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Tuesday, June 22, 1999

  • Policy on staff discipline
  • Year 2000 on desktop computers
  • 'Canada's biggest scientific project'
  • Trivia, and other trivia

Air quality advisory for southern Ontario today

Policy on staff discipline

A change is being proposed to the section of UW's Policy 18 that deals with discipline of staff members, says a memo from the staff relations committee:
Consistent with established practice, the Staff Relations Committee is soliciting feedback from all regular staff members on a proposed revision of Section V., "Disciplinary Action Including Dismissal From Employment", of Policy 18. The draft revision can be found on the Secretariat website. A hard copy is available from the Secretariat upon request: extension 2749.

The substantive changes are as follows:

  1. In all but exceptional circumstances, the provision whereby managers should discuss concerns with the staff member prior to initiating disciplinary action has been formally written into policy. This gives the staff member the opportunity to respond, before a determination is made or a decision is taken and a letter written.
  2. Managers are also now cautioned about handling second-hand reports of problem situations; first-hand investigation should ensure that the information received is not hearsay, gossip, or rumour.
  3. Also now formally written into policy is the fact that the staff member has the right to a dissenting view and may append the written warning letter or submit a letter of rebuttal for inclusion in her/his official file in Human Resources.
If you would like to submit comments for the Committee's consideration, please direct them to Dianne Scheifele, Secretariat, NH, or by e-mail to: dscheif@secretariat, by Friday, July 9, 1999.
Says the revised policy: "Disciplinary action is intended to be corrective, not punitive. This is consistent with the principles of progressive discipline in that it is intended to provide a constructive means for the staff member to understand the nature of the supervisor/manager's work-related concerns in order to make efforts for improvement. Disciplinary action differs from instruction, discussion, and constructive feedback, which are part of the normal work environment. . . .

"Progressive discipline follows a prescribed path, progressing to each new level of discipline only if the previous step proved ineffective in correcting the areas of concern. One or more stages of this progressive discipline model may be bypassed under exceptional circumstances such as proven dishonesty, physical attack on others, insubordination, or other actions which could be considered 'cause'. . . .

"At each stage of progressive discipline, it is the responsibility of the manager to draw to the attention of the staff member the various on-campus supports available, such as the Employee Assistance Program, Counselling Services, Human Resources, and the Office of Ethical Behaviour and Human Rights. At any stage of disciplinary action, the staff member should be provided with an opportunity to respond, acknowledge the concerns, seek guidance, or offer a dissenting viewpoint."

Year 2000 on desktop computers

"Some people seem to be a little complacent" as computer users approach the year 2000, says a memo sent to managers in UW's non-academic departments about plans to deal with the notorious Y2K bug.

"I don't have a problem . . . I don't have a problem," consultants are hearing, says the memo from members of a new project

Speaking of FACCUS

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday), from 9:00 to 10:30, will bring a meeting of FACCus, the Faculty Computing User Support Group, in Math and Computer room 2009. FACCUS will meet to discuss the following topics, says organizer Bob Hicks:
1. Software Updates: Scientific Workplace, Y2K patches, Office 2000 (Marj Kohli)
2. Polaris Advisory Group (Tim Farrell)
3. Quick Update on New Things Happening in the Faculties and Library
4. Request System Update (Paul Snyder)
5. Training Requirements (Bob Hicks)
6. FACCUS seminars for the Fall (Bob Hicks)
7. FACCUS contact list (Bob Hicks)
8. Red Room Plans and FACCUS photo in Red Room (for our FACCUS Web page)
Says Hicks: "Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting."
created by the information systems and technology department to deal with desktop computers and Y2K. In fact, "your PC hardware may indeed be compliant, but there are Year 2000 issues with your operating system, applications software, and most important, your data." Even Macintosh users need to worry in some cases.

"I would like to emphasize," says Tim Farrell of IST, "that although the Y2K issue affects nearly everyone on campus, our project has a narrow audience, the 700 or so desktop computers in the university's academic support areas and not the university as a whole. There are other groups working on Y2K, such as FACCUS for the faculties and other parts of IST for the university's corporate Y2K issues."

The "Windows 95/NT, Mac and Y2K Project" -- hey, catchy title -- will, according to the memo, "develop a strategy to achieve Y2K-compliance for computers running Win95/NT and Macintosh OS; communicate IST's strategy statement to the University community; implement the strategy for hardware, operating system and applications; obtain expertise with data conversion issues, communicate that expertise and assist users with user data conversions".

The memo also said that through meetings and "investigations", the project team is dividing software into four categories:

Category 1: IST will take responsibility to ensure a fix happens. The Win95/NT operating systems and Office 97 fall into this category.

Category 2: IST will make information and patches available and will provide support to clients to help them install patches. Office 95 and Norton Antivirus (Win95/NT) are in this category.

Category 3: IST will provide documentation about Y2K issues, and information on how to fix them, if that is relevant. Programs in this category include Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Filemaker.

Category 4: Y2K is not an issue. Some software packages have no date issues, or have always been Y2K compliant. Impromptu, Synchronize and Fetch fall into this category.

What remains is the data issue, and for some people, this may prove to be the most difficult. Dates are most commonly used in Excel and database programs, and have frequently been entered with 2 digit years. This may cause problems when those dates are used for sorting or selecting, or when calculations are performed on these fields. Project members are obtaining expertise with the date issues, and are evaluating data conversion and remediation programs.

As the next step, the project will hold a meeting for "computer support people in the academic support departments" tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Needles Hall room 3001, "to keep them informed of Y2K plans and procedures".

The project is also promising to "provide documentation and instruction about any UW supported applications that must be updated by computer support people in the departments" and to produce a CD with Y2K patches for people to use to update their home computers.

'Canada's biggest scientific project'

The University of Saskatchewan has invited tenders for the first construction work on what it's calling "Canada's biggest scientific project in a generation", the $173.5 million Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron project.

Says a a news release from the U of S: "The first contract includes site stripping, relocation and installation of underground utility services, installation of a parking lot, fencing of the site, and demolition of a cooling tower. This site preparation work will be underway by early July. . . .

"It's anticipated the building that will house the huge synchrotron machine will be complete by December of 2000. Work is already underway to modify the existing linear accelerator that will be used to inject the electrons into the synchrotron. The CLS project is slated to begin operations in late 2003.

"The facility will occupy an area larger than a Canadian football field. 'It's more than an acre under a single roof,' said Barry Hawkins, CLS project manager. . . .

"Incoming U of S President Peter MacKinnon said, 'One of the unique challenges of this project is the co-ordination of all of the various stakeholders -- such as government funding bodies, university departments, private sector people, and staff of the linear accelerator laboratory -- into a single project delivery team. I think that we are well on the way to successfully doing that.'

"Staff at the linear accelerator have been working on plans for the synchrotron since 1995. The CLS will be a third-generation light source, fully competitive with the best currently available in the world.

"The CLS will be a fully equipped synchrotron radiation research facility dedicated to providing full service to industrial, governmental and academic users. It will provide a brilliant light source for researchers to 'see' matter at the atomic scale. This will give scientists across Canada unprecedented opportunities for state-of-the-art investigations in materials science, medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, and the environmental sciences. . . .

"Owned by the U of S and endorsed by 18 other universities, the CLS will be funded from both public and private sources."

Trivia, and other trivia

I had some e-mail yesterday from complete strangers, asking about a Waterloo building with red and yellow pipes, and I knew there had to be an explanation. The explanation turned out to be [Building] UW computer science student Terry Ford, currently on a work term in Massachusetts, who operates a trivia web site and says some 6,000 users have registered for his game in the past few months even though no prizes are offered. He reports that "I was one question short this week, so I had to think up something on the fly." The resulting question: "While visiting the University of Waterloo in Canada, don't throw a rock at this building. Ignoring the horrid yellow and red piping, its exterior is made largely of glass." Ford says people "will do almost anything to get answers" to his questions, so it's probably no surprise that the e-mail showed up on my screen.

A day-long seminar "In Search of a Mennonite Response to Kosovo" is being held today at Conrad Grebel College. The event (cost $10 including lunch) is hosted by Grebel's Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Information: 885-0220 ext. 228.

A reception will be held at the University Club this afternoon (4 p.m.) to launch the Jeannine Raab Assistant(e) Program by UW's department of French studies. The student exchange program is being named to honour Raab, one of the benefactors of UW and the French studies program.

UW's Midnight Sun solar car had a better day yesterday, day two of Sunrayce '99, than it had experienced on Sunday. The Waterloo entry in the 29-car race was sixth in the run from Charlottesville to Raleigh, with an average speed of 23.16 miles per hour. That moves it up to 13th place in the race overall. Sunrayce '99 continues today with a 181-mile stage to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Susan Saunders Bellingham writes from the library: "The current display in the Dana Porter Arts Library is called 'Book marks: examples of methods used to personalize books'. Chosen from the holdings of the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, the display features signatures, inscriptions, bookplates, annotations, custom bindings and stamps that individuals have used to personalize books for themselves and for others. Included are inscriptions by Susan B. Anthony, Gore Vidal, and Robert Lowell, the signature of William Lyon MacKenzie, and the bookplates of Henry Luce, Lady Diana Cooper, and Gordon Craig. Also featured are bookplates designed by notable artists such as Eric Gill, Reynolds Stone, Walter Crane, and Kate Greenaway. The display will be available until the end of August."

Pixel Pub, the graphics photography outlet in the Student Life Centre, is running "a surprise sale for the next two weeks, just in time for summer break vacations". Says a flyer: "Passport photos are just $8.00 per set until June 30."


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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