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Friday, January 23, 2004

  • In-between rankings available for staff
  • Building the 'next generation' library
  • Notes at the new year's beginning
Chris Redmond

'Great Scottish Feast' honours Robbie Burns

[Frosted with snow under the evergreen]

Granite boulders wait for spring, when they'll be moved closer to Environmental Studies I for an expansion of the Robert S. Dorney Ecology Garden. While the existing garden presents plants of southern Ontario, the new section will feature the flora of northern Ontario, from jack pine to blueberries. ES lecturer Larry Lamb, one of the people who have been making plans, says the theme was chosen "for diversity and for teaching purposes". He described the planned garden in detail on the front page of this week's Gazette.

In-between rankings available for staff

It's time for managers across campus to do the annual performance appraisals of staff members, and this year more ratings are available for them to use.

"The Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation has implemented the addition of a .25 and .75 rating at 3.0 and above," says a memo to managers from Alfrieda Swainston in the human resources department. Staff are rated on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being the highest. In recent years ratings could only be whole or half points, but now quarter-points are also an option. The effect could be that someone formerly rated 4.5 might now end up at 4.25 (down a little) or 4.75 (up a little).

Swainston's memo offered a reminder to managers "to sit down with employees to discuss the content of the appraisal as well as to provide the employee an opportunity for discussion with their manager.

"The goal of the performance evaluation exercise is to provide confidential, constructive feedback to staff members regarding their performance in relation to the requirements of their job description and the appraisal rating interpretations. The exercise serves to identify areas of success, areas that need improvement if necessary which have been raised over the past year, opportunities for job enhancement and a discussion of the working environment. The Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation recently reviewed the appraisal rating interpretations to ensure that they are still meaningful and are asking managers to re-acquaint themselves with the interpretations, especially at the 5 level and to remember that this rating is reserved for those employees with 'exceptional performance in all areas of the job requirements which is recognized throughout the staff member's unit or broadly throughout the University'."

The appraisal form is available on the HR web site or in printed form.

"Performance appraisals are to be returned to Human Resources by March 15," the memo notes. Appraisals are a factor in determining each staff member's annual salary increase, which is effective May 1.

[Winn in office]

Larry Winn of the information systems and technology department died yesterday, a day after receiving a kidney transplant at University Hospital in London. Winn came to work at UW in 1976 in what was then the data processing department, and in recent years had been a project manager for the Student Information Systems Project. Funeral arrangements had not been announced as of this morning.

Building the 'next generation' library -- as described in UW's 2002-03 donor report

Two early campaign gifts to the University of Waterloo Library have provided momentum to the Library campaign and are being put to work to help students and researchers.

A $25,000 gift from the Birks Family Foundation is being used to enhance the tools and furnishings in the library's special collections reading room. The special collections department provides unique primary source material to support the University9s teaching and research programs as well as the needs and interests of Canadian and international researchers.

This multi-year grant has been used to have commissioned specially designed archival desks. These desks have been designed to ensure that students and researchers, who are of all ages and spend hours combing through the collections, can do so in an ergonomically designed, comfortable work area. Future grants will be directed to enhance work stations, permitting integrated access to digitized slides and photo collections, archival collections, and the detailed online databases that support them, as well as broad access to all materials in the collections.

The contribution from the Birks Family Foundation is helping the Library provide a technologically advanced, ergonomically correct environment for students, researchers, and community members to review historical materials.

'Information commons' coming to Davis
Another focus for the library campaign is to create flexible learning and study spaces and to provide a hands-on learning environment where librarians can teach and nurture information management skills. Library staff have worked closely with faculty and students to determine how the libraries are currently being used, what the challenges are that students face, and what elements should be included in the Next Generation Library.

A priority in the Dana Porter Library is to create two new learning labs. A $50,000 gift from the Harold Crabtree Foundation is being used to help transform an existing meeting room into one of these much needed learning labs.

This lab will include modular furnishings that can be reconfigured according to instructional needs, state-of-the-art equipment, and the necessary infrastructure to allow for wired and wireless capabilities.

[Red monkey]

Notes at the new year's beginning

Well, I made a monkey of myself yesterday, referring to the Year of the Rat when in fact the Chinese calendar is bringing us the Year of the Monkey. A record number of readers e-mailed me to point out the error, and one of them, Maggie Liang, kindly provided some background information: "Thursday is the start of a two-week transition from the year of the sheep to the year of the monkey. The lunar new year is the biggest celebration for the one fifth of the world's population who are ethnic Chinese, and brings with it a new creature from a horoscope cycle of 12: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (or ram), rooster, dog, boar and monkey. You need to look at a table to find out which one you are. The year of the monkey was last celebrated in 1992 and will return again in 2016. According to Chinese Zodiac, people born in the Year of the Monkey are clever, inventive, original and adept at solving problem. They are also blessed with great memories and lively personalities."

[The Big Chill in the SLC] Marking the new year, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association will hold a party Saturday night in South Campus Hall: dinner, games, the inevitable lottery, and dancing. Tickets are available from CSSA executive members, including the society's president, Nan Gao of the school of planning (phone ext. 5994).

Another correction has to do with one of the electrical and computer engineering student design projects that were on display on Wednesday in the Davis Centre (and that got some nice attention on CKCO television news that day). I identified one project as a design for a "Mobile Cardiac EMS Dispatcher", and said EMS stood for "Electrocardiogram Monitoring System". In fact it's "Emergency Medical Services", team member Jordanna Kwok tells me.

It's day five of National Non-Smoking Week, and if you have been following the daily steps suggested by the occupational health office, you're at the post-quitting Maintenance stage by now. "You have managed to overcome the habit, and all that is left to do is stay on track. One of the most important things to remember is that you may slip and occasionally smoke. This is okay and does not mean you have failed. Just remember everything you have accomplished and know that you can quit for good." There's much more about stopping smoking on such web sites as Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

The career development workshop series today presents "Interview Skills: The Basics" and "Preparing for Questions". . . Organizers of the annual Hagey Bonspiel, or Funspiel, are reminding faculty and staff that this week is the deadline for early bird registration for the February 21 event -- call ext. 3638. . . . Glen Murray, mayor of Winnipeg, speaks on "The Role of Culture in Urban Development" tonight at 7:00 in Maureen Forrester Recital Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University. . . .

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group is running workshops tomorrow on "Running a Successful Group" and "Getting Your Group to Agree" (e-mail raj@wpirg.org to sign up). . . . Engineers Without Borders will hold a day-long workshop tomorrow about biosand water filtration (e-mail sacleary@yahoo.ca). . . .

The department of housing and residences, the graduate studies office and the Graduate Students' Association are hosting a staff and faculty open house today at Columbia Lake Village, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. "This is a great opportunity," says Pam Charbonneau of housing, "for staff and faculty (particularly those who work with graduate students), to visit CLV, tour the brand new townhomes as well as the existing ones, and find out more information about on-campus housing opportunities for graduate students. Shuttle service is available for the open house by contacting Adam Doyle at a3doyle@uwaterloo.ca or ext. 7349. If you can't make the open house, take the virtual tour."

Rev. Robert Schreiter will give the annual Scarboro Missions Lecture tonight at St. Jerome's University. He speaks (7:30, Siegfried Hall) on "Plurality and Differences in an Unstable World". Schreiter is a professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and a consultant to Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican umbrella unit for 154 relief and development agencies worldwide. "People find it's fairly easy to relate to people different from themselves when they feel secure," Schreiter says. "But how do they do it in an unstable situation? It is at times like these that the resources of the Church for reconciliation and peacebuilding come into play."

It's Fantastic Alumni and Staff Day in the Physical Activities Complex tomorrow, with special promotions as the Warrior basketball teams face Western: the women at 12 noon, the men at 2 p.m. Other sports this weekend: men's hockey hosting Lakehead, tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Icefield; women's hockey hosting Windsor, Saturday at 2:00, also at the Icefield; men's volleyball hosting Toronto, Saturday at 7 p.m. in the PAC. The figure skaters are in Toronto tomorrow; the nordic skiers are in a qualifying meet at Orangeville today; the swimmers are at Western today and at Laurier tomorrow; and the track and field squad is at McGill tomorrow.


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