Tuesday, March 24, 1998
Don't be botheredTwo nuisances hit campus in one day yesterday -- the old-fashioned chain letter in the inter-office mail ("make 20 copies for your friends, or demons will infest your cappuccino") and the new-fangled electronic mail virus hoax ("do not open this mail message or your hard disk will become rigatoni"). Just another manic Monday. . . .
The $1-million professorship, based at St. Paul's, was launched in 1996 to honor the late Stanley Knowles, who served 41 years as a Member of Parliament. The professorship includes an annual lecture named after sponsor Robert Kerr, the co-founder of IMAX Corp., and the late MP Max Saltsman, who represented Waterloo South in the House of Commons for 15 years.
Lewis, currently deputy executive director at Unicef in New York, was Ontario NDP leader in the 1970s. From 1984 to 1988 he served as the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, and then from 1986 to 1991 he was special advisor to the UN Secretary-General on African economic recovery.
"Stephen Lewis has a well deserved international reputation as a human-rights activist, a man of outspoken opinion and integrity," says Helga Mills, principal of St. Paul's.
The Knowles professorship seeks "to enrich the educational experience of graduate and undergraduate students by bringing to UW people who possess a diversity of views and backgrounds, and who may hold differing and controversial commitments to Canada. . . . The professorship program will include many voices that have already been heard in Canada, and will provide an opportunity for new voices that need to be heard."
LeDrew has been helping to collect "electronic signatures" from staff members who want a permanent early retirement plan put on the agenda. As of yesterday, about 140 people had indicated their support for the idea, she said.
The effort to collect names in support of an early retirement provision was actually started by a representative of Canadian Union of Public Employees local 793, LeDrew said. The staff association, representing non-union staff, got involved because it feels "obligated to give our membership the opportunity to express their views." She added: "If there's a high volume of interest in this issue, then the pension and benefits committee has to keep talking about it."
The proposed pension changes were made public in January and were discussed at open meetings in February. LeDrew said she's been accused of "dividing the campus" by bringing the issue front-and-centre again, two months later. "I think we're obligated," she responds, "to create opportunities for staff to speak their mind."
She stressed that the staff association executive "is not officially supporting inclusion of an early retirement option" in the current pension amendments. "We think the improved options, in general, have been carefully thought out and will be equitably applied."
The changes include one that means the same dollar increase for most new pensioners -- about $35 more in annual pension for each year of service, or $87 more a month for someone who was in the pension plan thirty years -- and one that means an increase roughly proportional to final salary. Examples from the committee, showing the combined effect of the two changes, say someone retiring at a salary of $30,000 will see annual pension income go up by around $45 for each year of service. For someone with a final salary of $60,000, the figure would be around $70; for someone with a final salary of $90,000, around $95.
The changes now being proposed also include slightly lower premiums, starting in May 1998, and a "flexible" feature to allow extra contributions to the pension fund in some circumstances.
The P&B committee has been working on the pension changes since last spring, as a way of using some of the multi-million-dollar surplus in the pension fund. Pension premiums were reduced by half starting last May, for a three-year period, but there was still room to do more.
Provost Jim Kalbfleisch, who chairs the committee, told the campus in January that the proposed changes "will produce a larger single life or joint and survivor pension whether retirement is early or at normal retirement age (65)."
His memo had these words about early retirement provisions: "The committee heard frequent suggestions for enhanced early retirement benefits, such as a 'rule of 85', and spent considerable time in reviewing possibilities with the plan actuary. Such a change would . . . significantly improve pensions for members who retire early, but would produce no benefit to those who, by choice or necessity, work to normal retirement age."
The fee schedule is still "subject to the approval of the board of governors", which is expected to vote on it April 7. The information is being screened today by the board's executive committee.
Visa students in most undergraduate programs will pay a tuition fee of $6,087 (regular) or $6,101 (co-op); in architecture and engineering, $9,924 (regular) or $9,938 (co-op); in optometry, $10,424.
The tuition fee for full-time graduate students will be $1,452 (Canadians) or $4,000 (visa students). Grads who were already at UW in 1996-97 can continue paying fees under the old formula, which would mean a fee this year of $1,744 per term if they're still paying the degree program fee, $699 if they've finished that part of their program. Grads, too, pay incidental fees on top of their tuition fees, about $160 in most cases.
Part-time undergraduate students' fees will be calculated from a "unit course fee" of $399. Part-time grad students will pay $726 (Canadians) or $2,000 (visa students).
The board executive committee will meet at 2:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3004. Along with the fee levels, it's reviewing other agenda items for the April 7 meeting of the full board, including the pension plan changes, an update on the university's budget, and (in confidential session) some property matters and the naming of another UW building.
Students in geography can vote today in the election of their society leaders for the coming year. Executive members for the Environmental Studies Society and the urban planning student group were also to be elected today, but all the positions were filled by acclamation, I'm told.
At 2:30 in Davis Centre room 1302, the InfraNet Project presents Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's information and privacy commissioner, speaking on "Privacy in a Wired World: Can You Have Both?" She promises to talk about "data mining, the Internet and the implications for consumers, businesses and software developers".
A roundtable discussion about the Panantal region of Argentina starts at 3:30 in Environmental Studies I room 221. Maura Beatriz Kufner, visiting from the National University of Cordoba, will talk about this region -- one of the largest wetland areas in the world, around the Parana and Paraguay rivers -- and the danger posed to it by the Hidrovia project of dredging and major works to improve navigation in the area. "Come and learn about this fascinating area," says Heather Black of the Heritage Resources Centre.
The faculty of science presents a debate today: "Be it resolved that science is gender based." John Hepburn of chemistry, Robert Mann of physics, Trish Schulte of biology and Anne Zeller of anthropology and classical studies will tackle the question, and the audience will get to join in the discussion and vote. The event starts at 4:00 in Biology I room 271; admission is by tickets, available (free) from department secretaries across science.
The annual Rabbi Rosenzweig Memorial Lecture will be given at 4 this afternoon (Math and Computer room 2034). This year's speaker is Janice Stein, of the University of Toronto and CTV News, who will speak on "Current Issues Facing Israel". All are welcome, says a note from the Jewish Students Association.
The St. Bede Lecture Series continues tonight at Renison College, with Joanne Turner of the Renison faculty speaking on "Christian Values and Social Work" (7:30, St. Bede's Chapel at Renison).
UW's literary magazine, The New Quarterly, presents a reading tonight by three Canadian authors: Keath Fraser, John Metcalf and Leon Rooke. The event starts at 7:30 at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery on Erb Street. Tickets are $7 at the door. Tomorrow, Fraser alone will read at St. Jerome's College (3:30 p.m. in the common room, and admission to that event is free).
Tomorrow, the career development seminar series continues with "Job Offers: Keys to Successful Negotiating", at 2:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 1020.
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