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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, April 14, 1998

  • 'Spend 2% on computers'
  • Plans for SCH stairs are shown
  • Noted chemist leaves for Queen's
  • The rest of the day's news
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'Spend 2% on computers'

It's "imperative" that UW departments devote 2 per cent of their budgets to buying computer hardware, says a final version of the 1998 "Computing Directions Statement" from the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology issued yesterday.

UW needs "a powerful, well-managed electronic information infrastructure" to do its job, says the new document, which is little changed from the draft that was the topic of an open house in mid-March.

It's an updating of an existing 1996 document, and reports that there has been "significant progress" in the past two years towards the goals set out in 1996. "However, many significant accomplishments are still on the horizon, and the rapid pace of technological change will continue."

Among the changes since 1996 are the creation of UCIST itself and the position of associate provost (IST); reorganization of what was three separate departments (computing services, data processing, and telephone services) into IST; introduction of Waterloo Polaris; replacement of the campus's thousands of telephones; and the beginning of several major systems projects. New guidelines on appropriate use of UW computing and communications facilities are being prepared, networks are being improved, and UCIST is working on "the list of standard hardware".

The 1996 report called for "adequate student computing lab resources", and things are moving slowly in that regard, says the new statement, identifying "a management/political issue whereby certain Faculties and administrative units have not allocated sufficient resources to the provision of computing facilities. This has created inequities across campus and remains largely unaddressed."

A paragraph that's been sharpened since the earlier draft of this statement, the one seen at the open house, tells departments what they should plan to be spending on computers:

UCIST feels that it is imperative that departments budget annually for the replacement of desktop workstations. Departments should spend approximately 2% of their operating budget each year on workstations (assuming all employees have workstations); this excludes software and support costs. A review of the previous three years of expenditures indicates that UW spends between 3% and 3.5% of its operating budget on computer software, hardware, maintenance, and networks. Assuming an annual salary of $40,000, setting aside a budget of 2% would provide $3200 every four years which would be more than adequate to purchase a modern workstation.

Among other recommendations in the draft statement:

The many other matters touched on in the document include training, software licensing, negotiations with hardware and software vendors, lighting and furniture for computer users, and "the appropriateness of the social working environment" on a campus where everybody's hunched in front of a keyboard,

Three principles are at the heart of it all, the document says: "equitable access, efficiency and effectiveness, and harmonization of institutional and individual requirements".

Says a final paragraph:

For teaching and learning, we are suggesting significant development of the supporting infrastructure, construed quite broadly to include human, physical, and technical resources, as well as changes to the formal and informal reward systems for faculty and staff. For research, having identified three different categories of research users of computing, we strongly support provision of better access for general research use to the Electronic Workplace, and support of heavy users through provision and management of shared high-performance computing facilities. For administration, the current major information systems efforts must continue to be supported so that their successful implementation can provide better support to the core activities of teaching, learning, and research.

Plans for SCH stairs are shown

Three proposals for rebuilding the staircase and main entrance at South Campus Hall -- the university's "front door" -- will be on show next week. A selection committee has already chosen one of the three finalists in an "ideas competition" as its preference for the $100,000 project, but the work of all three finalists will be on display April 21 through 23 in the Dana Porter Library, says Dennis Huber, associate provost (general services and finance).

"The south entrance to campus requires improvement to better orient visitors and to present a public face to the surrounding community," a statement from the selection committee says. "More recently, it has been recognized that the stairs at South Campus Hall are in need of repair and that wheelchair accessibility could be incorporated in the planned reconstruction. . . .

"Phase I will make the area more inviting, provide for wheelchair accessibility along the Ring Road, provide a location for the 40th anniversary Founders Plaque, and provide building and wayfinding signage. One concept already considered by the University includes lowering the height of the existing retaining wall, adjusting the grades accordingly reconstructing the stairs and reconfiguring the landscape."

That much of the work is to be done this July and August. A second phase, with a budget of $500,000, "will be completed at a later date when funds become available", involving an elevator and enclosure over the stairs.

University architect Daniel Parent says the selection committee "has recommended the submission by Stephen Teeple Architect Incorporated" to UW's president. He notes that "the intent of an ideas competition is to use the recommended submission to develop the project further. The final solution may not be exactly as shown."

Noted chemist leaves for Queen's

One of UW's more prominent faculty members, Victor Snieckus of the chemistry department, is moving to Queen's University to hold a new chair entirely financed by an alumni donor there.

"The creation of a fully funded chair will advance the chemistry department's position as a leader among Canadian universities," says Stan Brown, head of the chemistry department at Queen's. It's supported by a $2.25 million gift from Alfred Bader, himself a retired chemist and industrial leader who is already famous for his gifts to Queen's, including a castle in Sussex, England. "The establishment of a chair in chemistry coincides with a planned multi-million dollar chemistry complex rebuilding program, with state-of-the-art laboratories," a news release from Queen's says.

Bader's gift has allowed the department to "build on its strengths of innovative research and outstanding faculty by attracting a world-class chemist", says Brown, welcoming Snieckus to Queen's. Describing him as "an internationally renowned scholar and expert in synthetic methodology (the construction of molecules)", Brown commented that "The addition of a researcher of Dr. Snieckus' stature will be felt at all levels of the department. His scholarship not only strengthens research in organic chemistry, it reinforces undergraduate and graduate teaching programs in the department."

Snieckus received his BSc (Honours) at the University of Alberta, his MSc at the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD at the University of Oregon. He's been at UW since 1979, and has held an industrial research chair since 1992. He has some 180 publications to his credit. In 1996 he received an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, and last year the R. U. Lemieux Award for Organic Chemistry.

The rest of the day's news

"It is once again time," writes Betty Bax from the kinesiology department, "for the Lab Days Experience in Applied Health Sciences, specifically Kinesiology. Lab Days started on Wednesday and will last 8 days (until April 21). Over these 8 days we are expected about 850 students from 36 high schools to visit the kinesiology labs. Students come from all over but some notable long distance treks are from Bancroft, Cobourg, Kincardine and Barrie. Visiting high school students get a chance to take part in labs involving biomechanics, physiology, EMG, nutrition, sports medicine and psycho-motor behaviour. The actual titles are more exciting, as are the labs themselves. All labs are conducted by graduate or undergraduate students."

Newspaper ads were published last week indicating that UW is asking for rezoning of two parcels of land at the northwest corner of the north campus. If the rezoning is approved, the land, totalling about 2.6 acres, is to be sold to Trillium Estates Ltd. for $225,000 and built up with townhouses, says Dennis Huber, associate provost (general services and finance). It takes the shape of two triangles that were cut off from the main body of the north campus by last year's realignment of Fischer-Hallman Road; they're now north and west of Fischer-Hallman where it meets the new Laurelwood Drive. The sale to Trillium was approved by the board of governors last year and is subject to rezoning approval, Huber said.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Record had two UW-related feature stories in yesterday's issue. One was a profile of Andy Lankin, a technician in the optometry school, and a description of how he succeeds in work and life despite a learning disability. (A separate article dealt with learning disability issues in higher education generally.) The other was a review of artworks by Shi Le, an exhibit mounted as his work for the Master of Fine Arts degree, that are on display through May 10 at the K-W Art Gallery in downtown Kitchener.

UW cancer researcher Roy Cameron is on the program today as the National Cancer Institute holds a one-day symposium for science writers in Toronto. Cameron will speak on "Tackling Tobacco: How Can Communities Work with Kids to Prevent Smoking?"

The Touring Players, who bring children's shows into the Humanities Theatre from time to time, are back today and tomorrow with "The Velveteen Rabbit" at 10:00 and 1:30 both days, 11:45 Wednesday only. Watch for school buses on the ring road.

Students in Environment and Resource Studies 285, "Greening the Campus", will present their winter term projects tomorrow, starting at 10 a.m. and running much of the day, in Environmental Studies I room 221. Among the topics: sanding and salting, vermicomposting, food waste in Ron Eydt Village.

"Combat the Dreaded Mouse Syndrome," says a flyer from the UW chiropractic clinic. "Long hours in front of the computer may contribute to achy shoulders, neck and arm pain, and tension headaches. This combination of symptoms is often referred to as Mouse Syndrome." Rhonda Kirkwood, chiropractic resident at the clinic, will offer some practical advice in two sessions next week -- at 12 noon April 21 or 23, in Matthews Hall room 1633. The Employee Assistance Program is co-sponsoring the event and asks anyone who will attend to pre-register by calling ext. 5301 (or e-mail gshellar@healthy).


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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