Tuesday, December 11, 2007

  • 'Staff have control' of dispute policy
  • Professors on sabbatical this fall
  • The Symphony, carrels and bicycling
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca


An oratory contest links students at Mennonite and Brethren colleges across North America, including UW's Conrad Grebel University College. The winner this year was second-year peace and conflict studies student John Wray for his speech "Banana Workers and Involving Anger in the Christian Peace Position". Lowell Ewert, director of the PACS program at Waterloo, presented Wray's award, including a cash prize, at a recent Grebel community supper.

Link of the day

International Mountain Day

When and where

Fall term exams continue through December 20; preliminary marks begin appearing on Quest December 21; grades become official January 28.

'Knowing Your Workplace' information session about UW salary administration, 11:00 to noon, Math and Computer room 4040.

Senate undergraduate council 12:00, Needles Hall rom 3004.

Trellis library system will be down for upgrade December 12-18, details online.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents Claudette DeLenardo, Grand River Hospital, "Developing a Patient Portal", Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

[50th anniversary logo]50th anniversary closing event for faculty and staff, Wednesday 3:00 to 4:30, Columbia Icefield.

Campaign appreciation celebration for invited donors and volunteers, Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00, CEIT building foyer.

Conrad Grebel University College alumni carol singing Wednesday 7:00 p.m., Grebel atrium.

50th anniversary flag lowered for the final time Thursday 11:00 a.m., University Avenue entrance to campus.

Employee Assistance Program presents a brown-bag session: "What's Your Humour Approach?" Thursday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Tourplay children's performance, "Alligator Pie", Friday 10:00 and 1:00, Humanities Theatre.

Institute for Computer Research seminar: Michael McCool, RapidMind, "A Unified Programming Model for Multi-Core CPUs and Many-Core Accelerators," Friday 1:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Winter term fees due December 17 by cheque or January 2 by bank transfer, details online.

University closed Saturday, December 22, through Tuesday, January 1; university police and Student Life Centre continue without interruption. Offices reopen Wednesday, January 2, 2008; winter term classes begin Monday, January 7.

Federation of Students nomination period for 2008-09 executive January 7 through 21, information ext. 36781.

Application deadline for Ontario secondary school students entering UW in September 2008 is January 9 (exceptions and details listed online).

'Staff have control' of dispute policy

The UW staff association is holding its "town hall meeting" this morning — it started at 8:30, or at least it was supposed to — and my laptop and I are on hand as members are briefed on UW's proposed new "dispute resolution policy" and give their comments on it.

(I told a tech-savvy colleague that I was going to be liveblogging the meeting, and he kind of snickered, but then acknowledged that the Daily Bulletin really was one of the first blogs, created in 1993, so if I report on something while it's still in progress, what else would you call it? So here I am in the spooky dim light of Davis Centre 1350, one of the big main-floor amphitheatres, while 100 or 150 staff association members grab their complimentary doughnuts and take their seats.)

Jesse Rodgers, the president of the association, tells me he has a PowerPoint presentation some 30 slides long, though all we've seen so far is the one that says "Welcome". Ah — he's announcing that "we're going to get started," and the susurrus of noise is subsiding, except for a bit of microphone feedback. Clip on the lapel mike; that's better. He quickly introduces his colleagues on the association executive, then starts summarizing the background of the planned policy revision.

But first: "Be nice to each other," says his next PowerPoint slide. "We have to be a lot better at being nice to each other," he says out loud. "What you do affects other people!"

Then he starts to focus on Policy 36, known until now as the "grievance policy", which is now close to final approval. It's been a source of irritation for ages, he says, and finally got some attention over the summer, with a committee meeting for long hours to figure out how it should be updated. The most important change? A new provision for "an advocate . . . someone to be at their side" when a staff member has a grievance or problem. "Having someone be there to support them is very important for everyone. . . . A third party must be allowed, if a person wants it, in all meetings with a manager.

"Another change is, we changed the timelines. And for a lot of people, this is the biggest one: tribunal decisions are final. It doesn't go to David Johnston, it doesn't go anywhere; when the tribunal makes a decision, that's the end."

Rodgers gives some background on how the tribunal will be formed: three individuals chosen at random from a pool of twelve, both of whom have been approved by the staff association as well as the provost. (A memo is going out from the association in the next day or so, inviting initial applications for membership in that pool.)

It's a few minutes before nine now, and people are still coming into Davis 1350; it's hard to count, but I'd say there are 200 in total, listening intently to Jesse Rodgers. "Staff have control over this process," he says, "and that's something I really believe."

And now he's moving on to another topic — planned organizational change for the staff association itself. I'll report further tomorrow.

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Professors on sabbatical this fall

Here’s a list of some UW faculty members who are currently on sabbatical leave, as reported to the UW board of governors along with a few words about their plans during the sabbatical.

Nancy Day, computer science, twelve months’ leave that started July 1, 2007: “I will be collaborating with Critical Systems Labs (CSL) to investigate the scalability of my research on formal methods. CSL is a pioneer in the field of safety analysis and requirements engineering.”

Randy Harris, English, six months that started September 1: “I plan to do research on (1) the cognitive dimensions of rhetoric; (2) the rhetorical construction of Gregor Mendel’s ‘Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden’.”

Natalie Hutchings, optometry, six months that started September 1: “I plan to develop collaborations with researchers in retinal imaging, particularly with respect to imaging the eye with polarized light and imaging the diabetic eye. In addition, I plan to write up research manuscripts and grant proposals.”

Stefan Idziak, physics and astronomy, twelve months that started September 1: “I will continue my work examining the role of shear on the crystallization dynamics of edible fats such as cocoa butter and milk fat. While the bulk of this work will take place at the University of Waterloo, I shall be making several trips to offsite facilities to conduct further studies.”

Jan Kycia, physics and astronomy, twelve months that started September 1: “I will start my sabbatical in September of 2007 by staying at Waterloo but working closely with Professor Stephen Julian of the Physics Department at the University of Toronto, who will be on sabbatical in my lab for the fall. From January 2008 to July 2008, I will work in Grenoble, France, in the high magnetic field lab.”

Catherine Rosenberg, electrical and computer engineering, six months that started September 1: “This leave will allow me to rebuild my research program at the level commensurate to a regular faculty member following my three years as Chair of the Department.”

Michael Palmer, chemistry, six months that started November 1: “I intend to continue and complete writing my textbook on ‘Biochemical Pharmacology’, to be published by Wiley.”

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The Symphony, carrels and bicycling

A concert on March 7 will be the focus for "professional colleagues", described as "University of Waterloo faculty members, staff and retirees who value the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and show their support of culture in our community by sponsoring a concert". Their thank-you: free tickets, and a reception with the orchestra's glamorous new conductor. Organizer of the colleagues' program this year is Barbara Bulman-Fleming, recently retired from the department of psychology, who has served on the board of the symphony and is well aware that it takes voluntary funding to keep the music playing. "As most of you will know," she writes to those who are making their Professional Colleagues contribution of $175 or more, "we're off to a great start with our new music director, Edwin Outwater — what a talented, engaging, and nice young man he is! You are all cordially invited to meet him at a wine and cheese party at the University Club on January 23, at which you can pick up your complimentary tickets. We hope to be able to offer you better complimentary seats this year, but of course those of you who get your forms in first will have the better seats. It's because of you and people like you that we've been able to survive and get onto this wonderful new path. If you've been to a KWS performance lately, you'll know what I mean!" The key "sponsored concert" in March at Centre in the Square involves Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and other music that Outwater calls "sexy"; alternatively, colleagues can choose their four free tickets to a pops concert in February, including Gordon Lightfoot and Don Messer tunes, or a "Generations" Strauss concert in April. For more information and a form for making the contribution, Bulman-Fleming can be reached by e-mail: bfleming@watarts.

“As the fall semester draws to a close and exam cramming season begins,” says the UW library’s electronic newsletter, “there are few things more coveted than a study carrel in the Davis Centre Library. Now, thanks to a generous donation from the student Math Endowment Fund, the Davis Library will soon be equipped with an additional 10 carrels and chairs for student use. MEF's donation, totalling $14,040, is the second donation they have awarded to the Library for this purpose. Last year MEF's gift of $6,750 facilitated the purchase of 5 study carrels and chairs. Funding the new carrels and chairs is an important opportunity for MEF to significantly improve the study environment in a spot frequently used by math students. As noted by MEF's Director, Morgan Grainger: ‘Given the almost constant use of the study carrels in the Davis Centre, we could see a clear need to provide additional space. We knew that our contribution would have a tangible impact on mathematics students, by making it easier for them to study in a convenient location.’ The ergonomically designed study carrels and chairs also make this study space ideal for long study periods, a feature that is particularly important during the extended hours around the exam period when many students make the busy Davis Library their second home.”

Finally, there have been some comments in response to Friday's Daily Bulletin with its article about Canadian winters, particularly on the topic of bicycling in ice and snow ("don't"). Among them was a letter from Jeff Carter, a graduate student in physics and a dedicated cyclist. "As with any outdoor winter activity," he writes, "proper preparation, equipment, and attention to conditions are the keys to safe winter cycling. In particular, the bike should be well maintained, and have proper fenders, lights and winter-oriented tires (I run metal-studded tires in winter). As in all seasons, winter cyclists should be aware of traffic and road conditions, and ride where they can be seen and have sufficient room to maneuver (in winter, this often means 'taking the lane' due to the tendency of shoulders and bike lanes to fill up with unrideable chunks of ice, snow, and slush). Cyclists who consistently follow these practices can be as comfortable and safe in winter as in summer. In urban areas, road cycling may even be safer in winter than summer since the lower traffic speeds typical of winter will reduce the risk of serious injury and/or death in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle. Most motorists in the K-W area do an excellent job of sharing the road with cyclists, as they are required to do by law. However, a (thankfully small) minority drive as though they (incorrectly!) assume that cyclists have no place on our roads. Media articles and public presentations which exaggerate the dangers associated with cycling only serve to reinforce such false assumptions and can, I fear, contribute to hostility toward cyclists from motorists."


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