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Friday, February 4, 2011

  • Budget 'uncertain', provost tells board
  • Engineers will take their obligation
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Purple snow?]

The Student Life Centre after the snowfall — that's how it looked to Nick Soave, vice-president (education) of the Federation of Students, who says he took the picture about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Soave continues as a Federation VP until April 30, but he should know in a few days who his successor will be, as voting for the Feds' 2011-12 executive will be held Tuesday through Thursday next week.

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Budget 'uncertain', provost tells board

The university’s board of governors got through a lot of business Tuesday in a storm-shortened meeting, including approval of the 2011-12 tuition and residence fees and the contract for building the “digital media lab” on the Stratford campus.

As usually happens, there were a few “no” votes on fee increases, after student representative David Smith observed that “from a student’s perspective, any increase in fees is obviously not a good thing.”

He asked what the additional money would be used for, in a year when neither faculty nor staff members are receiving scale increases to their pay. Provost Geoff McBoyle had some answers: higher prices that the university has to pay; creation of a “student success office” with various programs aimed at improving student experience and achievement; and an effort to “start the process” of reducing the student-faculty ratio, which has risen to 27.3, the third highest among major Canadian universities.

Undergraduate fees for Canadian students already in university are to go up by 4 per cent this year. For new students, the fees go up 4.5 per cent in “regulated” programs, 6.5 per cent in fields such as engineering. Fees for most international and graduate students will rise 3 per cent.

Most residence fees are going up by 3 per cent. The board also gave official approval to a 50-cent-per-term increase in the Graduate Student Association fee.

Approving a budget for 2011-12, which officially begins on May 1, won’t happen until the board’s April meeting, but McBoyle gave a preview, emphasizing “uncertainty” about the economic environment, the likely level of government grants (with a provincial election due in October), and enrolment trends. Salary levels are now known (no scale increases this year, 3 per cent next year) but total costs will go up as the university hires staff and faculty to replace those who leave and to bolster growth areas, the provost pointed out.

“With increased entry level grades and increased applicant numbers, more scholarship funds will be needed,” McBoyle said. An update on the current year’s budget showed that $33.5 million — or 7 per cent of total spending — is going to various forms of student support including scholarships and bursaries.

Many background items that had been on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting were put off until April, as members were aware of the looming snowstorm. (Half a dozen out-of-town members called in by speakerphone rather than showing up in person.) The board did take time, however, to hear president Feridun Hamdullahpur give his regular “environmental scan”, touching on issues ranging from national research spending to the province’s recent announcement of a fund to encourage credit transfers between colleges and universities.

Hamdullahpur spoke in some detail about the “collapse” of the international education industry in Australia, with the number of students from India, in particular, dropping sharply. He mentioned various reasons, saying the most important was an apparent decline in quality. For Waterloo and other Canadian universities to attract students from overseas, “the quality of education we offer has to be at the highest level,” he said emphatically.

Among other business, the board gave approval to a new Policy 10 on “the naming of faculties, departments, schools, chairs, professorships, academic programs and facilities” including “fields, roads and open spaces, buildings or parts thereof”.

It also approved the winding down of the “flexible pension plan”, an add-on to the university’s main pension plan aimed at employees who have maxed out their RRSPs and are looking for a way to put aside extra money towards retirement. There has been “declining” interest in that part of the plan, the pension and benefits committee said in its report. The last contributions will be accepted into the flex fund in 2013.

The board took a moment at the beginning of its meeting to acknowledge Ken Seiling, who has now served 25 years as chair of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. That position makes him automatically a member of the university’s board, on which he has now served longer than anyone else in Waterloo’s history.

And it took longer than a moment, near the meeting’s end, to recognize Lois Claxton, who has been secretary of the university (and thus secretary of the board) for 20 years and will be leaving at the end of this month to join the staff of the Governor General of Canada. Board vice-chair Ian McPhee declared that members are “deeply appreciative of Lois’s contributions… her loyalty, wisdom, integrity and competence,” and presented her with a gift (a print by Waterloo  County artist Woldemar Neufeld) and a hug.

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[Four happy people with name tags]

Aging never looked this good, say grad student Shannon Freeman, faculty member Paul McDonald, and grads Eva Neufeld and Andrew Costa, all of them doing research on aging in the department of health studies and gerontology. They were among the crowd of some 230 people at a reception January 26 honouring recipients of graduate student awards. University president Feridun Hamdullahpur congratulated the many award winners, and encouraged recipients of Undergraduate Student Research Awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to choose Waterloo as the site for their graduate work starting next fall. Other speakers were Deny Hamel, a PhD student in quantum computing (physics), and associate provost (graduate studies) Sue Horton.

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Engineers will take their obligation

There will be 965 more Canadian engineers before tomorrow is over, as graduating students from the faculty of engineering take part in the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and put on the Iron Ring for the first time. The ceremonies will be followed by the biggest party of an engineering student’s campus years — the Iron Ring Stag — and preceded by smaller celebrations today.

In helping to stage the traditional (and distinctively Canadian) ceremony, the Faculty of Engineering works with an independent agency, Camp 15 of the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, which will be conducting the Ritual in multiple ceremonies tomorrow — four events, up from the three that have been necessary in recent years. The associate dean (co-operative education and professional affairs) in the engineering faculty, Wayne Parker, says some 255 candidates are scheduled for a 12:00 ceremony, 241 at 1:00, 239 at 2:00 and 230 at 3:00, all in the Theatre of the Arts. The ceremonies are not open to the public.

The first Iron Ring ceremony at UW was held in the spring of 1963. The wardens’ web site gives this background: “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has a history dating back to 1922, when seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada attended a meeting in Montreal with other engineers. One of the speakers was civil engineer Professor [Herbert] Haultain of the University of Toronto. He felt that an organization was needed to bind all members of the engineering profession in Canada more closely together. He also felt that an obligation or statement of ethics to which a young graduate in engineering could subscribe should be developed.

“Haultain wrote to Rudyard Kipling, who had made reference to the work of engineers in some of his poems and writings. He asked Kipling for his assistance in developing a suitably dignified obligation and ceremony for its undertaking. Kipling was very enthusiastic in his response and shortly produced both an obligation and a ceremony formally entitled 'The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer.'

“The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has been instituted with the simple end of directing the newly qualified engineer toward a consciousness of the profession and its social significance and indicating to the more experienced engineer their responsibilities in welcoming and supporting the newer engineers when they are ready to enter the profession.

[Iron Ring]“The Iron Ring has been registered and may be worn on the little finger of the working hand by any engineer who has been obligated at an authorized ceremony of the Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer. The ring symbolizes the pride which engineers have in their profession, while simultaneously reminding them of their humility. The ring serves as a reminder to the engineer and others of the engineer's obligation to live by a high standard of professional conduct. It is not a symbol of qualification as an engineer — this is determined by the provincial and territorial licensing bodies.”

Waterloo’s graduating engineers have typically shown their joy by dressing up in exuberant outfits and parading on campus before the Iron Ring ceremonies. With the ritual now held on a  Saturday, such celebrations are focused on today, as part of a week of social events organized by the Engineering Society’s GradComm. I'm guessing that the balloons decorating the Carl Pollock Hall overpass this morning are a manifestation of Iron Ring enthusiasm.

“During the morning,” says the GradComm web site, “most classes choose to get together at someone’s house for breakfast. Typically each class decides on a theme and class members dress in costume accordingly. After breakfast, classes usually come to campus together as a group. In the past, students would visit their former professors on this day. If you are planning on visiting a professor who is holding a lecture, be sure to talk to them in advance to schedule a reasonable time and ensure that you are not disrupting an important lecture or midterm.”

After the ceremony tomorrow comes the Iron Ring Stag, being held this year at the Waterloo Inn. A tradition of that event: everybody wears black, all black. And amid the merriment, the Tool, mascot of UW engineers, will be introduced — and the newly ringed ones permitted to touch its metal for the first time ever.


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Pipes run dry in E5

A water main break near East Campus Hall and Phillip Street cut the water supply to Engineering 5 building yesterday, and the dry spell will continue all day today. Rick Zalagenas of plant operations says work stopped yesterday afternoon when the contractor realized that heavier equipment was needed. The job will resume this morning, but it won't be a quick one beneath the heavily frozen ground. E5 is still open for business, but occupants have to rely on the plumbing in neighbouring buildings such as ECH and Engineering 3.

Link of the day

Wear Red Day

When and where

Canadian Association of Planning Students annual national conference continues through Saturday. Details.

Distinguished Teacher Award nominations due today. Details.

‘Fourth Natures: Mediated Landscapes’ conference at Architecture building, Cambridge, Friday-Saturday, public welcome. Details.

Imaginus Poster Sale last day, 9 to 5, Student Life Centre.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” today and March 4 at 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Superbowl lunch at  Festival Fare cafeteria, South Campus Hall,  11:00 to 1:45.

Chinese new year lunch at the University Club, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 38104.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Scott Sloka, Grand River Hospital, “Integrating Imaging, Medicine and Science” 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

Philosophy colloquium: Marguerite Deslauriers, McGill University, “Aristotle’s Objections to Socratic Proposals on Women” 3:30, Humanities room 373.

‘Orientation Goes Varsity’ activities and pizza for orientation leaders 5:00, PAC main gym, before Warrior basketball games. RSVP.

Warrior sports this weekend: Basketball vs. Lakehead Friday and Saturday, women’s games 6:00 both days, men’s games 8:00, PAC. • Women’s hockey vs. Windsor Saturday, vs. Western Sunday, 2:00, Icefield. • Volleyball (men’s and women’s teams) at Windsor Friday, at Western Saturday. • Track and field at York Classic, Saturday. • Nordic skiing, OUA championships, North Bay, Saturday-Sunday.

[FASS poster]

FASS of the Titans annual musical comedy, continues tonight 8:00, February 5 at 2:00 and 7:30, Humanities Theatre, tickets at Humanities box office 519-888-4908.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest to choose spring term courses, February 7-12. Open enrolment begins February 14. Details.

Facilitated group drumming session in support of Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week, Monday 9:30, Student Life Centre.

Library workshop: “Better Searching, Better Marks” February 7 and March 17, 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshop: “Exploring Your Personality Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)” Monday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Senate executive committee Monday 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Frank Esch and Andy Newman, plant operations, retirement reception Monday 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP ext. 36822.

Tamil Students Association coffee house and demonstration about human rights issues in Sri Lanka, Monday 5:00, Student Life Centre.

History professors Andrew Hunt (Dahlia Boyz) and Stan Johannesen (The Yellow Room) along with alumnus Mike Downing (Molasses) read from their novels Monday 7 p.m., Starlight Lounge, 47A King Street North. Details.

Treat-a-gram delivery in support of Keystone Campaign, order deadline February 8, delivery on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Details.

‘Dissocia: A Digital Gambling Venture’ original production by department of drama, February 9-13 at 8 p.m., February 12-13 at 2 p.m., Hagey Hall Studio 180.

Blood donor clinic at Student Life Centre, Thursday 10 to 4, Friday 9 to 3; appointments, call 1-888-2DONATE.

Paralympic movement: David Willsie of Canadian national wheelchair rugby team speaks on “Changing Minds, Changing Lives: Rehabilitation Through Sport” Thursday 1:00, Sun Life Financial Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University: Mary Poplin, Claremont Graduate University, “How the Religious Worldview Became a Secret” February 10, 7:30, Humanities Theatre; “Diminishing the Marketplace of Ideas” February 11, 7:30, Humanities; student conversation, “Is Anything Sacred?” February 11, 2:30, Hagey Hall room 1104. Details.

Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Registered Student (Amit and Meena Chakma Award) nominations due February 11. Details.

Organizational and Human Development speaker event: Dan Heath, “Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” February 11, 8:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

St. Jerome’s University lecture: Mary Jo Leddy, “Justice Has a Face” February 11, 7:30, Siegfried Hall.

2011 Sawatsky Lecture: Donald Kraybill, Elizabethtown College, “Forgiveness in the Face of Tragedy: Amish Grace at Nickel Mines” February 11, 7:30, Conrad Grebel UC great hall.

‘Showcase Your Roots’ celebration of black culture, organized by Black Association for Student Expression and other groups, February 13, 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

‘Life After the U’ panel of retirees, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, February 15, 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

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