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Thursday, November 13, 2003

  • 'Recognition' awards due next fall
  • Flakes in the storm of life
  • 14 profs honoured today; more events
Chris Redmond

World Kindness Day

[Smiling, but holding on tight]

Grounded: Yes, that's Bob Kerton, UW's dean of arts, aboard an ostrich. The photo is from the latest issue of Arts & Letters, the arts faculty's alumni newsletter. "My academic work," Kerton explains, "addresses consumer issues, including issues in developing countries. My research took me to Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Pretoria in South Africa. En route, we passed the ostrich ranch. We joined a tour that was just finishing, and the rancher-guide asked for a volunteer to act as a jockey. I assure you it is a serious challenge to stay on -- and the bird is really fast!"

'Recognition' awards due next fall

Students -- as well as faculty, supervisors, co-workers and staff in other departments -- will be invited to submit nominations for next year's $1,000 staff recognition awards.

That was made clear yesterday as administration and staff association leaders answered questions for about 125 staff members attending an open meeting to find out more about the program, which was introduced as part of the salary settlement starting in 2004.

The meeting was also told that final decisions on who gets the awards -- 250 staff members next year and another 250 each succeeding year -- will be made by executive council, the 21-member committee of UW's senior executives, working as a group. That's after nominations are received, each nominee's supervisor is asked for comments, and possible award winners are reviewed by individual members of executive council.

The plan was presented to yesterday's meeting by members of the Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation, which created it in July and is now working on the details, including a nomination form.

Speakers stressed that while the plan involves money, and was approved as part of the salary increase package, it's first and foremost a program for "recognition". In fact Neil Murray, of the human resources department, said one question that was important to him was whether such "awards" should still be presented to staff if there was no money available for them at all. His answer: "a resounding yes".

Speakers also stressed that handing out "recognition awards" is quite different from the annual routine of performance evaluations and merit increases. "We are running the full merit [increase process] in the usual way," Murray reminded the meeting. Merit increases typically give staff members an average of 1.5 per cent in annual pay increases, on top of the scale increase, which will be 3.3 per cent next May and another 3.3 per cent in May 2005.

The meeting was told that if the available funds were divided evenly among all staff, each individual would get around $160 as a one-time payment -- not much of a boost in salaries.

The awards are meant to reward not job performance but something different. Avril McVicar, president-elect of the staff association, said the awards would go to "staff who consistently demonstrate the use of the 'Basic Principles for the UW Workplace' . . . whether they save the university a million dollars, or assist students . . . ones who make UW a great place to work every day".

Other speakers added that the awards won't go just to people in high-profile jobs. "There is a whole army of people who come to work every day and do a terrific job," said Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services). Some staff who deserve the awards are "not an upper-management wannabe", said Anne Jenson, the staff association's vice-president. "They do their job with a smile on their face, and they do it well."

Several questions in the course of the 90-minute meeting dealt with the likely effect if one person in a department or team gets an award while others don't. Will there be resentment? It should be the other way round, said staff association president Chris Henderson. "The hope is that team members will nominate colleagues . . . and if someone on your team gets an award, you should be happy for that person."

Over three years, about half the eligible staff (there are 1,700 of them) will receive the awards, the meeting was reminded. Nominations will be accepted in the spring, with the money and announcements coming in November of next year.

Although most of the meeting consisted of information, questions and more information, a number of comments were critical of the awards program and of staff association negotiators for accepting it without consulting staff campus-wide. The association was urged to hold consultations when the program is reviewed after the first year of experience with it.

Flakes in the storm of life

Well, this is quite a change in the weather in 24 hours, what with high winds and a more-than-measurable amount of snow on the ground, snow on the roads, snow at the bus stop. Power went out in parts of Waterloo in the early hours, and the campus computer network was impaired when I got to work this morning, which is why you didn't see this Daily Bulletin at the usual 9 a.m. posting time.

But the life of the university goes on. There were 10 UW winners of "in-course awards" from the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, not just nine, it turned out as the scholarship winners were honoured at a reception yesterday. Selected for "community involvement, the ability to lead and motivate others, an interest in innovation and academic achievement" were Jonathan Beaudette, Jeannette Boudreau, Claudia Braun, Ipsita Chakrabarty, Poya Haghnegahdar, Chris Lo, Matthew Paznar, Laura Richards, Ekaterina Solovieva and Christine Yeung. The awards are worth $4,000 and $5,000 (in some cases doubling over two years to $8,000 or $10,000). The foundation's existing "entrance awards" already support talented Canadians who are beginning post-secondary studies; the new in-course award is dedicated to those whose talents only began to be recognized after they started their post-secondary studies, the foundation said in a news release.

A memo went to department heads a few days ago from David Dietrich in the human resources department, announcing a change to "the effective date of benefits coverage for life, dental, health and long term disability insurance" for people who start work at UW. These benefits will be (as of December 1) "effective on the employment appointment date when work is first performed for the University. For most staff, for example, this would be at 8:30 a.m. on the first day they come to work. . . . For faculty, who almost always are appointed on the first of a month, benefits coverage will begin immediately with their appointment date because work for the University begins at that time." At present, benefits are effective only "after one day worked". Practical implication? "It is important that appointment start dates be no earlier than the first day worked for all regular and temporary staff appointments."

There's a prize draw each month for contributors to UW's Keystone Campaign, and the names of the November winners are now posted on the Keystone web site. Among the prizes are travel and book vouchers, a Tim Horton's coffee-maker, and breakfast for two sponsored by Ground Zero restaurant in the Student Life Centre.

The UW media relations office has announced that Donna Cardinal, a self-employed consultant at Cardinal Concepts in Edmonton and senior associate at the Futures-Invention Association, is the recipient of this year's Association of Cultural Executives Award. ACE is based at UW, in the Centre for Cultural Management, and its award is presented to an association member each year to recognize "outstanding contribution and dedication to Canadian cultural management".

Bake sale to help fund the Environment and Resource Studies 475 trip to Texas in February -- 10:30 to 2:30 at two locations: Environmental Studies I foyer, Student Life Centre.

"Developing On-Line Tutorial Modules for E&CE 150", workshop in the Flex lab, Dana Porter Library, 11:00. Career information session for science graduate students, with Crispin Taylor of the Science's Next Wave web site, 12 noon, Tatham Centre room 2218.

"Integer Optimization in Data Mining", seminar by Romy Shioda, combinatorics and optimization, sponsored by Women in Mathematics Committee, 4 p.m., Math and Computer room 5136.

Microsoft seminar on .NET security, sponsored by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 5 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065.

Native studies lecture, Maggie Hodgson, "Residential Schools and Healing", 8 p.m., St. Paul's United College.

Tourism research lecture, "Rural Tourism in North America", Bill Gartner, University of Minnesota, Friday 9:30 a.m., Environmental Studies I room 132.

Fourth-year fine arts student show, "Denude", opening Sunday, 5 to 7 p.m., East Campus Hall.

[Autumn colours]

A costume sketch for the drama department's production of "As You Like It" shows Audrey in peasant style and autumn colours. The show continues tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts.

14 profs honoured today; more events

Fourteen UW professors will be honoured at a reception today as recipients of Canada Research Chairs. René Durocher, executive director of the Canada Research Chairs program, and David Johnston, president of UW, will be joined by Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, at the event, which starts at 10:30 a.m. in the Laurel Room, South Campus Hall.

Announced as UW recipients of the chairs over the past year are Jack Callaghan (kinesiology), Canada Research Chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention; James Danckert (psychology), Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience; Jim Geelen (combinatorics and optimization), Chair in Combinatorial Optimization; Michel Gingras (physics), Chair in Condensed Matter Theory and Statistical Mechanics; Farid Golnaraghi (mechanical engineering), Chair in Intelligent Mechatronics Systems; Philip Graham (drama and speech communication), Chair in Communication and Technology; Ming Li (computer science), Chair in Bioinformatics; Janusz Pawliszyn (chemistry), Chair in New Analytical Methods and Technologies; James Rush (kinesiology), Chair in Integrative Vascular Biology; Khaled Soudki (civil engineering), Chair in Innovative Structural Rehabilitation; Cameron Stewart (pure mathematics), Chair in Number Theory; William Taylor (biology), Chair in Limnology; Nicholas Wormald (pure mathematics), Chair in Combinatorics and Optimization; Norman Zhou (mechanical engineering), Chair in Microjoining.

The Canada Research Chairs program "leads a national strategy to make Canada one of the world's top five countries for research and development. Chairholders advance the frontiers of knowledge in their fields, not only through their own work, but also by teaching and supervising students and coordinating the work of other researchers," a news release notes.

There's something new happening today, from 4:30 to 7:00 in the Davis Centre lounge. It's the UW Design Challenge, sponsored by systems design engineering and the Graduate Student Association: "The goal is to introduce UW students of all faculties and backgrounds to the concepts and approaches of user-centered design. The only requirement is an interest in usability and interaction design. Participants will be organized into teams of four, with each team member playing one of the following roles: project management, graphic/aesthetic design, usability design, and engineering (feasibility) design. The teams will be given background information on the design problem and given a fifteen-minute period to find a solution. At the end of the fifteen minutes, each of the judges will state his or her expectations for a winning design. The teams will then be given a further thirty minutes to complete the design and prepare a presentation. At the end of the competition, each team will be given five minutes in which to present the design and explain the team's choices and design decisions. The judges will then select the winning design."

Tonight brings another Arriscraft Lecture in the school of architecture. The speaker this time is Philadelphia-based James Timberlake, whose firm has received 39 design awards in the past twenty years, including two gold medals from the American Institute of Architects. With partner Stephen Kieran, he's co-author of a book, Refabricating Architecture, that's being published this month, and that will be the topic of tonight's lecture. ("The focus of the book derives from research on transfer processes and transfer materials from other industries and speculations on their applications to the design and construction of buildings.") The lecture will start at 7 p.m. in Environmental Studies II room 286.

The Hip-Hop club is selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the Student Life Centre again today. . . . Flu shots are available in the Student Life Centre, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. . . . A career services seminar on "Selling Your Skills" starts at 2:30. . . . Friday will be "beef and chicken night" at the University Club (reservations ext. 3801). . . .


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