Wednesday, March 24, 2010

  • Budget aims to protect service to students
  • Officials give update on Stratford campus
  • And a few other steps forward
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Budget aims to protect service to students

The 3.5 per cent cut to budgets across campus will not apply to "academic support" departments that have already been "cut to the bone" and can't give up anything more without damaging service to students, provost Feridun Hamdullahpur says.

He made that point briefly during discussion of the 2010-11 budget at Monday's meeting of the university senate, and elaborated on it yesterday. Asked to go into detail, the provost said he is looking at department situations case by case. But he said he already knows, for example, that it would be wrong to ask the registrar's office to make a budget cut, when it's under pressure to serve an ever-growing number of students.

Hamdullahpur told the senate that the 3.5 per cent cut will apply to about 65 per cent of the university's total operating spending. As in the past, some areas are exempt entirely, including utility bills, library materials, and student financial support.

He also confirmed something he had said earlier: that the cuts can be managed without layoffs. Most of the savings will be found by not filling vacant positions, he said, noting that the policy of hiring only in "mission critical" circumstances continues.

The provost said a 3.5 per cent cut is "right at the threshold" of what the faculties and departments can manage without having to shed people. The budget that he's presenting depends on some assumptions — about government grants, about tuition fee regulations, and about a scale salary increase for staff and faculty members of no more than 1 per cent — and if any of those is upset, then the calculations and promises don't hold.

But as things stand, the provost thinks he can keep the coming year's deficit down to a manageable $2.8 million, on total revenue of $460 million.

Senators had a few questions, but there was no extended debate before they voted support for the budget, which will go to the university's board of governors for final approval April 6. "A lot of us," said student representative Sam Andrey, "were pleased to see the modest slowing in salary inflation." Salaries and benefits for staff, faculty and teaching assistants account for 71.8 per cent of the budget, and another 7 per cent goes to students as scholarships and bursaries.

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Officials give update on Stratford campus

by Jeff Heuchert, reprinted from the Stratford Gazette

The University of Waterloo’s Stratford Institute is quickly gaining an international reputation as a hub for global digital media and business education. That was the message from university officials last week at a well attended meeting, held at the City Hall auditorium, to update the public on the institute.

The university’s dean of arts, Ken Coates, told those in attendance school administrators have been in serious talks with many educational institutions around the world who are interested in partnering with the institute in some form once it’s open.

“We think this campus will succeed if we have eight or nine different institutions collaborating here in one space,” he said, noting the school is looking at many different options, including having a school run its own program out of the institute, and at offering a two-plus-two program, in which international students would complete the first two years of a program at their home school, and then transfer to Stratford for their final two years.

Coates said schools in the eastern hemisphere are desperate for such partnerships with western institutions “so their students can have a western learning experience, get exposed to North America, and see the exciting kind of dynamics that are going on over here.”

Support for national innovation and the “new economy,” expanding space for undergraduate students and doubling the number of international students in Ontario were pieces in both the recently announced federal budget and provincial throne speech — an indication, said Coates, that international partnerships will play an important part of education in the future.

He also noted institutions including the Ontario College of Art and Design and York University’s fine arts department have showed interest in the institute. “This is one of the easiest sells I’ve ever had,” Coates remarked. “People are coming to us asking if they can partner with us.”

Executive director of the Stratford Institute, Ian Wilson, said the university envisions the Stratford campus as not only a study and research facility, but as a think-tank of social and digital media in Canada. “Stratford is going to be known not just as a festival city, but as a digital community,” he added, suggesting the city could be a pioneer in Canada as to what a digital community looks like — though even that still evolving. “It’s a new kind of collaboration,” he added. “A new kind of education.”

For Canada to succeed in the digital world, there needs to be new cooperation between universities, government, non-governmental agencies and the private sector, Wilson said. “We need all of them at the table and we need to be creative,” he added.

A key piece in promoting those kinds of discussions was the Canada 3.0 forum held in June of last year which attracted some 1,500 people to Stratford to talk about the future of digital media in Canada. Wilson called the forum a seminal event, and as such, organizers are at work planning a second forum in the city for May 10-11. Wilson said professionals from across the high-tech industries, different levels of government and universities will be invited to “come together for new conversations that haven’t taken place.” As part of the forum, Wilson said they hope to have an exhibition of Canadian technology and run a digital media “bootcamp” for students.

The Stratford Institute plans to begin classes in September by offering a Master's in Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, and at least one other program by the spring. To accommodate students and university staff, space has been leased at 6 Wellington St. “It provides us with a visible and active presence,” said Wilson of the building.

Clean-up of the institute’s future site, on the north-east corner of the St. Patrick Street parking lot, will commence in the spring. In the coming months different groups, including the University of Western Ontario, which has already committed to partnering with the University of Waterloo on the institute, and G13, a group of leading research-intensive universities in Canada, will be meeting in Stratford to hear about the institute and discuss the future of digital media. 

Responding to questions from the public at the meeting, Coates said the university projects enrolment at the institute at about 500 within five years, not including students involved through partnership programs. He added the university and city would have to look into additional housing for students in the future, though the initial intake could be accommodated. 

Coates said preliminary planning on the institute’s design is underway. He indicated since the institute's teaching model will be different than other universities — drawing from private companies, government and non-governmental agencies — the building will have a different look and feel than a typical campus.

“We’re excited to be designing a building to capture what we think is a 21st century way of learning,” he said, noting the Stratford campus will be a fast moving, hands-on environment that is more in tune with how today’s students are comfortable learning. “I’m absolutely convinced that what we’re going to do here in Stratford is not just build one heck of a campus, not just a wonderful institution you’ll be proud of, I think we're going to redesign education.”

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[Everybody in yellow T-shirts]And a few other steps forward

“Waterloo has some very strong, competitive dance groups that compete nationally,” says Johnny Trinh of the student life office, instancing Dancers in Motion, a student club that “celebrates Tamil culture through dance”. The group (left) will be competing in Toronto this weekend, says member Saran Siva: “We are entered in the Kalaikal Creative Arts Dance competition. This being our first year and being the school farthest away from Toronto, we want to come out and show Waterloo has the skills in the arts and that our school spirit and pride is above anything any other school has seen. You can view our promo videos on YouTube. We would like all UW students to visit and vote for Waterloo Warriors for the People’s Choice Award to show support for our school.”

Elections are under way for the leadership of the faculty association in the coming year. "George Freeman has been acclaimed to a second one-year term as president," says a note from Pat Moore in the association's office. "We have five nominations for four positions as director: Michael Boehringer (Germanic and Slavic Studies), Roydon Fraser (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering), Steven Furino (Mathematics), Susan Leat (Optometry), David Porreca (Classical Studies). Voting began electronically at 9:00 a.m. March 22 and closes at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, April 5. The results of the election will be announced at our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, April 6, at 2:00 p.m. in MC 4020. The new terms start July 1."

July 1 is more than three months off, but plans for this year's UW Canada Day celebrations are well underway. The latest development is the hiring of an administrative coordinator through the work placement program. Lisa Willan, 4A recreation student, is returning in this role for a second year, "and will have a busy spring and summer ahead of her, along with the rest of the student volunteers who plan this event for the community," says Nancy Heide of the communications and public affairs office. "Some steering committee positions are still available. As always, UW's Canada Day event takes place on our north campus on July 1, which falls on a Thursday this year. The campus community will enjoy an extra long weekend because the university is also closed on the Friday."

A new brochure that promotes, informs, and tells the story of nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo is now available. This brochure is an addition to the Full Spectrum of Research brochures produced by the Office of Research — with a new look. “We’ve updated the brochure with larger and brighter pictures of our researchers at work and stories that illustrate how their research in nanotechnology is making a difference and changing our world,” says Janet Janes, research communications officer. The articles outline how researchers are using nanotechnology to treat diseases, convert and process solar energy into electricity, and use fuel more efficiently. The brochure was developed to share the story of nanotech at Waterloo with representatives of funding bodies, government, industry, other research institutions (nationally and internationally), and the media, as well as current and prospective faculty and students. Janes says the brochure is the first in a plan to update the current “spectrum” brochures and add new ones reflecting the research underway at Waterloo.

Fourth-year electrical and computer engineering students will be showing off their projects in the Davis Centre today, including a proposed "electroporation" water treatment system, a converter to improve the efficiency of hybrid vehicles, and a high-altitude imaging system based on a weather balloon. • In support of the "Colour Me Educated" campaign, a fund-raising auction is running from 11:00 to 2:00 today in the Student Life Centre great hall; up for bids are gift certificates, concert tickets, sports souvenirs, and lunch with top UW officials.


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Link of the day

World Tuberculosis Day

When and where

Co-op student of the year awards and celebration 10 a.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.

Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, open house to show off renovations and new menu, all welcome, 2 to 4 p.m.

Social Aspects of Health symposium, department of health studies and gerontology, 2:00, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621.

Integration Bee sponsored by Pure Math Club, 5:30, Math and Computer room 1085.

Unaccompanied Minors a cappella chorus, free concert hosted by Pathways to Education, Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, Kitchener, 5:30. Details.

The Philosophy of Islam, part 2, presented by Amhadiyya Muslim Students Association, 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065.

Sharepoint Services server maintenance Wednesday 8 p.m. to Thursday 8 a.m.; do not attempt to save data during this period.

First Robotics Competition Waterloo regionals, competition for high school students, Thursday-Saturday, PAC. Details.

Disability Awareness Day simulations, panel discussion, 2:30 film, Thursday 11:00 to 4:30, Student Life Centre great hall.

Engineering alumni lecture: Andrew Paul Williams and Jennifer Nodwell, “Bridging the Gap Between University and the Work Force” Thursday 11:30, Physics room 150.

UW Recreation Committee presents Kathleen Barsoum, Region of Waterloo waste management division, “Trash Talk” Thursday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 329.

Digital media lecture: Paul Walland, University of Southampton, “Media Makeover: Things, Services and Digital Rushes” Thursday 12:00, Carl Pollock Hall room 3602.

Dance Dance Canada recitals in Humanities Theatre, Thursday-Sunday.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall, off Phillip Street.

Chemistry seminar: Cameron Black, Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research, “The Search for the World’s Best Cathepsin K Inhibitor” Thursday 2:30, Chemistry II room 361.

Chemical engineering seminar: Brian Amsden, Queen’s University,”Cell Response to Biodegradable Elastomer Tissue Engineering Scaffolds” Thursday 3:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Department of English presents David Bromwich, Yale University, “Edmund Burke and India” Thursday 4:00, Humanities room 373.

‘Relative Proximity’ exhibition of work by fourth-year fine arts students, opening event Thursday 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., show runs until April 11, East Campus Hall gallery.

Women in mathematics career panel Thursday 5:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Vancouver alumni reception Thursday 6 p.m., during GLOBE conference and trade fair. Details.

Movies at the Critical Media Lab: “They Live” (US 1988), Thursday 7:30 p.m., 191 King Street West, Kitchener.

Women’s Centre film, “What I Want My Words to Do to You” Thursday 8:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

Econometrics Conference (12th annual), “Volatility and Systemic Risk in Global Capital Markets”, Friday from 8 a.m., Davis Centre rooms 1301 and 1302.

‘From Mountains of Ice’ excusive print-on-demand title, author Lorina Stephens, Saturday 1 to 4 p.m., bookstore, South Campus Hall.

University Choir spring concert: “Voices of Light” Saturday 7:30 p.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church, 22 Willow Street, tickets $10 (students $8).

Earth Hour Saturday, celebrations 7:30 p.m. to midnight, Student Life Centre; lights out 8:30 to 9:30.

UW Stage Band spring concert, “Time Flies” Sunday 2:00, Conrad Grebel UC great hall, admission $8 (students $5).

UW Chamber Choir concert, “Early English Baroque” Sunday 7:30 p.m., Waterloo North Mennonite Church, tickets $15 (students $10).

‘Venture 4 Change’ workshop for innovators and social entrepreneurs, Monday, Whistle Bear Golf Club. Details.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo concert April 1, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free.

Good Friday holiday Friday, April 2. Classes not held; UW offices and most services closed.

Last day of classes for winter term Monday, April 5 (Friday class schedule). Examinations April 9-23 (distance courses, April 9-10). Schedule.

Ken Dryden, MP, gives an Arts Last Lecture: “It’s Time for Canada”, April 5, 4:30, Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Positions available

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

• Graduate records specialist/ student services assistant, graduate studies office, USG 6

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