Thursday, October 16, 2008

  • 'Memorandum' signed with staff association
  • Waterloo launches green web site
  • UAE campus director, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

'Memorandum' signed with staff association

The UW staff association told its members yesterday that a Memorandum of Agreement has been signed by UW’s senior administration and the executive of the association, days before the end of the 2007-08 executive’s term of office.

“This document,” association president Jesse Rodgers wrote, “formally recognizes the current relationship between the two organizations and provides both staff and administration with a common point of reference.

“It is important to note that the signing of this document does not change the current working relationship between the UWSA and UW. Rather, it formalizes and recognizes that the UWSA is the voice for staff members in the decision-making process through committee representation and lists the policies, procedures, and guidelines that the UWSA has significant influence over.”

Last week the association announced that when Rodgers’s term winds up, at the annual meeting scheduled for October 30, he’ll turn over the position to a candidate who has been acclaimed to the presidency for 2008-10: Doug Dye of the UW safety office. Negotiations toward the new Memorandum have taken much of the executive’s time and effort over the past year.

Says Rodgers’s memo, distributed by e-mail late yesterday: “The relationship between the UWSA and UW is indeed a partnership. The Staff Relations Committee, arguably the most important committee with respect to staff is equally comprised of staff members and UW, including being co-chaired by the Past-President of the UWSA. This even split places great responsibility on committee members since decisions made by the committee affect all staff on campus.

“As with any partnership we will not necessarily agree on everything either. What we currently have is a process that discourages confrontation and encourages both sides to compromise.

“The UWSA Executive feels that recognition of this relationship is an important step that must be taken in order to help protect the UWSA from unilateral decisions that may threaten the organization. It also offers our membership (and potential members) clarity as to what the UWSA does for you.

“A Memorandum of Agreement recognizes the efforts that 40 years of UWSA Executives have committed to ensure that staff have a place in decision-making at the University of Waterloo. It is by no means a perfect relationship, but it is a very unique one. This document allows the relationship to evolve over time and I believe it gives the UWSA a strong position to build upon.”

The actual Memorandum isn’t available online yet, but a copy of it was attached to Rodgers’s e-mail. It’s a nine-page document, including several lists and appendices, and with six signatures. On behalf of the association, it’s signed by Rodgers as well as past president Sue Fraser and secretary Trevor Grove. On behalf of UW management, the signers are president David Johnston, provost Amit Chakma and associate provost (human resources and student services) Catharine Scott.

There’s also a space for an indication of approval by the UW board of governors, which is expected at the board meeting on October 28.

“This agreement,” the document begins, “outlines the official working relationship between the University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA), which is the official voice for University Support Staff, and the University of Waterloo (UW).

“The essence of the agreement is that issues and policies which directly affect staff in their employment at the University will be managed in partnership by the Staff Association representatives and administration members who sit on the university-level committees which are assigned for this purpose. . . .

“The agreement is based on a principle of continuous improvement . . . regular and ongoing review of the working environment with a view to improving, modifying, adding and sometimes deleting policies.”

Comments about the memorandum have already started appearing on the UW Opinion web site.

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[Web page design is heavily green]
Waterloo launches green web site

UW has a new “Sustainability” web site to showcase sustainability initiatives both on campus and in the community.

“The idea was born earlier this year,” says Kelley Teahen here in Communications and Public Affairs, “when Executive Council decided the university should do a better job of letting the university’s own community, as well as people from outside the campus, know about what is happening about sustainability at Waterloo. CPA was asked to take on the job of creating the site, which tracks research, publications, activities, and initiatives in areas from food services to plant operations and housing.

“Since there were already many pockets of information on sustainability scattered throughout UW’s web space, the plan evolved to create a central site to link all the information now existing, and supplement it with up-to-date news.”

The faculties of environment, engineering, and science already had a “green with innovation” website at as part of a joint undergraduate recruitment effort, says Andrew Smith, communications officer in environment. This summer, that website was retired and the environment faculty took over the web address to host its own homepage as part of the faculty’s renaming.

Says Teahen: “CPA has taken the bones of the old ‘green’ site, updated all the information and shifted the focus away from strictly undergraduate recruitment. As well, there are several new features, such as a feed of sustainability research profiles, a feed of green or sustainability-related events, and the ‘Living Green in Waterloo’ tips section where anyone from the UW community is invited to submit ideas about how to live more sustainably both on the campus and in the community. (One tip that appears on the site today: “Use a plastic container to store your food waste in the freezer, and periodically take it to a friend's house to put in their composter.”

Current links on the page point to such varied items as the Faculty of Environment’s 40th anniversary celebration site, a New York Times article on climate change by Thomas Homer-Dixon of the arts faculty and the Balsillie School, and the recent Imprint series “How Green Is My Campus?” There’s also a pointer to a ‘Zerofootprint’ carbon impact calculator.

Feedback and suggestions about the site can be sent to Barbara Elve of CPA at

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UAE campus director, and other notes

[Salama]A memo from UW's provost announces "that Professor Magdy Salama (left), Professor and University Research Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has accepted the position of Campus Director for the University of Waterloo campus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Stationed in the UAE, Professor Salama will be responsible for establishing the infrastructure, and support services for designated UW programs in the UAE. He will facilitate the interaction between UW’s academic support units and our partner institution in the area of records, enrolment services, undergraduate recruitment, and library services. He will also be involved in the advancement of co-operative employment opportunities for undergraduate students, and provide oversight for UW staff visiting the UAE on short-term assignments." Adds provost Amit Chakma: "I am grateful to Professor Salama for assuming this key portfolio at a critical time in the implementation of our UW-UAE initiative."

The Centre for International Governance Innovation will hold a reception and book signing today to launch a new book that examines Canada’s evolving role in Afghanistan and other aspects of the political-security crisis in that country. Mark Sedra, a political science professor at UW and Senior Fellow at CIGI, is co-editor of the volume and will be on hand to speak about it and answer questions on the current situation. A second book, co-authored by Sedra and looking more closely at small arms and security-related issues in Afghanistan, will also be launched at the event. The new edited volume, titled Afghanistan: Transition under Threat, is published by CIGI and Wilfrid Laurier Press; it probes the underlying reasons for the present crisis in Afghanistan by charting the history of the Afghan state-building process in its political, economic and security dimensions. Essays by political insiders, policy practitioners and academics offer insights on possible solutions to the current impasses. Co-editor Geoffrey Hayes, a UW history professor, will also speak at the book launch. The second volume is Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Armed Groups, Disarmament and Security in a Post-War Society, published by Routledge. The event starts at 4:00 today at CIGI’s headquarters, 57 Erb Street West.

A Waterloo Region "BarnRaiser Award" is to be given for the first time this fall, recognizing "this community's tradition of working collaboratively to accomplish what an individual cannot . . . to enable change without regard to personal gain". The award is sponsored by the Record newspaper and, a brochure explains, "is inspired by University of Waterloo President David Johnston who, in fall 2007, called on Waterloo Region to strive to be Canada's Knowledge Capital. He suggested 10 goals, including celebrating community leaders who contribute to the Waterloo tradition of inspiring, collaborative achievement." The award winner is to be chosen "by an independent panel of community representatives, including representation from the Waterloo Region Record and the University of Waterloo". Nominations are due by October 31.

As Hallowe'en gets nearer, some people are focused on their costumes, scary or sexy, and others on something more. Suneethi Viswanathan, a student in accounting and financial management, sends a note "on behalf of the University of Waterloo's Meal Exchange organization, which is housed at the UW Food Bank as part of Feds' services. I am writing in regard to this year's Trick or Eat event, which is occurring on campus Friday, October 31. Trick or Eat is a food drive campaign run by students in university campuses across the nation. Students go door-to-door to collect canned food; over 200 UW students participated last year, raising over $10,000 worth of food that was donated to the UW Food Bank and the Waterloo Region Food Bank. We hope to build on our success from last year. Think you're too old to dress up in a costume and go door to door on Halloween? Think again! Help alleviate hunger in Waterloo and get candy while you are at it!" Advance sign-up is online, and anyone wanting more information can e-mail


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Link of the day

World Food Day

When and where

Employer interviews for winter term co-op jobs continue; ranking (main group) opens October 24 at 1 p.m.

Strategy Mapping Workshop sponsored by Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, 9:00 to 5:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Professional and Post-Degree Days, information on programs, requirements and funding at Canadian and international universities: today, focus on MBA, veterinary, engineering, technologies and graduate studies, 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

International spouses, meet to hear Golsa Sheykholeslami share stories and pictures of her home country, Iran, 12:45 p.m., St. Paul's grad apartments, fifth floor lounge. Details online.

Earth and Environmental Sciences 2008 Farvolden Lecture: Richard E. Jackson, Intera Engineering Ltd., “Contaminant Hydrogeology: A Historical Perspective of Its Development” 2:00, Humanities Theatre.

Career workshops: “Career Exploration and Decision Making” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Law School Applications” 3:00, Tatham 2218. Details.

Classical studies lecture: Bonnie MacLachlan, University of Western Ontario, "Some Gods are Not Crazy: Meteorite Worship in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures," 4 p.m. Rod Coutts Hall room 306. Details.

‘Software + Services,’ a presentation by Paul Laberge, web platform advisor for Microsoft Canada, on current and future platform technologies, 5 to 7 p.m., Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard, registration e-mail

‘Ontario’s Green Future’: Jack Gibbons, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, “How We Can Build a Renewable Electricity Grid”, sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, 5:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

UW Toastmasters Club meets Thursdays 5:30, e-mail for information.

Global Queer Cinema film series in conjunction with Fine Arts 290: “Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World”, 2003, 6:30 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1220.

Academic Council on the United Nations System lecture series: Sue Horton, economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, World Food Day lecture on fighting malnutrition, 7:00, Paul Martin Centre, WLU. Details.

New York alumni event: Tom Coleman, dean of mathematics, host; David Yach, Research In Motion, speaks on “BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo”, 7:00, 3 West Club, 3 West 51 Street. Details.

Oktoberfest: “Universities Night” at Bingemans tonight, tickets $10 at Federation of Students office; UW engineering exclusive section at Concordia Club, Friday from 6 p.m., information from engineering alumni affairs office; outing to Kitchener Auditorium, Friday, sponsored by Sigma Chi, details online.

United Way dress-down day, Friday, October 17.Formal dress day (academic regalia or other fancy dress) Friday, October 24. Details.

Conrad Grebel University College workshop: “Ministering to Youth in a Technological Culture” October 17-18, information ext. 24265.

Centre for Mental Health Research open house Friday 3:00 to 4:00, reception PAS room 3005, tours PAS room 1421.

Philosophy colloquium: Randall Dipert, SUNY Buffalo, “The Varieties of Pragmatism,” Friday 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 334.

Comic City Film Series linked to “Dominion City” exhibition in Render (UW art gallery): “Sin City” (2005) with introductory comments by Peter Trinh, Friday 6:00, East Campus Hall gallery.

St. Jerome’s University Lectures in Catholic Experience: Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, “Justice in the 21st Century: Reconciling Dialogue”, Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, admission free.

Warrior Weekend activities in Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings, October 17-18. Details.

Go Eng Girl open house at Ontario faculties of engineering for girls in grades 7-10, Saturday. Details.

Tamil Cultural Night Saturday 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

Open class enrolment for winter term undergraduate courses begins Monday on Quest.

Environmental lecture: Peter Dauvergne, “What Are the Environmental Consequences of Rising Consumption?” Monday 3:30 p.m., Environment I room 132. Reception and signing of his book, The Shadows of Consumption, 4:30, Environment I courtyard.

UW Senate Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Last day for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for fall courses, October 24.

Fall Convocation October 25, Physical Activities Complex: arts and applied health sciences, 10 a.m.; engineering, environment, math and science, 2:30 p.m. Details.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Siamak Nazari, “Analysis of Parameterized Networks.” Supervisor, John Thistle. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, October 20, 12:00 noon, CEIT room 3142.

Biology. Mohamed N. Mohamed, “Lake Zooplankton Carbon Sources: The Role of Terrestrial Inputs and the Effects of Depth and Taxonomic Composition.” Supervisor, W. D. Taylor. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, October 23, 2:00 p.m., Biology I room 266.

Earth and environmental sciences. Jason J. Venkiteswaran, “Greenhouse Gas Cycling in Experimental Boreal Reservoirs.” Supervisor, Sherry Schiff. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, October 24, 9:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Computer science. Jiwen Huo, “A Formalism for Visual Query Interface Design.” Supervisor, William Cowan. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, October 27, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

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