[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Monday, October 25, 2004

  • 'Innovative' communications are coming
  • Yes, it's the end of the Gazette
  • UW statement calls words 'abhorrent'
  • Words to staff about flextime
Chris Redmond

St. Crispin's Day

[And a big smile from Witmer]

Shreds of red ribbon are the souvenirs after a row of political leaders and other VIPs officially opened the school of architecture building on Friday morning. The arms jubilantly in the air behind them belong to Rick Haldenby, director of the architecture school. "This project is yet another great example of how the three levels of government, through the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program, are investing in our communities," said Member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi in a UW news release. It was announced Thursday that the building has won a "Brownie Award" from the Canadian Urban Institute for redevelopment of a "brownfield" industrial site.

'Innovative' communications are coming

"Some changes in direction regarding UW internal communications" are announced in a memo sent to department heads late last week by Martin Van Nierop, UW's director of communications and public affairs. (C&PA is the department that issues this Daily Bulletin each weekday morning.)

Says the memo: "Communications & Public Affairs, which is responsible for both internal and external communications at UW, is moving forward this fall with innovative, future-oriented methods of delivering news and information to faculty, staff and students. C&PA will launch a newly redesigned, more robust web site in November which will complement the Daily Bulletin news service, provide space for major features about the UW community, letters to the editor, notices, upcoming events and other information listings.

"The growing popularity of the Daily Bulletin, which has evolved into a key, rapid means of conveying news and information about UW to staff, faculty and students, means there has not been the same need for a weekly or bi-weekly tabloid newspaper.

"Accordingly, due to the need to better manage our resources and shrinking budgets, we are ceasing publication of the Gazette. The Gazette staff has for many years produced a first-class newspaper that has served the campus in a splendid manner. The staff's (Barbara Elve, Janet Rohrbach and Chris Redmond) outstanding professionalism has been noted by many readers over the years, but I'm pleased to say this expertise will not be lost, just redirected toward our new products.

"As well, we will maintain some printed communication with faculty and staff through a new newsletter, coming out once per term, the first one this winter. It will be sent to all faculty, staff and key stakeholders. The newsletter will carry selected features and important campus news that warrants another look. As well, we will occasionally produce feature special supplements, the first of which this fall will be about UW's outstanding cohort of new faculty members.

"In considering options for future communications improvements, the focus will be on ways in which C&PA can help to advance the mission of the university by connecting with its many important audiences, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and the public. We look forward to the challenge and welcome feedback and comment."

[Gazette front page]

Yes, it's the end of the Gazette

Last week's memo confirms that the Gazette newspaper, which hasn't appeared on campus this fall, will not be coming back -- a decision made because of changing technology and the need to make more efficient use of resources. The last issue (left) was published June 9.

The Gazette has been serving the campus since November 1960. It began in newsletter form, published by the office of the registrar, then taken over by the department known in those days as "information services". As the university grew, plans were made to turn it into a campus-wide newspaper, and the first issue in that format was published March 26, 1969.

For most of the time since then, it's appeared weekly on Wednesdays, with about 40 issues annually. It moved to bi-weekly publication over the past couple of years. Information services became "information and public affairs" and then, in 2003, C&PA.

The first editor of the Gazette was Bob Whitton, to be followed briefly by Denis Grayhurst. I took on the editorship in July 1973, and started the Daily Bulletin in the spring of 1993, originally as a sort of supplement to the Gazette, later as a publication with its own identity. Barbara Elve became Gazette editor in February 2003.

Over the years the Gazette has published news about practically every aspect of the university's life, from politics to technology and sports. Controversial? Sometimes, and well-read too. It was a tradition, expressed in a "statement of policy" first approved in 1979, that the Gazette had a remarkable degree of editorial freedom, in the interest of airing the issues fully and encouraging involvement by faculty, student and staff readers.

We're not exactly sure yet what service will replace the Gazette's sometimes lively Letters and Unclassified sections, but we're working on that. Jan Narveson, who wrote the "Cecilia on Music" column for decades, is developing his own web site. And I'm happy to say that Barb Elve is still in C&PA, doing some writing for the Daily Bulletin and other outlets and editing some of the new products we'll be introducing.

The future of communication on campus looks good -- but the end of the Gazette is still a bit sad. We've been proud of the newspaper, and we're sorry to see it go.

Blood donor clinic, today through Thursday 10 to 4, Friday 9 to 3, next Monday 10 to 4, Student Life Centre.

Registered Education Savings Plans seminar sponsored by Education Credit Union, 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP ext. 3574.

Centre for International Governance Innovation lecture, Anne Marie Slaughter, Princeton University, "A New Approach to the War on Terrorism", 5 p.m., 57 Erb Street West, free.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Tim Jackson, Tech Capital Partners, "Securing Capital for the Early Stage Technology Business", Wednesday 12 noon, Rod Coutts Hall room 105, RSVP today to ext. 7167.

Federation of Students annual general meeting Wednesday 4:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

You @ Waterloo Day for future students and their families, Saturday 9 to 3, details online.

UW statement calls words 'abhorrent'

The university has issued a brief official statement following controversial remarks on television last week by a prominent UW faculty member.

Mohamed Elmasry of the electrical and computer engineering department is also president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and last Tuesday was a guest on "The Michael Coren Show", a syndicated TV program from Toronto, talking about "Who is a terrorist?" He is reported to have said that Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians are justified. Stories followed on Saturday in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Star and other media.

Said the UW statement, issued yesterday: "The University of Waterloo is a pluralistic, publicly supported university that is an inclusive, tolerant community. David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo, stated today that he concludes the statement attributed to Prof. Elmasry is abhorrent and conflicts with the University's values. The University expects that the important principle of freedom of speech will be responsibly exercised by members of its community."

At the same time, the CIC issued a statement calling Elmasry's comments "regrettable". "Dr. Elmasry did not, does not, and will not condone the widely-held Palestinian view that any form of armed resistance against civilians that includes suicide bombing constitutes a legitimate military operation against the Israeli occupation, and not a terrorist activity."

The CIC statement adds that Elmasry "was presenting not his own views -- but those of a significant segment of Palestinians under occupation. 'I sincerely regret that my comments were misunderstood and, as a result, caused offense,' he said."

Words to staff about flextime -- a memo from the UW staff relations committee

Prompted by comments made by staff in response to the Staff Association's survey, How's the Climate, the Staff Relations Committee examined the use of flextime as a method to manage variable workloads, help staff meet family and other demands, and ensure that hours worked in addition to one's normal hours are accounted for and taken as "free" time when appropriate.

Although not all departments and jobs may be suited to flextime, the Committee thought it useful to report on this system of scheduling. As with every system, there are advantages and disadvantages; this report addresses both.

[Flipper in action]

President David Johnston, and other members of UW's executive council, will flip the pancakes tomorrow morning at the Student Life Centre. Staff and faculty members are invited to "stop by for breakfast on your way to work", 7:30 to 9:30, "as a way of saying thank you for all you do at Waterloo -- a small gesture of appreciation for the enormous contribution you make to UW's success". The event will be on the patio if it's good weather, inside the great hall if it's not. Staff who work the night shift are invited to an ice cream social in the SLC at 10 p.m. instead.

Flextime is a system of scheduling work hours based on the premise that employees will make responsible judgements in adjusting their working hours to handle both job and personal demands. Flextime is also based on an expectation that employees will contribute the normal number of hours in a four-week period (e.g., for a 35 hour-a-week position, that would be 140 hours). Adjustment of working hours takes place within a band width of acceptable working hours (e.g., 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) and within a "core" period (hours when all staff are expected to be in attendance at their jobs unless taking vacation or agreed time off). Departments determine the maximum number of hours that can be "banked" for future use or "made up" in the next four-week cycle.

For example, a staff member might come in at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 3:00 p.m. on a day when they need to be in attendance at school for a parent/teacher interview. Assuming their normal work hours are 8:30 to 4:30, there are no hours to "bank" or "make up". If a staff member came to work at the normal time and stayed until 6:00 p.m. to finish a project, the additional 1.5 hours would be "banked" for future use. If a staff member came to work at the normal time and left at 3:00, 1.5 hours would need to be "made up" in the next four-week cycle.

Advantages: job gets done with enhanced cooperation and cross training; employees are empowered because they manage their own workload (peaks and valleys); family friendly; allows employees time to manage personal appointments/commitments; service can be provided over longer periods than standard work hours because of differing time commitments and preferences of staff; additional hours worked during a peak in workload, for example, can be taken during less critical times.

Disadvantages: not all departments and jobs are suited to flextime; positions that are time related in the service they provide (e.g., shift operations) are not suited to flextime, nor are small departments where there is only one person to provide service during standard hours; additional hours are "lost" if they exceed the maximum bankable hours.

There are three major areas of employee obligation within flextime: the nature of the job being performed determines the degree to which flexibility is possible during any particular period; all employees must be present except by special approval during certain core hours each day; a fixed number of hours must be worked during each flex time schedule with a maximum debit or credit each cycle

A number of departments on campus including the Library, Human Resources and IST use flextime arrangements with success.

Along with the Staff Relations Committee, the senior administration at UW encourages staff and managers to discuss the feasibility of implementing flextime in their work areas. Visit HR's website for more detailed information on how flextime works or talk with your Staff Relations Coordinator to find out if flextime will work in your unit.


Communications and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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