Tuesday, April 6, 2010

  • Budget approval delayed until June
  • Other big events in a fraught week
  • Flu footnote, Putnam results, and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Dark sky over the plaza]

Somewhere over the Engineering 5 overpass: "I was working in my office in E3x over the Easter weekend," says electrical engineering graduate student Bahman Hadji, "and went for a walk towards the plaza after the short rainfall on Saturday afternoon, when I noticed a beautiful rainbow in the sky looking southeast. I snapped a few pictures with my BlackBerry."

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Budget approval delayed until June

The recent provincial budget has produced so many uncertainties about UW’s finances that the board of governors won’t be asked to approve the 2010-11 budget at today’s meeting after all.

Provost Feridun Hamdullahpur will still present the budget as it was drafted this spring, and endorsed by the university senate on March 23. “Although changes to this operating budget will be required,” he says in a memo, “we thought it important for governors to understand what had been drafted based on a set of assumptions which seemed reasonable until only last week.

“It’s my intent to speak in broad terms of the kinds of revisions I expect will now be needed. I anticipate that I will bring a revised budget to the June 1 board meeting for approval.”

The draft budget that has been under discussion for the past few weeks called for a 3.5 per cent cut to the spending of most units across the university, to help pay for expanded activity in some areas as well as a staff and faculty salary increase that was pencilled in at 1 per cent.  The bottom line: revenue of $460 million, and spending of almost $463 million, leading to a deficit that the provost had predicted would be manageable.

Among the “assumptions” built into the budget: no change in per-student operating grants from the provincial government, and no change in the government’s restrictions on tuition fee levels.

The province did what Hamdullahpur had been expecting on those two issues, but the March 25 provincial budget unexpectedly announced extra funding in both 2009-10 and 2010-11 to help universities cope with enrolment increases — funding that’s bound to have an effect on UW’s income and spending. In addition, finance minister Dwight Duncan announced a “freeze” on salaries in the broader public sector, including universities. Officials are still trying to find out how the salary freeze rules apply to the settlements with Waterloo faculty and staff members that are due on May 1 of this year.

A discussion of those issues, and other questions raised by the provost’s draft budget, will be the major agenda item for today’s board meeting, which is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3001. Among other items to come before the board:

• A proposed drop in the “student services fee” that pays for programs in athletics, health services, career services and several other departments. Full-time undergraduate students would see the fee drop from the current $135 per term to $126.

• A briefing from the co-operative education and career services department, and another briefing headed “Evolution in Publishing”.

[Seal, including shield] • The usual “environmental scan”, dealing with national and provincial educational and economic issues, by president David Johnston.

• Reports from the vice-president (external relations) and the board’s building and properties, finance and investment, and pension and benefits committees.

• Approval of a new corporate seal (pictured at right), replacing the generic lawyers’ seal that has been applied to official UW documents for decades.

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Other big events in a fraught week

Some of the faculty representatives on the board of governors (profs hold 7 of the 36 seats on the board) will have a bit of a conflict this afternoon, as the Faculty Association of UW is holding its annual general meeting starting at 2 p.m. in Math and Computer room 4020. University budget issues are likely to come up for discussion when Metin Renksizbulut, chair of the FAUW compensation committee, gives his report on how salary negotiations have been interrupted by the Ontario pay freeze. Renksizbulut sent an e-mail memo to association members yesterday assuring them that faculty “are exempt from the provisions” of the freeze, and “we hope that the Administration will voluntarily agree.” He added that the university’s budget is “not in trouble”, especially with new millions arriving for expanded enrolment: “Budget making is all about the expenditure priorities of the budget maker. I leave it to you to assess how much priority this university should assign to its most important asset, the faculty.”

The FAUW meeting will also hear results of the annual elections to the board of directors; George Freeman has been acclaimed to another one-year term as association president. Reports from the academic freedom and tenure committee, pension and benefits committee, and status of women and equity committee are also on the agenda.

Earlier today at Waterloo, the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology has sent out invitations for a 10:30 event at its headquarters in the Accelerator Centre building on Hagey Boulevard. Planned is “a major announcement involving Manfred Conrad, a local philanthropist and developer”. VIP guests include government representatives and top UW officials, and the media have also been invited.

[Staff conference logo]And today is the opening day of the annual two-day Staff Conference, which is happening mostly in Hagey Hall, with a few sessions spilling out into surrounding buildings. Sue Grant of the office of organizational and human development, which runs the conference, said yesterday that more than 800 staff members have signed up to attend one or more of the many events. The conference begins at 8:45 this morning with opening remarks from provost Feridun Hamdullahpur and associate provost (human resources) Janet Passmore, followed by a keynote talk by Nora Spinks of consulting firm Work-Life Harmony Enterprises.

Two more keynote speakers are on the conference agenda for today: Bill Benjamin of the Institute for Health and Human Potential (“The Science Behind Great Leaders”) and Sherry Dupuis of Waterloo’s own health studies and gerontology department, introducing a performance of “I’m Still Here: A Research-Based Drama on Living with Dementia”. The latter part of the afternoon offers seven workshops, including “How Our Beliefs Can Unintentionally Cultivate Failure” and “Demystifying the Library”. The conference continues all day tomorrow.

Tomorrow also brings the grand opening of "10B Victoria Street South", the second building at UW's health sciences campus in downtown Kitchener. This building is, among other things, the permanent home for the Waterloo Regional Campus of McMaster University's DeGroote School of Medicine, so Mac is a partner in the celebration along with UW administrators and people from the School of Optometry, which has a clinic on the building's ground floor. It also houses the Centre for Family Medicine, operated by local physicians and other professionals, and they'll be represented at Wednesday's celebration too, along with political leaders from the federal, provincial, regional and municipal levels. The celebration starts at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon, and attendance is by invitation.

Looking ahead to Thursday, the “town hall” open meeting for staff and faculty members will start at 3:00 that afternoon in the Theatre of the Arts. Today’s the deadline for submitting questions in advance to president David Johnston and provost Feridun Hamdullahpur; the e-mail address is townhall@ uwaterloo.ca. Questions will be kept anonymous.

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Flu footnote, Putnam results, and more

A pair of announcements went out yesterday from the provost, acknowledging that the H1N1 flu crisis is past: “In September 2009 I announced that verification of illness was not needed for student absences resulting from the flu. This memo is to announce the termination of that exception from standard practice. Effective April 5, 2010, any absence for which a student is seeking accommodation requires verification by a doctor in the usual manner. . . . Starting in October, 2009 employees were requested to report influenza symptoms and/or absences to their supervisors. This memo is to announce the end of that reporting effective immediately.”

Nominations, says a memo from the university secretariat, are requested for three seats on the UW senate: “Math faculty representative: one faculty member of the university to be elected by/from the Faculty of Mathematics, term May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013. Faculty-at-large representative: one faculty member of the university to be elected by/from the members of faculty of the university, term May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2012. Graduate student representative: one graduate student of the university to be elected by / from the full- and part-time graduate students of the university, term May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011. Nomination forms are available from the Secretariat (ext. 36125) 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., Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Elections will follow if necessary.”

Also from the university secretariat comes a reminder that the nominating committee for the position of Dean of Environment is looking for advice. “You are invited to convey your views on matters concerning the deanship . . . important issues, challenges and opportunities facing the Faculty of Environment.” The announced deadline is April 9, this Thursday.

Waterloo’s team finished in tenth place in this year’s William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the math faculty has announced. The event is held on the first Saturday in December each year, and the first-place team for 2009 is the one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Top Canadian team came from the University of Toronto, which was in the fifth-to-ninth-place cohort. Says a memo: “The top three Waterloo students received honourable mention, placing amongst the top 70 of the 4,036 competitors:  Steven Karp, Boyu Li, Dong Uk (David) Rhee. The next four were amongst the top 160 competitors: Malcolm Sharpe, Abel Molina-Prieto, Matthew Harrison-Trainor, and Manuel Candales. The following students were amongst the top 400 competitors: Ahmad Abdi, Shalev Ben-David, Wei (Will) Ma, Nicholas Ormrod, Yuelin (Julian) Sun, Robert Xiao, Lisa Zhang, Chenglong Zhou.” Karp, Ma and Rhee were identified as members of the official Waterloo team.

And here’s an announcement about ACE, the online course management system used by instructors and students: “In order to upgrade UW-ACE from ANGEL version 7.3 to 7.4, the system will be down from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27. The upgrade affects new and past courses, but there are no significant changes to the interface, so for the most part things look the same. There are some new features and enhancements including grading rubrics, Google Media tools, and more comprehensive surveys. The most significant change is a move from quizzes to assessments. Converting to assessments is automated (once initiated by the instructor or course editor) but adjustments to question pool values and images may be necessary. Instructors who have not moved to assessments already are advised to wait until after the upgrade, as the new version has better tools for the conversion. Instructors who use UW-ACE will receive a follow-up e-mail in the next few days with an overview of what’s new. If you have questions about the upgrade, please call ext. 33779 or e-mail andrea.chappell@ uwaterloo.ca.”


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Link of the day

Tartan Day

When and where

Digital Media to Market Showcase sponsored by Stratford campus, panels on medical imaging, consumer products, and business applications, 10:00 to 2:00, Arden Park Hotel, Stratford. Details.

Joint health and safety committee 1:30 p.m., Commissary room 112D.

Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Biology seminar: Martin Stillman, University of Western Ontario, “Metalation Pathways in Metallothionein” 3:30, Chemistry II room 361.

Computer Science Club: Jordan M. Saunders, “Brush-Based Constructive Solid Geometry” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

Euclid Mathematics Competition for grade 12 students, organized by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, Wednesday. Details.

Computer Science Club: Colin Melia, “Windows Azure Lab” Wednesday 1:00, Math and Computer room 2037.

Fine Arts 392 Technology Art Exhibition, “t’art”, public opening Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00, Critical Media Lab, 191 King Street West, Kitchener.

St. Jerome’s University Sweeney Lecture in Current Issues in Healthcare: panel on “Aging at Home, the Challenge of a Generation” Wednesday 7:00 p.m., St. Mary’s General Hospital, Kitchener.

Perimeter Institute lecturer: Chris Lintott, University of Oxford, “The Science of Galaxy Zoo”, Wednesday 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Observatory night with brief talk on astronomy, tour of UW observatory and chance to look through telescope, Wednesday 9:00, Physics room 308.

English Language Proficiency Examination April 8.

UW-ACE Instructor Group meets Thursday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Weight Watchers at Work information session and sign-up Thursday 12:15, Humanities room 373, information ext. 32218.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Using NSSE Data for Your Teaching and Learning Research” Thursday 1:00,  Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Sociology seminar: Tina Fetner, McMaster University, “Religious Right in Canada and the United States” Thursday 1:00, PAS building room 2438.

Winter term examinations April 9-23 (distance courses, April 9-10). Schedule.

Fryer, Galois and Hypatia mathematics contests for grade 9-11 students, organized by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, Friday. Details.

Accounting and Finance Admissions Assignment test for future students, with information sessions for parents, Saturday 11:00 to 4:00, accounting wing of Hagey Hall (and other buildings).

Canada 3.0 ‘Interactions’ event in Calgary, sponsored by UW Stratford Campus and others, Tuesday, April 13, 8:30 a.m., 200 Barclay Parade SW. Details.

Doug Payne, information systems and technology, retirement reception April 15, 3:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP elmartin@ uwaterloo.ca.

PostSecret.com founder Frank Warren speaks about his site and signs copies of his books, April 20, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, sponsored by Arts Student Union, tickets $35 (arts students $25) at Humanities box office.

Fee payment deadline for spring term is April 26 (promissory note) or April 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 26-29, Davis Centre. Details.

Ontario University Athletics “Women of Influence” luncheon honouring top female student athletes, April 30, 12 noon, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 3.

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