, free Mennofolk concert tonight will kick off Sound in the Lands ’09, a festival and academic conference celebrating Mennonite music from around the world. The concert, using two stages, will start at 4:00 p.m. in the Conrad Grebel University College great hall and chapel.

The concert will feature a variety of acclaimed and cutting edge performers from across the Mennonite spectrum — from the popular local band Moglee, whose debut CD Recess was ranked among the five best local albums of 2008 by the K-W Record, to veteran singer-songwriter Dale Nikkel, who has played with some of the world’s best songwriters and whose work has been played on radio stations from coast to coast. Musical styles vary from the experimental songwriting of The Anabaptist Bestiary Project, fronted by Trevor Bechtel, to the blend of roots, folk, appalachian, old-time gospel and string band music of Spencer Cunningham.

Wick (Bush) Wiebe of Steinbach, Manitoba, describes his motivation for involvement in music: "I am very proud of my Mennonite heritage. I want to celebrate our culture and make it more accessible to those who don't know its strength. I also hope to help give modern day Mennonites a voice and a place in the greater culture."

Giving modern day Mennonites a voice and place was the inspiration for Mennofolk nearly 20 years ago. Fred W. Martin, then a young Mennonite conference pastor and now director of development at Grebel, believed that the ideal outreach to young adults would be through music. He created a festival featuring local Mennonite musicians and artists which he christened "Mennofolk". “I’m happy to see Mennofolk living on,” says Martin. “We hope that many people will be able to come out to hear a great variety of performers that are part of the Mennonite landscape.”

Wendy Chappell-Dick of Bluffton, Ohio, has taken the Mennofolk vision, which has grown and spread to include the independently-run Mennofolk Manitoba, Mennofolk Michiana, Mennofolk on the Prairie (Kansas), and Mennofolk Harrisonburg (Virginia). Chappell-Dick has been using the resulting network to coordinate Mennofolk at Sound in the Lands. “The music of Mennofolk expresses commitment to peace, justice and compassion,” Chappell-Dick notes. “It creates a place to widen our circle and share Mennonite musical and spiritual traditions.”

Performers at the Mennofolk at Grebel include Moglee, Spencer Cunningham, Those Rowdy Corinthians, Andru Bemis, Annie James Project, The Land, Dale Nikkel, Anabaptist Bestiary Project, Frances Miller, Blank Blue Sky, Todd Schiedel, Carol Ann Weaver, Rebecca Campbell, Mageshen Naidoo, Thandeka Mabuza, Prince Bulo, Lyle Friesen and Bob Janzen, Chuckee and the Crawdaddies, and Jeff and Marlyce Gundy.

Sounds in the Lands 09, a sequel to the acclaimed music festival and academic conference held at Grebel in 2004, celebrates and explores Mennonite-related music across borders and boundaries. Concerts, performances, workshops and academic presentations will feature music from every corner of the world, across musical genres from Afrobeat to choral singing, gospel to alternative, improvisational to classical and jazz.

There is no charge for the Mennofolk concert and all are welcome at the door. Registration is also still open for those interested in participating in the overall festival and academic conference.

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HR memo tells costs of benefit plans

The costs to UW and its employees for health, dental, life and disability insurance will not be going up this year, the human resources department announced last week. Here’s the text of a memo sent to staff and faculty members:

“UW’s Health, Dental, Life Insurance and Long Term Disability (LTD) contracts are renewed May 1st each year. Our claims experience over the past year has resulted in unchanged or lower rates for our plans.

“Health premiums remain unchanged, resulting in monthly single/family rates of $57.28/$182.80 respectively. These premiums are paid entirely by the University for full-time employees with part-time employees paying a prorated amount. The Health plan is a non-taxable benefit.”

“Dental premiums remain unchanged, resulting in monthly single/family rates of $30.76/$92.56 respectively. These premiums are paid entirely by the University for full-time employees with part-time employees paying a prorated amount. The Dental plan is also a non-taxable benefit.

“The group life premium reduced by 8.2%, resulting in a new rate of $0.32 per month per thousand dollars of group insurance held. The University pays 100% of the group premium on 1X salary in life insurance. If an employee has 2X or 3X salary in group life insurance, UW pays two thirds of the amount beyond 1X salary with the employee paying the balance. Any premiums paid by UW are taxable benefits to employees.

“The group life premiums based on individual, age related insurance including spousal life insurance reduced by 5%. These premiums are now based on gender, age and smoking rates instead of unisex rates. The premium on any individual, age related insurance held beyond 3X including spousal life insurance is paid entirely by employee.

“Should you have questions about your life insurance rates, please contact your Payroll Benefits Assistant in Human Resources.

Long-term disability: the contract rate of 1.07% of base pay remained unchanged effective May 1, 2009, but the actual employee paid rate increased 10.6%, resulting in a new paid rate of 0.96% of base salary to a maximum insured salary of $153,495.00. The difference between the paid rate and contract rate is paid by the carrier from a surplus reserve in the plan. As this surplus is used up in the next few years, the paid rate will gradually move towards the contract rate. Employees pay the entire premium for the LTD benefit in order to provide a tax free LTD benefit.”


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Funding to create on-campus co-op jobs

UW’s central budget will provide two-thirds of the money to help create some additional co-op jobs this term, a memo has announced:

“Given the difficult economic conditions, the Provost has agreed to provide some funding, to be matched by the employing unit (academic or academic support units) to create incremental co-op work opportunities for the spring term 2009. Given that students must work 12 weeks to receive credit for a co-op work term, we need to move quickly.

“The centre will provide $5,000 toward a co-op work term for an undergraduate to have a first or second work term. The employer will provide at least $2,500 for a 12 week work term, to be combined with the $5,000 provided from the centre. The funds are available to support work term opportunities in the Faculties or in academic support units.”

The co-op education and career services department (ext. 36062) has more information.

Link of the day

Tiananmen Square

When and where

Wilfrid Laurier University spring convocation ceremonies continue: Thursday 10:00 and 2:00, WLU athletic complex; Friday 10:00, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex; June 10, 10:00, Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, Brantford. Details.

Career workshop: “Entrepreneurship, a Student’s Perspective” 12:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Lectures in Quantum Information series by Anthony Leggett: "The physics of topological quantum computing: selected topics." June 4, 9, 16, 18, 23, 25 and 30, and July 2, 2 p.m., Research Advancement Centre room 2009. All welcome.

Microteaching session for international teaching assistants to practise and get feedback, 2:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Infusion Angels demonstration of “Microsoft Surface” application 4:00 to 6:00, Davis Centre lounge.

WPIRG and the UW Women's Centre present Alternative Menstrual Products Workshop, 5:30 p.m., Student Life Centre room 2105B.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: “WatIAM, Part Two” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

John Hamel, department of electrical and computer engineering, funeral service Friday 11 a.m., St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Tillsonburg, Ontario. Obituary.

Waterloo Space Society presents Robert McNees, Perimeter Institute, speaking on string theory, Friday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 306.

‘The Impostor Phenomenon in Academia’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Monday 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Canada 3.0: Defining Canada’s Digital Future’ conference for industry leaders, policy-makers and researchers, sponsored by UW Stratford Institute, Open Text, and Canadian Digital Media Network, June 8-9, Rotary Complex, Stratford. Details.

Ninety-Eighth Convocation: applied health sciences and environment, and installation of Chancellor, Wednesday, June 10, 10:00; science, Wednesday 2:30; arts, Thursday, June 11, 10:00 and 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 12, 10:00 and 2:30; engineering, Saturday, June 13, 10:00 and 2:30; all ceremonies in Physical Activities Complex. Details.

‘Teaching Dossiers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, June 11, 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Tsinghua University, “Communication Complexity and Its Applications” June 11, 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Autism Update professional development session with expert panel, organized by UW school of pharmacy and KidsAbility centre, June 12, 9:00 to noon, Bingemans Conference Centre, information 519-886-8886 ext. 206.

ACM-style programming contest to help select UW’s teams for next year’s international competition, June 13. Details.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment June 18, 12:30 to 2 p.m., East Campus Hall.

25-Year Club annual reception June 18, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Co-op job ranking for fall term opens June 19, 1:00 p.m., closes June 22, 2:00 p.m.; match results available June 22, 4:00 p.m.

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