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Monday, May 16, 2005

  • 'Creativity' rules at tomorrow's lecture
  • Safety sessions set for employees
  • Tax office stands firm on fee benefit
  • The writer at home and abroad
Chris Redmond

Henry Fonda 100 years

[Red cover shows part of a face]

Two students in UW's English department -- Bram Wigzell and Andrew Judge -- are behind a new UW arts journal, The New Manic Magazine, which appeared for the first time in April. "The purpose," Wigzell writes, "is to put the spotlight on UW's artists, whether they be visual artists or writers. We look for inventive, creative, and intelligent pieces that focus on interesting and relevant issues." The 16-page premier issue features poetry and prose, shows paintings from a fine arts class and adds an interview with a local band. Monthly publication is to begin in the fall, with support from the English department and several student organizations. Interested students can get in touch by e-mail: uwarts.mag@gmail.com.

'Creativity' rules at tomorrow's lecture

"Creativity Unleashed: Pushing the Perimeter" is the topic of the annual Friends of the Library event tomorrow. Howard Burton, executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, will deliver this year's lecture in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages Building.

The event, held annually since 1993, celebrates the creative process and includes a public lecture as well as a display of the books, musical scores, photography and art produced by faculty, staff and alumni of the university, said Mary Stanley of the library office.

"During the past five years," says a news release, "Burton has transformed the twin visions of a world-class research institute and national education and outreach programs into a thriving reality. The result is Perimeter -- an independent, non-profit, resident-based organization dedicated to exploring foundational issues in theoretical physics at the very highest international standards.

"At the same time, the initiative shares the joy of scientific inquiry and discovery with students, teachers and the public via a full spectrum of enrichment programs that are delivered from coast to coast.

"In keeping with the institute's strong outreach mandate, Burton speaks at many community events. He also writes a weekly column on current issues in science for the Learning section of The Record. In addition to his scientific interests, he has a 'deep abiding passion' for music, theatre and literature."

Everybody is welcome at tomorrow's lecture, which will start at 12:00.

Safety sessions set for employees

A memo listing Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) sessions and employee safety orientation sessions has been distributed to UW departments.

Says Doug Dye of the UW safety office: "WHMIS sessions are designed for people that work with, or in proximity to hazardous materials. The Employee Safety sessions are designed for employees that do not work with or in proximity to hazardous materials. The Employee Safety Orientation session also includes a small section on WHMIS designed to make people aware of WHMIS. Both sessions include safety orientation material pertaining to life within the UW Community.

"If there are new employees working (either as temporary summer help or new appointments) in your department, or employees that have not attended one of these sessions previously, please ensure that they attend one of these sessions. These are open sessions and there is no pre-registration required."

WHMIS sessions are May 24 at 10 a.m., repeated May 31 at 2 p.m. Employee safety orientation sessions are May 25 at 10 a.m., repeated June 2 at 2 p.m. All sessions are in Davis Centre room 1304.

Tax office stands firm on fee benefit

There's no good news for staff and faculty members who have been billed for back taxes (and interest) as a result of the tuition fee benefit they received for their children in 2001. More than 250 employees are thought to be in that position, and more will have the same experience when the Canada Revenue Agency moves on from 2001 to 2002, says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services).

They're in difficulties after the CRA decided that the 50 per cent tuition discount for their family members counts as a taxable benefit. The government ruling was known more than a year ago, but bills just came this spring. Scott notes that since the government ruling, UW has changed its system so that the tuition benefit for children was taxable to the employee as of January 2003.

She noted earlier this year that when the government said employees would be billed for retroactive payments, "UW appealed this position, offered a settlement to avoid the interest cost to our employees and asked for relief from the re-assessment given our actions of good faith in fixing the situation as soon as we became aware of the issue. CRA refused any offer of settlement."

It also looked as though employees at the University of Western Ontario were being treated differently, with no retroactive payments demanded by CRA. Lawyers got to work, but with no success. "As predicted," Scott said in a letter last week, "CRA will not re-examine their position on the UW employee re-assessments. Also, due to different factors, a comparison between the two universities is not applicable. Our lawyers have advised us that UW has no further appeal on this issue."

Most employees now have no choice but to pay the retroactive tax. Scott's letter repeat the university's offer, made earlier this year, to reimburse individuals for the interest they're having to pay. "This payment will be taxable but in any event will provide you with some relief from the interest charges. As well, UW will provide a low interest loan to assist with the cost of the re-assessment."

She said one group of staff and faculty members may have a further avenue to try: "While we are reluctant to raise expectations, our lawyers, assisted by a UW faculty member have indicated that UW employees whose children were clearly financially independent from their parents because of employment earnings (i.e. from co-op or other jobs), dependence on loans or other resources might be in the best factual position to support an objection.  . . . The chance of this appeal being successful may be marginal but for those of you who wish to pursue it, UW's lawyers will monitor the situation."

Says Scott: "While anticipated, this is a disappointing conclusion. Again, we understand the difficulties of this re-assessment and hope that the help we are providing can offer some relief from the situation."

Computational mathematics seminar: Werner Stuetzle, University of Washington, "Unsupervised Learning: Estimating the Cluster Tree of a Density", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

UW Senate 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001; agenda items include presentation from the faculty of arts, approval of a Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology.

Engineers Without Borders general meeting; presentation about interns in Tanzania, Cambodia and the Philippines; new members welcome; 5:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Winston Park Research and Learning Centre for Seniors Care, drawing on UW's new Research Institute for Aging, opening celebrations, Tuesday 9:45, Village of Winston Park retirement centre, Kitchener.

Institute for Polymer Research 27th annual Symposium on Polymer Science and Engineering, Tuesday-Wednesday, Conrad Grebel University College.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Joan Sanger, former chair of the prime minister's Ethics and Public Policy Reform Platform Committee, "Balancing Opportunity, Personal Accountability and Meaningful Work", Tuesday 5:30, Needles Hall room 1101, register by e-mail lcurtis@uwaterloo.ca.

Carousel Dance Centre spring performance, Tuesday-Thursday 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $12, students $9.

UW Retirees' Association annual general meeting Wednesday 1:30, Ron Eydt Village room 102.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith special screening for Graduate Student Association, Friday 9:30 a.m., Conestoga Mall cinemas, tickets $10 at the Graduate House.

Hallman Institute for Health Promotion grand opening of building addition, west wing of Matthews Hall, June 7, 11 a.m.

The writer at home and abroad -- from the UW media relations office

The New Quarterly's latest instalment, entitled "The Writer Abroad", is a treat for the traveller's spirit. The collection of fiction, non-fiction and somewhere-in-between that makes up issue 93 is sure to endear those nostalgic for a homeland left behind and tempt others who simply long for adventure.

While the issue of the UW-based national magazine features far-flung and exotic locales, many of the authors hail from Kitchener-Waterloo, including Harry Froklage and Gabriel Niccoli of St. Jerome's University, Ed Tell, local teacher and TNQ board member, and, of course, Edna Staebler.

Staebler, local celebrity and writer, graces TNQ's cover at the tender age of 98, looking positively young-hearted. Though well-known for her cookbook Food That Really Schmecks, a tribute to German-Mennonite cooking, she is also admired for her more serious work, a series of personal accounts published in Maclean's and Chatelaine about her time spent living with everyday Canadians -- an Old Order Mennonite family, the Iroquois of Six Nations, the crew of a freighter from Québec.

Harry Froklage, currently director of development and graduate affairs at St. Jerome's, met Staebler when he administered the writer-in-residence program she established at the Kitchener Public Library. In this issue, he has transcribed delightful bits of the seven-year correspondence between Staebler and her mentor, John Robins of the University of Toronto, author of The Incomplete Anglers, winner of the Governor General's award for non-fiction in 1947. The letters reveal Staebler's evolution from a tentative aspirant to a full-fledged writer, at the same time that Robins's literary career begins to wane.

Accompanying this feature is an excerpt from Staebler's never-published novella Molly, one of her few attempts at fiction, that tells the comic adventures of a young Canadian chasing romance in Paris in the 1950s.

In conversation with Nino Ricci, TNQ chair Ed Tell explores Ricci's coming-of-age as a writer, from formulating his identity as a career novelist despite run-ins with discouraging teachers, to wrestling with the inadequacy of language as a tool to capture lived experience, to his desire to address difficult themes like religion in his work.

Italian studies professor Gabriel Niccoli tells about his personal connection to Ricci's Lives of the Saints, especially in capturing the Canadian immigrant experience. Drawing on the coincidence that in his youth Niccoli travelled West from Italy on the very ship that protagonist Vittorio does in the trilogy, Niccoli weaves the actual and imagined parallels between their stories in his deeply thoughtful essay.

Sandra Sabatini contributes an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, set in the village of San Placido in Italy. The excerpt is a brief glimpse into the world of Zia Anselmina, a deliciously insufferable character whom Sabatini calls "a bit of (the) local flavour" and a taste of what's to come in the novel.

Issue 93 also makes pit stops in Rome and Greece, promising to transport readers to these lofty locations as well, if only in the mind.


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