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Thursday, August 4, 2011

  • VP issues guidelines on contracts
  • Top scholarships for five grad students
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

VP issues guidelines on contracts

Don’t make any commitments that “could be construed as an oral contract” on behalf of the university, a top official has told staff and faculty members in a memo outlining requirements for all contracts involving university business.

“Contracts not made in accordance with the foregoing, including oral contracts or commitments, are not properly authorized and the employee may be held personally accountable if the university suffers damages as a result,” says the document, issued by Dennis Huber, vice-president (administration and finance) and interim secretary of the university. It’s published on the secretariat's web site.

There are already well-established ways of making many of the university’s contracts, and the new rules don’t change anything about those. For example, departments routinely buy things using purchase orders issued through the procurement and contract services department. Research grants and contracts are negotiated through the office of research. Employees are hired through human resources. Gifts are accepted through the development and alumni affairs office.

Those are all contracts — and so are many other agreements, even if they go by other names such as lease, guarantee, letter of intent, memorandum of agreement, waiver. “Contracts can take the form of a one page letter agreement, as well as lengthier contracts which govern multiple transactions taking place over time,” says the new document. “Money does not have to be exchanged in order for parties to create an enforceable contract.

“For the purposes of these procedures, a contract includes any agreement made by or on behalf of the university in which legally binding or non-binding commitments are made by and/or to the university.” Examples are agreements that may involve purchases, government partnerships, property, employment, debt, intellectual property — even student placements.

Where there are standard procedures and templates — such as those purchase orders — they are to be followed, Huber’s memo says. Otherwise, contracts need to be reviewed by the university secretariat, and signed by officials who have the authority to do so.

Says the memo: “Only the University of Waterloo is to be the contracting entity. Individual departments, schools, centres and similar bodies, unless separately incorporated under federal or provincial legislation, are not persons at law and do not have the capacity to contract in their own name.

“All contracts must be signed in accordance with the university’s signing procedures. In the absence of specific written delegation in the signing procedures authorized by resolution of the Board of Governors, employees do not have authority to execute contracts on behalf of the university.

“Making contracts without proper review and input to ensure that they reflect the agreed-upon business terms, the policies and procedures of the university, and an appropriate allocation of risk may expose the university to undue liability and/or other adverse financial consequences. Employees who do not abide by university policies and procedures when entering into contracts will be held accountable for any risk to which the university has been exposed as a result.

“All terms should be consistent with university policies, including academic freedom and intellectual property.”

The document notes that the rules apply to contracts involving the university, and definitely have nothing to do with “contracts between a university employee and a third party pursuant to which the university employee provides services to the third party as an independent contractor or consultant”.

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[Earth-moving machinery at work]

A down-to-earth look at the permanent site for Waterloo's Stratford campus, on the "Cooper lands" facing St. Patrick Street, was an important stop on the July 25 and 26 tours sponsored by the university's staff association. Participants also stopped at the campus's temporary Wellington Street home, and had lunch in Stratford restaurants. Michael Davenport of information systems and technology was among the staff who made the Stratford visit, and took his camera along.

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Top scholarships for five grad students

a news release from the media relations office

Five Waterloo graduate students have received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, prestigious awards that recognize top academic achievement and leaderships skills.

The national awards, announced during a ceremony at McMaster University yesterday, celebrate scholarly accomplishment in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health fields. The awards are valued at $50,000 annually for up to three years.

"We are delighted by the success of our students in this prestigious award competition and happy that the government initiated this program to support students as they embark on very promising futures," said Sue Horton, Waterloo's associate provost (graduate studies). "All five Waterloo graduate students exemplify characteristics that underpin the Vanier program, which calls for academic excellence, research potential and leadership skills."

For the first time, a Waterloo student has received a Vanier awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The other four students' awards come from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The five Waterloo award winners and their citations:

Nadia Charania is the recipient of a Vanier award from CIHR. She completed her undergraduate studies at Queen's University, obtained a professional qualification at the Michener Institute and is completing her master's in Waterloo's faculty of environment. Her doctoral work, supervised by professor Len Tsuji, will focus on pandemic planning in remote First Nations communities, particularly the James Bay area of Northern Ontario. Charania’s background includes experience as a medical professional (respiratory therapist), an accomplished athlete (an elite figure skater) and an athletic coach. Her referees commented on the quality of her research and community engagement in the James Bay area, and her ability to earn the respect of the communities.

Hoan Dang completed his undergraduate degree at the California Institute of Technology. During his master's study, Dang moved from Princeton University to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo to follow his supervisor, professor Christopher Fuchs. Dang works on difficult foundational problems in quantum mechanics. He has already contributed significant work to two separate scientific papers to be submitted to Physical Review Letters, a premier journal. He takes a leadership role academically, organizing meetings and collaborations with colleagues. As well, he is an accomplished pianist, a marathon runner, and previously founded a college karate club.

Ryan Henry is beginning his PhD in computer science, supervised by professor Ian Goldberg, in the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research. The research is vital to maintain the security and integrity of data in an era where electronic data can be readily transmitted and intercepted. Henry has already published a paper at the 10th Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium, and has four other technical reports in preparation. He serves as a mentor for new graduate students in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. As an undergraduate student, Henry led several research initiatives at a custom software company in Manitoba.

Colleen Merrifield is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of psychology professor James Danckert, in the area of cognitive neuroscience. She has an outstanding publication record for a doctoral student, having published her undergraduate honours thesis in cognitive neuroscience and submitted her Waterloo master’s thesis for publication. Although early in her career, Merrifield has already supervised four undergraduate research assistants and is assisting Danckert with the supervision of two honours students. Her PhD focuses on psycho-physiological aspects of boredom, looking at its effect on heart rate, cortisol levels and other variables, using MRI methods as well as examination of neurological patients.

Kurt Schreiter is starting his PhD in physics and astronomy, supervised by professor Kevin Resch in the experimental quantum optics group. After beginning undergraduate studies at Waterloo in 1996, Schreiter left to work in computer programming and automation. Ten years later, he completed his bachelor's and proceeded to a master's degree. His research involves "chirped-pulse interferometry," a Waterloo-developed innovation, for non-invasive biomedical imaging. Schreiter served as vice-president (internal) for Waterloo’s Federation of Students and was responsible for such key services as a crisis hotline, legal aid and the food bank. He volunteers at the Institute for Quantum Computing, leading tours for scientists and children.


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Link of the day

Nag Panchami

When and where

Summer camps for children: Arts Computer Experience; Engineering Science Quest; Warrior multi-sport camp; men's volleyball camp.

Examinations for spring term courses, through August 13. Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest August 15; grades become official September 19.

Library hours during exams: Davis, 24 hours a day except closed Sundays 2 to 8 a.m.; Porter, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

WPIRG Seeds of Resistance workshop: Canadian Mining Injustice, 5 to 8 p.m., Student Life Centre room 2135. For information or to register: tammy@

Student Life 101 visits for future first-year students, August 5-6 and 8-9. Details.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council announcement of Collaborative Health Research Projects grants, Friday 2:00, CEIT building atrium, by invitation.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (grades 10-12), August 8-12. Details.

Peace Camp for students who have completed grades 6-8, August 8-12, Conrad Grebel University College.

Ontario Mennonite Music Camp August 14-26, Conrad Grebel University College. Details.

Hot water shutdown for all buildings inside the ring road, as well as Village I, August 15 (6 a.m.) to August 18 (9 p.m.).

UWRC Book Club: Room by Emma Donoghue, August 17, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Electrical power shutdown for most buildings inside ring road (but not  Student Life Centre, PAC, BMH, Math and Computer or main wing of Davis) August 20, 6 a.m. to midnight; cooling and ventilation also shut down.

Fall term fees due August 29 (certified cheque or promissory note), September 7 (bank transfer).

Labour Day, Monday, September 5, university closed.

English Language Proficiency Exam September 7 and 8, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

First day of classes for the fall term, Monday, September 12.

Retirees Association bus trip to Hamilton Harbour and Museum of Steam and Technology, September 14, tickets $88, information 519-744-3246.

Open class enrolment for fall term courses ends September 16 (online courses), September 23 (on-campus courses).

PhD oral defences

Applied mathematics. Mohamad Sahib Alwan, “Qualitative Properties of Stochastic Hybrid Systems and Applications.” Supervisors, Xinzhi Liu and Wei-Chau Xie. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, August 5, 2:00 p.m., Mathematics and Computer room 2018B.

Electrical and computer engineering. Igor Ivkovic, “Model Synchronization for Software Evolution.” Supervisors, Ladan Tahvildari and Kostas Kontogiannis. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, August 19, 10:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Electrical and computer engineering. Miao Jiang, “Modeling Management Metrics for Monitoring Software Systems.” Supervisor, Paul Ward. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, August 22, 9:30 a.m., Engineering 2 room 1307G.

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