Tuesday, December 1, 2009

  • Faculty and staff offered bus passes
  • Election under way, and other notes
  • Rethink universities, decision-makers are told
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Beside poster: How do you fit in?]

Provost Feridun Hamdullahpur accepts a residence T-shirt from university housing officer Chris Read during a get-together with some 140 housing and residences staff last week. It was a step towards the provost's stated goal of meeting everybody who works at the university, says Ryan King, marketing coordinator for housing. "After being presented with his shirt with the slogan 'Committed to Excellence'," says King, "the provost shared some of his own experiences while stressing his commitment to excellence at UW."

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Faculty and staff offered bus passes

UW staff and faculty members are being offered a 15 per cent discount on bus passes, thanks to an agreement negotiated with Grand River Transit by the staff association and university officials.

“Corporate” bus passes — good on any of GRT’s buses across Waterloo Region, not just the commute to work — will be sold at $51.05 a month, paid through payroll deduction starting in January.

“The pass will be available to regular full and part-time permanent staff, CUPE staff members, and faculty members,” says a memo issued this week to announce the plan. The pass is being presented as an alternative to a UW parking permit, as parking spaces on campus get scarcer and the price of a monthly permit goes up.

Undergraduate students (but not grad students) already have access to GRT buses through the UPass, a compulsory part of the Federation of Students fee package. (By coincidence, the Record reports this morning on how crowded some buses near campus have become, and says GRT is hoping to hire more drivers.)

Arrangements for the optional faculty and staff pass were worked out by the staff association with support from Parking Services, Human Resources and the Finance office, says staff association president Doug Dye.

[Number 8 bus]“What are the advantages of the corporate pass versus the usual monthly pass?” this week’s memo asks, and provides this answer: “It costs less: purchasing a bus pass each month costs $60 and the UW corporate pass costs $51.05, an $8.95 per month savings. The bi-weekly rate will be $23.56. It is more convenient: the corporate pass is arranged as a payroll deduction, so the bus pass allows you to travel with GRT whenever you like and as often as you wish, without the need to buy a pass each month.”

The initial sign-up day, for those interested, will be Wednesday of next week, December 9, between 11:00 and 2:00 in Davis Centre room 1302. “Your photo will be taken and you will receive your GRT pass at that time.”

Anybody who decides later to get a pass can sign up for it at Parking Services in the Commissary building, but will have to go to one of the GRT terminals — Duke Street in Kitchener or Ainslie Street in Cambridge — to have a photo taken.

Officials say a user can’t drop in and out of buying a pass: “this program cannot be used for the winter only.” Once payroll deductions start, an individual either continues or drops out altogether, unless there’s an official, UW-recognized break such as a disability leave or a sabbatical. (The same rules apply as with parking permits.)

There’s no sales tax on the price of a bus pass, and it generates an income tax saving through the public transit tax credit.

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Election under way, and other notes

Voting is to begin on Thursday as UW faculty and staff elect representatives to some of the seats on the Presidential Nominating Committee. Five seats are up for election at present; some of the other positions on the committee have been filled by acclamation, with details to be announced. Brief campaign statements are available online for the candidates who are contesting the positions:

  • one arts faculty senator – Tara Collington (French Studies), John North (English Language and Literature)
  • one engineering faculty senator – Keith Hipel (Systems Design Engineering), Robert-Jan van Pelt (Architecture)
  • two faculty-at-large Emanuel Carvalho (Economics), Brent Doberstein (Geography and Environmental Management), George Freeman (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Tim Kenyon (Philosophy), Zoya Leonenko (Physics and Astronomy / Biology), Elizabeth Meiering (Chemistry), David Porreca (Classical Studies), James Skidmore (Germanic and Slavic Studies), David Welch (Balsillie School / Political Science)
  • one staff member – Bob Copeland (Athletics and Recreational Services), Trevor Grove (Computer Science, CSCF), Ibrahim Inayatali (Dean of Engineering / ODAA), Kevin Krauel (Systems Design Engineering), Tina Roberts (Marketing and Undergraduate Recruitment)

Ballots will be mailed to unionized staff members. Other staff, as well as faculty, are eligible to vote online. The elections run through December 17.

[Cutting cake]Renison College isn't going to be the same after the retirements, official today, of Robert and Virginia Herridge, pictured (right) at a reception held a few days ago to bid them farewell. Virginia has been secretary in the principal's office at the college since 1986; Robert came to Renison in 1991 as building superintendent.

“We’ve had a great term,” says Virginia McLellan Young, associate director of UW’s VeloCity “innovation incubator”. Today will be “Start Up Day”, an opportunity to show off the the projects that students have worked on over the past four months. Says McLellan: "We’ve also invited some of our corporate partners who have been a great support to our students. We hope that not only VeloCity students, but all UW students interested in entrepreneurship will attend the exhibition and interact with our project exhibitors and our corporate partners. Some current projects include Campus Perks, a free savings program for students helping companies provide discounts, giveaways, prizes and more to students from coast to coast; Delta Sites, a company that helps create and manage a professional website without any technical expertise; and uniConnect, helping students connect and network with other co-op students. A few VeloCity alumni are also returning to show off the companies that they created while living in VeloCity.” Start Up Day will be held in the Student Life Centre great hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tina Roberts, director of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, has issued a summary version of a massive survey that asked why students who came to Waterloo this September chose this university. Among the top answers: co-op (“want a co-op program”) and co-op (“excellent co-op”) along with “excellent academic reputation”, “better career preparation” and “more marketable after graduation”. Of course the responses are broken down for various categories of student. Among the findings, Roberts reports: “It was interesting to uncover that 63% of respondents would not have accepted our offer if co-op were not available in their chosen program — Engineering (69% no) and Arts (68%) presented the highest scores.” Her office also does a survey of students who included UW among their applications, were accepted, but chose to go to other universities, for such reasons as the size of available scholarships, preferring a different academic program, or wanting to be in the big city.

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Rethink universities, decision-makers are told

a news release from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

A new book released today argues that Ontario’s model for providing baccalaureate education is no longer sustainable. Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario finds that the standard model of undergraduate education in Ontario is based on the belief that students should be taught only by faculty members who are actively engaged in original research. Such full-time faculty are expected to spend about 40 percent of their time and effort on research, 40 percent on teaching, and 20 percent on service to the university and the community.

Two developments over the past two decades have made it impossible to maintain this model of education. One is the increased expectation from the public and the government for universities to produce knowledge that will enhance Canada’s economic well-being and international competitiveness. The other is the pressure to dramatically increase accessibility to baccalaureate level education.

The authors find the high costs associated with the research-university model have led to chronic financial strain. “With foreseeable levels of government funding and tuition, it is simply not affordable to have undergraduates taught only by faculty who devote the same amount of time and effort to research as to teaching,” said Michael Skolnik, professor emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

“In addition to the cost problem, reliance on this research-university model provides insufficient variety in the types of baccalaureate experience available to students who have diverse backgrounds, situations, aspirations and learning styles,” said David Trick, president, David Trick and Associates.

Academic Transformation makes the following recommendations for improving Ontario’s postsecondary system:

Use the expected growth in demand for university enrolment as an opportunity to create a new sector of baccalaureate institutions that focus on teaching. Faculty would be expected to be current in their fields but would not do discovery research.

Encourage universities to create or maintain a high-quality three-year undergraduate degree.

  • Provide each university and college with an agreed amount of money each year to continue teaching and research operations at current levels, and then consider how much additional funding is required to increase enrolments, expand research and scholarship, or undertake other new priorities.
  • Foster increased efficiency by encouraging differentiation among existing universities through a combination of regulation and financial incentives.
  • Encourage balance and differentiation in the college sector. A small number of colleges should become substantial providers of baccalaureate education, while some focus on trades training and serving under-prepared learners.
  • Improve opportunities for college to university transfer. Develop specific programs in universities aimed to facilitate transfer from college career programs.
  • Develop an Open University of Ontario that would offer high-quality learning based on flexible credit recognition, open admissions, and access for learners who are unable to attend the existing universities.
  • Rethink ideas about quality to ensure they support innovative practices in higher education that are appropriate for the 21st century.
  • Recognize the need for more effective provincial policy leadership in higher education.

As the funder for this project, HEQCO will evaluate these findings and provide policy recommendations to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. “These recommendations will be useful to the Council as we work with our partners in higher education to provide advice to the government on the best design for Ontario’s postsecondary education system,” said Dr. Ken Norrie, vice-president (research) of HEQCO.

The book is available for purchase online. Besides Skolnic and Trick, its authors are Ian D. Clark is a professor in the School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, a former federal deputy minister, and past president of the Council of Ontario Universities, and Greg Moran professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, and a former provost and vice-president (academic) at Western.


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Link of the day

Wonders of Winter

When and where

Music student recitals 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel, admission free.

Imaginus poster sale Wednesday-Thursday, Student Life Centre.

Web content management system information session for the UW community, Wednesday 11:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Biomedical Discussion Group Wednesday 2:30, CEIT room 3142, speaker Russ Tupling, kinesiology. Details.

Catharine Scott, associate provost, retirement reception Wednesday 3:30 to 6:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP ext. 38425.

Stratford Campus community update by Ken Coates, dean of arts, and Ian Wilson, Stratford Institute strategic advisor, Wednesday 5:30, Stratford City Hall. Details.

Accounting and Finance Student Association presents Brenda Halloran, mayor of Waterloo, speaking on student leadership and the city’s Student Advisory Council, Wednesday 6:00, Humanities room 1101.

Perimeter Institute presents Michael Peskin, Stanford University, “Top Quark: The Elusive Truth” Wednesday 7 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Central web servers (info and strobe) will be down, affecting UW home page and most administrative applications, Thursday 6 to 7 a.m.

Nutrition and health awareness series: “Eating for Exams” presentation Thursday 12:00 at REVelation, Ron Eydt Village; 5:00 at Mudie’s, Village I.

Staff association pension, benefits and compensation subcommittee, open meeting Thursday 12:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Fran Allen, IBM Watson Research Center, “High Performance Computers and Compilers: A Personal Perspective” Thursday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Canada’s Technology Triangle networking dinner with consular trade representatives from foreign markets; keynote speaker Thomas Homer-Dixon, Balsillie School, Thursday 5:30 p.m., Waterloo Inn, tickets $100. Details.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo fifth anniversary concert: Gershwin, “Rhapsody in Blue” (Jason White, piano), plus Hatch, Ravel, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Thursday 8:00, Humanities Theatre, free tickets from box office 519-888-4908.

Silent art auction and gift sale Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Artery Gallery, 158 King Street West, Kitchener, in support of fourth-year fine arts students’ end-of-year show.

Philosophy colloquium: Edouard Machery, University of Pittsburgh, “Three Neuroscientific Objections Against the Massive Modularity Hypothesis” Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Lessons and carols service with Chapel Choir, Friday 5:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

General Services Complex and Commissary building: electrical power shut down Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fall term classes end Saturday, December 5 (Monday schedule that day). Exams December 9-22; unofficial grades begin appearing in Quest December 23; grades become official January 25.

Peace Society “Make-a-Difference Market” for fair trade vendors, live music, food, Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College upper atrium.

National Day of Remembrance and Action: 20th anniversary of École Polytechnique shootings, memorial lunch sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, Sunday 12:00, Holiday Inn, Kitchener, tickets $50, information 519-740-5249.

‘Commercialization Model for Life/Health and Environmental Sciences in Waterloo Region’ presentation organized by Canada’s Technology Triangle, Monday 9:00 a.m., Pharmacy building room 1008.

WatITis one-day conference for information technology staff, Tuesday, December 8. Details.

Carol sing led by UW Choir, Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir, December 8, 12:00, Davis Centre great hall.

‘Managing Grief Through the Holidays’ workshop presented by Employee Assistance Program, December 16, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

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