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Thursday, February 6, 2003

  • UW launches housing 'expansion plan'
  • Also from the board meeting
  • Associate provost will leave post
  • Caravan, physics lecture, and more
Chris Redmond

What the New Zealanders celebrate today

[Three in the control room]

The Muppets couldn't make it, so UW's FASS Theatre Company is filling in. "The New FASS Show" runs tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., Friday at 7:00 and 10:00, in the Humanities Theatre. Rick Fazekas, Lisa Hagen and Chris Klein are among cast members who wallow in the "chaos and hilarity", says producer Heather MacDonald. Tickets are $8 from the Humanities box office.

UW launches housing 'expansion plan' -- by Barbara Elve

Work is to begin this year on the first phase of 260 family townhouse-style residences for graduate students on the north campus.

The first stage of the development -- north of the existing Columbia Lake Townhouses -- is expected to create about 120 units. The target occupancy date is January 2004, with a second phase to come in January 2005.

Six developers submitted proposals for stage one of the 26-acre complex last week. On Tuesday, UW's board of governors gave approval for "a long-term land lease and operating agreement with the successful proponent who will have fulfilled UW's financial (including rental rates) site and building, and timeline requirements."

The board was told that UW land would be leased to the developer, who "would be responsible for planning, design, securing necessary regulatory approvals, site servicing, construction and ongoing operation of the facilities. The university's responsibilities would include: reviewing and approving relevant aspects of the project, providing an ongoing supply of university-approved tenants to fill the complex, tenant management, and monitoring operational performance, including property standards. The university would lease the land for $1.00 a year for up to 49 years."

Residence rates for the coming year

Fees in most UW residences will go up by 5 per cent this year, as proposed rates were approved by the university's board of governors at its meeting on Tuesday. The increases are effective for the fall term.

With the 5 per cent boost, room rates in the Villages will be $484 a month (single), $462 (interconnecting) or $434 (double). That's $1,936, $1,847 or $1,736 for a four-month term. A "suite-style" single room will cost $578 a month.

In the Columbia Lake Townhouses, a room will be $461 a month. In the UW Place complex, rates will be $456 a month (double room in Beck Hall), $522 (single room in a two-bedroom unit), or $494 (single room in a larger suite).

For apartments in UW Place, existing tenants face a 5 per cent increase to $620, $662 or $693 per month, but new tenants, as of September 1, will pay $750 a month -- a 13.6 per cent increase from current rents. That's if they're UW students. Non-students will continue to pay $1,500 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

In the Minota Hagey residence, rates are going up by 10 per cent, to $479 a month ($1,914 for a four-month term).

"We're trying to come up with an arrangement which would mean no capital outlay by the university," says the director of university business operations, Bud Walker. "We're investigating all the avenues," he added, noting that such an agreement would depend on what's allowed by tax laws. The arrangement would allow the university to provide more student housing without borrowing money.

Plans call for construction of two-bedroom units, with "the best density to promote good community," said Walker. Townhouse space will be available to full-time graduate students who need more than single-room accommodation, "typically, a couple with children." A child care centre is also planned.

Priority will be given to first-time grad students at UW, with the assumption that students who earned undergraduate degrees at Waterloo know the area and will be better able to find accommodation. Additional single-room residences for graduate students will be provided at the Columbia Lake Townhouses or at UW Place.

With shopping facilities available at Laurelwood Plaza nearby, "easier access to schools" for the children of grad students, and use of the new Columbia Lake Townhouses community centre, Walker envisions the creation of a "community of like people".

After completion of the first phase of new townhouse units, two low-rise courts at UW Place will be converted to create 495 single rooms at an estimated cost of $12 million. That work is scheduled to begin next winter, with occupancy in September 2004. Plans include community and dining spaces at UW Place, at a cost of some $2.5 million. An additional court at UW Place will later be converted to provide 250 single rooms at a cost of $6 million, with occupancy in September 2005.

The conversion is part of "a multi-year (housing) expansion plan with aggressive time lines developed to provide more on-campus accommodation for upper year students and students with families." The project will provide a net gain of 784 units at a total estimated cost of $20.5 million, not counting the child care centre.

UW is providing "a residence guarantee for a first-year undergraduate class of 5,455 in September 2003," a report from the building and properties committee to the board of governors stated. "To meet this guarantee, all available undergraduate residence rooms will be allocated to the first-year class in the fall term, and spaces for graduate students and exchange students will be reduced. Information currently available indicates sufficient capacity for student accommodation in the community for September 2003."

Also from the board meeting

The chair of UW's board of governors, Brascan executive Bob Harding, told Tuesday's meeting that board chairs from universities across the province met recently with Ontario universities minister Dianne Cunningham. "She was putting the pitch on that she'd like the universities to do everything they can to help meet the shortfall" in student spaces for this September, Harding noted.

Without debate, the board approved a proposal to wind up the UW Crown Foundation, created in 1992 to help big donors take maximum tax advantage of their gifts to the university. With changes in the tax laws, it's no longer necessary.

UW president David Johnston said he's expecting "reforms" to federal student assistance when when finance minister John Manley brings down a budget later this month. There should also be increased funding for research -- and, just possibly, a long-term commitment to the "indirect costs" of research done in universities.

As expected, the board gave final approval to the planned move of the school of architecture to a renovated building on Melville Street in Cambridge. About $5.3 million is still needed towards the project's $27 million budget, but fund-raising is moving along, the board was told. Architecture director Eric Haldenby said the move is now likely to be in the summer of 2004.


Associate provost will leave post

It was announced yesterday that Gary Waller (right), an important figure in UW's central administration, will leave his job early to take "a long postponed sabbatical leave" and return to the psychology department, where he's been a faculty member since 1968.

Said a memo from the provost: "After seven years of outstanding leadership as Associate Provost, Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Gary Waller will step down from his position on June 30, 2003."

As associate provost, Waller is considered the number-three person in UW management, following the president and provost. He's responsible for the library, the registrar's office and the co-op and career services department, as well as issues such as faculty relations, space allocation and student fees.

He had been chair of the psych department for more than a decade before moving into central administration -- first as acting dean of research in 1994-95 and then as associate provost starting May 1, 1996. "In these pivotal and challenging roles," said the provost's memo yesterday, "he provided dynamic vision, direction and drive."

Waller is also currently serving as interim dean of graduate studies while a national search for a dean takes place. Less than a year ago, his term as associate provost was extended for two more years, which would have taken him to April 2004.

Said provost Amit Chakma in his memo: "On behalf of the University community, President Johnston and I would like to thank Gary for his commitment, caring and contributions as an academic administrator. I am personally grateful for his wise counsel and support during my transition here. Gary has been a trusted and valued colleague and we will miss him as he returns to his roots in the Psychology Department."

'Iced in Black'

That's the annual festival of "Canadian black experiences on film", which runs tonight through Sunday in Davis Centre room 1304. Today begins with a pair of films about Maritime musicians, at 7 p.m., and then at 9:00 everybody heads over to the Graduate House for reggae and steel drum music.

Showings start at 7 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 Sunday, winding up Sunday evening with "The Planet of Junior Brown". Details of the festival are available on the web.

The event is sponsored by more than a dozen groups, from the Association of Caribbean Students to WPIRG. The Waterloo showings are actually the second round for the festival, which has been running at Toronto's Harbourfront for the past week.

Caravan, physics lecture, and more

"Live cultural performances from all over the world . . . free entertainment . . . food at nominal cost" are promised, as this year's Cultural Caravan takes place today in the Student Life Centre (4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.). More than two dozen UW clubs are showing off the cultures of their homelands or ethnicities -- Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Jewish, Serbian, Tamil and so on, plus the breakdancers, the Fraternity and Sorority Awareness Club (now there's a culture to investigate), the Drum Circle, and even Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (no Klingons need apply). Everybody's welcome to check it out.

The Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute today presents this term's Distinguished Lecture, to be given by George Ellis of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He'll talk about "The State of Cosmology 2003: A Critical Review", speaking, he says, "in the light of both recent theoretical advances and the major recent observational advances". The lecture starts at 4 p.m. in Physics room 150; a wine-and-cheese reception follows.

It's the last day before online voting begins in the Federation of Students election, and the last candidates' forum will be taking place: 11:30 a.m., great hall of the Student Life Centre.

International Celebration Week activities continue. In addition to Cultural Caravan, today brings a photo exhibition, continuing in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. And this evening it's "international night" at the Graduate House, with the music starting at 7 p.m. -- well before the film enthusiasts roll in following the "Iced in Black" showings.

The career services workshop series presents a session at 3:30 today on "Business Etiquette and Professionalism". . . . The drama department's double bill of Daniel MacIvor plays continues in Studio 180 in the Humanities building at 8:00 tonight. . . . Newspaper pundit Gwynne Dyer speaks on current affairs ("The World Turned Upside Down?") at 7:00 tonight in the new senate and board chamber at Wilfrid Laurier University; admission is free. . .

Friday, an informal get-together at the University Club gives each department in engineering a chance to present its program to students who might be interested in graduate work (3 to 6 p.m., and there's food). . . . Friday night at 7:30, Rev. Robert Schreiter, theologian and international development expert, speaks at St. Jerome's University on "Plurality and Difference in an Unstable World". . . . And Saturday night at the Warrior basketball games is "Fantastic Alumni and Staff Day", with free admission and special promotions. . . .


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