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Wednesday, May 30, 2001

  • Fund appeals to staff and faculty
  • UW grads pull out of national council
  • Commuters can help clear the air
  • Under a cloudless blue sky

Fund appeals to staff and faculty

[Keystone logo] Staff, faculty and retirees are being offered "a great opportunity", says a letter introducing the Keystone Fund appeal for 2001 that they should be receiving today.

They're being invited to get involved as UW cranks up its fund-raising. Last year's Keystone Fund -- the on-campus arm of the university's annual fund -- brought in close to half a million dollars.

"You are probably aware," the letter says, "that a major fundraising campaign is being planned with the theme Building a Talent Trust for Canada. We can all be proud to be part of this exciting initiative. Our University has been developing talent for a long time, and UW's reputation for innovation is solidly based on the many talents of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. . . .

"Your financial support is needed now to help set the pace for the new campaign, scheduled to be publicly launched in the fall of 2002. . . .

"The campaign goal is to make sure that the University has the financial and physical resources to attract and retain outstanding students, faculty, and staff, and to create the very best environment to bring out their talents. These investments will continue to result in many benefits for Canada, as well as for the individuals involved. The Keystone Fund appeal is a great opportunity for us to contribute toward this goal."

Bonnie Oberle in UW's office of development says the appeal letter and brochure are being sent to about 3,800 staff, faculty and retirees this year. Last year, 808 donors from that group gave financial support to the university, both through the Keystone Fund and through "major gift" and "planned gift" arrangements that added up to more than another $1 million.

Participation rates were 42 per cent for faculty, 18 per cent for staff, 36 per cent for retired faculty and 12 per cent for retired staff, she said.

Keystone Fund contributions can go toward any of the projects listed in UW's annual fund, which range from athletics bursaries to library technology. The architecture school is seeking support for its Rome program, math invites contributions towards the tutorial centre, and the faculty of arts wants funding to make improvements to the Theatre of the Arts.

And all the faculties are emphasizing scholarship funds. "Increasing scholarship endowments is a top priority for UW," says Oberle. "These funds help to increase the number and value of scholarships on our campus, helping to attract the very best students and encouraging them to maintain academic excellence."

Keystone Fund gifts can be made by cheque, credit card or payroll deduction, and are tax-deductible.

UW grads pull out of national council -- from today's Gazette

The Graduate Student Association is pulling the plug on its membership in the Canadian Graduate Council, which it helped to create nine years ago.

The GSA council voted at its April meeting to withdraw its membership, effective June 1. Some 2,000 graduate students at UW each pay $2 per year for membership in the national organization, which was formed "to provide graduate student representation to the funding agencies and government departments" which make decisions affecting graduate students. Pending approval by the UW board of governors, the fee will be removed from the graduate student fee statement starting with the fall term.

When Bill Bishop stepped down as GSA president in April, he told the Gazette the GSA was reconsidering its affiliation with the lobby group, citing "substantial difficulties in fulfilling its mandate".

At the time, the GSA was planning to host the annual meeting of the Canadian Graduate Council at the end of April, but the event moved to Hamilton at the last minute, says Sabesh Kanagalingam, current GSA president, "because the council's executive failed to do their jobs, further emphasizing the dysfunctionality of the organization." Representatives from only five of 15 member universities showed up in Hamilton, where they formed an ad hoc group that will meet in July to decide the fate of the national body.

Kanagalingam said the Canadian Graduate Council has had "a series of difficulties over a couple of years", including failure to provide audits to its members. At one point, a member of the council executive "went missing," he added, no longer responding to queries or performing duties. For the UW GSA, the annual meeting fiasco was icing on the cake, prompting the decision to rescind UW's membership. "It finally sent them a message that we're serious about changes being made," said Kanagalingam.

Bishop and Kanagalingam are working with the ad hoc group "to either dissolve or significantly revamp the council, possibly under a new name, that will be incorporated, and thus be more accountable," said Kanagalingam. Under the proposed plan, the national organization would have a home base at a Canadian university and employ some permanent staff.

"The organization has pretty much died," he said. "We're trying to rebuild it."

The GSA is not considering affiliation with any other organization at this time. "Others are not a good fit for us. We want a lobby group that addresses student concerns." If problems can be resolved, "we will consider rejoining, hopefully within the year," said Kanagalingam.

Commuters can help clear the air

"Just breathe," says country singer Faith Hill, who perhaps doesn't check the air quality index reports for Ontario very often.

Actually the numbers haven't been bad in the last few days, and the Canada-US ground-level ozone maps are showing greens rather than worrying reds -- but the summer is just beginning, and smog is surely on the way. (The federal government says 5,000 people a year die in Canada as the result of air pollution.)

"Waterloo Region has generally very poor air quality readings compared to other Ontario centres," says a memo from a local group called Green Commute Canada, who have some plans for us in the first week of June. "In Waterloo Region over 39,000 people suffer with asthma, and asthma rates in children under 12 have quadrupled in the last 15 years. It is estimated that annually in Ontario 1,800 people die prematurely due to outdoor air pollution-related illnesses."

The Green Commute site goes on to note that "Vehicle emissions are a large contributing factor to air pollution. Traffic congestion is growing in our Region -- every car that isn't on the road helps."

So guess what they've got in mind? Right: a three-day "Commuter Challenge" during which people walk, bike, bus or carpool to work. The dates are June 5 through 7, and things are being organized so that Waterloo Region commuters compete with those in Hamilton to see which community can get more cars off its roads.

Watch for details about how UW people can sign up for the event.

Under a cloudless blue sky

A grounds crew is spreading thick dark red mulch on a bed just under my office window . . . spring convocation is two weeks away . . . the UW Shop in South Campus Hall is holding a "spring garage sale" today through Friday . . . the Institute for Computer Research was to offer a one-day course today, "Introduction to XML", but it's been postponed . . . a contingent from the information systems and technology department is just home from the Ontario Universities Computing Conference in Ottawa, at which five UW people were on the program . . . and more:

The Federation of Students will hold an open house today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its offices in the Student Life Centre. "This is an excellent opportunity to meet our volunteers, staff, councillors and executive," says Brenda Beatty, vice-president (student issues) of the Feds. Everyone is welcome.

The career development seminar series continues. Today at 10:30, it's a session titled "Work Finding Package"; tomorrow at 2:30, "Business, Etiquette and Professionalism", which I think is a new topic. Information is available from the career resource centre in Needles Hall.

At 12 noon today, Luke Fusco of the faculty of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University will speak on "Negotiation and Mediation in the Workplace and in Life". The talk will be given in Davis Centre room 1302 and is sponsored by UW's Employee Assistance Program.

Engineers Without Borders sponsors a talk by Raza Khan on "his experiences in Afghanistan", at 7:00 tonight in Davis Centre room 1302.

Advance note: UW engineering graduates of 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996 will be back on campus this weekend for tours and reunions. Events include a Saturday noontime barbecue for the younger generation of alumni, a banquet at the Four Points Sheraton for the older generation, and a reception for both groups hosted by UW president David Johnston. The engineering alumni office should have last-minute information.

And check out today's Gazette for a full-page ad drawing attention to the strawberry social to be held next week (Tuesday, June 5, from 11:30 to 1:30) at the UW bookstore.


[UW logo] 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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