Monday, March 19, 2007

  • Committee considers deficit budget
  • Staff association loses two leaders
  • UW summer programs for children
  • The federal budget, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

The swallows return

When and where

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for undergraduate courses: for spring term today through March 31; for fall term June 11-23.

Blood donor clinic Monday-Friday, Student Life Centre, appointments now at turnkey desk.

Joint Health and Safety Committee 1:30, Commissary room 112D.

Computational mathematics colloquium: William Cook, Georgia Tech, "A Computational Study of the Traveling Salesman Problem", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Volunteer tax clinic to assist students with income tax returns, sponsored by Accounting Students' Education Contribution, Monday and Tuesday 9 to 5, Student Life Centre great hall.

LabView user group meets Tuesday 11:30, Carl Pollock Hall, information 519-342-1168.

Gardening expert Marjorie Harris speakers on her new book, How to Make a Garden, Tuesday 12 noon, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, tickets $11.95 from UW bookstore.

Grand River Transit public meetings about possible rapid transit routes and station locations: March 20, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church; March 21, First United Church, Waterloo; March 22, United Kingdom Club, Cambridge, all with displays at 6 p.m., presentation at 6:30, discussions 7:00 to 8:30; preregister by e-mail, rtinfoline

Clueso: "Rap on the stage and in the classroom" concert and workshop, Tuesday 6:30 p.m., Graduate House, sponsored by Waterloo Centre for German Studies.

UW Food Bank drive for non-perishable food, money, and Zehrs or Sobeys receipts, Wednesday-Friday, Student Life Centre and bins across campus.

Systems design engineering students' showcase of design projects, Wednesday 11:00 to 7:00, Davis Centre great hall.

Communitech lunch: "Doing Business with Post-Secondary Institutions", Wednesday 11:30, Waterloo Inn, details and registration online.

'Be a Ring Road Runner' spring workshop and release of Running Mates' Guide to Physical and Mental Health, Wednesday 12 noon, Rod Coutts Hall room 112, registration ext. 3-5418.

Co-op Student of the Year presentations Wednesday 3 p.m., Tatham Centre.

UW-Haifa exchange program for undergraduates in computer science and all of math, Wednesday 3 p.m., information session Math and Computer room 5158.

Federation of Students general meeting Wednesday 3:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

First Robotics Waterloo Regional Competition for teams of high school students, Thursday-Saturday, Physical Activities Centre, details online.

Orchestra@UWaterloo end-of-term concert Thursday 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets free from Humanities box office. Program: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D (Wallace Wu, violin); Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture; Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D.

Financial Econometrics Conference (ninth annual), "Hedge Funds and Associated Risks", Friday, Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by Centre for Advanced Studies in Finance, details and registration online.

Alumni career planning workshop Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, details online.

UW board of governors spring meeting Tuesday, April 3, 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Nevine Ebeid, "Power Analysis Attacks on Elliptic Curve Cryptosystems and Key Randomization Countermeasures." Supervisor, Anwaral Hasan. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, April 12, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Chemical engineering. Fengwu Bai, "Process Oscillations in the Continuous Ethanol Fermentation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae." Supervisors, William A. Anderson and Murray Moo-Young. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 17, 10:00 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Chemical engineering. Dongyu Fang, "Synthesis, Characterization and Modeling of Porous Copolymer Particles." Supervisors, Garry L. Rempel and Qinmin Pan. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Wednesday, April 18, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Electrical and computer engineering. Humphrey Rutagemwa, "Performance Modeling, Design and Analysis of Transport Mechanisms in Integrated Heterogeneous Wireless Networks." Supervisors, Sherman X. Shen and Jon W. Mark. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, April 18, 2:00 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Committee considers deficit budget

[Chakma]Allocations of $10.4 million for salary increases and $6.3 million for the costs of new academic programs are part of a 2007-08 budget that provost Amit Chakma (right) will bring to the university senate's finance committee this morning.

The committee (which meets at 9:30 in Needles Hall room 3004) will look at the budget before it comes to the senate itself and then the UW board of governors for approval. The 2007-08 fiscal year will begin May 1.

The draft budget shows estimated “operating” income of $374.4 million in the coming year. The operating budget covers UW’s activities in teaching and administration, but not the direct costs of research (through grants and contracts), capital expenses (for new and improved buildings), or “ancillary” business operations such as residences.

Ontario government grants will go up by 4.2 per cent, to $180.0 million, the budget predicts. Student tuition fees will reach $153.6 million, up from the current year’s $140.3 million, because of enrolment increases — including “significant growth” at the graduate level — and fee increases. “Rate increases vary by program and year level,” a footnote says, “with an average increase of 4.35 in Arts and Science and 6.1% in professional programs” at the undergraduate level.

Spending, meanwhile, is predicted to reach $376.5 million, meaning that UW would run an operating deficit of a little more than $2 million in the year ahead. Expenditures for the currnet year are listed at $350.9 million.

The allocation for salary increases, minus some savings from retirements of older faculty members, would bring total salary and wage spending to $221.5 million, up from this year’s $211.5 million. In addition, UW is spending $42.3 million on benefits this year (including pension premiums) and would see that rise to $46.2 million in the year ahead.

Spending increases include not only the $6.3 million for “emerging programs such as Nanotechnology Engineering, Management Engineering, and Pharmacy”, but $500,000 for an “academic support improvement fund”, $300,000 for additional library spending (bringing the total for library materials to $6.3 million), and a few other items.

A campus-wide expenditure reduction of 2.0 per cent is planned, saving $4.4 million, the draft budget shows.

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Staff association loses two leaders

Changes to the leadership of the UW Staff Association were announced Friday following two resignations related to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation drive to unionize UW staff.

Stephen Markan of information systems and technology, the association's past president, has resigned and will be replaced by a former president, Chris Henderson of procurement and contract services, a memo to association members announced.

In addition, Carrie Howells of the Computer Science Computing Facility has resigned as president-elect, said the memo, circulated by 2006-07 president Joe Szalai. The position of president-elect will stay vacant for the next few weeks, Szalai said, and a president will be chosen as part of this spring's association election, to take office for 2007-08 starting in June.

Markan and Howells will both continue as staff representatives on the Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation, the memo said. Henderson will take Markan's place on the university's Staff Relations Committee.

Markan has been prominent in staff discussions of the association and possible unionization over the past few weeks. In February he stepped into the debate over the OSSTF campaign by calling an open meeting for UWSA leaders, followed by two "town hall" meetings for staff at large. He subsequently issued a report with his reflections. "I think we need to resolve the OSSTF offer first," he wrote. "My goal in pursuing this option is to ensure that we together either choose OSSTF as our union, or we together reject OSSTF." He announced that he was resigning from the UWSA executive and would devote his efforts to forming "a UW Organizing Committee to make this certification process our process." For himself, he has said only that he is "close" to signing a union card.

At a meeting of UWSA department representatives on March 8, Markan announced his plans to resign, and Howells followed suit in an e-mail to the UWSA leadership later the same day. At the meeting, Andy Newman of the plant operations department, who has been one of the directors-at-large on the UWSA executive, told the meeting that he too was resigning, but he "has reconsidered and will finish his term in order to continue with the pension advice issue", Szalai's memo said on Friday.

[Szalai]Newman wrote on the OSSTF campaign web site on March 8 that he favours "something better" for UW staff than the UWSA. Howells announced in the same place on the same day that she had signed a union card.

And Szalai (right), who works in the user services department in the Library, announced March 12 that he also has signed an OSSTF card. He was an early advocate of unionization for UW staff, leading an unsuccessful campaign on behalf of the Canadian Auto Workers in 2001. A petition to remove Szalai as UWSA president, on the grounds that among other things "his actions and conduct are jeopardizing the future of the Association," has appeared on a new website,, representing "an ad hoc group of UW staff members concerned about whether or not the OSSTF is appropriate to represent us".

Other current members of the UWSA executive are the vice-president, Sue Fraser of kinesiology; the treasurer, Steph Sempson of science computing; the secretary, Nancy Poole of health studies and gerontology; and three other directors-at-large: Nelson Carrillos (plant operations), Cathy Jardine (graduate studies), and Maureen Stafford (electrical and computer engineering).

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UW summer programs for children

With March break over, and parents thinking ahead to how they'll keep their children busy in the summer months, UW has prepared the annual list of kids' programs that will be held on campus. It includes the two big day camps, a couple of nursery schools, and special-purpose camps in dance, music and sports. Here's a summary.

Arts Computer Experience, marking its 25th anniversary, is a day camp for children aged 7 to 12, running four two-week sessions starting July 3. The program includes art, drama and music as well as computing, plus outdoor activities and swimming. Details are on the ACE web site, and coordinator Marsha Wendell is at ext. 3-5939.

Engineering Science Quest operates a variety of one-week programs, from the beginning of July to the end of August, for children entering grades 1 to 11. It promises "an opportunity to see, touch, invent, design, create, and experiment"; the "ExXtreme" programs for older kids focus on the world of computers and technology. There are satellite programs this year operating in Stratford, Chatham, Paris, Aamjiwnaang and Six Nations. Details are on the web; the phone number at the ESQ office is ext. 3-5239.

Two on-campus day care centres are taking youngsters during the summer. The Hildegard Marsden Day Nursery summer camp is open to children aged 4 to 7 (phone ext. 3–5437); the Klemmer Farmhouse Co-operative Day Nursery summer program is for children 2-and-a-half to 5 (phone 519-885-5181).

The Carousel Dance Centre will operate "Summerdance" in a total of week-long half-day or full-day programs aimed at children 4 to 17, as well as two "guest artist" workshops. Details are online, and the phone number is ext. 3-3147.

The Ontario Mennonite Music Camp for young people aged 12 to 16 will run August 13-25 at Conrad Grebel University college; for details call 519-885-0220 ext. 2-4226.

The UW Girls' Volleyball Camp for players from grades 9-12 is scheduled for July 10-14; registration is online and the phone number for information is ext. 3-5692. A Setters and Hitters Clinic is scheduled on July 9 for athletes aged 15 to 18.

Warrior Hockey Camps are scheduled for August 20-24 (boys and girls aged 5 to 13) and in "specialty camp" format August 27-31 (ages 10 to 13). For details call ext. 3-2635.

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The federal budget, and other notes

The federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty, is to present a budget today in the House of Commons, under the scrutiny of everybody from poverty activists to education leaders, party stalwarts to undecided voters. Among those with a definite agenda, we can count the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which says it's watching for something in the budget about research funding, and especially a new infusion of money for the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which has used up its original block funding. AUCC is also interested in improvements to student assistance, and possible new funds to support graduate studies. And then there's the whole topic of "fairness" as reflected in transfers from the federal government to the provinces. "AUCC will be watching," a memo this week said, "to see how much of this additional social transfer money is specifically earmarked for postsecondary education, either within the existing Canada Social Transfer or, less likely, in a new dedicated transfer to the provinces."

Ontario universities, but of course not those in other provinces, signed off on a recent open letter to Flaherty that called for bigger transfers to this province. "Through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST)," it says, "the federal government provides Ontario with $86 less cash per capita than it provides for Canadians living in other provinces. By restoring fairness to the federal transfer system, Ontario would have over a billion dollars more to invest in health care, colleges and universities and social services, at service levels comparable to other parts of the country."

Without referring specifically to the federal budget — or the Ontario budget that's expected to follow on Thursday — a number of "Toronto Region leaders" published a letter Friday about employment, social assistance and tax benefits for low-income families. "Combating poverty is an issue of social justice," says the letter, addressed to the prime minister and the provincial premier, "but it is also in the economic self-interest of all Canadians." Signers of the letter include UW president David Johnston and the chair of UW's board of governors, Bob Harding of Brookfield Asset Management.

[Firefighters outside Chemistry II]Back on campus . . . the safety office will be holding an open house today at its (relatively) new quarters in the Commissary building, along the ring road near the smokestack. It's described as a chance for staff and faculty in particular to meet members of UW's Joint Health and Safety Committee, learn about UW's health and safety resources, see displays about campus safety over the years (training exercise in 2004, left), and try out safety gear, including Hazardous Materials Spill Team equipment. The JHSC will hold its monthly meeting after the open house, starting at 1:30 in the Commissary conference room.

A memo came out on Friday morning from Bob Gillham, chair of the earth sciences department: "Many of you may not realize what an auspicious day yesterday was in the life of the Department. The painting that Peter Etril Snyder has been working on in the Waterloo Mall was unveiled yesterday afternoon. It is very large and spectacular and is a great addition to the museum collection. It is hanging on the wall above the coffee shop — have a look. This project was conceived and inspired by Peter Russell — many thanks and congratulations Peter! The unveiling was followed in the evening by the first in the Faculty of Science public lecture series, part of the University 50th anniversary celebrations. This particular lecture was organized by Alan Morgan and hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences. The lecture was given by Canada's 'Mr. Dinosaur', Dr. Philip Currie, of the University of Alberta. It was a real privilege to listen to someone who is both articulate and an absolute expert in his field. The lecture was well attended with the majority, I believe, coming from off campus. Thus, in addition to being a great lecture, it provided a great bridge between the University and the community."

Finally, the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group sends word of a visit tomorrow by Victoria Serda, a deputy leader of the Green Party of Ontario: "Concern over climate change has never been higher, due in no small part to Al Gore's film 'An Inconvenient Truth'. 'Serda is an outstanding example of the millions of North Americans who have been energized by the call to action on the climate crisis,' says Gore. Having been training by renowned scientists and environmental experts, she will be making presentations across Ontario throughout the year. Through the same slideshow of collected evidence and expert analysis as in the movie, Serda will explain the reality of global warming and its implications, and will dispel some common myths and misconceptions about climate change. Serda will also add a Canadian context to the presentation. Most importantly, she will discuss how individuals, schools, businesses, and other organizations can play a key role in solving the crisis." She'll be speaking at 12:30 tomorrow in the Architecture lecture hall in Cambridge, at 4:30 in Arts Lecture Hall room 208 on the main campus, and in the evening at the Kitchener Public Library main branch.


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