Wednesday, January 2, 2008

  • Residence to be 'new media' hothouse
  • Massive recycling clears floor space
  • Notes on a clear crisp winter morn
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Some new year's resolutions for students

When and where

Winter term fees due today by bank payment or international wire transfer; details online.

Ontario Student Assistance Program and out-of-province student funding available starting today, 8:30 to 4:30, at Student Awards and Financial Aid office, Needles Hall. Time tickets will be distributed throughout the day.

Office of research closed today through Friday as renovations continue; staff will respond to e-mail and voicemail; office reopens Monday.

Conrad Grebel University College closed today and Thursday, reopening Friday.

Food services outlets open today: Browsers (Dana Porter Library); Brubakers (Student Life Centre); Pastry Plus (Needles Hall); Tim Horton's (Davis Centre and South Campus Hall); Bon Appetit (Davis Centre).

Retail services return to regular hours today; bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx extended hours (to 7 p.m.) January 7-10.

Feds Used Books reopens today, beginning-of-term hours listed online.

International student orientation session Friday, January 4, 1:00 to 4:30, Needles Hall room 1116; will be repeated Thursday, January 10, 1:00 to 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Residences open for the winter term Sunday morning, January 6.

Winter term classes begin Monday, January 7.

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

New student orientation Monday 4:30 p.m., multipurpose room, Student Life Centre, for both undergraduates and graduates, as well as transfer students, with information about services from UW, Federation of Students and Graduate Student Association.

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

FASS 2008 auditions January 9-11, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Humanities room 334; Faculty, Alumni, Students and Staff welcome; this year's show, "Global Warming: Kiss Your FASS Goodbye", hits stage February 7-9.

Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference January 10-12, Hilton Hotel, Toronto, details online.

St. Jerome's University dean Myroslaw Tataryn gives the Waterloo Catholic District School Board Lecture: "God Keep Our Land", January 11, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Blood donor clinic January 14-15 and 23-25, Student Life Centre, make appointments now at turnkey desk.

Fall term marks for undergraduate courses now appearing on Quest; marks become official January 28.

37th annual Hagey Bonspiel for faculty, staff, retirees and friends, Saturday, February 23, Ayr Curling Club, registration online.

Positions available

On this week’s list from the human resources department:

• Communications officer, development and alumni affairs, USG 10
• Senior instructional developer (blended learning), Centre for Teaching Excellence, USG 12
• Copyright coordinator, Graphics, USG 6
• Information systems developer, housing, USG 10
• Development assistant, development and alumni affairs, USG 6
• Graduate studies admissions specialist, graduate studies office, USG 6

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

[In a blue world, a string of children down the hill]

Children have played behind the Brubacher House for more than a century and a half, since well before UW appeared on the map. Youngsters were out in force again yesterday, making good use of the north campus hills and the first snowfall of the new year. Karl Zaryski caught the scene at dusk last night and sent this photo along.

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Residence to be 'new media' hothouse

Applications will be taken this month from students who want to live in “a place where some of UW’s most talented, entrepreneurial, creative and technologically savvy students will be united under one roof to work on the future of mobile communications, web and new media”.

[VeloCity logo]It’s called VeloCity — located in the 40-year-old Minota Hagey Residence building, which will be renovated this summer with, according to its web site, “collaborative space and meeting rooms, a device lab, network infrastructure, multimedia, gaming, wifi and (most importantly) foosball tables!”

VeloCity is part of the Media and Mobility Network Project that has been under way on campus for the past year, with the goal of “transforming the communications technology environment on campus, starting with the student residences”.

It’s largely the brainchild of Sean Van Koughnett, director of UW Graphics and project manager for MMNP. “I thought about the many great success stories in the web, mobile communications and new media arena that originated in the minds of students,” he says, “and I thought, this is absolutely the perfect time and place for something like VeloCity!” Not just residence officials but other administrative departments and at least three of the faculties, as well as student groups, have signed on to be involved, he says.

“It’s a place where students, faculty and corporate partners will be active collaborators and beneficiaries of the talent, ideas and innovations that evolve,” the web site claims. “It’s a place where the ‘next big thing’ could happen.”

Minota Hagey will have room for 70 participants in VeloCity, and students from just about any field of study are welcome. Organizers say they’re looking for “ambition, creativity, risk-takers, leaders, technical gurus. Students who want to make an impact. Students who are passionate and determined. Who thrive on the adrenalin rush success brings. Applications are encouraged from those who have an entrepreneurial bent, great ideas, and knowledge or experience in mobile communications, web or new media.”

They’re promising “exclusive access to people and companies that can help you grow and take your ideas to the next level: industry leaders, venture capitalists, professors, entrepreneurs”. Van Koughnett says he’s been talking to “all the big-name players and local companies in telecommunications, media and mobile communications” and expects to be making specific announcements shortly about corporate partnerships. Already he’s able to say that VeloCity students will have access to the courses and other programs offered by the Accelerator Centre on UW’s north campus.

The web site is also promising a mentoring program, “the chance to collaborate with some of the most talented students from across campus”, “the chance to pitch their work to people who can help them take things to the next level”, and “some cool freebies . . . we’re working on it now.” Application information will be available online shortly.

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Massive recycling clears floor space

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? A little more floor space in a UW building, that’s what, as obsolete machinery, unused furniture or just plain junk makes its way to the recycling system.

And at last count it was a lot more than sixteen tons: Ed Goodwin of UW’s central stores says his crew have removed 104 tons of unwanted material from the university’s buildings under a clear-out program launched in mid-2007.

The original goal was to save floor space, says the vice-president (administration and finance), Dennis Huber, who provided some funding for central stores to provide the service. It’s not just a few extra papers in somebody’s office — Huber says academic departments in particular were finding that they had “rooms chock-full of stuff” such as outdated equipment that nobody needed.

“It’s a shame to have a lab storing stuff in it,” he says. “Labs are expensive!”

So he launched the clean-up program with funds for an extra staff position in stores, “so that we could better utilize the existing buildings” and at least slow down the rate at which UW needs to find more space. The provost pitched in, he adds, promising “some one-time funding to renovate the emptied space so that it can be properly utilized.”

Most of what’s being removed can be recycled in one way or another, he said. In some cases it needs to be kept, but not necessarily in prime locations in academic buildings, and for that purpose UW operates the north campus Bauer Warehouse. Central stores has also been cleaning out some of the junk that had built up at Bauer over the years, the vice-president said, so that there’s room to store things the university actually might want some day.

Goodwin agrees that nearly everything can be recycled these days — “90 per cent, minimum,” he says about the tons of material that’s been cleaned out. Typically it includes scrap metal (there’s a big market for that), paper (recycled), and e-waste such as used computers (dismantled and recycled by specialized firms).

When an unwanted item is trucked over to the central stores workspace in East Campus Hall, the first hope is to sell it — if not to another UW department, then to one of the students and other customers at the sales held every other Thursday. Failing that, it’ll go for recycling, and Goodwin and his colleagues are pleased when they find another class of materials that somebody will take.

A recent achievement is an arrangement with a dealer who’ll take the styrofoam that comes as a packing material around computers. It means that much less material that UW has to send to the regional landfill on Erb Street, paying a fee for every pound that goes to be buried there.

“People hang onto everything and don’t want to get rid of it,” says Goodwin, and he thinks the number one reason is that “they don’t want it to go to the dump.”

Increasingly, he repeats, it doesn’t have to. Anybody with things to be disposed of can let him know (e-mail efgoodwi@admmail) and “we’ll get it out as quickly as we can!” No charge.

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Notes on a clear crisp winter morn

As 2008 begins, along with the much-publicized drop of a penny in the Goods and Services Tax there are some less visible changes in government deductions from take-home pay. Employment Insurance premiums will decrease to 1.73 per cent of earnings (compared to 1.80 per cent in 2007) with the maximum insurable earnings for EI increasing from $40,000 to $41,100. The rate for the Canada Pension Plan remains at 4.95 per cent, but it will now be payable on income up to $44,900, rising from the 2007 maximum of $43,700. UW’s human resources department reminds employees that if they earned more than the maximum insurable earnings in 2007, deductions for these two government benefits will begin again with their January 2008 pay.

And here’s a reminder that as 2008 arrives, there will be some modest increases in the coverage provided by UW's employee benefit plans. In dental benefits, the maximum the plan will pay for orthodontia and for "basic and major restorative" work goes up to a maximum of $1,927 annually for “basic services”, $2,904 annual maximum for “major restorative services”, and $2,904 lifetime maximum for orthodontia. In health benefits, the maximum an employee has to pay for drugs during the year goes up by a dollar from the 2007 figure, to $121 for an individual and $242 for a family. The maximum coverage for each form of paramedical services will go up from this year’s $576 to a new limit of $585. The coverage for the prescription dispensing fee is unchanged at $7.00. The changes will be shown in detail on the relevant part of the HR department's web site. HR also notes that the health and dental plans will both be administered by the same company, Great-West Life, effective January 1, and employees should have received new benefit cards from HR just before the holiday.

A just-produced “Report to the Community” from UW’s Centre for Behavioural Research and Program Evaluation is available in both English and French, in both print and online forms. “Our Centre is becoming part of the cancer system,” director Roy Cameron writes, explaining its job: “to jointly develop and use relevant evidence to continually improve cancer prevention and the lives of people dealing with cancer”. One example of work done in the past two years: “In 2004-2005, only 21% of youth surveyed reported trying tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes, bidis, chewing tobacco, or snuff. This is a 50% decrease from 1994, the first year the Survey was conducted. The 2004-2005 survey, undertaken with a consortium of researchers across Canada and the help of the Population Health Research Group at the University of Waterloo, collected information from over 29,000 students across Canada in grades 5 to 9.”

A memo went out to departments just before the holiday explaining the opportunity that's presented by the International Undergraduate Work-Study Program for the coming term. "You could employ an international student on a part-time basis for one-quarter the normal cost," writes Joanne Wade, director of student awards and financial aid. "International students are not eligible for provincial government financial aid (OSAP)," she explains, and "obtaining other financing or part-time employment that fits the student's schedule is very difficult." Hence the program, financed 75 per cent from "a central university fund", to subsidize up to 25 part-time jobs (up to 10 hours a week) in UW departments. "Jobs that tend to receive the most interest are those that create meaningful work experience for the students," Wade notes, inviting faculty or staff members to submit job proposals by January 12 for this winter term. More information: ext. 35726.

The human resources department sends word of two staff members who retired officially on January 1. Duriye Ahmet had been a custodian in plant operations, who started her UW career in December 1989. Marilyn Malone was administrative coordinator in the arts computing office, and had been working at UW since July 1986.


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December 21 Daily Bulletin