Friday, March 5, 2010

  • Waiting for funding news, says Johnston
  • Waterloo skills put to use at Olympics
  • Other notes as we peep into springtime
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Waiting for funding news, says Johnston

The Ontario budget, expected later this month, is expected to bring some vital information to the province’s universities, president David Johnston says in a “quarterly update” e-mailed to faculty and staff members this week.

(That was the federal, not provincial, budget that was released yesterday — a document that helps set the national fiscal and economic climate, and includes federal spending on fields like research, but doesn’t directly drive university budgets. A date for the Ontario budget has not been announced yet.)

Johnston’s  memo follows the February 2 board of governors meeting, which, as he reports, “approved new tuition fees for 2010-2011, with increases that average 5 per cent across our student population within the government’s tuition framework policy. That tuition framework expires at the end of the Winter term of 2010, and unlike many universities, Waterloo needs to have a framework in place for the spring.

“We are waiting to hear from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to see what comes after Ontario’s Reaching Higher plan. We anticipate a successor, called Reaching Higher II or Reaching Even Higher, and have kept our tuition increases in line with the previous framework. This is a matter of considerable consequence, especially in light of the provincial deficit, which is approaching $25 billion. One way or another, this pressure on the provincial government will find its way to the higher education sector.

“We continue to recognize that asking students to bear a heavier burden during these times of economic uncertainty is by no means ideal. Ontario is ranked 10th of 10 provinces in terms of government operating grants per student, and if there were a lever I could pull to immediately change that, I would.

“We do remain steadfast in our commitment, however, that no qualified student will be turned away from Waterloo for financial reasons. As you know, we lead all Canadian universities in the percentage of our operating budget devoted to student bursaries and scholarships.

Vice-President, Academic and Provost Feridun Hamdullahpur delivered a presentation to the Board of Governors regarding the university’s current and upcoming operating budgets.

Enrolment continues to be an important driver of revenue for the university. It is worth noting that domestic enrolment exceeded our target of 5,911 students by a total of 321, while our international enrolment stayed on target. When the budget was first approved, the Board of Governors allowed us to carry a temporary deficit. In the final analysis, the gap between our total expenditures for 2009-2010 and our total revenues will be $394,000. However, that structural deficit will be eliminated for 2009-2010 with money from our reserve fund.

Budget planning continues to be a concern during these uncertain economic times, as market conditions and the worldwide financial crisis have had a sustained impact in the areas of pension and endowment fund earnings. It is expected that the current hiring freeze will remain in place for the coming year, with mission critical replacements being the only exception. We will continue to seek efficiencies wherever they may be found in an effort to bring our expense column down.”

Johnston also invites faculty and staff members to take a look at the “environmental scan” that he presented at the board meeting. Among the matters that it discusses: an annual “report card” on Canadian education and economics, issued by the Conference Board of Canada. The results are “mixed”, says the president, showing “the need for an increased commitment to graduate education and a national innovation strategy. As an institution dedicated to the notion of lifelong learning and innovation, we should be mindful of opportunities to help Canada close the gap with our peers. That is one of the foundations of our Sixth Decade Plan.”

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[Red and white jerseys on the ice]

A Dilts-eye view of Canada Hockey Place, seconds after Sidney Crosby's winning goal in the final game.

Waterloo skills put to use at Olympics

Okay, one more Olympics story — just one. Here's a first-person report from Andrew Dilts (pictured below), who recently finished his master's degree in the department of management sciences and will be returning to take a job in Kitchener-Waterloo just as soon as he recovers from his Vancouver experiences.

[Quot]The cheers following last Sunday’s historic gold medal hockey game are still echoing for many Canadians around the world, but the excitement of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games is slowly fading away. Before that happens, I wanted to offer a brief snapshot of a UW alumni’s perspective of working Games., I was only one of many UW alumni who contributed to the success of the 2010 Olympics.

Some alumni worked on the ski hills and bobsled (sorry, bobsleigh) runs of Whistler Mountain. Others helped coordinate the extensive artistic and cultural performances of the “Cultural Olympiad” that ran concurrent to the Games. Still others came from as far away as Australia to watch the Games, and many current UW students also made the trip to Vancouver during Reading Week. My own Olympic assignment was to “Canada Hockey Place” (as Vancouver’s GM Place was temporarily renamed), which means yes, I was some 50 feet away[Dilts]  when Sidney Crosby scored that final, golden goal. An enviable assignment, perhaps, but every UW community member who took part in the Games would come to deeply enjoy some amazing part of the 2010 Olympic experience.

For many, the link between the UW and Olympic experiences was not accidental. Manypeople get involved in leadership activities during their time at Waterloo, and the skills I used working for the Olympics were largely the same as those honed during my time within Ring Road: volunteer management, leadership, organization, and decision-making in tough situations. The scale of the experience differed considerably, though: more than 30 games were hosted at Canada Hockey Place, the equivalent of three quarters of a regular NHL home season played across only fourteen days. I was fortunate to be a staff member, but the Olympics also involved more than 22,000 volunteers, roughly the entire undergraduate student population of UW.

Outside the Olympic sporting events, there were countless opportunities to celebrate, learn, and participate. Nearly every night I found myself accompanied by UW alumni or students, enjoying what became a non-stop celebration amidst a sea of red and white. We explored the dozens of provincial and international pavilions set up for the Games, jumped off an 8-story zipline tower over the heart of downtown, woke up at 6 a.m. on the final day of the torch relay to look for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Stanley Park, and attended many of the dozen of nightly concerts across the city — all for free.

The excitement of the 2010 Olympics may be fading, but the 2010 Paralympics torch relay kicked off this week in Ottawa.[Quot] They will run until March 21, with tickets still available for most events. London 2012 is also on the horizon. For any UW community members thinking of getting involved in either event, I’d highly recommend doing so, as it’s sure to be the experience of a lifetime.

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Other notes as we peep into springtime

President David Johnston's report to the campus, noted earlier in this Daily Bulletin, also gave this bit of Canada-wide news: "Ipsos-Reid has released a mini-report on the topic of the impact of co-op education programs on Canadians. The online poll of 1,493 Canadians revealed, among other things, that 17 per cent of Canadians with post-secondary experience had either studied, or were in the process of studying, in a co-operative education stream. The study also found that the province of Ontario, perhaps not surprisingly, is the hotbed of co-op participation. Nearly a quarter of Ontarians with post-secondary experience had been in a co-op program at some point, compared to 7 per cent in Quebec, 16 per cent in the West, and 14 per cent in the Atlantic provinces. Fully half of those who did not participate in co-operative education say if they could do their undergraduate education over again, they would do a co-op program. The study also found that the vast majority of Canadians who enrolled in co-op education programs felt their work term had a significant impact on their career choice, getting their first job, their workplace integration, and their academic learning. . . . This is a ringing endorsement of the idea of co-operative education and the mission of this university."

Since the last time I happened to look, the human resources department’s web site has been updated with an official listing of the university’s holiday dates for 2012 and 2013. They follow the predictable pattern — there’s been no change in the formula for holidays since Ontario introduced Family Day in 2009 — but we can now confirm what the Canada Day and Christmas-New-Year’s breaks will look like, year by year. July 1 is a Thursday this year, which makes for a four-day weekend; a Friday in 2011, making a three-day weekend; a Sunday in 2012, so that Monday the 2nd is a holiday; and a Monday in 2013. As for Christmas and New Year’s, it’s even more complicated, but I calculate that the university will close for 11 consecutive days in 2010-11 and 2012-13, 10 consecutive days in 2011-12.

The newly formed St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association has joined the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and says it is “in the midst of negotiating our first collective agreement” with OCUFA’s help. • Work reports from the fall co-op work term (ones that were marked by field coordinators, anyway) are available for pickup from the Tatham Centre today, the co-op department says. • Nominations for the annual Federation of Students Leadership Awards are being accepted, with a deadline of March 16.

Most people know what Nanaimo bars are, but I expect it’s only because of the Olympics that Food Services has reached into British Columbia geography to name another product from its bakery: Whistler Mountain brownies. • A songwriting competition continues through the spring (it is spring now, right?) with sessions every Tuesday evening at the Graduate House; entry forms are online. • At the end of the men’s basketball season, Ontario University Athletics announced its province-wide awards and all-star teams, with one Warrior, Cam McIntyre, designated a “second team” all-star.

St. Jerome’s University hosts a visiting lecturer tonight, Vincent Miller of the University of Dayton. He’ll speak (7:30, Siegfried Hall) on “Responsibility, Spirituality, and Place in a Global Age”.  “Whether it has expanded our horizons or compressed space and time,” says publicity for the event, “it is clear that globalization has radically transformed our relationship to space. Media bring desperate needs from around the world into our living rooms, yet in a manner that leaves us powerless to respond. At the same time, our consumption choices have profound consequences around the world, but we never see what we are doing. Our relationships and communities are increasingly taking place as much in cyber space as in flesh and blood geographical communities. What consequences do these changes have for our sense of responsibility, solidarity, and discipleship? What resources does the Christian tradition have for responding to these new challenges? . . . Miller has has published numerous articles on culture and religious traditions, beliefs, and practices and a recent book called Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture that considers how religious communities are being transformed from within by consumer attitudes and practices, and how they can work to counter this.”


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[Powell carrying child]

An International Experience Award and a President's Scholarship helped Lauren Powell spend six weeks last summer in a small town in Kenya, volunteering with the development program African Impact. A feature on the development office website tells the kinesiology student's story.

Link of the day

World Day of Prayer

When and where

Pre-enrolment for fall term undergraduate courses, March 1-7 on Quest.

Fusion conference (“Sustainability: Success for Today and Tomorrow”) sponsored by Science and Business Students Association, Friday-Saturday. Details.

Public Service Leadership reception and announcement, 12:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall. Seats still available for interested students and others. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Alex Bielak, Environment Canada, “From Science Communication to Knowledge Brokering” 1:30, Math and Computer room 4061.

Israel on Campus presents Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, “The View from Inside the Palestinian Territories” 3:00, Wilfrid Laurier University, Alvin Woods Building 2-106.

Fever International Dance Championships Friday 4:00, Saturday from 9:00, Sunday from 8:00, final performance 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Waterloo Space Society presents documentary “Astrospies” 4:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 309.

UW Juggling Festival (18th annual) Saturday-Sunday in Student Life Centre great hall, performance Saturday 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC great hall, tickets $5. Details.

38th annual Hagey Bonspiel for staff, faculty and friends, Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, Ayr Curling Club. Details.

Open classroom session with François Paré, French studies, hosted by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Monday 11:45. Details.

Cultural Encounters, Encountering Cultures series: François Paré, French studies, “Minorities and Globalization” Monday 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Waterloo Space Society presents James Sloan, earth and environmental sciences, “Satellite Earth Observation Missions and Climate Change” Monday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 306.

Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada alumni reception Monday 6:00, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto. Details.

Iranian film “Offside” presented by Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region, introduction by Alice Kuzniar, UW Germanic and Slavic department, Monday 6:45 p.m., Princess Twin Cinema. Details.

Library workshop: “Data Retrieval from Statistics Canada Surveys” Tuesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Free term abroad’ for math students at University of Haifa, Israel, information session Tuesday 4:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Turnkey coffee house, benefit for Haiti earthquake relief,  Tuesday 6 to 11 p.m., Student Life Centre: “dance, poetry, music, magic and more”, donations accepted.

Graduate Conference in Philosophy (17th annual), keynote speaker Mark Wilson, University of Pittsburgh, March 11-12. Details.

[W] Weekly report on Warrior sports

Athletics awards reception next month

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin