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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

  • Board gets a double cohort update
  • Staff comment on the 'climate'
  • North campus streets get UW names
  • Contest to use old maple wood
  • What's happening today and tonight
Chris Redmond

The public believes what it hears

[Val O'Donovan]

Chancellor Val O'Donovan is seen in action at Saturday afternoon's convocation ceremony (with president David Johnston and gold medal winning graduate student Jane Buckingham). As he finishes his term as chancellor, the ceremonial head of the university, O'Donovan -- founder of the aerospace firm COM DEV -- was to be guest of honour at a dinner last night following the board of governors meeting.

Board gets a double cohort update

The "double cohort" surge in students coming to Ontario universities isn't a temporary "pig in a snake" bulge, but a permanent increase in demand, says UW president David Johnston.

He told the UW board of governors last night that while the double cohort is the immediate result of a change in Ontario's high school curriculum, producing two graduating classes at once in 2003, other factors are expected to keep enrolment high. He mentioned population change (the "baby boom echo" bringing a surge of teenagers over the next decade), a growing participation rate (the percentage of young people who seek higher education), and rising demand for adult education.

These points aren't new, but they reassured some board members that any changes UW makes in order to deal with the double cohort of students won't leave the university with empty classrooms afterwards. (Besides, the board was reminded, a university like Waterloo is never likely to run short of applicants for any spaces it offers.)

Last night's board meeting talked about the double cohort more than once, and Johnston observed that "there's some understandable angst" among high schoolers and their parents about whether they'll get into university at crunch time, September 2003.

Said Johnston: "The ministry says -- and we believe this -- that there will be a place for every qualified student." The question, he went on, is whether that place will be in the program the student wants, and whether universities can keep delivering the quality that Ontario students are used to.

Provost Amit Chakma revealed that, to help meet the government's target for student spaces next year, UW has again increased the number of first-year students it's willing to accept. The target sat at 5,200 earlier this year -- compared to 4,000 students a year that UW was admitting in the late 1990s -- and Chakma said last night that the figure is now 5,400.

"We're doing some contingency planning," he added, in case the government comes back and asks UW to take still more students. The maximum that could be fit in is maybe 5,600 to 5,700, he said tentatively.

"The dilemma will be the quality of that space," Johnston added. And both men noted that enrolment increases, at UW or anywhere else, aren't going to happen unless the government comes through with "full-cost funding" to pay for it.

A recent government report suggested that 75 per cent of next year's graduating high school students may want to go to university or college, up from the predicted 60 per cent. Those additional students would cost a further $200 million to educate, Johnston said.

[Admissions] To answer questions about university admissions and the double cohort, UW officials will speak at a "Double Cohort Night" this evening in the Humanities Theatre. Students and parents are invited to hear about UW's take on the new Ontario curriculum and how this university will be meeting the needs of students applying in 2003.

Johnston will deliver the keynote speech, and Chakma will participate in the panel along with admissions director Peter Burroughs; Scott Davis of co-operative education; Heather Fitzgerald, first-year student life coordinator; and Bud Walker, the administrator responsible for residences. Also participating will be Ron Petker, guidance counsellor at Grand River Collegiate Institute in Kitchener. UW registrar Ken Lavigne will moderate.

"As the double cohort is fast approaching, we have received an increase in questions about this topic and there is a need for an information night," says Julie Primeau, coordinator of undergraduate recruitment. Similar events were held in November 2001 and last March.

Tonight's event starts at 7:00. Participants are asked to register in advance on the admissions web site.

Staff comment on the 'climate'

About two dozen staff members turned up yesterday for a noon-hour "town hall meeting" and a first look at the results of the staff association's recent survey on the "climate" for work at UW.

Steve Breen, president of the association, said 262 people responded to the survey, which was available both on paper and on-line.

"I've been here 32 years," said Breen, who works in information systems and technology, "and I don't think I would have stayed this long if the university wasn't a good place to work."

However, the survey identified some areas of concern, which he said would be taken up by the staff association executive and brought to management through the staff relations committee. Some key points:

In discussion after the report, a number of people raised issues to do with pay levels and a persistent sense that UW pays less than comparable employers, including other universities. Breen promised that the association would try to get the latest insights and report to staff as soon as possible.

Other people at the meeting commented on "inconsistent" procedures from one part of campus to another, and "game-playing" in getting the human resources department to approve job classifications.

North campus streets get UW names

Two of UW's pioneers will give their names to the main streets of the new north campus research and technology park.

[Bulldozers at work] The north-south avenue -- an extension of the current, unofficially named "North Campus Road" -- is to be Hagey Boulevard in honour of the university's founding president, Gerry Hagey. And the east-west road that's an extension of Parkside Drive will be Wes Graham Boulevard in memory of "the father of computing at Waterloo". The roads are under construction now as part of massive earth-moving work on the eastern section of the north campus (left).

Both names were given unanimous approval by Waterloo city council on Monday night. Council was told that the names had been recommended by UW's senate and board of governors, in closed meetings held last week.

Approval has also come from the families of J. Gerald Hagey, who was president of Waterloo College from 1953 and of UW from its beginnings until 1969, and of J. Wesley Graham, the computer science professor who made interactive computing available to undergraduates and began UW's tradition of software development and spinoff companies.

As the R&T park is developed, the two main roads, previously UW's property, will become municipal streets. Side roads extending from them will still be owned by UW, as will the land under the various high-tech buildings that are expected to go up in the coming years.

Contest to use old maple wood -- by Barbara Elve

Where once a giant maple spread its branches over the crest of a hill, the new co-op education and career services building is almost finished.

To commemorate the "beloved maple tree" and others that grew on the site, the CECS department is sponsoring a competition to design a work of art for the entry wall of the new structure.

The work "will embody something of the spirit of the university, and will reflect its recognized strengths in innovation, founded in its program of co-operative education," says the competition brief. "The new CECS building is a tangible expression of the tri-partnership between students, business and the university. This sculpture will be situated at a point at which these three partners connect. The material to be used, the wood planed from the maple tree, is in itself a connection to the history of the place. Therefore, 'connections' is a theme to consider when planning this piece."

The installation -- along a wall 10 metres long and 3 metres high -- may be attached or free standing, but must be made of the maple and walnut lumber salvaged from the construction site. The wood can be viewed at the Bauer Warehouse on the north campus today (October 30) and Friday, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Open to UW students, the contest offers prizes of $1,000 for first place, $700 for second, and three $200 honourable mention awards. The deadline for entries is Monday, November 18, at 4 p.m. Prizes will be selected by a jury by December 1.

[The Glass Coffin]

Author and UW alumna Gail Bowen will be at the bookstore in South Campus Hall at noon today to read from her new Joanne Kilbourn mystery, The Glass Coffin.

Bowen's books have been so popular that half a dozen of them have appeared as made-for-TV movies. "Throughout her novels," says Noemia Fernandes in a note from the store, "Gail Bowen offers motives and clues challenging the reader to solve the complex puzzles she creates. She also adds complex family interactions, every-day domestic details, prairie urban life and work, the ever-present prairie weather and often uneasy presence of the Aboriginal peoples into the mix. It's this element, that takes her work from good to great."

After today's reading, Bowen will be available to sign copies of her novels.

What's happening today and tonight

The peace and conflict studies program at Conrad Grebel University College and the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group tonight host a talk by H. John Harker, a writer and teacher focused on national conflict resolution and promotion of sustainable development. He will speak on "Ethics and Corporate Responsibility" at 7:30 p.m. in the great hall at Grebel.

John Harker, author of the Harker Report: Human Security in Sudan, played a role in bringing to light the controversial involvement of Talisman Energy in Sudan and is currently a Public Policy Fellow of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethical Leadership. In the past, he has worked with such groups as the United Nations Association of Canada, Consultative Group on Arms Control and Disarmament, Canadian Council for International Co-operation, and International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Recently, Harker was invited to Jamaica by the Carter Center, a non-governmental organization that seeks to contribute to sustainable peace and development by promoting democracy and conflict resolution. In Jamaica, Harker was an advisor to the Center on ways the country might avoid conflict and violence, or resolve the conflicts that occur during the elections.

"The Conrad Grebel PACS Department," a news release says, "is particularly interested in John Harker's preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution skills and experience."

Also today: An opening reception for two art exhibitions will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in East Campus Hall. Opening in the UW art gallery there are "Camere Illuminati", a collection of photographs and "photo-based installation works" by pinhole artist Dianne Bos, and "constructions" by fine arts graduate Dianne Fries. Both shows will continue through November 28.

Chamber music by Mendelssohn, Haydn and Bender will be played (by Joanne Bender, Nancy Borusiewich and Christine Treimanis) at a free concert in the Conrad Grebel University College chapel, starting at 12:30 today.

Also at 12:30, former UW president James Downey will speak on "Literature and Leadership", as part of the Second-Year Lecture series sponsored by the department of English. Location: Arts Lecture Hall room 124.

A workshop on "Teaching Dossiers", repeated from last week, will be offered today by the teaching resources and continuing education office -- 2:30 p.m., Humanities room 334.

The career development workshop series continues, with sessions on "Letter Writing" at 3:30 today and "Resumé Writing" at 4:30. The career resource centre in Needles Hall has the details and a sign-up list.

Some UW people are involved in the Kitchener-Waterloo Software Quality Association, which will hold its monthly meeting today at noontime (11:45 to 1:15) at the Waterloo campus of Conestoga College, Communitech room B2.

Gifts and pledges continue to trickle in to the United Way campaign on campus. As of Monday evening, the total was reported as $119,918, which is 80 per cent of the $150,000 goal. But tomorrow's the official end of the campaign. . . .

And . . . Homecoming is coming. I'll say more tomorrow about this weekend's cluster of events for both alumni (they're "coming home", get it?) and on-campus people. Highlight of the weekend, as always, is the Naismith Classic basketball tournament, but Homecoming also brings the applied health sciences Fun Run on Sunday, the Midnight Ramblers at the Bombshelter on Friday night, other parties and, yes, alumni reunions.



October 30, 1911: The Evangelical Lutheran Seminary is founded in Waterloo; it will later become Waterloo College, the parent of both UW and Wilfrid Laurier University. October 30, 1997: A formal policy on intellectual property sets out the rule that inventions belong to the individual researcher who created them.

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