Thursday, March 5, 2009

  • Less paper, not paper-free
  • Selection of faculty and students for Senate
  • Boot camp, and other coming events
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Less paper, not paper-free

Chris Redmond, director internal communications

The “paperless university” will have much less paper, but it’s never going to be entirely “paper-free”, says Carolyn Dirks, the records manager whose job includes nudging UW along the path to working electronically.

Carolyn DirksDirks (left) was appointed two years ago to co-ordinate plans for bringing UW’s mountains of paperwork under control, and is now part of a high-level steering committee created last fall to “develop a long-term strategy for document management”. A pilot document management project involving one little slice of the bureaucracy, the admission of new graduate students, got under way last month.

In general, UW is “running parallel systems, both paper-based and electronic,” Dirks said in a “Paperless University” presentation to the WatITis information technology conference held in Rod Coutts Hall in December.

“It’s a very costly scenario both in time and money,” she said. “Last year we spent about $500,000 on paper. That’s just the paper, before the 4 or 5 cents it costs to photocopy on it; and add to that the cost in terms of space to store it and time to file it.” Similarly, information technology costs are enormous.

“People are fed up with this middle ground,” she said, “where we’re keeping too much, too many copies, both paper and electronic. It’s hard to manage, it’s hard to find what you need, it’s hard to know what to keep and what to get rid of. We like paper, we trust paper, and for some of us it’s hard to make the switch.”

At the same time, she acknowledges that a generation is starting to retire, “and the workforce is being populated with people who have grown up using computers. They are very adept at managing and manipulating electronic resources.” About that half-million dollars spent on paper last year: “that represents a decrease of 40 per cent over what we spent five years ago.”

So UW is creating somewhat less paper. “But it’s not just that you’re getting rid of the paper, it’s what you can do with the electronic that’s important.” You can, for instance, move information instantly from one place to another: from the campus to somebody’s desk at home, or from Waterloo to a UW location in Cambridge or an applicant’s laptop on the other side of the world.

“Electronic documents are great for collaboration,” she adds, whether that means the members of a committee reviewing a single file before making a decision on it, or co-workers using SharePoint to draft a document together.

And you can search electronic information instantly. Unfortunately, you can also lose it instantly. “Moving to electronic is not as simple as just stopping printing,” she said — reassuringly? — in a recent conversation. “Our electronic information needs to be better organized. Everyone creates their own documents, sets up their folder system to suit them, names files idiosyncratically, keeps several versions of one document. It makes it very hard to find things, to be sure you have the final or official version. We need in some ways to return to the old days and create an electronic version of the old filing system.”

And more: “Our electronic information needs to be securely stored and protected, in something like a document management system, so important information can’t be accidentally lost, deleted, or damaged, and you can apply some controls to what gets saved and how, and how long it gets kept.”

Electronic information poses other challenges too. Dirks told her December audience that “just managing an e-mail inbox takes way more time than dealing with snail mail used to.” Then there are the challenges of changing technology: what if you need information that’s stored on those big floppy disks that were state-of-the-art in the 1980s?

Over the long term, “documents that we need to track the university’s decisions and transactions must be fixed,” says Dirks. “Electronic media is anything but solid and enduring — yet paradoxically, electronic records are hard to destroy and get rid of completely.

“Most information goes through a typical life cycle: information is created; it’s used a lot for a short period; then it’s not needed much for current work but gets kept for a while; finally most of it gets destroyed while a small amount gets saved indefinitely for legal or historical reasons.”

Her conclusion: “Paper will find its place alongside electronic information, in the same way that radio has its place alongside TV. We need to be much more conscious in our use of paper and use it where it really is the best alternative.”

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Selection of faculty and students for Senate

a memo from the University Secretariat

Nominations are requested for the following seats on Senate:

Faculty Representatives: One faculty member of the University to be elected by / from each Faculty of the University, term May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2012.

Faculty-at-large Representatives: Seven faculty members of the University to be elected by / from the members of faculty of the University, terms May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2012.

One faculty member of St. Jerome's University to be elected by / from the members of faculty of St. Jerome's University, term May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2012.

One faculty member of St. Paul’s University College to be elected by / from the members of faculty of St. Paul’s University College, term May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2012.

Undergraduate Student Representative: One undergraduate student of the University to be elected by / from the full-time undergraduate students of the Faculty of Arts, term May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010.

Graduate Student Representatives: Two graduate students of the University to be elected by / from the full- and part-time graduate students of the University, terms May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2011.

Nomination forms are available from the Secretariat (x36125) and from the Secretariat webpage. At least five nominators are required in each case.  Nominations should be sent to the Secretariat, Needles Hall, Room 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, 2009.  Elections will follow if necessary.

Senators whose terms expire April 30, 2009: Faculty:  David Barton (Biology), Steve Brown* (Statistics & Actuarial Science), Tom Duever (Chemical Engineering), Jean Duhamel (Chemistry), Fraser Easton (English Language & Literature), James Gollnick* (St. Paul’s University College), Beth Jewkes (Management Sciences), Richard Kelly (Geography), Maria Liston (Anthropology), Stephan Murphy (Environment & Resource Studies), Bruce Richter (Combinatorics & Optimization), Selva Selvakumar (Electrical & Computer Engineering), James Skidmore* (Germanic & Slavic), Myroslaw Tataryn (St. Jerome’s University), Nancy Theberge (Kinesiology)
Undergraduate Student:  Allan Babor* (Independent Studies)
Graduate Students:  Douglas Stebila* (Combinatorics & Optimization), Kathleen Wilkie (Applied Mathematics)

*not eligible for re-election

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Boot camp, and other coming events

Infusion Angels Innovation Centre and Design Exchange Waterloo are hosting a Digital Design and User Experience Forum next Wednesday, March 11, 5 – 8 p.m., in the Tatham Centre, room 2218. Guest speakers from Microsoft Canada, Infusion Development and the Waterloo User Experience Group will discuss Microsoft Windows 7 as well as interaction design and experience design-related topics. The forum will be opened up to participants to present projects and receive feedback from peers and industry experts. Here’s a chance to show off that killer app you designed and network with industry experts. The event is free, but RSVP.

Workshop on academic interviews for all graduate students and instructors at UW, Wednesday, March 11, noon to - 1:30 p.m. in Tatham Centre room 2218. Panelists: Agnes Nowaczek, PhD candidate; Professor Roxane Itier, psychology; Professor David Rose, chair, Department of Biology; Dean Deep Saini, Faculty of Environment. “Learn best strategies to succeed in your next academic interview and hear from professors who have gone through the process recently, as well as what chairs/deans are looking for in candidates.” Enrolment is limited. Register by Monday, March 9.

Next Wednesday's WIHIR research seminar, "Where Computer Science, Linguistics, and Biology Meet: Using Lexical Chaining to Analyze Biomedical Text," features computer science professor Chrysanne DiMarco. She is also president of Inkpot Software Inc. and leader of the HealthDoc Project, "which has been developing Web-based natural language generation systems for producing health information tailored to the medical condition and personal characteristics of an individual." The seminar, which requires no registration, takes place March 11, 1 - 2 p.m. at the Davis Centre, room 1304. An abstract of the talk is here. A webcast is also available at the same link. Please click "register" before viewing live event.

The Canadian Regional Boot Camp for Technology Start-Ups takes place at the UW Accelerator Centre, R+T Park, on Friday, March 20, presented by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in partnership with Canadian IT cluster organizations. The free day-long program "will feature Silicon Valley and other US investors and is specifically designed to facilitate your market access to the US and Silicon Valley venture capital, angel networks and Fortune 500 ICT companies." It includes "10-minute company pitch to local, US and Silicon Valley VC investors; instant pitch feedback by the Board; networking event at University Club." Only 20 applicants will be accepted. Contact Tim Ellis at the Accelerator Centre, or phone 519-342-2400. You will be expected to provide a one-page summary of your business concept for consideration.

CPA staff

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When and where

UW Directions, Aboriginal High School Enrichment Conference, continues to Saturday, St. Paul’s College. Details.

‘Interactive Teaching and Learning Strategies’ three-day workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, continues March 5 and 10. Details.

ICR Seminar: Nate Foster, University of Pennsylvania, “Bidirectional Programming Languages.” Thursday, 11 a.m. – noon, Davis Centre room 1304. Abstract.

Career workshops Thursday: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details. “Are You Thinking About Teaching?” 3:30, TC room 1208. Details.

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

International Women’s Day dinner with speaker Yan Li (Confucius Institute, Renison UC), Thursday, 5:00 for 6:00, University Club. Details.

German film series: “My Father Is Coming” (1991), Thursday, 6:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

International Celebrations Week. UW Aboriginal Services presents Darren Thomas, Comedic Hypnotist. Thursday, 6 p.m., St. Paul’s College, MacKirdy Hall.

International Celebrations Week. Cultural Caravan: cultural performances, displays and food. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to midnight, Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Craig Cardiff fund-raising concert in support of Engineers Without Borders and Mennonite Central Committee, Thursday, 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

See Raptors take on Miami Heat. Trip for UW faculty, staff and students Friday. Buses leave UW for Toronto at 4:00. Buy tickets in the Athletics Office for $45 (includes transportation, game ticket and giveaways) or $30 (game only). Information.

Healthy Active Promotion Network yoga class Friday, 2:30 to 4:00, Physical Activities Complex studio 2. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Whitney Lackenbauer, St. Jerome's University, on "Experiencing Canada through the Living History of the Canadian Rangers." Friday, 2:30- 4 p.m., Environment 2, room 2002.

Faculty of Arts Dean’s Honours List reception Friday, 4:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

Arriscraft Lecture: Rupert Soar, Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG). Lecture: "What can termites contribute to sustainable construction methods?" Friday, 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

St. Jerome’s University presents Carolyn Whitney-Brown, “Celebrating the Life and Work of Jean Vanier” Friday, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

International Celebrations Week in partnership with Warrior Weekends. Closing ceremonies. Water Boys performance, World Cafe (Coffee Bar), Campus Chat, and Make your own sushi! Friday, 9 – 11 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

‘Living Large’ symposium on “Sustainable Design of Big Buildings” continues Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., School of Architecture, Cambridge, main lecture theatre. All events free and open to public.

Arriscraft Lecture: Michelle Addington, Yale University school of architecture, "Recent Work”, Saturday, 4:45 p.m. Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel UC, spring concert, “Water”, Saturday, 8 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, tickets $20 (students $15).

Peace and conflict studies professor Nathan Funk, “Restorative Justice and Peacemaking in a Global Context”, Monday, noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

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