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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

  • Two-year salary pact for faculty
  • 'Vision' with software spinoff
  • Newcomers of 1978 feted tonight
  • And just a few other notes
Chris Redmond

John Wesley's 300th anniversary

Two-year salary pact for faculty

Negotiators for UW and the faculty association have reached a two-year agreement on salaries, which will take the university and its professors through 2004-05 and 2005-06, the provost announced last night.

It must be the earliest a salary settlement has ever been reached. But it's no big surprise, since the faculty association held an open board meeting last week, telling its members that a draft agreement had been reached.

Provost Amit Chakma told the UW senate that the agreement involves a 3.3 per cent increase in salary scales in each of the two years -- that is, on May 1 in 2004 and 2005.

In addition, he said, "there will be an 'outstanding performance' fund that will allocate merit to the top 10 per cent of the faculty." He spoke briefly about it, saying details will be circulated today.

The salary agreement also includes a shift in the formula for progress-through-the-ranks increases, which will make individuals eligible for full PTR increases longer into their careers than at present.

The provost said that with faculty salaries settled, Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), "is now going to engage with the staff association very quickly to try to get a similar settlement" with non-union staff. That would happen through the Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation.

Both staff and faculty (as well as unionized staff) are now in the second year of two-year agreements reached in the spring of 2002.

'Vision' with software spinoff

Talks and discussion in the Tatham Centre today will illuminate the past and future of the relationship between UW and one of its most successful spinoff companies, Open Text Corporation.

It's billed as "Collaboration Technology Vision Day", co-sponsored by the university and the company, which has its headquarters on Columbia Street a few steps from campus. Researchers, students, professors and the public are encouraged to attend.

[Open Text] A company news release explains: "Open Text Corporation and the University of Waterloo are proud to present . . . a day of discussion about the future of collaboration. Open Text is one of the largest software companies in the world. Starting from the University of Waterloo as a spin off, Open Text has grown to more than $250 million in annual revenues in the past 10 years.

"As a proud member of the Waterloo technical community and ongoing research programs at the University of Waterloo, Open Text will be sharing knowledge and vision with its partners in innovation at the University of Waterloo. Researchers, students, professors and the public are encouraged to come out and see what's on the cutting edge and beyond!

"Keynote presentations by the President of the University and Open Text's own Chief Executive Officer will be preceded by sessions on research efforts, technical synergies and vision by Open Text research staff and management as well as the University of Waterloo academic and management staff."

Open Text is the company behind the LiveLink "collaboration and knowledge management software". A decade ago, it was best known for the first major web search engine, a product of full-text indexing and string search technology that had developed out of UW's New Oxford English Dictionary project.

As a spinoff from what's now the Centre for the NOED and Text Research, Open Text was incorporated in the summer of 1991 and shipped its first products that fall. Frank Tompa, director of the NOED-Text centre, will be one of the speakers this morning, giving some historical background.

The day's activities start with a welcome and introduction at 9:45, followed by words from Anik Ganguly, executive vice-president (products) for Open Text. Tompa speaks at 10:00.

At 10:30, Gary Promhouse, chief scientist (search technology) for the company, will talk about research relationships between UW and Open Text. Then Fakhri Karray of the systems design engineering department will address the research issue from the university's point of view.

At 11:30, Neil Wilson, the company's vice-president (product marketing), speaks on "products and direction". And at 12 noon, Tom Jenkins, CEO of Open Text, and David Johnston, president of UW, will give a joint keynote address on "A Collaborative Vision". Question-and-answer sessions at 1:00 will wind up the day.

As part of today's celebration, Open Text has issued an "Engineering Challenge", open to undergraduate and graduate students. "The challenge consists of two industry-specific engineering problems," which were published in the Gazette last week and are also on the company's web site. "The winners who produce solutions most apt to today's technologies and business requirements will receive a one-term work engagement or research fellow sponsorship by Open Text."

Newcomers of 1978 feted tonight

It was the year of the first test tube baby, the year of the three Popes, the year of the Camp David peace agreement. It was the year Ed Schreyer was named Governor-General, the year people were reading Garp, the year Sun Life moved its head office from Montréal to Toronto in anticipation of a referendum on separatism. It was the year John Beatty and Vic DiCiccio and Anne Harris came to the University of Waterloo. It was 1978.

[14-cent stamp] And tonight, the people who joined UW's faculty and staff that year, a quarter of a century ago, will be feted at the annual reception of the 25-Year Club -- being held in the Physical Activities Complex, just about the only place on campus big enough for a gathering of the old-timers and their guests.

People have been added to the 25-Year Club list regularly since 1982, when UW itself celebrated a silver anniversary, and each year there are new names on the list. A handshake, a photograph and a piece of jewellery mark the occasion -- that, and an evening of reminiscence with colleagues and former colleagues going all the way back to the university's founders, or at least those who worked with them.

Bob Hicks of information systems and technology is one of the guests of honour tonight, one of the 52 people officially listed as having arrived in 1978. Among the others are Sherry Bell of the grounds crew, Tony Cullen of the optometry school and Frank Saccomanno of civil engineering. The full list will be published in next week's Gazette -- along with a shorter list of people who received 25-year honours in 1993, are still working at UW, and will be honoured tonight for 35 years of service.

[Boar in ML lobby] Thinking back to 1978 -- when postage was 14 cents and people were watching "Saturday Night Fever" -- the 25-year crowd will have plenty to remember. It was, for example, the year Porcellino, "the boar" (right), came to campus (and was sited, at first, inside the Modern Languages building).

Also new in 1978: the Waterloo Pump
Several of UW's current buildings were hardly even gleams in anybody's eye in 1978, which is why parts of the faculty of environmental studies were moving into temporary quarters at 156 Columbia Street that year. The year also brought a massive January snowstorm, a task force on the future of university computing (some things never change), creation of the "mathematics and commerce" group, and a pair of Pascal Lectures by Malcolm Muggeridge.

There's much to remember. UW's 25-year veterans -- Ken Davidson, Sandra Hayes, Terry Stewart and all the rest -- can indulge in some memories tonight. The reception, by invitation only, starts at 6 p.m. in the PAC.

And just a few other notes

People from across campus are invited to "catch the wave" tomorrow at a noon-hour beach party -- if you can call the Math quadrangle a beach -- celebrating the Keystone Campaign. Organizers promise "food and drink, games, music, entertainment, campus displays, a look back at UW's history and much, much more!" Things start with a parade from various spots on campus. Staff and faculty are told: "Don't forget to don your designated UW colour (gold, black or white). . . . Your Keystone department reps will let you know your colour and meeting place."

But first there's today to get through, under a clear sky (and a high UV index). Happening at UW today:
[Giant seal on the wall]

One more photo from convocation, showing one more contribution to UW: Alan George, dean of mathematics, accepts a giant cheque from Stephen Skrzydlo and Daryl McEachern for the Pink Tie Pledge from graduating math students. Total contribution from the class of 2003: a little more than $82,000. Later in Saturday's ceremonies, engineering students presented a similar cheque to their dean, some $66,864 for the Plummers' Pledge.

And tomorrow, besides the Keystone party: The research office is still in the process of moving into its new digs on the first floor of Needles Hall. Offices that had been on the third floor got settled a few days ago, and for the rest of this week, the second-floor branch of the office will be moving. That affects staff involved with research finance, contract research and industrial grants. Their operation will be closed for business Wednesday through Friday, but "staff will be monitoring e-mail and voice mail as possible throughout this period." Says Elizabeth Harnum, assistant to the vice-president (university research): "Thank you again for your patience, and we look forward to serving you in our new location, NH 1043."

The English Language Proficiency Program, in conjunction with counselling services, is offering several "short and free workshops" this month. Topics include essay writing skills (June 19 or July 9), grammar skills (June 26), and report writing skills (July 2 and July 24). Each session runs an hour and a half or two hours. To register for one of the workshops, call counselling services at ext. 2655.


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