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Wednesday, March 28, 2001

  • Talking today about teaching
  • A 'claw-back', not a budget cut
  • Almost 12 megabytes per second
  • And a little of this and that

[Three wearing picket signs]
Picketing continues at McMaster University in Hamilton, where the staff association, newly unionized, has now been on strike for almost four weeks. Photo (by permission) from the web site of the Silhouette, Mac's student newspaper.

Talking today about teaching

Two special events today will shed some light on aspects of university teaching.

This morning, it's a set of five presentations by graduate students who are working towards the Certificate in University Teaching. "As part of the CUT," explains Donna Ellis of the teaching resource office, "participants write a research paper. While still working on the a paper, they do a short 20-minute presentation on the paper. We have more presentations this term than we have ever had -- nine in total this term (there's a second session April 19)."

The presentations will run from 9:30 to 11:30 in Math and Computer room 5158. The five presenters:

Location of the presentations: Math and Computer room 5158.

This afternoon's event is a "dialogue" on "The Future of Online Learning Objects at UW", presented by the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, LT3 for short.

Says Tom Carey, director of LT3: "A number of UW faculty have built online tools for use by their classes, and are now looking for ways to share these with other campuses. The panelists will share some of the issues this raises -- including changes in faculty roles and mechanisms for exchange and assessment of scholarly work in this area."

Online learning objects, says an announcement of today's session, "are modular components for online learning, suitable for re-use at other institutions. Faculty developing such objects face issues about how they can be distributed, how the work can be recognized, how the faculty involved can get a return on their time invested beyond the improvement in student learning, etc.

"This panel will share ideas about these issues, beginning with a speculative scenario from Tom Carey about 'a day in the life' of UW's online learning objects three years from now and then commentary from discussants Peter Chieh (chemistry) and J.A. (Jay) Thomson (kinesiology)."

The event runs from 2:30 to 3:30 in the "Flex lab", Dana Porter Library room 329.

A 'claw-back', not a budget cut

"There's really not much in the way of options," says acting provost Alan George, as he looks at the bleak prospects for UW's 2001-02 budget.

He'll bring a sketched-out budget to the senate finance committee this afternoon (12:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001) and gave a preview to the full senate on Monday evening. The senate will be asked to look at the budget, likely at the end of April, before it goes to the board of governors for approval in early June.

The current draft, which George will present today, shows expenses that exceed income by some $1.8 million for the coming year -- plus the cost of any increases in salary scales for faculty and staff members. Those increases are estimated at $1.4 million for every 1 per cent. "Salary negotiations have still not been completed," George told the senate on Monday.

The Ontario government has not said how much it will give the universities in grants in the coming year. Those grants make up the single biggest source of UW's income, about twice as much as tuition fees in total. "Also," says George in a budget memo, "the government still has not indicated how it will fund the additional capacity required to deal with the double cohort. This must happen soon if universities are to hire new faculty and staff before the fall of 2003."

So what's to be done about the looming deficit? "Until more clarity in the outlook emerges," George writes, "I do not propose to make base budget adjustments effective May 1, 2001. However, the money to deal with what appears likely to be a significant shortfall this year must be found." So, he writes, he has asked deans and other senior officials "to make plans in their areas of responsibility to generate one-time savings for a claw-back of at least 3% at the beginning of the fiscal year.

"There are some parts of the budget that will not be subject to claw-backs, such as bursaries, benefits, library acquisitions, scholarships, and utilities."

Almost 12 megabytes per second

The computer traffic between UW and the outside world is 83 times as heavy as it was seven years ago, according to figures from the information systems and technology department.

An average of 128.8 gigabytes per day travels in and out of the campus network, according to a study done in the third week of March. That's 11.9 megabytes every second -- up from 9.0 megabytes a [Graph of steady growth] second in the same week last year and 6.1 megs two years ago.

"March represents the peak month of the peak term," says Roger Watt, group director for systems in the IST department. "Aside from ever-increasing volume, there was no significant change from recent years."

Web traffic makes up slightly over half of the total, down from a peak of 63 per cent in 1998. E-mail accounts for just 3 per cent, and Usenet "newsgroup" traffic just 1 per cent. The second biggest category now is "other", at 38 per cent, involving various kinds of large-scale data transfers.

Holocaust lecture tonight

The annual Spinoza-Meir Lecture will be given tonight at 8:00 in Needles Hall room 3001. This year's speaker is Remkes Kooistra, retired from a long career as Christian Reformed chaplain and part-time professor of Dutch at UW, who will talk tonight about an earlier phase of his life, his involvement in the Dutch resistance during World War II and his work in saving Jews from Nazi extermination camps.

The title of the lecture, "Where Was God? Lives and Thoughts of Holocaust and World War II Survivors", reflects the efforts Kooistra has been making to collect the stories of people in the Kitchener-Waterloo area who experienced that traumatic period of history. A book resulting from that project will be launched tonight.

And a little of this and that

Paula Dimeck of applied health sciences gives the second part of her two-part session on stress management and relaxation training today (12 noon, Engineering Lecture room 211). . . . It's billed as "cheap night" at the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria. . . . A fund-raising concert for the Kitchener-Waterloo Bilingual School has the Humanities Theatre booked for this evening. . . . UW alumni in Ottawa have a gathering tonight at 6:00 at "Ben Franklin Place (formerly Nepean City Hall)" and will hear Andrew Waitman of Celtic House International talk about venture capital business. . . .

The library is still running its electronic survey about service and satisfaction. The faculty members and students who were selected for the survey will be getting a final reminder message in the next day or so, asking them to complete the on-line LibQual survey by the end of the week.

Students in Computer Science 492 ("Social Implications of Computing") will do an end-of-term presentation today about possible futures for the computer science curriculum at UW. "One team will suggest moving CS towards the engineering model of education, and the other team will propose a more liberal arts approach," says instructor Prabhakar Ragde. The in-class exercise, based on position papers, will start at 9:30 this morning in Math and Computer room 4040.

A scholarship information session about funding for graduate study is scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon in Math and Computer room 4020. Presentations are for all fields of study, with the emphasis on scholarships from three major granting agencies -- the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Ontario Gradate Scholarship program. Third-year and fourth-year students, as well as current grads, are invited, says the graduate studies office.

The InfraNet Program presents a talk this afternoon by Jamie Roberts of IBM Corporation (who's a UW graduate), under the title "Analog Designs for a Digital World". Says Roberts: "Designing hardware and software that people actually like is difficult at best, and raises a number of interesting questions. How do we think about technology and its use, and can we translate technical potential into easy-to-use processes and products? . . . We can begin to think differently about the complex interconnections between technology and its use, even if this new perspective leads to more questions about people's roles in this digital age." The talk starts at 2:30 in Davis Centre room 1302.

The Federation of Students will hold its annual general meeting at 7:30 this evening in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Agenda items are mostly the routine stuff -- bylaw amendments, the appointment of auditors -- and the meeting will be asked to make the official decision to set the Federation fee at $27.31 per term as of September 1. Oh, and Davis Centre librarian Jim Parrott will be appointed an honorary member of the Federation. All Fed-fee-paying students are entitled to be there, speak and vote.

Amnesty International and the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group present a talk tonight on "the small arms trade". The speaker is Ken Epps of Project Ploughshares; the talk starts at 7:30 in the multi-purpose room of the Student Life Centre.


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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