Tuesday, May 27, 2008

  • Some uses for 'staff excellence fund'
  • Senate updated on building plans
  • Notes on the brisk spring breeze
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Students in loopholes in the limestone]

Future architecture students toured downtown Cambridge, as well as the School of Architecture itself, on Saturday as part of the You @ Waterloo open house day for students who are considering offers of admission. A group of them posed at this venerable wall along the Grand River near the school's historic building. Photo courtesy School of Architecture.

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Some uses for 'staff excellence fund'

A memo issued this week by the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation

In response to concerns expressed by the UW community, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation discontinued the Special Recognition Award Program for University Support Staff on January 9, 2008. The money set aside for the program ($250K per year) has been renamed (for the present) the “Staff Excellence Fund”, and the Committee is now asking staff members and managers to provide thoughts, ideas, feedback, and creative suggestions towards use of the Fund.

To help guide this process, the Committee has developed a set of basic principles, which it will use to evaluate and compare the submissions it receives: The program should enhance the working environment for all staff, either individually or as a group. The program should promote excellence through cooperation, collaboration and innovation resulting in effective client service to students, staff, faculty, alumni and the University. The mechanism for distribution of the Fund must be transparent and fair. The equity of the program will be measured by access (i.e., some staff members may choose not to use the program, but all should have the opportunity to use it if they desire).

At its last meeting, the Committee started to generate potential ideas for a new program consistent with the above principles. The following list is far from complete, but contains some suggestions for the sake of inspiration. Please note that the new program could allocate funding to a combination of initiatives.

Recognizing Excellence:
• President’s Circle award: given to a small number of individuals or groups on an annual basis.
• Innovation and Creativity award: recognize suggestions from individuals or groups that are implemented to address university-wide problems. (The Committee sees transparency as a key issue for awards programs and welcomes ideas to address this challenge. Members considered permitting self-nomination with evidence of achievement, and adjudication by a committee with staff and management representation.)
• Centrally recognize 10 years’ service or more (25 and 35 years are centrally recognized already).

Enhancing Working Conditions:
• Create a Wellness Coordinator position.
• Create a fund for ergonomic and cosmetic enhancements to the workplace (e.g., an area could apply to receive a fresh coat of paint or new chairs).
• Fund a staff appreciation event, perhaps in conjunction with the staff conference.

Encouraging Development:
• Increase the existing Staff Training and Development Fund and/or the Staff Enhancement Fund.
• Put extra funds toward the staff conference to lengthen it or bring in more high quality speakers.

The Committee will be working on this project throughout the summer and fall, and looks forward to receiving your feedback on the basic principles and your ideas for a new program. Please send your submissions to Erin Windibank, Associate University Secretary, Secretariat.

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Senate updated on building plans

by Brandon Sweet, Communications and Public Affairs

It was an evening of presentations and updates at the May meeting of the university senate, held a week ago today. After the quick election of two faculty representatives to the Board of Governors (Michael Worswick of mechanical engineering and John Honek of chemistry) the floor was given over to a succession of presenters, starting with vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber, who gave an update on capital (construction) projects.

Included in the update was the "quantum-nano" building project, set to break ground in early June on a site between the Student Life Centre and Biology. A senator noted that in 2005 an early figure cited on the cost of the building was $70 million, but the budget is now at $160 million, and wondered why.

Huber said there are a number of factors for the growth in cost, including the increase in size to 284,000 square feet from 225,000 square feet, and the construction of a special, technologically advanced "clean room" that alone costs $30 million ($1,000 per square foot).

He said fundraising efforts are fully under way to help pay for the building, which will contain the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Nanotechnology Institute. In addition to substantial private donations, the building project has secured $40 million in Canada Foundation for Innovation funding as well as $50 million from the government of Ontario.

UW will still take out a mortgage on the building, which at this point will be for around $30 million, though provost Amit Chakma said that figure could decrease as fundraising efforts continue.

Bud Walker, director of business operations, gave a presentation on the state of student housing both on and off campus. He told senate about a proposed “public-private partnership” that would add residence space, including a first phase with 500 beds. “It will essentially run like a residence, but it will be built and maintained by the developer built to our specifications,” Walker said.

As for off-campus housing, Walker said the situation is still bad after eight years of struggling with City of Waterloo authorities over zoning plans. The city’s approach is to allow development chiefly on Columbia and King Streets, which he considers less than ideal. He also highlighted the ongoing tension in the community over lodging houses and buildings left vacant or poorly maintained. Walker said that the preferred approach would be to allow for the construction of high-density buildings very close to campus.

Drew Knight, director of international programs, gave a presentation on Waterloo International, and Spanish professor Mariela Gutiérrez, gave her final update in the role of UW’s “academic colleague” to the Council of Ontario Universities. (Susan Wismer of the environment and resource studies has been elected by senate to take over that role.) Questions were raised about the issue of encouraging mobility from Ontario’s university system to its college system and back again. President David Johnston stated UW’s position: “On very selective programs, we’re positive,” although “by and large, university presidents are resistant to that virus.”

As the meeting continued, senate approved the creation of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change (IC-cubed), and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE).

Finally, there was a bit of procedural fireworks at the conclusion of the meeting, after a motion was put forward to give Senate Executive Committee the power to decide each year whether Senate should hold a June meeting. (The present schedule calls for 10 meetings a year, with two of them, December and June, often cancelled if there’s nothing urgent on the agenda.) In the event that there was not enough business to hold a full June meeting, the Executive Committee would be able to approve matters on its own. It was a complicated and wordy motion that a number of representatives, notably new Federation of Students president Justin Williams, took exception to. “We’re being asked to write a blank check for Senate Exec Committee to set the agenda,” Williams protested. After some discussion, the motion was sent back to the Executive Committee for further refinement; the vote was 24-15.

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Notes on the brisk spring breeze

Also at last week's meeting of the UW senate, Bud Walker director of business operations, gave an update on the "media and mobility network project" based in UW's residences. He said things are moving along, with wi-fi installation underway in the residences, but two elements of the project have run into snags. The Internet television project has been “so-so” because of regulatory issues surrounding Internet TV in Canada, he said, and the plan to move to dual-mode cellular service is hampered by the fact that there is only one such carrier in Canada. “We have limited leverage and we suffer because of it,” Walker admitted. In any event, come this fall, students will not have traditional phone lines ("landlines") in residence rooms. They will have a choice, said Walker: deliberately subscribing to a Bell line, using their own cellphones, or accessing a Voice-over-Internet-protocol phone service such as Skype.

[Abrams]Former UW librarian Faye Abrams (left) is this year's winner of the Academic Librarianship Award given by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. OCUFA has also announced six winners of its Teaching Award for 2008, none of them from Waterloo. Abrams headed the reference department in the Davis Centre library and later managed the library's Industrial and Business Information Service and the interlibrary loan service. She also played a unique role at UW in 1992 when she chaired the committee that brought the UWinfo Gopher into existence. That was the technology, in pre-Web days, that first allowed campus-wide access to databases, documents and the Daily Bulletin. Abrams went on to work for the Ontario Council of University Libraries, working for several years in an office on the UW campus before relocating to Toronto. She has been, as OCUFA notes in its award citation, "the driving force behind the acquisition of consortium licences for electronic resources across Ontario's twenty university libraries . . . a pioneer, advocate and mentor who leads with good humour and patience, evident mutual trust, and boundless energy."

UW president David Johnston is in Québec City today, dropping in on the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators. He's been invited to give the opening address for the conference, under the title "Leadership and the Transmission of Essential Values". Johnston is expected to draw on the speech he's been giving to other audiences in recent months under the rubric of "what's in the water at Waterloo", as he describes the benefits of collaboration among local governments, academia, and the business world. Says the conference program: "Johnston will outline the virtuous circle of community and university building that has taken place in the cities of Cambridge, Waterloo, Kitchener and Stratford through their strategic academic partnerships. In every initiative, strong local leadership has been the catalyst for creating exciting new opportunities to serve the public good."

A seminar course on "fair trade" (a practice that emphasizes direct payment to producers in developing countries) is under development and will be offered for the first time this fall as part of UW's peace and conflict studies program. • Joe Paopao, former professional footballer and a part-time coach for UW's Warriors, will also play a role this fall as a consultant for the Montréal Alouettes, the team announced on the weekend. • A Feng Shui group sponsored by the UW Recreation Committee meets on the last Tuesday of every month — but not today, as the instructor is ill; they'll try again in June.


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Link of the day

Birthday: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee

When and where

Symposium on GPU and CELL computing hosted by Sharcnet, information online.

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

Career workshop: “Are You Thinking about an International Experience?” 3:00, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session 4:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

UW Debate Society meets Tuesdays 5:15, Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

Mathematics alumni reception at Statistical Society of Canada annual meeting, Ottawa, details online.

Education Credit Union presents “Estate Planning 102”, Wednesday 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Steve Breen, IST, retirement party honouring 37 years at UW, Wednesday 3 to 5 p.m., University Club. RSVP to pjpenk@ist.uwaterloo.ca or ext. 38018. Computer Help and Information Place (CHIP) closed from 3:30 p.m. Wednesday because of the event.

Smarter Health seminar: Tom Vair, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, “The Many Facets and Faces of Health Informatics”, Wednesday 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions”, Wednesday 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Columbia Lake Health Club lunch-and-learn session: “Serving Sizes: How Much Should You Eat” Wednesday 5:30, boardroom at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

“It’s the World, Stupid!” free lecture by Paul Heinbecker of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfrid Laurier. Refreshments follow lecture; details online.

UW Safety Awareness Day, sessions on safety at work, details online. Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Do Students Learn from Laboratory Work?” Thursday 10:00 to 11:20 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Wayne Shortt, UW Police, retirement reception Thursday 4 to 6 p.m., University Club. RSVP ext. 33630.

UW Board of Governors quarterly meeting Tuesday, June 3, 2:30 p.m., Architecture building, Cambridge.

Keystone Campaign annual event, “Viva Las Vegas”, Thursday, June 5, 11:30 to 1:30, Matthews Hall green; evening event 10:00 to 11:00 p.m., South Campus Hall, details online.

Google Games for teams of five students, Saturday, June 7, 9:30 to 4:00, South Campus Hall, register online.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: continuing students, June 9-14; new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Spring Convocation: applied health sciences and environmental studies, Wednesday, June 11, 10:00; science, June 11, 2:30, arts (some programs), Thursday, June 12, 10:00; arts (some programs), June 12, 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 13, 10:00; computer science, June 13, 2:30; engineering (some programs), Saturday, June 14, 10:00; engineering (some programs), June 14, 2:30, details online.

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