Thursday, September 20, 2007

  • Grievance decisions would be 'final'
  • More action announced in R&T Park
  • The future of Europe, and of work
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, noted Canadian peacekeeper, is the keynote speaker for Homecoming on Saturday, September 29 (Humanities Theatre, 4:30). Tickets are $10 online. A promotional offer for faculty, staff, retirees and alumni: buy tickets for the lecture and be entered in a draw for VIP weekend passes for the Celebrate Waterloo music festival, downtown that same weekend.

Link of the day

Student life 100 years ago today

When and where

Club, Service and Society Days organized by Federation of Students, today and Friday 10:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre.

Car-free Day Festival sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Thursday-Saturday, details online.

'Collaborating Between Faculties' workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, scheduled for today, has been cancelled.

Career workshops: "Law School Bound" information session 12:30, "Preparing for the LSAT" 1:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. "Career Exploration and Decision Making" 2:30, Tatham room 1112, registration online.

International spouses group "orientation for both new and experienced international spouses" with guest Christine Tauer Martin of UW counselling services, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, children welcome, questions e-mail

'More Than Altruism: International Development Placements' panel of students who have worked overseas, 5:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Faculty of Mathematics Banquet to honour retiring faculty, welcome new faculty and present teaching and alumni awards, 6:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Photovoltaic forum featuring Paul Parker, UW geography professor with solar panel experience at his own house, Kitchener Public Library main branch, 7 p.m.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, annual general meeting and 2007-08 program launch, Friday 7:00 a.m., Waterloo Inn.

Experimental and noise rock at the Graduate House, from 9 p.m., free for grad students, $5 for others, details online.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: "Telephone Services, What's New", Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Graduate studies talk sponsored by Women in Engineering Committee: Sarah Mercer, chemical engineering, Friday 11:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

Philosophy colloquium: Paul Thagard, "Mental Illness from the Perspective of Theoretical Neuroscience, Friday 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 373.

St. Jerome's University presents former president Michael Higgins, "It's Tough Being God These Days", Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, admission free.

Palestinian-American Ali Abunimah, editor of the Electronic Intifada web site, speaks on "One Country", Friday 8 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

UW Fire Research Facility open house as part of Fire Prevention Week open house at the Waterloo Regional Emergency Services Training Centre, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00, Erb Street just west of regional landfill.

Ontario Engineering Graduate Studies Fair involving 12 universities, Saturday 11:00 to 4:00, Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, details online.

Downey Tennisfest Sunday from 12:30 p.m., dinner 6 p.m., Waterloo Tennis Club, information

Blood donor clinic Monday and October 3 to 5, Student Life Centre, make appointments now at turnkey desk, information 1-888-236-6283.

Professional development information session for graduate students, hosted by Women in Engineering, Monday 12:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529, registration online.

Cyberpunk author William Gibson reads from his new novel Spook Country Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, admission free.

Nobel-winning physicist Carl Wieman, now at University of British Columbia, "Science Education in the 21st Century", Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, reception follows, sponsored by Faculty of Science, admission free.

Senator Michael Kirby, "Why Not e-Health Care Now?" sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, September 26, 3:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302, registration online for attendance or live webcast.

'Understanding the Learner' workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday 12:30 to 3:30, Math and Computer room 4068, now fully booked.

UW Retirees Association annual wine-and-cheese party September 27, 3:00 to 5:00, University Club.

Ontario Universities Fair for future students and their parents, September 28-30, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, details online.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Tarik El-Fouly, “Wind Farms Production: Control and Prediction.” Supervisors, Magdy A. Salama and Ehab El-Saadany. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, September 28, 9;30 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Pure mathematics. Robert Juricevic, “Lehmer Numbers with At Least 2 Primitive Divisors.” Supervisor, Cameron L. Stewart. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, October 11, 2:00 p.m., Math and Computer room 5046.

Civil and environmental engineering. Xiaoguang Chen, “Multiscale Modeling of Amphibian Neurulation.” Supervisor, G. Wayne Brodland. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, October 11, 5:00 p.m., Engineering II room 1307G.

Grievance decisions would be 'final'

A proposed new policy on staff grievances, which would give “final and binding” authority to a three-person panel, was made public yesterday for comment from across campus.

The revised version of Policy 36 would have a new title: “Dispute Resolution for University Support Staff”. It’s “significantly revised” from the existing policy, says a memo that the Staff Relations Committee is sending to all non-union staff members. “This is an important policy for staff,” says the memo, “and the Committee encourages you to review it and to forward comments to the Committee’s attention. . . .

“Having learned about concerns with the current Policy, the Committee spent the summer months modifying the Policy with a view to addressing those concerns and making the Policy more user friendly.”

The new document starts with a listing of principles that the university is “committed to”: “A staff member has the right to question management decisions in confidence and without reprisal or fear of reprisal. . . . Questions, concerns and debate are healthy and encouraged. . . . It is in the best interests of staff and UW to address concerns in good faith, informally and in a timely manner.”

It encourages staff to resolve issues informally and to use the Policy to deal with disputes: “Responsibility for initiating the dispute resolution process rests with the staff member who is experiencing a problem.”

Says the policy: “Issues which can be addressed under the informal and formal stages include failure to apply or misapplication of University policies or procedures, abuse of supervisory authority, demotion, working conditions, discipline and discharge. Other work-related issues can be addressed under the informal resolution stage only.”

The committee’s memo points out some of the main changes it’s proposing:

• “The revised Policy allows for the support person, in addition to providing emotional support and helping the staff member navigate the process, to act as the staff member’s advocate (speak on behalf of and in addition to the staff member); this does not mean that the support person can speak instead of the staff member. Note, while staff members may choose any University Support Staff member as support person, the Staff Association is considering the creation of a position that could, among other things, fulfill this role.”

• “The Dispute Resolution Pool (from which members of the Tribunal, formerly the Committee of Inquiry, are chosen) will receive annual training by the Department of Organizational & Human Development and the Secretariat on facilitation skills, Tribunal process, policy interpretation and the rules of natural justice.”

• “The authority of a Tribunal has been extended. Its decision will be final and binding on all parties. Currently, a Committee of Inquiry recommended to the Provost who had the authority to uphold, modify or reverse the recommendation.”

• “A summary of Tribunal decisions (with identifying names and details removed) will be provided to the Staff Relations Committee to be released on an annual basis to the campus community.”

Much of the policy deals with procedure — time limits, confidentiality, witnesses, the way the 12 members of the Dispute Resolution Pool are appointed. “Following the formal hearing, the Tribunal shall deliberate in a closed session,” it says. “The decision need not be unanimous; a majority vote on an issue resolves the matter.”

Comments on the draft policy are to be sent to the secretary of the staff relations committee, Trenny Canning, in the University Secretariat, Needles Hall, e-mail

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More action announced in R&T Park

The north campus is getting not one but two new buildings, officials announced yesterday at a celebration that also featured the arrival of Google.

The new projects in the Research and Technology Park "will spark the continued growth of high-tech firms in Waterloo Region, resulting in the creation of new products and services", said a news release following yesterday's event. Held in the TechTown community centre on Hagey Boulevard, it featured the Ontario minister of economic development and trade, Sandra Pupatello, as well as university and industry officials.

One new building is the "UW Research Accelerator Centre" that was approved earlier this year by UW's board of governors. To provide office and lab space for promising research projects, and temporary space for UW units such as the Institute for Quantum Computing whose permanent home isn't ready yet, it will be constructed in two phases, each an estimated 70,000 square feet. The first phase, costing some $8.4 million, will be built by Cooper Construction of Oakville at a site on Wes Graham Way.

The other building is a commercial venture: the multi-tenant InnoTECH building, to be developed by the CORA Group at another site on the same road. CORA "is increasing its research in, and its commitment to, sustainable environmental design with the InnoTECH building," the news release says. "The 'smart-construction' features will allow InnoTECH to be developed into a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building, which will offer an environmentally friendly design."

It quotes Adrian Conrad, vice-president of CORA: "InnoTECH is an innovative, exciting step forward in building design and management. These state-of-the-art LEED features not only make InnoTECH an environmentally 'smart' building, but they are part of CORA's investment in the future of our community." The building has an estimated cost of $20 million.

Also at yesterday's event, Google Inc. announced, with an unveiling of their highly recognized logo sign, that it will move its Waterloo Engineering office into space on the upper level of the TechTown building. "It's very important for us to develop a strong relationship with the University of Waterloo and with its talented students and researchers," says Stuart Feldman, vice-president for engineering at Google. "We are actively recruiting top engineering talent to join our current team in Waterloo to work on innovative and challenging projects."

"With these new developments, the excitement continues to build at the Research and Technology Park," said UW president David Johnston. "The research park plays a leading role in encouraging entrepreneurship in our area. It offers key services to the best and brightest minds in the region, helping them bring new ideas to market."

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The future of Europe, and of work

An event that takes place this evening is going to be a big deal, says David John, director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies. It's the Ambassador's Conference on Canada, Germany and Europe, with the subtitle "Cooperation and Partnership", and gets going at 4:00 in MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul's College, with talks by Veronica Kitchen of UW's political science department, James Skidmore of Germanic and Slavic studies, and Donald Bruce of the University of Guelph. "A delicious three-course meal will be available to the public for $10," says John, and then will come remarks by German ambassador Matthias Höpfner: "Germany's 2007 Presidencies of the EU and the G8 — Impacts on Relations to Canada". Leaders from the Centre for International Governance Innovation are expected to be on hand; everything's free except the meal. A reception winds up the evening.

Tomorrow is the last day of "early bird" discount registration for next month's big conference on the future of work: "2017 The Workplace", scheduled for October 14-16. Buy this week and you'll pay $195 for the Sunday "research forum", $1,500 for the Monday "leadership summit" and $275 for the Tuesday "new world of work" general conference. Wait till next week and the prices go up to $245, $1,850 and $345 respectively. A 15 per cent discount is available for UW employees (call ext. 36624 to make arrangements). And what's it all about? "The rapid growth of the knowledge economy, globalization, changing demographics, new technologies, increasing worker mobility and the millennial generation have created significant challenges in the world of work," says the website. "This new world raises fundamental questions about how the workplace can respond to and prepare for a landscape that is increasingly fluid and unpredictable. In October 2007, join the University of Waterloo as we gather thought leaders, researchers, business executives, and other professionals to create conversations and actionable insights. Together we will look through the lens of the past decade’s successes and lessons learned to envision the future workplace."

The St. Jerome's University web site has some news about that institution's involvement in the faculty of education that Wilfrid Laurier University is establishing. As already announced, St. Jerome’s will provide the religious education component of the program for future teachers who are aspiring to jobs in the Ontario Catholic schools. "In a first step towards this goal, St. Jerome’s has hired Dr. Ron MacDonald on a two-year contract to provide in-school support to education students in teaching placements at Roman Catholic schools, to explore issues of Catholic education, and to teach a course for the education students in the winter term: 'Teaching in Ontario Catholic Schools.' Ron MacDonald has a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Toronto School of Theology and the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. He has extensive experience as a teacher in the Catholic education system, as well as administrative and parish experience in a number of settings. MacDonald sees the relationship between St. Jerome’s and Wilfrid Laurier as a wonderful opportunity to introduce more 'reflective practice' into the Bachelor of Education program."

Dana Evans Laity of UW's marketing and undergraduate recruitment office took wing yesterday for the land of sun and industry. "Mexico is one of our priority markets," she says about UW's student recruitment efforts, "one that we have become well-established in over the last 6 years of focus in this region. This year we will be traveling to 6 major cities — Monterrey, Queretaro, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, and Puerto Vallarta. We will be participating in the international university and college fairs in these cities as well as participating in independent school visits. I am thrilled that through taking the leadership of this trip, UW will have even more exposure this year. Many of the university fairs we will be attending have asked that I present a UW-specific presentation, something that hasn’t happened before. We will continue to partner with the other Canadian universities on this tour to present the Study In Canada presentation as well. I will be hosting an alumni reception, the first of its kind, in Mexico City, as well as a showcasing event at the CEC Centre in Mexico City. We are already seeing excellent response to both events." The trip runs through the end of next week.

On the main floor of UW's Architecture building in Cambridge, right across from the little room with the fitness equipment, is the "Design at Riverside" gallery, an outpost of Cambridge Galleries. The current exhibition there, which opened in late August and will run to October 8, is "The Poetics of West Coast Modernism in West Vancouver". The gallery web site explains: "With its magnificent mountains and ocean setting, the small community of West Vancouver has been a favourite place for architects to both live and practice their trade for over half a century. During this time a unique and distinguished body of modernist houses, churches, and other community buildings has emerged and continues to evolve in the present day. This exhibition focuses on architecture as art, and how, as art, it responds to the natural characteristics of the stunning landscape of West Vancouver. In an examination of eighteen built projects, it becomes apparent how architect and client are engaged in a never-ending dialogue about art and construction, site and climate, nature and artefact, theory and history, spirituality and reason, and the transcendent and the pragmatic."

And . . . the Warrior golf team, both men and women, is on the road today taking part in the Windsor Invitational. It could be a tougher-than-expected season for the Warriors, as last year's star, Victor Cieselski, has moved on. "The talented member of the Royal Canadian Golf Association's national amateur team has decided to skip school altogether this year," the Record newspaper reported the other day. It quoted assistant coach Jack Pearse: "We'll soldier on without our superstar." So far this season the team has finished fifth at the St. Lawrence Invitational and second in last week's competition at Queen's.


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