Monday, March 29, 2010

  • Provost's memo on the Ontario budget
  • Two days of new ideas for staff
  • VeloCity's show, and more for a Monday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Provost's memo on the Ontario budget

It may be a few days, at least, before it's clear how and when the salaries of Waterloo faculty and staff are affected by the "freeze" announced in the Ontario budget last week.

The freeze is "only the fair thing to do", according to finance minister Dwight Duncan. The government says that "All broader public sector employees would be asked to contribute to protect public services during these challenging times." But rules differ for "employees who are part of a union or who bargain compensation collectively" and for those who don't, and the government acknowledged Friday that "technical questions" about how to apply the freeze will take some time to answer.

Besides the compensation freeze, the budget included some information about the provincial government's spending plans for the next year, and higher education is clearly a priority area. Provost Feridun Hamdullahpur issued this memo across campus at the end of the day Friday:

"The Ontario budget that was made public on Thursday afternoon is generally good news for Waterloo and for all of post-secondary education in our province. We applaud the government for the investment it has announced in university and college expansion, as well as its efforts to attract more international students to Ontario and the opportunities we foresee for research and innovation in a number of exciting areas.

"While the details of this budget have yet to be clarified, our sense is that, even in difficult economic times, this budget is moving post-secondary education in the right direction. Leaders of Ontario's universities expressed their approval in a teleconference this morning with the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, John Milloy.

"The budget imposes a two-year 'freeze' on salaries and other compensation for those of us who work in the broader public sector, including education. The precise way this policy will apply to employee groups at Waterloo, all of whom work under complicated compensation structures, is not yet clear. In the next few days we will be receiving further information and direction on the specifics of this item. As soon as we have reliable answers, we will certainly share them with you.

"One topic that was raised in the provincial budget was the precarious situation of pension funds at some of the universities. I want to repeat our previous assurances that while there is a long-term need to shore up Waterloo's pension fund somewhat, we are not one of the institutions that are facing a crisis in this regard.

"By this time next week we expect to be able to provide more information about how the Ontario budget will affect not only compensation, but the university's own 2010-11 budget. I will be in touch with you again very soon."

Other responses to the Ontario budget issued at the end of last week: Council of Ontario UniversitiesWilfrid Laurier UniversityOntario Confederation of University Faculty AssociationsUniversity of Toronto.

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[Smiling faces and bouquets]

Human resources management students from Waterloo brought home a second place award from the recent "Excalibur Excellence" national competition. Says a note from the department of psychology: "Amanda Briganti, Sara Cleland, Alexandra Sleghel and Jimmy Huynh proudly accepted the 2nd place award. Our HRM instructor Len Luksa is the team coach and worked with the group throughout the winter term, accompanied them to Montréal, and was cheering loudly when this big win was announced. The competition pits about 25 university undergrad teams from across Canada against each other to see who is best at analyzing, understanding, solving and presenting their solutions in a HR case study format to a panel of industry and academic subject matter experts."

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Two days of new ideas for staff

Anybody who hopes to find out about “desk de-stressing” or “customer obsession” at UW’s annual Staff Conference, scheduled for two days next week, needs to take action today, as the official registration deadline comes at midnight tonight.

“Act quickly, because sessions are filling up fast,” adds Susan Xiao, writing from the office of organizational and human development, which is organizing the April 6-7 event.

She adds: “The conference has some exceptional keynotes on topics from work-life balance to coping with eldercare issues to innovative looks at customer service and creative problem solving.”

The event includes both keynote talks, to be held in the Humanities Theatre, and “concurrent” sessions which, Xiao says, “for the first time were submitted via proposal from departments and individuals across campus. This truly demonstrates Waterloo’s Sixth Decade Plan of campus collaboration, connectedness, and partnerships.”

Among the scheduled sessions are “Mentor, Motivate, Inspire: Creating a Meaningful Work Experience for Your Co-op Students” and “Get HOT”, which turns out to stand for “Homophobia/ Heterosexism Orientation Training”. There’s also a session on creativity, one on “meaningful student interactions”, and one on “How Our Beliefs Can Unintentionally Cultivate Failure”.

After a workshop session, conference participants can travel through each of the “Passport to Health” stations for information and feedback about blood pressure, blood sugar levels, nutrition, exercise, and stress.

As well, OHD “has teamed up with UW Food Services to provide a delicious lunch menu exclusively for the 2010 Staff Conference,” says Xiao. “Come to Festival Fare and choose from a variety of entries prepared by Chef Daniel Lemay for only $6.99. Better yet, use the $2.00 gift card from UW Food Services which all participants will receive and can be redeemed at various locations on campus, including Festival Fare. You may even be a lucky winner and take home surprises, because we are giving away amazing prizes through the two days of the conference. Our prizes have been generously donated from both on-campus services and from WatCard off-campus flexible dollar locations.”

The conference will open Tuesday morning — a week from tomorrow — with remarks by provost Feridun Hamdullahpur and associate provost (human resources) Janet Passmore. Tuesday keynote talks have the titles “Energize, Strategize, Maximize Your Success at Home and Work” and “The Science Behind Great Leaders”, and the day also includes the drama “I’m Still Here” produced by Waterloo’s Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Project. Wednesday keynotes are “Creating a Culture of Innovation and Customer Obsession” and “Open Minds, Open Roads”.

A full conference schedule is on the OHD web site, which is also the place to go for registration details.

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VeloCity's show, and more for a Monday

Students from the VeloCity residence and technology incubator are showing off their projects today in the Student Life Centre. The show runs from 10:30 to 2:30, says Virginia Young, associate director of VeloCity: "We will have several student projects on display from an online room booking system, Roomclerk, to a mobile business directory called BuDi, and an online coupon system, Coupra. Many of our student teams are excited to show off their projects for the term, and we have many who are coming back to VeloCity in the Spring and Fall terms to continue working on what they started this term. This exhibition is a great opportunity for students who have been thinking about living in VeloCity to stop by our booths and see what our program is all about."

[Pink T-shirt]"Pink Day was a huge success," writes Jean Zadilsky of the office of research, who organized Wednesday's promotion (right) as a fund-raiser in preparation for the national Weekend to End Women's Cancers this fall. "Our coffee break, sale of Pink items, quilt tickets and cash donations raised a whopping $1,050," she says, and that's on top of $521 in ticket sales for a raffle on a "pink gift basket". The result: "the basket was won by Yuan Fang, a graduate student who does research in mammography; how cool is that?" And then, it turns out, "Yuan was very excited to have won the basket, but admitted all he really wanted was the pink umbrella," so another name was drawn, and Brenda Hebner of the research office went home with the (umbrella-less) basket.

Here's an athletics honour left over from late February, when the interuniversity men's volleyball season was just ending and Ontario University Athletics announced a number of all-stars and award winners. Among them: "Fifth-year middle Aaron Dam of the Waterloo Warriors is the Dale Iwanocko Award winner, given for academics, athletics and community service. The four-time academic all-Canadian is currently working on his master’s degree in kinesiology. Dam currently works as a teaching assistant and volunteers as a peer mentor/tutor. He volunteers once a week at Hearty Hearts, a cardiac rehabilitation centre. Dam is also a member of a church community group known as Serve. With this group he has recently traveled to several impoverished areas to rebuild schools and homes. Dam was second in all of OUA with 82 blocks and is also a second-team all-star."

In her own words, this news from Deborah Birkett: "I am a UW Religious Studies major (4A) who won third prize in the undergraduate category at WLU's 4x3 research poster symposium today. My poster was called, 'Does this hijab make me look too Western? The Muslim woman as Occidentalized other in popular imagery' and is based on the work of Dr. Meena Sharify-Funk (a former UW lecturer and WLU faculty member) in her first book, Encountering the Transnational: Women, Islam and the Politics of Interpretation. I noticed a few UW logos on some of the posters, so I definitely was not the only UW participant."

A number of Waterloo staff members are retiring this spring. Among them: Don Fraser retired March 1, ending a career in the faculty of engineering — as lecturer, assistant professor, and later senior demonstrator — that began in 1980. Francisco Nunes of the plant operations custodial staff, who started work in January 1978, retires April 1. Robin Jones, machinist technician in the school of optometry (and before that in the science shop), came to Waterloo in 1968 and retires April 1. Marie McDonald, a food services assistant since 1976, will retire May 1. And Mark Cochrane, mechanic II in plant operations since 1979, will also retire May 1.


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Emergency test today

A test of the university's emergency warning system is scheduled for today between 1 and 2 p.m. It will send a test message out in the usual way to computer screens, cell phones and campus phones.

Link of the day


When and where

‘Relative Proximity’ exhibition of work by fourth-year fine arts students runs until April 11, East Campus Hall gallery.

Extended library hours through April 23: Davis Centre library open 24 hours a day, except Sunday 2 to 8 a.m.; Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Details.

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

Jan Rohrbach, communications and public affairs, retirement reception 3:30 to 5:00, University Club, RSVP ext. 33580.

VIP Aussie Adventure Social as student Brittany Thordarson seeks votes for a trip to Australia, 7:30 p.m., Huether Hotel.

‘Down with Webster’ live at Bombshelter pub tonight, doors open 9:00.

‘Rethink Modern Leadership and Innovation’ presentations by corporate executives, sponsored by Waterloo chapter of IEEE, Tuesday-Thursday. Details.

Teaching-Based Research Group drop-in session for faculty and staff interested in research about teaching and learning, Tuesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Feng Shui discussion group sponsored by UW Recreation Committee Tuesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5136.

Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education seminar: Nancy Waite, school of pharmacy, “Curricular Integration of Co-op: the Right Prescription for Pharmacy”, Tuesday 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Using Twitter to Increase Student Engagement” Tuesday 3:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents “eHealth: Refurbishing a Tarnished Brand” Tuesday 3:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

WatRISQ presents “The Role of Mortgage Brokers in the Subprime Crisis” Tuesday 4:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Google Waterloo event: Alfred Spector, vice-president (research and special initiatives) of Google, speaks Tuesday 4:30, 295 Hagey Boulevard, north campus. Details.

Engineers Without Borders co-CEO Parker Mitchell speaks on the development of EWB, Tuesday 5:00, Math and Computer room 2066.

Application deadline for September admission is March 31, with some exceptions; Ontario secondary school student deadline was January 13, later if spaces still available. Details.

Blood donor clinic Wednesday 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, appointments call 888-236-6283.

Systems design engineering fourth-year symposium and project display Wednesday 10:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre foyer.

Free noon concert: Toronto Percussion Ensemble, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo concert Thursday 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 Waterloo’s Last Lecture: “It’s Time for Canada”, April 5, 4:30, Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Athletics Awards Reception (50th annual) April 5, St. George’s Hall, Waterloo: graduating senior reception 5:00, all athletes reception 6:30, dinner 7:00, video presentation 7:50, awards 8:15. Details.

Faculty association annual general meeting April 6, 2:00, Math and Computer room 4020.

UW board of governors April 6, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Health sciences campus: grand opening of second building, 10B Victoria Street South, with officials of UW and McMaster University, April 7, 1:00, by invitation.

Town hall meeting with UW executives for faculty and staff, April 8, 3:00, Theatre of the Arts. Submit questions to townhall@

PhD oral defences

Earth and environmental sciences. Lucas J. Neil, “Development of a New Technique for the Kinetic Study of Hydroxyl Radical Uptake on Micron-Sized Organic Aerosols.” Supervisor, James J. Sloan. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, April 12, 9:30 a.m., CEIT building room 2053.

Electrical and computer engineering. Behnood Ghohroodi Ghamsari, “Guided-Wave Superconducting Quantum Optoelectronic Devices.” Supervisors, Amir Hamed Majedi and Raymond Laflamme. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, April 14, 10:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Statistics and actuarial science. Shahedul Khan, “Flexible Bent-Cable Models for Mixture Longitudinal Data.” Supervisors, Joel Dubin and Grace Chiu. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, April 14, 4:00 p.m., Mathematics and Computer room 6027.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Aashish Satish Shah, “Mechanical and Tribological Aspects of Microelectronic Wire Bonding.” Supervisors, Norman Zhou and Michael Mayer. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, April 15, 9:00 a.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Friday's Daily Bulletin