Wednesday, January 20, 2010

  • Why students said no to new building
  • Staff face the annual appraisal
  • Now, some of the rest of the story
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Why students said no to new building

The proposed Student Services Complex, turned down by a student referendum in November, “addresses a number of student needs on campus” and most students would still like to see something of the sort developed, the university senate was told on Monday.

Allan Babor, president of the Federation of Students (and a candidate for another term in next month’s election), briefed the senate about the $47 million project, the needs it would have met and the apparent reasons students turned it down.

“This has been a student-driven project from the outset and has incorporated students’ needs and ideas throughout the process,” said an 18-page report distributed to senate members. It says students feel a shortage of study space and a need to expand and improve such services as help with academic and library skills as well as academic and career advising.

The proposed building was to be sited on part of the current parking lot H near the main entrance to campus. “The new building will have a different emphasis on student life than the Student Life Centre,” its proposal noted. “This building will focus on the support services for students to succeed academically while the Student Life Centre will remain the social centre.”

As the project was presented last fall, students would have provided 80 per cent of the building’s cost through a $49.50-per-term fee lasting 20 years. The university would have provided $5 million as well as the operating costs of the building, and about $4 million would have come from food services and retail services to cover the cost of a cafeteria and store in the new building.

When November’s referendum was held, 18 per cent of eligible undergraduate students voted, and turned down the proposal and its $49.50 fee by 2,546 votes to 1,819. In the same referendum, students did approve a smaller fee to expand the Health Services building.

Babor’s report says a survey was done after the referendum to find out why students voted as they did. Among the comments quoted in the report: “I don’t want to pay more money; tuition is high enough as it is.… I cared about the projects and how they would benefit the undergrad experience.… Lack of concrete plans.… This should have been done before the student population grew bigger than the campus could sustain.… There is too much construction on campus to begin with.…

“They can just rearrange their budget to allocate the money differently.… It should be the responsibility of the school to pay for the services required by the excess number of students that they are accepting.… An improved student centre would benefit the student body.… Don’t build on a parking lot when there is currently a lack of parking space.… Expand existing facilities.”

The report concludes that “the current proposal does not meet the expectations of our students”, with key issues including the fee, the location, “lack of specific details” and a “desire to see the central University contribute more to the construction costs”.

Babor adds: “Anecdotal evidence also suggests a lack of awareness about both the specifics of the project, and its relation to UW’s Sixth Decade Plan including areas such as enrollment, financial environment, and the campus master plan.

“However, it seems that most students remain in favour of the project continuing to be developed to address space concerns. Moving forward, the Federation of Students will continue to work with the undergraduate students, Graduate Student Association, and University Administration to evaluate this proposal and investigate ways to address students’ growing needs in the short and long term.”

Babor told the senate meeting that students typically “don’t understand” the university’s long-term development, but “they understand the fees they are paying. I think that we can do a better job about informing students.” UW president David Johnston asked him where the proposal goes from here. His response: "I don't know entirely. I hope we can sit down and discuss what we've learned."

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Staff face the annual appraisal

It's that time of year again, for staff members across campus and the managers they report to. Annual performance appraisals are to be completed and filed with the human resources department by March 15, says a memo from Alfrieda Swainston, manager of salary administration.

Appraisal is done on a 1-to-5 scale, on a form that assesses such "work performance factors" as client service, working relationships, communication, job knowledge, "taking the initiative to make things better", problem-solving and time management. A rating of 3 says a staff member’s performance “was fully satisfactory in all key areas”; a performance worth a 4 rating “significantly exceeded the requirements of the job in one or more key areas”.

The resulting merit rating is a factor in determining an individual staff member's annual May 1 pay increase.

Says Swainston's memo, sent to managers and administrative assistants a few days ago: "The Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation committee members would like to remind managers to sit down with employees to discuss the content of the appraisal as well as to provide the employee an opportunity for discussion and input.

“Performance Appraisals completed with care and understanding help staff to see how their jobs and contributions fit within the bigger picture of the University’s goals as outlined in the 6th Decade Report.  Focusing on performance feedback, coaching, developing opportunities for continued growth and skill development, and goal setting for the year ahead ensure open lines of communication and shared expectations.

“The goal of performance evaluation is to provide confidential, constructive feedback to staff members regarding their performance in relation to the requirements of their job as outlined by their job description and the appraisal rating interpretations.  The exercise serves to identify areas of success, areas that need improvement which have been raised over the past year, opportunities for job enhancement, training and further development and a discussion of the working environment.

“Please use this opportunity to review changes which may have occurred in job content; to review safety practices in the workplace, and to assess if job descriptions are reflective of the work being done, and if the current grade should be reviewed.” The job descriptions for most UW staff positions were put on the web in 2006.

Other sections of the appraisal form ask whether the staff member has "the tools and equipment to do your job" and whether communication and feedback from the manager are adequate. The form ends with "mutually agreed upon goals and objectives" for the year ahead. The staff member is expected to sign the form to indicate that he or she has seen the paperwork and heard the supervisor’s opinions, and is encouraged to make comments, especially if he or she disagrees with anything in the appraisal.

Copies of the appraisal form, as well as instructions for how to fill it out and rate staff members, are available on the HR web site.

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Now, some of the rest of the story

Repair work "is progressing" in the regions of Engineering III that were affected by flooding over the New Year's holiday, says Sue Gooding, operations manager for the faculty of engineering. "The areas affected continue to be systematically assessed and dealt with," she reports. "On a positive note, I would like to say that Plant Ops custodial staff were extremely quick to respond and deal with the disaster on December 31, limiting the damage before restoration personnel arrived on scene — they are to be commended. This unexpected event certainly has damaged offices and labs, leading to disruption and hours of precious time for occupants to sort through the mess. And, though the flood was far-reaching, five faculty offices took a direct hit and are unoccupied pending completion of repair work, hopefully this week.  Our number one priority was, and still is, to try and minimize the disruption, and restore things to normal as soon as possible."

We now know who the candidates will be as the Federation of Students holds its annual elections. Campaigning starts January 26, with polling set for February 9-11. Feds officials have announced that just one candidate filed for the position of vice-president (education) for 2010-11, and thus Nicholas Soave, a student in geography and environmental management, is "currently acclaimed" to that post. Two candidates filed for VP (internal): Jenna Goodhand, of peace and conflict studies, and Nikki Best, of legal studies. Two filed for VP (administration and finance): Sarah Cook, the incumbent and a psychology student, and Matthew Waller, arts liberal studies. And four candidates have filed for president: Matt Colphon of science and business; Allan Babor, the incumbent and an independent studies student; Bradley Moggach of arts; and Jesse Van Amerom of philosophy. The Feds have also announced the names of candidates for several seats on students' council and on the UW senate; watch this space.

The call for proposals is now open for the Graduate Student Research Conference, this year titled "Sharing Discovery". “The deadline for abstract submission is Monday, February 8,” writes Marta Bailey of the graduate studies office. “The Graduate Student Research Conference is a campus-wide conference to encourage and foster interdisciplinary research on campus and to create awareness of the research conducted by graduate students at the University of Waterloo. Held over a four-day period, the conference highlights the best graduate student research being conducted on campus and promotes the development of the graduate student community. The conference will feature oral presentations, poster presentations, keynote speakers and a wine & cheese reception.” She tells grad students that “The conference will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your research with other graduate students, faculty, and members of the general community, and increase awareness of your research; acquire valuable experience in presenting professional-level talks and poster presentations at an academic conference.” There’s more information online, and anyone with questions can reach Bailey at marta@

Katherine Jessop of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office is heading overseas again — to Cairo and then to Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. "The primary focus of this recruitment trip," she writes, "is the International Exhibition for Higher Education in Riyadh, from January 25-29, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education. The Saudi government allocated over 25% of its budget this year for education. A significant portion of that allocation is being spent to send tens of thousands of Saudi students to universities around the world, under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program. By participating in this exhibition, Waterloo will strengthen its reputation and presence in the region and enhance our relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education. Most importantly, we’ll be able to directly interact with highly qualified Saudi students and their parents. In addition, I will be presenting in the top high schools in Cairo, Riyadh, and Jeddah and meeting individually with current Waterloo applicants and counsellors. This recruitment trip comes at an opportune time to enhance Waterloo’s brand recognition in the region; to generate more applications from top students; and to promote the UAE campus programs, in particular, Financial Analysis and Risk Management, and Information Technology Management, which commence in Dubai this fall."


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[T-shirt graphic]

'We have just opened applications,' writes Virginia (McLellan) Young of the housing and residence department, "for student-staff positions in various areas." That includes dons, Living-Learning peer leaders, and front desk assistants. Details are on the housing web site.

Link of the day

He's been at it for a year

When and where

‘Jump into bed with a book’ monthly bookstore sale, final day, South Campus Hall concourse.

Housing information sessions about options for upper-year housing, through tomorrow in the residences. Details.

New faculty and grad students workshop on research tools and library services, 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UWRC Book Club discusses What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim by Jane Christmas, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Fine arts department artist’s talk by Tony Urquhart, 1:00, East Campus Hall room 1219; opening reception 5 p.m. in Front Gallery, ECH, for exhibition by Urquhart and three other artists (continuing to January 29).

Columbia Lake Health Club lifestyle learning: “How to Increase Your Metabolism” 5:30, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Career workshop: “Thinking About Med School? Perspectives of a Waterloo Grad” 6:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ showings Wednesdays 6:30 p.m., Physics room 150, sponsored by PhysClub, admission free.

[Blue chair with campaign slogans]

Blue Bomber Night at Bombshelter pub, in support of Federation of Students “Blue Chair Campaign” about education costs.

UW president David Johnston speaks on “Smart City 10 Goals” at Greater K-W Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast Thursday 7:30 a.m., Delta K-W Hotel. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Communicating and Facilitating in the Online Environment” Thursday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshops Thursday: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Preparing for the LSAT” 1:30, Tatham 1208; “Teaching English Abroad” 2:30, 1208; “Career Interest Assessment” 2:30, Tatham 1112. Details.

Flu shots (H1N1 and seasonal) available at health services Thursdays, January 21 and 28, 2:30 to 4:00.

Chemical engineering seminar: Richard Jordan, University of Chicago, “Metal Catalyzed Copolymerization of Olefins” Thursday 2:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Graduate studies in mathematics information session for upper-year undergraduates Thursday 4:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute Distinguished Lecture: David R. Nelson, Harvard University, “Gene Surfing in Microorganisms” Thursday 4:00, Physics room 145, reception follows.

Alumni in Toronto: Networking event at Banana Republic, Thursday 6 p.m. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy lecture: Alistair Miller, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., “Kicking Our CO2 Addiction” Thursday 6:00, Davis Centre room 1304. Details.

Web redesign project open forum with White Whale Web Services, Friday 11:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

‘Jersey Boys’ at Toronto Centre for the Arts, Saturday, bus trip leaves Davis Centre 12:00 noon, tickets $49 from Federation of Students office.

Bruce Lennox, information systems and technology, retirement reception January 27, 3:30 to 5:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP elmartin@

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Departmental assistant, telecommunications services, information systems and technology, USG 4
• Program coordinator, Waterloo Unlimited, USG 8
• Circulation services supervisor (lending), library, USG 6
• Compensation analyst, human resources, USG 7/8
• Systems integration specialist, information systems and technology (CSS Windows), USG 10-13
• Development officer, leadership giving, office of development, USG 9-11 (nine-month secondment or contract)

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