Tuesday, May 13, 2008

  • On the agenda at Kempenfelt Bay
  • Attawapiskat evacuees arrive at UW
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

On the agenda at Kempenfelt Bay

by Chris Redmond

Focus turns to specialized master’s

When UW’s top executives go on their annual retreat this week, much of the talk will be about the need for “huge” growth in the number of students working towards master’s degrees, says provost Amit Chakma.

“In the past, we were preoccupied with undergraduate expansion and research-based graduate expansion,” Chakma said last week. Now, attention turns to “professional” master’s programs — offerings such as the present Master of Taxation, Master of Public Health and Master of Engineering in power engineering, taught in nontraditional ways and aimed mostly at part-time students who want specialized training.

“This country needs more graduates with advanced degrees,” Chakma said last week. “The undergraduate programs are no longer sufficient, in many areas, to play a leadership role.” National prosperity depends on more people with more training, he said, and so does the success of those individuals, who may be finding that even a fairly specialized bachelor’s degree isn’t enough to let them walk into a job and start making a contribution on day 1. “The job market has changed,” says the provost.

He predicts that UW could boost its master’s level enrolment by 3,000 over the next ten years, with some of the students in existing programs, others in new ones. One possibility is a Master of Public Service degree, aimed at training people for government work, whether their background is in economics, health sciences, environment or science.

The provost said that kind of growth is essential for the university, not only for academic broadening but in financial terms. The fees paid by students in those career-enhancing master’s programs, he said, will not just cover the incremental costs of teaching them, but provide revenue that UW can use to improve quality overall and reduce its perennial, painful “structural deficit”.

One issue for discussion this week will be “some mechanism” to manage the new programs, Chakma said. “Most of the programs that are needed are by necessity interdisciplinary,” he said, citing public service as an example. That means they won’t naturally fit in any one of UW’s faculties.

The potential students for the new programs are mostly not in Kitchener-Waterloo, he said, and “we have to do a combination of things” to reach them, delivering some programs online and others at remote locations. The existing MTax program is offered in downtown Toronto, Canada’s financial centre, he pointed out.

“We’ve had some preliminary conversation with Ryerson,” the provost said, “to see if we could share some space.” (Ryerson University is beginning a major expansion and redevelopment of its campus in the Yonge and Dundas area of central Toronto.) The idea is at “a very early stage”, he stressed, but there might also be talk about whether Waterloo and Ryerson could cooperate on some academic offerings.

Other programs would go more naturally in the outer ring of the Greater Toronto Area, he said, and particularly on the west side, closer to Waterloo Region. “We want to be able to serve those locations from the main campus. Mississauga becomes an attractive location.”

He confirmed that UW leaders have met with officials from the city of Mississauga, who “came for a visit to see what we have done” by way of branches in Cambridge and Kitchener, and soon also in Stratford. “We certainly told them what Cambridge did for us,” he said. “We have some serious interest in having a presence in Mississauga to offer our professional programs.”

Chakma said UW is likely to develop “outposts” — small-scale presences, whether in rented space or in something built and owned by UW — rather than full-sized “campuses” in the GTA.

Administrators' retreat a time to plan

Kempenfelt BayDeans' offices across campus will be deanless for two and a half days, Wednesday afternoon through Friday, as the members of Executive Council go away on their planning retreat at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre near Barrie.

The gathering at "K-Bay" is a longstanding UW tradition: each May deans, vice-presidents, and associate provosts get away from campus — far enough away that nobody's tempted to dash back to the office for a few minutes — and immerse themselves in major issues and priorities for the year ahead. Exec council includes the senior officers responsible for all UW's departments, both academic and non-academic. Chaired by the president, it meets monthly.

“Gradually, we’re turning EC into a forum,” Chakma said last week, observing that “sometimes it’s a decision-making body, sometimes it’s information-sharing,” but increasingly he, along with the president and other leaders, “are using it as a major discussion body” to develop ideas and consensus on major issues. The Kempenfelt retreat amounts to an extension of EC’s monthly meetings, where graduate expansion has already received plenty of attention, he said.

Among other things that the top officials will discuss this week are “effective resource utilization” and “process streamlining” — better ways of doing things in an environment where people are overworked and the demands keep growing. Said the provost: “It has to do with managing our workload. It isn’t driven by budgetary needs; it’s driven by the desire to be able to serve the people we serve, to modernize our operation so that we can be responsive.”

Individual departments have done most of the things they can do on their own to reduce workload, the provost said, and attention now turns to “cross-cutting” efforts to avoid duplication across the campus. He emphasized that there’s no thought of reducing the number of jobs — in fact, “we have way more to do, relative to the resources.”

As part of the discussion, the retreat will hear from small groups who have been at work since this time last year on specific issues, such as “engaging” staff members in the university’s work and identifying duplications in information processes and databases.

The retreat will wind up with development of a list of “priorities” for the coming year. Last year the provost told the board of governors that Exec Council had settled on six priorities for 2007-08, some of which sound very much like the current year’s issues: preparing for increased fund-raising, graduate expansion, international student recruitment, expanded enrolment in professional programs, government funding initiatives, and “smart projects” for efficiency.

UW’s interest in Ontario ‘jobs’ funding

Also on the agenda for this week’s retreat is the prospect of “aligning UW” to take advantage of funding opportunities under the Ontario government’s recently introduced “Next Generation of Jobs” and “Skills to Jobs” plans. “New investments of $1.5billion over the next three years will build on the government’s strategies for training and postsecondary education,” said this spring’s provincial budget, and UW is definitely interested, president David Johnston told UW’s board of governors at its April 1 meeting.

During his environmental scan presentation, Johnston reviewed the two plans and presented a one-page summary. (The province is promising “a new Second Career Strategy to help 20,000 unemployed workers get long-term training for new careers”, as well as funds for campus renewal, student textbook grants, international internships, expanded apprenticeship programs and many other aspects of training and education.)

“The University of Waterloo is unique,” says Bob Truman, UW’s director of institutional analysis and planning, “in that it sits at the crossover point between education and skills training. Although it’s too soon to tell, we are exploring the possibility of, and seeking opportunities to tap into, that skills training money and the Next Generation of Jobs fund.”

Ross McGregorJohnston announced that Ross McGregor, who formerly headed the Toronto Region Research Alliance, has joined UW on a two-year half-time consulting arrangement as a “special advisor” to the president, and would be advising the university on these issues. McGregor will give a briefing as part of this week’s K-Bay retreat.

McGregor (left), a graduate of Queen’s and Western, practised law and then founded a public affairs firm that evolved into Ketchum Canada Inc. He sold his interest in Ketchum in 2002 and has been involved in volunteer work as well as consulting for the TRRA, which works to attract research-intensive entities to southern Ontario (including Waterloo). He has served on the board of governors of York University.

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Attawapiskat evacuees arrive at UW

from a Region of Waterloo press release and UW sources

The Region of Waterloo will be accommodating approximately 250 First Nations evacuees from the flood-threatened Attawapiskat area of James Bay.

The first group of about 120 people, including 25 children, arrived at the Region of Waterloo International Airport aboard Dash-8 aircraft yesterday. They were driven to Waterloo on Grand River Transit buses and provided with emergency shelter in UW's Ron Eydt Village residence.

Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) asked regional officials for assistance with relief efforts over the weekend. Along with Red Cross, Salvation Army and University of Waterloo officials, the Region quickly mobilized to organize shelter until conditions are safe enough for evacuees to return home. This will likely take one to three weeks.

"A control group is managing this event as a team for the time the evacuees are here," said Martin Van Nierop, director of Communications and Public Affairs. "Things have gone smoothly. Involved are representatives from Waterloo Region's emergency services, the Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Ontario emergency services, City of Waterloo community services, Region social services, evacuation centre managers, UW housing, UW food services, UW police services, and UW communications.

"There are plans under way to provide buses in the next couple of days to take them to shopping centres, because they want to shop. Things like laundry and play facilities are being arranged."

“I know the people of this Region will welcome the evacuees from the Attawapiskat area as they live among us until it is safe for them to return to their homes,” said Ken Seiling, Regional Chair. “We do ask that their privacy be respected while they are here with us.”

Donations are being accepted by the Red Cross at www.redcross.ca or call 1-800-418-1111.

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CPA Staff

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Winston Churchill

Link of the Day

Winston Churchill delivers "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech May 13, 1940

When and where

FEDS Used Book Store hours this week: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses now listed on Quest. Appointments for continuing students, June 9-14; new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, details online.

Social Entrepreneurship Intensive ‘bootcamp’ organized by Laurel Centre, May 12-14, details online.

Tourplay children’s performance: “New Canadian Kid” Tuesday 10:00 and 1:00.

Senate undergraduate council Tuesday 12:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

Pension and benefits committee Tuesday 1:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Engineering alumni and friends reception Tuesday 5:30 to 7:30, featuring alumnus Jim Estill (BASc ’80), CEO of Synnex Canada. Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard, pre-registration and details online.

Waterloo Unlimited public talk, “The Mystery of the Misplaced Spectacles," with Graham Strong, director, Centre for Sight Enhancement, Tuesday, 7 to 8:15 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Gauss mathematics contest for grade 7 and 8 students, May 14, details online.

Physical Activities Complex main gym closed for repair work during the daytime May 14-16 (available in the evenings).

Book Club meeting at UW bookstore, to discuss Philippa Gregory’s The Boleyn Inheritance, Wednesday, May 14, 12:00, details online.

Career workshop: “Professional School Interviews” Wednesday, May 14, 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Rev. Graham Morbey, Christian Reformed chaplain to UW for 28 years, retirement reception and celebration Wednesday, May 14, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Paul Martin Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Columbia Lake Health Club lunch-and-learn session: “A Proper Golf Warm-up” Wednesday, May 14, 5:30, boardroom at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Gregory Baum, theologian and author, “Diversity, Religion and the Limits of Multiculturalism” Wednesday, May 14, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University, admission free.

UW Retirees Association outing to Black Creek Pioneer Village, Thursday, May 15, $67 for members and guests, information 519-744-3246.

Spring Gardening ‘tips and tales’ with David Hobson, local garden columnist, presented by Employee Assistance Program, Thursday, May 15, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

UW International Spouses: Interview Skills Workshop. Elisabeth Adrian from UW Career Services returns with advice to improve job-hunting skills. Thursday, 12:45 pm at Columbia Lake Village community centre. Children welcome. Questions? Contact Dorothy Tam at dtamsg@yahoo.com.sg.

Waterloo Unlimited public talk, “What We Know vs. What We See”, with Art Green, retired fine arts professor, Thursday 7 to 8 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1219.

Retirement party for Steve Breen, IST, after 28 years at UW. RSVP to Pavlina Penk, pjpenk@ist.uwaterloo.ca, ext. 38018, by May 16. Event is Wednesday, May 28, 3 – 5 p.m., University Club.

Bicycle auction outside the Student Life Centre, Friday, May 16, 12:30 p.m., cash or cheque only.

Waterloo Unlimited open house, Friday May 16, 7:15 -- 8:15 p.m., South Campus Hall, Laurel Room.

First job posting for fall term co-op jobs opens Saturday, May 17, 7:00 a.m., on Jobmine.

The BookStore, UWShop, CampusTechshop, and TechWorx will be closed on Saturday, May 17 and Monday, May 19 for the Victoria Day long weekend.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 19: classes cancelled, UW offices and most services closed.

Elections for Senate and Board of Governors May 20 – 22. Information is online.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting Wednesday, May 21, 1:30 p.m., Ron Eydt Village room 102.

TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment: Tavi Murray, Swansea University, Wales, “Warming Climate, Melting Ice”, Wednesday, May 21, 3:30, Humanities Theatre, reception follows.

You @ Waterloo Day open house for students considering offers of admission from UW, Saturday, May 24, displays and booths in Student Life Centre 10:00 to 2:00.


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