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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, April 8, 1998

  • Tuition fees, pension premiums, grants
  • Staff salary increase approved
  • An amnesty on library fines
  • Faculty association meets today
  • Other notes on a dull day
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Tuition fees, pension premiums, grants

Yesterday's meeting of the UW board of governors was largely taken up with money matters -- pension premiums down, tuition fees up, government grants frozen.

Provost Jim Kalbfleisch told the board that UW has offered to take more students in the computer science and electrical and computer engineering programs, starting next fall, to help meet the much-publicized need for more professionals in those fields in Ontario and Canada. First-year classes would be increased by one-third from the levels now planned.

"The condition of that expansion," he said, "would be full government funding," and there was a chuckle from board members when he said the provincial government hasn't responded to the offer yet. (Yes, he said in response to a question, UW would need more physical space, as well as more teachers, to handle the additional students.)

The offer could be read as a challenge to a government that has been less than generous in its university grants lately. The board meeting started with president James Downey showing a chart (from the Council of Ontario Universities) that displays changes in provincial and state funding for higher education across Canada and the United States over the past cwo years. Changes in the US: consistently positive (by an average of 11.4 per cent, Downey said). Changes in Canada: zero or negative. Ontario was shown as the reddest of the lot, with a drop of 15.3 per cent; this year grants are to be frozen at the 1997-98 level.

"We are trying," Kalbfleisch told the board, "to operate the university with $10 million less than we had five years ago." The president observed that "it would not take a lot of money", as government expenditures go, to make a big difference to higher education. "The impediment," he said, "is political, rather than fiscal, at this moment."

That was the context for a proposed 10 per cent increase in UW's tuition fees, which received board approval with just a few negative votes, although several members said they weren't enthusiastic. "I don't think any of us takes any pleasure in raising tuition fees," said Downey.

A delegation of about eight students handed him a petition, which they said had 630 signatures, calling for a tuition fee freeze and lamenting that "the quality of education has decreased despite the increased tuition." Downey responded that the views presented "will be taken into account", but went on to say, "I will not recommend a tuition freeze, because I think it would be a serious disservice to all of you."

Asked where the additional money is going, Kalbfleisch told the board that "what we are talking about here is avoiding decreases -- we are struggling to maintain the level of service that we provide."

A reduction in pension premiums -- both what's paid by individual staff and faculty members and what the university itself pays -- was approved by the board for a one-year period that begins May 1. There had already been one reduction, for three years that began in May 1997, which took premiums to half their previous level, and for the previous year they will be halved again (that is, they'll be 25 per cent of the regular premium).

The board also approved pension plan changes that will increase pensions by 8 to 12 per cent for everyone retiring after May 1, 1997.

"Investment returns on the pension fund have been unusually strong over the past three years," Kalbfleisch said in a written report. "Even with the proposed pension improvements and the previously approved 50% contribution reduction for three years, the pension fund will still have a significant surplus. The additional reduction from 50% to 25% in 1998-99 will save about $1.9 million in the operating budget, and will help the University to avoid further budget cuts and loss of faculty and staff positions. It will also save employees about $1.6 million which they can use for flexible pension plan contributions or other priorities."

With that saving and the fee increases that were approved, UW is within about $1 million of balancing the 1998-99 budget, Kalbfleisch predicted.

Staff salary increase approved

The board meeting yesterday gave approval to a May 1 increase in the salaries of UW's non-union staff, an increase that provost Jim Kalbfleisch said is "equitable" and "about comparable" with the increases faculty and unionized staff are receiving this year.

During the board's financial discussion, student representatives asked for some information on the level of salaries at UW compared with those elsewhere, and were told that staff pay is "competitive" in the Kitchener-Waterloo market though probably not at the levels for similar jobs in Toronto or Windsor. Faculty at UW are paid at around the Canadian average, said physics professor John Hepburn, though much, much less than their American counterparts receive.

The staff salary increase was recommended by the provost after he received it from the staff compensation committee, which has four members from the UW administration and four from the staff association.

It includes a 1 per cent increase in salary scales, the same hike staff received last year. The money will be distributed through the usual merit program, which means that individuals' pay increases won't necessarily be 1 per cent, but may be higher or lower depending on their performance appraisals and on where they are in the salary range. An increase could be as low as zero for a poorly-performing staff member, or as high as 6 per cent for someone with excellent performance who's still at a low point in the range for his or her job. The average pay increase for individuals is expected to be about 2.5 per cent.

A second feature of the pay package is unique to this year: extra increases from a fund totalling another 1 per cent of the staff salary budget, or about $500,000. That money is being provided "to recognize meritorious performance and the major contributions of staff during the post-SERP transition". The staff compensation committee explains the formula for distributing it: "All performance ratings, greater than or equal to 3.0, will be tallied and divided into the value of the special fund to arrive at a unit value; special increments will be awarded as a salary increase by multiplying the unit value by the performance rating where the rating is at least 3.0 or where the individual's salary grade is not exceeded."

In other words, that part of the increase depends only on the 1998 merit rating, not on where someone sits in the salary grid, and it's a flat sum of money, not a percentage increase. The "unit value" is likely to be somewhere in the $60 to $80 range, says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), so that means somebody with a 4 rating will have $240 to $320 added to his or her annual salary, in addition to the regular merit increase.

Both faculty and non-union staff had a 1 per cent scale increase on May 1, 1997. The faculty association is getting another 1 per cent as of May 1 this year, as well as the usual "progress through the ranks" increases. CUPE members had a 2 per cent pay increase last year and will get a one-time cash payment, but no general increase, this May 1.

An amnesty on library fines

Here's an announcement from the user services department of the library:
As part of the move to a new automated library system (TRELLIS) for circulation and other functions, the Library will offer an amnesty on outstanding fines.

Starting Wednesday, April 22, and continuing until April 30, all outstanding fines will be cancelled. Overdue material must be returned by April 30 to take advantage of the amnesty. Fines will apply as usual for any overdue material returned after April 30. If marks have been withheld because of outstanding fines, they will be released if the material is returned by April 30.

There are exceptions to the general amnesty. Fines for recalled books and reserve items will still be charged where they apply. In addition, outstanding replacement charges for long overdue or lost items are not included in the amnesty.

To repeat: don't get your books back before it's over, and you'll be paying fines as usual again, starting May 1.

Faculty association meets today

The annual general meeting of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo will be held today, at 2:30 p.m. in Physics room 145.

Results of the recent election will be announced -- there were five candidates for four seats coming vacant on the FAUW board of directors -- and the meeting will do routine business and hear annual reports from association committees. Among the reports is one from the academic freedom and tenure committee, which includes this nugget of news about "Professor X":

In December 1996 Professor X had a hearing in front of an adjudicator to decide of the adjudicator could hear his/her case. This initial hearing centred on legal arguments surrounding "constructive dismissal" and interpretations of Policy 53. It was not concerned with the merits of the case.

In the Fall of 1997 the adjudicator's report came in. He found in favour of Professor X's argument that the adjudicator has jurisdiction. The first hearing in front of an adjudicator between Professor X and the University is set for April 3, 1998. The reasoning used by the adjudicator concerning his interpretation of the relationship between constructive dismissal and Policy 53 has been forwarded to FAUW President Fred McCourt as information for use in current efforts to revise the University's grievance policy.

In confidential session, the meeting will hear a report on negotiations between the faculty association and UW management towards a new Memorandum of Agreement, the document that governs the employment of faculty members at UW. At yesterday's board of governors meeting, UW president James Downey commented that there has been "encouraging progress" on this longstanding issue.

Other notes on a dull day

The social psychology folks will hold a brown-bag symposium at 12 noon in the PAS conference room. The speaker: Leanne Son Hing, on "Affirmative Action: Fairness Is in the Eye of the Beholder".

Carol Brean, director of the Killam program and endowments and prizes for the Canada Council, will be at UW this afternoon. She'll speak at 2:30 in Needles Hall and then be available for individual meetings (appointments, call ext. 3432).

Auditions for next fall's production of "Single and Sexy" will be held tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts. Says a flyer: "Because 'Single & Sexy' deals with sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other issues, we welcome applicants from diverse groups. . . . No appointment necessary, but please arrive as close to 6 p.m. as possible. Wear comfortable clothes. No preparation necessary. No experience necessary. 3 females, 4 males. Actors $300/week, stage manager $325/week. Rehearsal and performance August 17 to September 11."

The English Language Proficiency Examination will be given tonight, starting at 7:00, in the Physical Activities Complex. Any students who have not yet satisfied their faculty's English language requirement should plan to take the exam.

Add St. Jerome's University to the places on campus that are offering special Easter lunches. Tomorrow is the date, the Community Centre is the place, and I'm told that $3 covers "homemade sweet bread, maple smoked bone-in ham, scalloped potatoes, spring vegetables, pop or fruit drink". There will also be a draw for an Easter basket and a couple of chocolate bunnies.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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