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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

  • RIM founder named UW's chancellor
  • Employee information on the screen
  • Optometry student plays Anne's beau
  • Notes and events of the day
Chris Redmond

Penumbral eclipse of the moon

Party set for Thursday

President David Johnston is inviting the campus to enjoy cake and light refreshments this Thursday at noon in the Student Life Centre to celebrate UW's naming again as "best overall university in Canada" in the annual Maclean's magazine universities reputational survey.

The event on Thursday celebrates the 11th year in a row with UW securing the "best overall" spot in the national reputational survey. UW also swept the #1 ranking in reputation in its category: "best overall, highest quality, of leaders of tomorrow, and most innovative".

UW finished in second to Guelph in the "comprehensive" category (universities that have a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees), down from first last year -- despite racking up seven first places (more than double any other university) in the 22 measures taken by Maclean's to arrive at the category ranking.

[Lazaridis speaks]

RIM founder named UW's chancellor -- a news release being issued by UW this morning

Mike Lazaridis (left), founder, president and co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM), has been appointed chancellor of the University of Waterloo. His appointment was approved by Senate Monday night.

Lazaridis will begin a three-year term of office on May 1, 2003, to end April 30, 2006. He will succeed Valentine (Val) O'Donovan, chairman of Com Dev Ltd. who will complete two terms as chancellor next May. UW chancellors are able to serve no more than two consecutive three-year terms.

"Mike Lazaridis is a passionate, eloquent and compelling champion for education and fundamental research. How fortunate for the cause of higher education in Canada that he will be the University of Waterloo's chancellor," said UW president David Johnston.

"I have long enjoyed my association with the University of Waterloo, which I consider a great source of innovation, new knowledge and talent for our society. I am very pleased to accept the honour of being selected its next chancellor," said Lazaridis.

Lazaridis is recognized as one of Canada's leading visionaries and entrepreneurs, and is also known as a powerful and passionate advocate for education at all levels. His commitment to UW is profound, dating from his undergraduate days. He is the recipient of a UW DEng and an active governor since he joined the UW board of governors.

Founded while he was a student in 1984, RIM is best known for the BlackBerry, the world's first complete and secure end-to-end wireless solution for e-mail and corporate data delivery. Lazaridis holds more than 30 patents and oversees all product strategy, research and development, manufacturing and operations at RIM.

A community leader and philanthropist whose private support of research is unparalleled in Canada, he founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in 2000. Lazaridis is credited with single-handedly altering the profile of scientific research in Canada through the creation of the Perimeter Institute. In donating $100 million towards its creation, he embarked upon the fulfillment of a vision for research that is unlike anything ever seen in Canada.

In addition, his gifts to UW have helped establish the Institute for Quantum Computing, projected to be one of the leading centres of its kind anywhere.

Employee information on the screen

I got a preview the other day of what's going to be called "myHRinfo" -- a web site that UW employees can use to check on their pay and other personnel information. It's expected to be available some time next month.

The new service is possible thanks to "a huge upgrade" in the Human Resources Management System early in November, I was told by Connie van Oostveen of the information systems and technology department.

[myHRinfo logo] The idea is to make information easily available to staff and faculty, as well as the thousands of students and "casual" employees who are paid by UW, says Sandra Hurlburt, assistant director of human resources. At the same time, it'll reduce the paperwork for HR. (There are about 3,000 full-time staff and faculty who receive monthly pay slips -- "pay advices", HR prefers to call them -- and in a typical month another 3,000 people get paid for occasional or temporary work or scholarships.)

The new online system is expected to make the pay slips unnecessary, although they won't be eliminated right away, she said. "Employees will be able to view their current paycheque, as well as previous paycheques issued during the last 12 months. Paycheque data will give them all their information about gross pay, Canadian income tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance deductions, as well as benefits deductions and employer contributions to benefits plans. It will display their net pay and in which account their pay was deposited."

The plan is to have the system working in time for people to check their December pay on the web a few days before payday -- which will be Monday, December 23, the last working day before Christmas.

"For a few months, we will continue to send out pay advices to employees," Hurlburt promises. "After that point, printed pay advices will be supplied only upon written request by an employee. It is estimated that not producing, folding, stuffing and distributing pay advices to all our employees will save the university over $30,000 annually."

Other pages on the new web site will let individuals see what the HR files record for their address, birthdate and similar information, as well as a summary of their benefits. What's your employee number for the health plan? Who's the beneficiary of your life insurance? The new "myHRinfo" knows.

I couldn't actually see my own information at the demonstration, only the information for a fictional staff member named "Josephine Waterloo". The system will be moved from a test database to the real thing shortly, says Alice Pelkman, systems specialist in HR. She added that in the future, it should be possible for individuals to change some of the on-line information, such as their mailing addresses. But for now, it's viewing only.

Information is password protected, so that individuals can't see other people's information, only their own. (The password is the same one that's likely already used for UWdir, electronic voting, Quest or computer network access.)

There will be public meetings next month at which people can see a demonstration of "myHRinfo" and ask questions, Hurlburt said.

Optometry student plays Anne's beau -- by Barbara Elve

[Iley] Playing the character of Gilbert Blythe in "Anne of Green Gables", which runs this week at the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, isn't much of a stretch for optometry student Matt Iley (left).

"A lot of people have told me I look like Gilbert," he said last week, wolfing down lunch at the Student Life Centre during a short break from optometry clinic duties. "And I have a little bit of Gilbert in me," he quipped, with a boy-next-door smile. "Gilbert's a nice guy, a charmer, he likes to have a good time - a happy character." In the classroom, he's also a tease, driving red-haired Anne Shirley to crack him over the head with her slate for his ill-timed reference to carrots.

While it was easy for Iley to get into character, the challenge of acting in a musical was not exactly a cakewalk. Although he'd been active in drama productions at high school in Port Elgin, his only drama course at UW was public speaking.

For the past few years, Iley has been too busy to pursue his love of the stage. He was the originator, poster boy and tireless promoter for Student Life 101 -- the annual pre-orientation introduction to UW for new students and their parents -- as well as a residence don during his undergrad days. He's currently president of the UW Optometry Student Society class of 2003, and will be remembered at Minota Hagey residence for his apple crisp.

Iley married his high school sweetheart, Nadine Schlenker, last summer, and plans to receive his Doctor of Optometry degree at convocation next June.

So feeling a bit rusty, he auditioned last spring for a part in the K-W Musical Productions version of "Anne", and was shocked when he was offered the role of Gilbert.

Rehearsals began in September, with the cast putting in some 12 hours a week, augmented for Iley with voice lessons to fine-tune his solo and duet numbers. In the past couple of weeks, rehearsals have jumped to five nights a week, and the production schedule includes eight shows in four days, including four student matinees.

[Leaning against GSC wall]

Shovels are at the ready, and grounds supervisor Les Van Dongen is waiting for people to wield them. Any snowy morning, students can show up at the General Services Complex courtyard at 7:30, ready to clear the white stuff from walkways and steps. The pay is $9 an hour this year. "We supply the shovels," says Van Dongen, "and are quite willing to work around the schedules of the students that show up, provided they are here at 7:30." He wouldn't mind hearing from potential shovellers ahead of time, at ext. 4010. Van Dongen notes that some of the regular UW grounds crew will be working a night shift, starting at midnight, as of December 2. "We did have a couple of guys start early this morning," he said yesterday, in the wake of Sunday's little storm.

Despite the "big commitment", Iley is having the time of his life. There are a dozen or so UW students and alumni taking part in the production, including Iley's wife as one of the women of Avonlea -- as well as physics professor Robert Mann; math associate dean Steve Brown; his son Mike Brown, a graduate student in math; James Howe of development and alumni affairs; and Jennie Wiebe of the Brubacher House museum.

Providing the accompaniment will be members of the K-W Symphony, and providing the applause will be family and friends from Port Elgin -- Iley's mother is coming to two performances -- as well as a big contingent from the school of optometry, UW and the Waterloo area. "Anne" runs November 21 to 23, with tickets available from the Centre in the Square box office at 578-1570.

Notes and events of the day

The early childhood education centre in the psychology department is holding its annual Scholastic Book Fair today and tomorrow -- an opportunity to buy books "ranging in suitability for young children, youth and adults". Location: PAS building room 1015.

The senate scholarships and student aid committee meets at 9:30 this morning in Needles Hall room 3004.

There will be an information session about UW's planned new Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program today at 4:30 in Davis Centre room 1302. MBET -- the subject of a feature in the recent "technology supplement" to the Record -- is described as "a unique program designed for students who wish to develop their business skills while enhancing their technological advantage".

Would-be adventurers can choose between two presentations in adjacent rooms at 7:00 tonight:

Also at 7:00, but less adventurous, would be Fed Flicks, tonight featuring "The Untouchables" and "The Road to Perdition". Admission is $5, including pop and popcorn. Location: Federation Hall.

Two speakers from the Secwepemc people of British Columbia visit campus tonight, giving a talk that's sponsored by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. A WPIRG announcement explains why Nicole Manuel of the Native Youth Movement and William "Wolverine" Ignace, a Secwepemc elder, are touring Ontario:

The Secwepemc people are fighting for their traditional land, their way of life; trying everything from reports filed with the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to the blockading of Sun Peaks Resort Road. Youth and Elders, side by side, are standing up against the BC government, the RCMP, and the Sun Peaks Corporation and demanding justice. Recent court sentences for a summer blockade have not dampened their spirits and only serve to focus the struggle and expose the systemic racism facing them.
The talk starts at 7:30 tonight in Biology I room 271.

Looking ahead: a debate on the proposed "UPass", or universal bus pass, giving all students rides on Grand River Transit, is scheduled for noontime tomorrow in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Involved are representatives of the Objectivist Club and the Alternative Transportation Group -- golly, I wonder who's on which side of the issue.



November 19, 1990: The UW senate approves calling the head of an academic department "chair" rather than "chairman". November 19, 1999: A gold-and-white UW flag is raised for the first time.

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