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Thursday, June 20, 2002

  • Keystone supporters party today
  • Concern for health and dental costs
  • AHS dean continues to 2005
  • Grebel building project begins
  • And still more on a busy day
Chris Redmond

Campus life in the movies, 75 years ago

And again tonight

For people who work the night shift -- and there are a lot of them, most but not all in plant operations -- a "coffee break" at 10:00 tonight will repeat the spirit of today's Keystone Campaign party. The event is scheduled for the Festival Room in South Campus Hall.

Keystone supporters party today

Volunteers, development staff and people from across campus will launch the Keystone Campaign today with a midday party at Federation Hall.

[Campaign logo] Organizers have planned a parade across campus, starting at 11:30, to precede the barbecue, speeches, prizes, games and general celebration that will run from 12:00 to 2:00 at Fed Hall.

A special feature of the day will be several of UW's deans and other VIPs handling the barbecue chores. At last report Bob Kerton of arts, George Dixon of science, Mike Sharratt of applied health sciences, David Taylor, associate dean of math, architecture director Rick Haldenby and computer science director Frank Tompa were all signed up to do the flipping.

Faculty and staff heading for the party today are urged to bring along the door prize coupon from their bright red Campaign Waterloo invitation. "Fantastic" prizes will be drawn every few minutes through the event, says Shelley Rudd in the development office. I said yesterday that one prize was UW licence plates -- apparently that's wrong, and it's a set of plates that actually say WATERLOO. Prizes also include an RCA "super slim" CD player, a $500 travel voucher, restaurant and Zehrs gift certificates, a Lexmark jet printer, Kitchener Rangers tickets, athletics wear and many other items.

UW president David Johnston sent out a memo a few days ago: "I encourage all members of the UW campus community to attend. Recognizing the importance of this initiative, we have designated the 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. period as paid work time for all UW staff and faculty to participate in the launch.

The human resources department will be closed at noon hour today because of the Keystone event.
"As well, senior administration has designated June 20th as a Keystone Campaign Casual Dress-Down Day and everyone is encouraged to wear UW colours and clothing that promote the University.

"For those departments providing essential services and thus obligated to remain open during this 2 1/2 hour period, please try to make arrangements so that everyone has an opportunity to participate."

Now, about that parade one more time. There are five "staging areas", and people should meet by 11:30 at the one nearest to them: the arts quadrangle, the area between the Graduate House and Rod Coutts Hall, the rock garden, the Davis Centre courtyard, or the Village west cul-de-sac. "North campus staff will proceed directly to Fed Hall," organizers say, "and BMH staff can meet on the BMH green."

Concern for health and dental costs

There's need for "creative thinking" about the cost of health benefits for UW staff and faculty members, says a report from the university's pension and benefits committee, issued this week.

The report is an annual report on the full range of work done by the P&B committee, but its longest -- and likely most controversial -- section deals with benefit costs, which are, as the report notes, "a source of great interest and concern to all members of UW". It doesn't specifically mention the tensions late in 2000, when several open meetings discussed possible cuts to the benefits provided. A few cuts were eventually made, including a limit on how much the plan will pay for the dispensing fee on prescriptions.

Says the report: "Benefits are primarily funded by the University's operating budget. An optimist's view of the current funding situation is that at some point in the future, the government will begin to recognize its obligations to fully fund the growth in students and the needs of Ontario universities. Until then, Waterloo, and all other Ontario universities, will struggle with ever-increasing demands on the operating budget.

"Given all of these considerations, the Committee has been working to find some way to deal with the increased costs for extended health and dental care that have been part of the recent past and which many experts predict will be a significant part of the future.

"The Committee has done this in a positive environment, created in part by a two-year respite in the escalating costs of both plans which has resulted in costs that have been manageable within the University's budget, and by a willingness on all sides to work together."

The committee says it has agreed on five "basic principles and values":

"Within this framework," the report tells staff and faculty, "the Committee hopes to be able to find the appropriate path through the next difficult years, while recognizing that there are no easy answers and probably no extra funds available for this purpose. This means that the plans may have to be modified, refined, changed and re-configured in order to continue the coverage all employees now enjoy. . . .

"Mindful of the principle 'to maintain what we have', while being realistic about the funds available, the Committee decided that a full review of alternate methods to manage the Extended Health Care Plan should be undertaken. This review will be far reaching, and will include examining more efficient and innovative methods for the delivery of services and drugs.

"Given the reasonable increase in premiums experienced this year, the Committee has time to do some creative thinking about the expected cost pressures that may yet come. There are no easy choices and there are no simple solutions. This is a nationwide, worldwide problem, and no one appears to have the answers."

Other topics touched on in the report include the committee's work monitoring the pension fund; socially responsible investing; out-of-Canada health coverage; and the relationship between pension plan membership and benefits for retirees.

Copies of the report have been distributed to all staff and faculty members, and it's available as a PDF on the secretariat web site.

AHS dean continues to 2005

Mike Sharratt, dean of applied health sciences, will serve another term, the president announced in a memo yesterday. He said the reappointment -- from January 1, 2003, through June 30, 2005 -- had been approved by the board of governors executive committee.

Said the president: "Professor Sharratt's reappointment enjoys widespread and enthusiastic support within the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and throughout the University, and I am delighted he is willing to continue as Dean for a second term." Sharratt has been heading AHS since August 1, 1997.

[Sharratt] Sharratt (right), a professor of kinesiology, recently made a big contribution to training young people in Kitchener-Waterloo to perform CPR, says a news release from Waterloo Region's emergency medical services:

"With the cooperation and assistance of public and private community partners, Waterloo Region gained an improved training program in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for area grade nine students.

"The CPR training program for high school students in Waterloo Region was initiated by St. John Ambulance and Dr. Mike Sharratt, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. St. John Ambulance provided CPR training for 40 area teachers while Dr. Sharratt arranged for an initial purchase of 30 instructional mannequins. 'The Lyle Hallman endowment donated to the Faculty was used to support this very important initiative for area high school students,' said Dr. Sharratt. . . .

"Across the public and separate school boards, this enhanced program will provide training to 6,100 high school students each year."

Grebel building project begins

Conrad Grebel University College is putting a ceremonial shovel in the ground today to start work on a $4.1 million expansion. Groundbreaking celebrations are set for 3:30 p.m.

The college is adding 26 beds to its dormitory and constructing a 32-bed apartment building at the north end of the property. "With the looming housing shortage for students in the Waterloo area, the opportunity to provide more housing on campus for our students, especially our senior students, is very exciting," said dean of students Mary Brubaker-Zehr.

An atrium will connect the residence building with the academic building, saving the slippers of Grebel students who, in the past, have had to dash through the snow to get the mail or meet with a prof.

An impressive structure, the atrium will have glass at each end, reaching the full height of both buildings. An elevator in the centre of the atrium will provide easy access to every area within the two existing buildings.

"When I started seven years ago," said college president John Toews, "I could never have imagined that we would be in the position to embark on a construction project. But thanks to the generous support of donors these past several years we were able to contemplate building these seriously needed spaces."

Most of the project will be funded through a mortgage paid by residence fees and rental income. A $500,000 challenge gift is being matched to raise $1 million in donated capital toward the atrium and other parts of the renovations that will not generate income.

Also included in the project is expansion of the main parking lot, the renovation of student services space and the relocation of the student lounge, a number of classrooms and offices. The new facilities are being designed by Architecture Incorporated with project management by Protrend Construction Management Inc.

And still more on a busy day

UW's health research conference, "From Cell to Society", continues today in the Lyle Hallman Institute. There are concurrent sessions at 9:30, 11:15, 12:30 (with lunch), 1:45 and 3:00, and a special presentation at 4:15 on "Electrochemotherapy and Electromagnetic Treatment of Cancer". A reception follows from 5:00 to 7:00.

The newly-founded "interdisciplinary coffee talk society" for discussion of colleagues' research and ideas "is doing very well", says a note from its organizer, Achim Kempf in the applied math department. The next session will be held tonight at 5:00 at the Graduate House; Alastair Farrugia, graduate student in combinatorics and optimization, will speak on "Measuring Complexity".

Waterloo Region holds an open house about its proposed "action plan for housing" -- which includes student housing -- from 4:00 to 8:00 today at the Regional Administration Building, 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener.

Electrical power will be shut down from 5:00 to 8:00 tomorrow morning in the Humanities building, the Arts Lecture Hall and the PAS (Psychology) building, for work on the power supply to the new co-op and career services building. Computer users in HH, AL and PAS are advised to shut down their machines before they go home tonight.

Alan Gross, professor of rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, will be at UW tomorrow to speak on "Visual Communication in Science", 2 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1350. He'll be speaking on research from his most recent book, Communicating Science: The Scientific Article from the 17th Century to the Present.

And . . . breathe with care: Waterloo Region is under a smog advisory today.



June 20, 1972: A ground-breaking ceremony is held for a new Optometry building north of Columbia Street.

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