Wednesday, February 4, 2009

  • Tough budget talk for UW's board
  • McGill prof named to head Renison
  • Other flakes in the daily flurry
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Tough budget talk for UW's board

Budget cuts of a size that “will cause serious damage to the institution” are a possibility this year unless UW finds creative ways to bring in more money or make some savings, provost Amit Chakma told the board of governors yesterday.

He was giving a quick summary of the issues he and the deans are facing as they prepare the operating budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins May 1. That budget will come for approval at the board’s next meeting in April.

Meanwhile, the budget for the current year is actually something of “a good news story”, Chakma said, reporting that what had looked like a deficit of almost $3 million when the year began in May has been wiped out thanks to enrolment growth over the past three terms. “We exceeded our targets,” he said, and suggested that doing the same thing in the coming year — especially when it comes to international students — is the biggest source of financial rescue.

Roughly half the university’s operating money comes in the form of grants from the Ontario government, and during the last several months of economic bad news, there have been hints that such grants will be “flatlined”, the provost said. The question is what that means, against a background of more than a decade with no increases from the government to cover rising costs. “We frankly do not know,” the provost said. “It could mean that any growth funding that we have been anticipating will not be there.”

Other universities seem to be planning and announcing budget cuts of about 5 per cent this year, Chakma said. “Our number is very close to that,” what with the annual increases in salary costs and utility bills, the vanishingly small returns on short-term investments, and the rising cost of scholarship funding. (Looming ahead: a possible need for higher pension contributions by next year. “Our pension fund is in trouble, but we have at least a two-year window for the fund to recover,” Chakma told the board.)

One possible, but drastic, step UW could take would be negotiating a cut in the salary increases that staff and faculty members are expecting as the 2009-10 year begins. A take-back of 1 per cent (one-third of the planned 3 per cent scale adjustment) would save around $2.5 million, the provost said. But “It will be a bad thing for us to try to extract concessions from our employee groups . . . it will affect morale in a very negative way.”

Probably more promising is bringing in money through higher enrolment: every extra 100 international students, or professional master’s students, would generate $1 million. “We have to either reduce our costs or generate more revenue,” said Chakma. “We are looking at both.”

There was no joy, earlier in yesterday’s meeting, when the board gave approval to 2009-10 tuition fees, with increases that vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber said averaged 5 per cent “across the whole population of students”.

Justin Williams, president of the Federation of Students, referred to board discussion about indicators of academic quality at UW and summed up how he sees the situation: “It seems clear that the university is asking undergraduate students to pay more while potentially getting less.” In fact, he added, quality is bound to decline, as UW puts more faculty resources into graduate programs. “Undergraduates are being asked to take on a bigger burden so that we can expand our graduate enrolment. The markers that we set for quality are going down while the cost is going up.”

Said Chakma: “I wish I could give you a different answer . . . the province for a long, long time has not given us any inflation adjustment, and this year we may not even get what they promised us for growth. Students are carrying a heavier load.” He added that 2009-10 will be the last year for the government’s current policy on fees, which makes 5 per cent the limit on the average year-to-year fee increase, and there has been no indication of what the rules will be next year.

“If we had our druthers,” said president David Johnston, “we wouldn’t be charging tuition fees.” For that matter, he added, “We’d have a four-to-one student-to-faculty ratio,” rather than the current figure of around 23 students to each professor. But that’s daydreaming; meanwhile, UW has to balance a budget.

Venture capitalist Tim Jackson, one of the community representatives on the board, recalled that two decades ago he had been a student governor, and later served as president of the Ontario Federation of Students. “I to this day believe that there should be no undergraduate tuition fees,” he said. “It’s the right social policy to have.” But that’s not realistic right now: “How do we ensure access, given the framework that the provincial government has put in place?”

In response to a question, Bob Truman, director of institutional analysis and planning, told the board that the fee increases “are unlikely to give us any difficulty” in meeting UW’s cherished guarantee of financial aid so that no one is priced out of undergraduate studies at UW.

“Financial need won’t prevent them,” Huber agreed, saying that “it’s more of an attitudinal issue” that discourages some students from going to university. Johnston told the board that UW now leads Canada in the percentage of the operating budget that goes to student assistance — plus, of course, there’s co-op, “the best method of financing a university education.”

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[Cartwright]McGill prof named to head Renison

Renison University College has named its eighth principal, to take office on August 1. Taking the position as leader of UW’s Anglican affiliated college is Glenn F. Cartwright (left), professor in the department of educational and counselling psychology and former interim dean of the Centre for Continuing Education at McGill University in Montréal.

Cartwright will take over from Bob Rosehart, former president of Wilfrid Laurier University, who has been interim principal at Renison since the departure of principal John Crossley at the end of February 2008.

His five-year appointment as principal and vice-chancellor was announced Monday by the chair of Renison’s board of governors, Lynn Schumacher. In welcoming Cartwright to Renison, she noted his strong background in areas that will direct Renison’s growth during his tenure: “As a preeminent scholar and researcher, and an able administrator with strong ties and working connections to the Middle East and Asia, Dr. Cartwright brings to Renison a unique set of attributes that will greatly enhance Renison’s profile as a post secondary institution committed to academic excellence, research, and global social responsibility.”

A Renison news release says Cartwright completed his university studies at three institutions: Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), McGill, and the University of Alberta. “A pioneer in educational computer applications, he introduced and specialized in large-scale, computer-assisted instruction at McGill. Upon completing his doctorate in educational psychology at he returned to McGill where he became the founding director of several teaching labs in the Faculty of Education, including the Division of Educational Computer Applications and Computer Based Instructional Research. His research interests in educational computer applications currently centre on consciousness and virtual reality.

“As a psychologist he has written and lectured widely on Parental Alienation Syndrome and was a founding member of the Professional and Scientific Advisory Committee of the Parental Alienation Syndrome Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. A noted public speaker, he was, for many years, a professional level member of the National Speakers Association.

“In addition to technology, Dr. Cartwright’s interests in International Education have led to a variety of consulting positions from China to India. He is a Fellow of both the American and World Associations for Social Psychiatry, a Fellow of the Canadian College of Teachers and former Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of John Abbott College. In 2006, Dr. Cartwright was on sabbatical leave from McGill and was elected a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge’s Wolfson College.”

The search committee for principal was chaired by Keith Hipel, a faculty member in systems design at UW and a member of the Renison board. Hipel said he is “absolutely delighted in the unanimous recommendation” of Cartwright as the next principal. “I am extremely enthusiastic,” he said. “I know that our community will benefit from his energy, vision, and experience. As Renison celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we couldn’t ask for a more capable leader as we look forward to this next, very exciting chapter in our history.”

With plans to capitalize on such existing strengths as the Social Development Studies Program — programs that build on the excellent reputations of the integrated humanities and social science offerings — Cartwright looks forward to shaping future directions, the news release says. “Renison University College has impressed me with its record of offering value-added education – that is, education above and beyond mere academic subjects to include deeper human interaction, fellowship, and spiritual dimension. These are the values in which Renison has excelled and which larger universities will find increasingly difficult to offer. I am very proud and honoured to have a role in cementing our past and in building Renison’s future.”

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Other flakes in the daily flurry

As Canadians' fancy starts turning to thoughts of income tax returns, the student accounts office sends word that receipts for income tax purposes (T2202A’s for tuition and applicable fees, and charitable donation receipts for endowments paid as part of term incidental fees) "will be mailed by February 15 for all academic terms during the 2008 calendar year. Graduate students' receipts will be mailed on or before February 15 to your mailing address on Quest as at January 19. Undergraduate students' receipts will be mailed on or before February 15 to your home address on Quest as at January 19." And more: "International undergraduate students: Please be sure your home address indicated on Quest at January 19 is the address where you wish to receive tax receipts. If the receipt does not reach you by March 30 and is returned to our office by Canada Post, we can resend it to you at no charge. If the receipt does not reach you by March 30 and is not returned by Canada Post, you may request a duplicate at a charge of $10 by contacting Finance Student Accounts."

“New dense, sustainable urban architecture” will be the topic of a one-day colloquium tomorrow at UW’s school of architecture — the latest in a series of events there intended to “support a new generation of designers studying the craft of major-scale city building”. A pair of such colloquia took place last year, and another one is scheduled for early March. Tomorrow’s event, sponsored by the school’s Architecture 392 course as well as associations of architecture students and graduates, is titled “Urban Futures”. Leaders responsible for the design and approval of large buildings will gather for a day of exchanges with activists and critics, an announcement explains. Keynote speakers include the widely published urban geographer Andre Sorensen (University of Toronto) and design and urban theorist Michael Speaks (University of Kentucky). Tomorrow’s event and a March 6-7 colloquium titled “Living Large” are both intended to contribute to a nation-wide reform of design school curricula to meet the 2010 Imperative in support of achieving carbon-neutral cities. The events are free and open to the public.

An exhibition of work by Waterloo County artist Woldemar Neufeld opens today in the Wilfrid Laurier University art gallery and includes a number of works owned by Conrad Grebel University College. • When students vote for 2009-10 leaders next week, those in math will also be taking part in a referendum to change some of the rules for administering the money in the Mathematics Endowment Fund. • If you're still without a 2009 calendar, you could consider the Engineers Without Borders calendar for the year, which sells for $10 (cash only) in the UW bookstore.

And . . . "Have you had a chance to try the Library's new smart search tool yet?" asks the UW library's e-newsletter. "Linked to within the Trellis catalogue, Primo Beta is already becoming the search tool of choice for many. Find out how it can transform your searching experience. Primo Beta offers advanced Web searching features such as spell checker and suggestions for refining search results. There are also added features similar to what you find in Amazon and Google including book covers, material type images, and multiple limit and sorting options. Web 2.0 features such as tagging and the ability to add reviews will enhance the searching experience for the entire community. You also have the ability to create your own personal searching space. At present, you can use Primo Beta to find the same types of materials you find in the Trellis catalogue, including print resources such as books, as well as electronic resources such as e-journals and e-books. Eventually, it will become a single interface to finding all the information you need. The next step is to integrate article searching and provide access to resources from external repositories."


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Shuttle bus to job fair

Buses to take students to today's Job Fair at Waterloo's RIM Park will leave from the Humanities building every half-hour from 9:30 to 2:30, and return at the same frequency from 11:00 to 4:00. The fair is sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions and operates from 10:00 to 3:30. Details.

Link of the day

White Cane Week

When and where

Federation of Students election campaign through February 9; polling February 10-12.

Entrepreneurship: A student’s perspective, from Harpaul Sambhi, fourth-year electrical engineering, founder of two companies, 12:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

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

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information session 4:00 p.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard (also February 11).

Warrior basketball vs. Brock, women’s game 6:00, men 8:00, Physical Activities Complex. Half-time "Shoot for Tuition" promotion at both games.

'UpStart Women' festival presented by department of drama continues: three plays ("Cliques That Click", "Surface Tension", "Bittergirl") Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m., three other plays ("The Hair Affair", "Clothture", "The Red Tent") Wednesday and Friday at 7:00, Saturday at 2:00. General admission $12 ($20 for both shows), students $10 ($16).

Blood donor clinic Thursday 10:00 to 4:00 and Friday 9:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

Co-op job ranking for pharmacy students, February 5-9.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Thursday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute Distinguished Lecture: David Goodstein, California Institute of Technology, “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil”, Thursday 4:00 p.m., Perimeter Institute lecture theatre.

Institute of Anabaptist Mennonite Studies and Pandora Press book launch: Werner and Karin Packull, From the Tyrol to North America, and Linda Huebert Hecht, Women in Early Austrian Anabaptism, Thursday 4:00, Conrad Grebel UC atrium.

Ottawa alumni event: Reception at Canadian Museum of Civilization marking “the early stages of UW’s Centre for Public Service”, Thursday 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Details.

German film series: “Scarlett Street” (1945), Thursday 6:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

Arriscraft Lecture: Michael Speaks, University of Kentucky College of Design, “Design Thinking”, Thursday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Doctors Without Borders founder Richard Heinzl speaks, sponsored by UW International Health Development Association and other agencies, Thursday 7:00 p.m., Federation Hall, admission free.

Chemistry in society lecture: Jean Duhamel, “The Dawning Era of Plastics in Medicine”, Thursday 7:00, Biology I room 271.

FASS 2009: ‘Live FASS, Die Tomorrow’, a “spy-themed musical comedy” performed by faculty, alumni, students and staff, February 5 (8:00), 6 (7:00 and 10:00) and 7 (8:00), Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 on Thursday, $10 other nights, at Humanities box office.

Distinguished Teacher Awards nomination deadline for 2009 is Friday, February 6. Details.

Graduate Student Research Conference (April 27-30), deadline for submission of abstracts is February 6. Details.

Engineering Jazz Band (“With Respect to Time”) music exchange concert featuring U of Toronto’s Skule Stage Band, Friday 6:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday, including movies, salsa, crafts, food. Details.

Chilly Dog Run (or walk) around the ring road, sponsored by Moods Assistance Through Educational Support, Saturday, depart from Student Life Centre 10:30 a.m. Chili follows.

ACM-style programming contest Sunday 1:00 to 4:00, preceded by practice contest, Math and Computer room 2037. Details.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for spring 2009 courses, February 9 to 14; open enrolment begins February 16.

Engineering alumni reception during IEEE conference in San Francisco, Tuesday 5:30 p.m., San Francisco Marriott. Details.

Engineering alumni reception at Facebook headquarters, Palo Alto, California, February 11, 5:30 p.m., speaker Chamath Palihapitiya (BASc 1999), Facebook vice-president. Details.

Keith Geddes, school of computer science, retirement reception February 12, 4:00 to 6:00, Davis Centre lounge.

Exceptional Teaching by a Student awards for 2008: nomination deadline February 13. Details.

Winter term reading week February 16-20. Family Day holiday Monday, February 16: UW offices and most services will be closed.

Education Credit Union presents Alan Wintrip, “Personal Tax Strategies”, February 17, 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Application deadline for spring 2009 undergraduate admission is March 2. Details.

Engineering Shadow Day for Grade 11 and 12 students, March 4. Details.

International Women’s Day dinner with speaker Yan Li (Confucius Institute, Renison UC), March 5, 5:00 for 6:00, University Club, tickets $32 at Humanities box office.

Positions available

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

• Studio technician, fine arts, USG 7
• Building operator II, plant operations
• Mechanic I (millwright), plant operations
• Studio/media technician, fine arts, USG 7

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