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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 16, 1998

  • Staff reach for stress videos
  • Student's show is pure illusion
  • Twelve days to Trellis
  • And these other notes
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Staff reach for stress videos

Want to know what's on the minds of people who work at UW? Check out the staff training and development library in the human resources department. And this year, stress management is high on the list.

Just a smallish room with a few bookshelves and a computer, the library has some 300 lending titles in book, audio and video cassette and CD-ROM formats. The little library scrambled to provide resources to help people cope with change and stress in the wake of the Special Early Retirement Program in 1996-97.

Are you stressed?

Bulletin readers, especially staff members: I'd be glad to receive comments about workload and stress, particularly anecdotes that would help people in other departments understand what folks are going through. Interesting responses will be quoted in the Bulletin or the Gazette over the coming weeks. -- CAR
"There was a grieving process around SERP," said Katrina Maugham, HR staff relations coordinator, member of the staff training and development committee, and keeper of the library. Faculty and staff were dealing with workload issues and struggling to "let go of the retirees", she said. Fallout from SERP may be reflected in the continuing high demand for tapes on stress management and, she added, stress management seminars in the staff training program this winter "were packed".

A sure sign of spring is the surge in popularity of a video produced by human resources on the staff evaluation process. Another big hit this year is "How to Manage an Overwhelming Workload", part of a series of mini-booklets packing mega-information. "It gives me a little insight into the mood on campus." said Maugham, noting that a recent training session for the faculty of math discussed managing multiple priorities.

Anything dealing with teamwork, public speaking and presentation makes the bestseller list, as well as current trendy tapes like "Chicken Soup for the Soul". Whether it's dealing with difficult people, diffusing anger and conflict, handling criticism or becoming a better manager, the library is full of strategies.

While video cassettes are the most popular format, people find audio tapes handy to take along in the car, she said. Viewing or listening to tapes in the home or car allows for privacy with sensitive topics. A seminar was offered a couple of years ago on interview skills, said Maugham, but "no one wanted to go because they thought their manager would think they were looking for a new job." But people can discreetly prepare to jump ship by borrowing tapes on "Power Networking" or "50 Ways to Get Hired".

A recent addition to the resource list is a set of CD-ROMs purchased jointly by human resources and information systems and technology to help employees boost computer skills.

Student's show is pure illusion

David J. McDonnell might be mistaken for any second-year honours English student. By day, he ponders literary allusions with his classmates. But by night he takes to the stage to perform magical illusions.

This Friday and Saturday, his company, Screaming Eagle Productions, will be part of "Dreamspell", a student-run medley of dance, drama and music at Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society.

Like many eight-year olds, McDonnell had his own magic kit, but unlike others, "I didn't get over it," he said in a recent interview. Today, he's sawing women in half in the best tradition of grand illusion. "People crawl through me," he added, "we do all kinds of really strange things." And if something goes wrong? "Everything we do has an element of danger. I've been cut a few times because of mechanical glitches, but there's been no problems with sawing someone in half."

All illusionists are magicians, he explains, but not all magicians are illusionists. "I do grand illusions involving people. A magicians usually uses smaller props and works on his own." Along with his two blonde assistants, dancers Kirsten Chicorli and Christina Kemp, the company includes McDonnell's brother, Paul, who designs the mechanical illusions, their father, Jim, who builds the stage equipment with Paul, and their mother, Judi, who mixes the music and helps Paul's wife Michelle with promotions.

Largely self-taught, he has been influenced by a number of the greats, including Harry Houdini, from whom McDonnell has adapted the "metamorphosis" act, and David Copperfield, "who believes in entertaining the audience, rather than just fooling them."

Although McDonnell and company have performed at a number of local venues, this is their first charity show, and "our way of helping out finding a cure" for the disease that claimed both his maternal grandparents, as well as Kirsten's grandfather. Tickets -- $6 for adults and $5 for students and seniors -- for the 7:30 p.m. performances this weekend may be reserved by phoning 572-5652 or 743-8308, or can be purchased at the door. Half the proceeds will go the Cancer Society, he said.

Twelve days to Trellis

logo] They've started the countdown in the UW library and in the libraries of Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph, which are introducing the new Trellis computer system jointly.

Things are pretty frantic, I'm hearing, but people are evidently keeping their sense of humour. Yesterday's countdown bulletin from the Trellis public relations team included this old-time advice to librarians, labelled "we've come a long way":

When you have determin'd that it is Prudent to purchase a certain Work, do so cautiously and make a Shrewd Bargain with the Vendor. It will then be your Duty to Peruse the Volume, even if (as doubtless will be the Fact) you have scan'd it before Buying.

Do not let the Importunities of Persons who come to the Library hasten you in the Performance of this Task. They should be Content to wait for the Book until you have Satisfied yourself of its Contents.

There will then remain the Necessity of recording its Acquisition in your Ledgers of Record. As for the Entry of its Style and Title in the Catalogue, many counsel that this is not needful, since you may be expected to remember that the Book has been Purchas'd for the Library. It may, however, occupy your leisure moments. . . .

Yesterday's bulletin actually said it was "ten days to Trellis", but that's counting towards the beginning of transferring data from the present system to Trellis. For those of us on this side of the circulation desk, the real target date is April 28, when the circulation system and public catalogue of the three libraries goes live.

And these other notes

Terry McMahon, chair of the chemistry department, says there's no way his department jumped from 17 staff members in 1996 to 25 in 1997, as reported in yesterday's Bulletin. "If only I had known about this I would have actually put them to work," he writes. He says the actual number, as far as he can tell, is 16.5 The figures I quoted are part of a report on total staff numbers at UW, prepared for the senate finance committee, and I'm trying to find somebody who can explain where they came from.

And a correction to Tuesday's Bulletin: I said that Victor Snieckus of the chemistry department had been a faculty member at UW since 1979. In fact, he's been a full professor since 1979, but he actually arrived at UW in 1967.

Statistics Canada reported this week that Canada has nine million people with a post-secondary qualification, as reported in the 1996 census. That represents "40% of the population aged 15 and over, up from 29% in 1981. . . . Of the postsecondary graduates, over one-third or 3.5 million were university graduates with a university certificate, bachelor's degree or higher. These university graduates represented 16% of the population aged 15 and over in 1996, compared with 10% in 1981. The remaining 5.5 million had their highest certificate or diploma from non-university postsecondary institutions, such as colleges, CEGEPs and trade schools."

The joint health and safety committee will meet today -- 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001 -- to discuss recent injuries and fire calls, asbestos removal, rollerblades, knife training, needle disposal, smoking rooms, slippery walkways, and other such matters.


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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