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Thursday, January 15, 2004

  • Student tech conference a week away
  • Spotlight on drama and speech department
  • Leftover money joins CUPE bursary fund
Chris Redmond

Martin Luther King Jr. born 75 years ago today

[Holding a black-and-white drawing]

Damaged art is the focus of an exhibition opening today in the Modern Languages gallery (and running through March 25). A reception is scheduled in the gallery from 4 to 6 p.m. Pictured are two of the Fine Arts 330 students who put the exhibition together, Sue-Ann Jang and Natalie Boruvka. The class examined the UW permanent art collection, which began in the 1960s, focusing on proper care and handling of works of art. In the show are examples of works damaged by exposure to light, humidity, acid and other environmental degradation, as well as others that have been well preserved. Photo by Barbara Elve.

Student tech conference a week away

Students can meet some of the top people in high-tech industry at next week's Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference -- and there will also be time to play Giant Twister.

Cathy Choi of psychology is one of the UW students involved in organizing CUTC, which will be held at a Toronto hotel January 22-24. She writes: "Want to network with international industry leaders? Want to learn about the latest trends in technology? Want free stuff? Then the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference is for you!"

CUTC was started in 2000 by a group of UW students, and, says Choi, "has gained immense popularity and support from both academia and industry and continues to be the largest conference organized exclusively by university students across Canada. The three-day conference features hands-on workshops and seminars with various speakers from the technology industry."

Among the keynote speakers this year are Glenn Edens, vice-president for Research and director of Sun Microsystems Labs; Frank Clegg, president of Microsoft Canada; and Nancy Martin, operations leader for the GE Global Research Centre.

"Unlike other conferences," says Choi, "CUTC delegates are encouraged to interact with speakers at the conference. Through events such as ThinkTank, TechExpo, CareerExpo, TechPanel, TechShops, and TechTours, delegates will have the opportunity to share their opinions, ideas, proposals, comments, and criticisms about contemporary issues pertaining to technology with those who drive the industry.

"Seminars also present exciting opportunities to network and enhance perspective through discussions on topics such as New Frontiers, Intelligent Systems, Culture and Connection, Technology for our World, and The Market Place."

Speakers next week will include Jim Mitchell, Sun Fellow and vice-president of Sun Microsystems Laboratories, who will be a ThinkTank guru; David Kirk, chief scientist and vice-president for architecture at NVIDIA, "who will give a glimpse of future graphics technologies and explore the factors that make inventors out of engineers"; and Ray Mowling, past president of Monsanto and current executive director for the Council for Biotechnology Information.

Arts and technology also unite this year as Ron Burnett, President of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in British Columbia, explores the impact of technology on learning and artistic innovation.

Along with academic features, organizers say, CUTC will be hosting "a variety of exciting events that are both interactive and informative. Delegates will participate in a range of events, from tours of local technology companies to technology workshops to speech competitions. Activities such as Giant Twister, Human Foosball and massage lessons punctuate the conference, making it fun for both delegates and organizations involved while making CUTC unique of other technology conferences."

If next week's event is typical of previous conferences, it will involve about 500 students from various disciplines in 20 universities across the country. CUTC 2004 will be held Thursday through Saturday next week at the Delta Toronto East Hotel. Details are on the CUTC web site.

[Against a black background]

Stage lighting hangs from the Theatre of the Arts ceiling

Spotlight on drama and speech department

UW's department of drama and speech communication is "unique in Canada", says another in the series of "academic program reviews" submitted to UW's senate. A total of 26 departments and interdisciplinary programs have now been reviewed since the process began in 1999. Each report includes a summary of the findings of an outside review team, as well as the response from the department and what changes are planned.

The report notes that "The Department has 6 full-time faculty (4 in Drama and 2 in Speech Communication). . . . Given the small number of full-time faculty and the need to foster students' professional development, the Department relies on sessionals to a considerable extent. In Drama, sessionals are usually artists who provide experience in professional theatre. In Speech Communication, sessionals are used almost exclusively for service teaching in the very popular course on public speaking."

Next from the drama department: the Upstart 2004 short-play festival, February 4-14
It says university drama programs "usually position themselves within a liberal arts or a conservatory model, and Drama at UW fits solidly within the liberal arts model. The aim is to provide students with a strong and balanced grounding in drama studies (theatre history, a variety of dramatic literature courses, criticism), and theatre practice (acting, design, theatre management, dramaturgy, directing).

"Two introductory courses to theatre constitute the core of Drama's service teaching, and they consistently average 100 and 60 students per term. Drama productions are open to all UW students. Drama graduates typically pursue one of two options: attending teacher's college, or pursuing a career in the performing arts as actors or technicians."

The speech communication side of the department "offers basic core speech communication courses (public speaking, interpersonal communication, small group communication, interviewing, organizational communication, mass communication, leadership), as well as specialty courses (speech writing, image and credibility, organizational consulting, conflict management). . . . An innovative feature is emphasis on videotaped student interactions, allowing students to view videotapes of their own performance. Service teaching is significant. . . . About 400 students are taught each year in public speaking."

Math Society elections for president and vice-president, polls open today and tomorrow 8:30 to 5:30, third floor of Math and Computer.

'Are You Prepared to Work Outside Canada?' career services workshop, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information meeting, 4 to 5 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Math orientation committee information session for those interested in being frosh leaders this fall, 4:30, Math and Computer room 4059.

Interdisciplinary Coffee Talk Society, "How Machines Learn to Identify Poets or to Recognize Faces", by Ali Ghodsi, computer science grad student, 5 p.m., Graduate House.

Planning Students Association and Association of Graduate Planners session on the planning profession. Speakers include Don May, president, Ontario Professional Planning Institute. 5:30 p.m., Environmental Studies I courtyard.

'A South American Cruise' by Larry Lamb, environmental studies, at Kitchener Public Library, 7 p.m.

Columbia Icefield grand opening of expanded facilities, Friday 11:30 a.m.

Regarding drama, the review team commented that its faculty provide the "scholarly and artistic expertise that has the potential to place it at the forefront of Drama programs in Canada." And "potential exists for a unique, creative and innovative program that fits well within the UW reputation as a leader in technology and culture."

As for speech communication, the review team found "strong, committed and talented faculty active in administration, teaching, research and development, and consulting."

The department's "self-study report", which is part of the review process, notes three problems: small size ("faculty teach primarily required courses, with few opportunities to teach in their areas of research or to be especially innovative"); the effects of funding cuts, "leading to reductions in number of sessionals, undue attention to income generation when selecting plays to offer, difficulties in renewing specialized theatre equipment, and increasing reliance on box office revenue for revenue to support many aspects of the plans"; and lack of dedicated teaching and production space.

"To continue to produce plays, attract leading guests and speakers, Drama believes it needs a corporate sponsor or series of sponsors, to avoid having the season of plays become a business to earn income to finance aspects of the plan."

[Unofficial transcripts]

This notice was posted by the registrar's office this week to tell students how to cope with a quirk of Quest.

The program review recommends a new faculty position for speech communications, and upgrading of drama facilities "with the addition of a new theatre studio and improvements to existing facilities". It also suggests that "large enrolment" drama courses aimed at the university community should be developed.

In response to the review, the department says it intends to try to develop some new drama courses, including "new courses in acting that are not audition-based".

It adds: "Research is viewed as having been very successful, as exemplified by the two recent major research grants (CFI and OIT). The creation of the new Canadian Centre for Arts and Technology provides a strong base for future work. The main challenge is to balance time needed for technology-based research with more traditional research and scholarship and the creative theatre practice in which many faculty engage. . . .

"Generally, the Department has objectives and plans to add to its strengths, including participating in the capital campaign to raise funds for a larger facility to include rehearsal and workshop spaces, and to bring all faculty and staff into one building, as well as to improve classroom quality."

[Boys 'n' Girls Night]

Leftover money joins CUPE bursary fund

The union representing staff members in plant operations and food services has become the final employee group to join in a plan for using an unexpected lump sum of insurance money.

The funds were generated three years ago when Sun Life -- the company that provides life insurance for employees at UW and nine other Ontario universities through a consortium -- demutualized and became a private company with shareholders, instead of its clients holding mutual funds. In the process, the universities had the option of accepting shares or their equivalent funds.

All ten universities opted to accept their equivalent funds. UW received approximately $400,000, of which approximately $100,000 was calculated as belonging to employees, and $300,000 to the university as employer, since it pays much of the cost of the insurance.

In 1991, the faculty and staff associations agreed to a plan for putting the money into a scholarship fund, with first claim on the new funding being scholarships for the children of staff and faculty members.

After long discussion, members of the union -- Canadian Union of Public Employees local 793 -- were asked to vote on how to dispose of the CUPE share of the money. They were given three choices:

§ Take the money (an estimated $6,000) in cash and distribute it evenly to eligible members. In most cases this would amount to as little as $10 apiece.

§ Put the $6,000 plus some $20,000 from the university into the CUPE Bursary Fund to be used for the benefit of children of union members.

§ Add the funds to an Endowment Fund to fund graduate scholarships.

Union members voted -- unanimously, CUPE says -- to put the money into the CUPE Bursary Fund. The proceeds from the demutualization were $6,100, which came to a total of $24,820 after UW's contribution. Union leaders will meet with the student awards office "to fine tune their non-academic criteria and increase knowledge of the award among union members", an announcement says.


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