Wednesday, June 16, 2010

  • 4,351 degrees in the PAC this week
  • Staff get their merit increases this month
  • 'Waterloo is about clean and fair play'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

4,351 degrees in the PAC this week

It's a rainy morning for the beginning of the university’s 100th Convocation. Today sees the first two sessions of a busy week in which 4,351 graduate and undergraduate students will receive degrees, roughly the same number of moms and spouses will be misty-eyed with pride, and awards will be handed out for achievement both at Waterloo and in the wider world.

Today’s Convocation ceremonies will start at 10:00 (for environment and applied health sciences) and 2:30 (for science) and will take place in the main gym of the Physical Activities Complex.

Some highlights of this morning’s AHS and environment ceremony:

  • Honorary degrees to Monique Bégin, former federal politician who is credited with drafting the Canada Health Act of 1984, and Peter Adeniyi, a Waterloo graduate whose work with remote sensing is credited with advancing national development in the African nation of Nigeria. Bégin will give the Convocation address.
  • Honorary Member of the University status to David Dietrich, who retired last year after 28 years in the human resources department, many of them spent as director of the pension and benefits programs.
  • Presentation of the Excellence in Graduate Supervision award to Jack Callaghan of kinesiology, and installation of Stuart McGill of the same department as a University Professor.
  • Remarks from Jordan Anderson, graduating in kinesiology, who has been chosen valedictorian.
  • Presentation of alumni gold medals, honouring the top students receiving undergraduate degrees in each faculty, to Andrew Jeffery of kinesiology and Tania Cheng of environment and resource studies.
  • Departmental Awards for Distinguished Academic Achievement: Iskren Kantchev (health studies and gerontology), Halyna Tepylo (recreation and leisure studies), Graham Pope (geography and environmental management), Robin Heathcote (planning), Michelle Prentice (environment and business), as well as Jeffery and Cheng.

Some highlights of the afternoon ceremony for science:

  • Honorary degrees to Julie Payette, former chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, and Harold Atwood, neuroscience researcher at the University of Toronto. Payette will give the address.
  • Recognition of Jake Sivak, retired from the school of optometry and a former dean of graduate studies, as Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
  • Presentation of the Excellence in Graduate Supervision award to James Barker of earth sciences, and the Distinguished Teacher award to Robert Mann of physics.
  • Installation of Janusz Pawliszyn of the chemistry department as a University Professor.
  • Remarks from the valedictorian, Robyn Sambrook, graduating with a degree in biomedical sciences.
  • Presentation of the alumni gold medal for science to Amy Reinhart, also graduating in biomedical sciences.
  • The Governor General’s Gold Medal, for the top PhD graduate of the year, to Andrew Doxey of biology.
  • Dean of Science Awards for creative research in a master’s thesis: Behrooz Azizi (vision science), Catharine Critchley (earth sciences), Jonathan Lavoie (physics), and Stephanie McMillan (biology).
  • W.  B. Pearson Medal for creative research in a doctoral thesis: Juliana de Freitas (earth sciences), Marc-Matthias Schulze (vision science), Yidun Wan (physics), Ashraf Wilsily (chemistry), as well as Doxey.

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Staff get their merit increases this month

Staff members were sent word yesterday about the individual merit increases they’re receiving for 2010-11, in a year when scale increases are banned by provincial law.

“Annual increases are effective May 1 and will first appear in your June pay,” said a memo from the human resources department. “The May retroactivity will be processed with your July pay; however, we are working hard to include it in your June pay if at all possible.”

Individual information is available on the myHRinfo system, the memo said: “Sign-in as normal and select Salary Increase Advice and click on 'Details'. Hard copy advices will be mailed later this week for staff members who have irregular working arrangements or who have elected to receive hard copy pay advices. If you have any questions about this information, please speak with your Supervisor, or your Staff Relations Co-ordinator in Human Resources.”

In most years, May 1 salary changes are processed ahead of time, but things were thrown off schedule this year by the announcement of a “public sector salary freeze” in the Ontario government’s spring budget. That was followed by weeks of uncertainty about how the government rule affected merit pay. Finally the plan was announced by the provost in late May, and it received approval from the university’s board of governors on June 1.

The one-year salary settlement provides for “the regular merit program for all USG staff”. Other provisions: “There will be no regular full- or part-time staff layoffs or mandatory unpaid days as a result of this salary agreement. If the Faculty and/or CUPE settlements include greater than 0% scale adjustment, the committee will reconvene to consider what is equitable treatment for staff and the resulting institutional implications.”

The process of calculating merit increases for individual staff members is hard to explain without diagrams and hand-waving, but it depends on three factors: the “range increase” being applied to staff pay scales, which this year is zero because of the provincial freeze; where an individual staff member sits (anywhere from 80 per cent to 120 per cent) relative to the “job value” in the salary scale for his or her position; and his or her performance rating for the current year.

So, for example, a staff member whose salary is low in the range (usually because he or she is fairly inexperienced) and has a rating of at least 3.0 will get a percentage increase that's meant to move him or her upwards toward 100 per cent.

On the other hand, in a year when the range increase is “frozen” at zero, pay increases will be small or even invisible for staff near the top (120 per cent) of their salary range, no matter how good their performance ratings are, officials warn.

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'Waterloo is about clean and fair play'

As controversy continues about the suspension of Warrior football, the university issued this statement yesterday through the media relations office.

The University of Waterloo today is reiterating its stand against substance abuse among student athletes and in society as a whole.

The university has an obligation to take a strong position in the wake of finding that nine players on its varsity football team had been involved in using banned substances, said vice-president (academic) and provost Feridun Hamdullahpur. Those results were revealed yesterday at a news conference where the university announced suspension of its football team from competition (league games and exhibition games) this coming season, as well as a full review of the program as it relates to the use of banned substances.

“There should be no mistake that our first obligation is to our students’ welfare — all 26,000 of them — and helping them acquire an excellent education. But we are also obligated to our students, their parents and society, and the fight against substance abuse across all levels of sport,” Hamdullahpur added. “We must address this head-on to establish the principle that Waterloo is about clean and fair play.”

He said the university understands the frustration and disappointment being shown by the large majority of current players who tested negative in recently conducted tests for banned substances (steroids, HGH), and who are having their competitive season cancelled.

“The players, their families, coaches and supporters will have a difficult time accepting this,” he said. “But there is a bigger picture here, one that relates to what we stand for, and our obligation to take a stand against substance abuse in university sports for future players everywhere.”

As well, Hamdullahpur said those players who tested clean, seniors included, are being encouraged to continue with training, practicing and community outreach.

The university will be an aggressive leader in education on substance abuse. To that end it is enlisting the help of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, based in Texas, the acknowledged leader in advocacy against substance abuse in sport.  The university will work with other partners as well, including its own experts in Applied Health Sciences, and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).

The Provost also stated definitively that the university is fully committed to its football program. “It’s here to stay,” he said. The program review will commence immediately and will be conducted by former Waterloo Region police chief Larry Gravill, and professor emerita Mary Thompson, a statistics expert.

He encouraged all current eligible players and recruits to stick with the university through this difficult experience, knowing that the university is going to aim high for its program in 2011 and in years to come. “We will give it our utmost support, through this coming review, and in building towards a bright future.”

That includes rebuilding Warrior Field, installing new state-of-the-art field turf and more spectator friendly environment. The field, multi-purpose in design for several sports including field hockey and rugby, will also be used by recreational and community purposes. Work on rebuilding the field commenced last week.


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Link of the day


When and where

Department of biology awards presentations 10 a.m., ESC building room 350.

Renison University College presents Denise Marigold, social development studies, “Challenges in Providing Social Support to Low Self-Esteem Individuals” 12:00, Renison chapel lounge.

UWRC Book Club discusses The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

School of Planning graduation reception, light lunch 12:30 p.m., program to follow, South Campus Hall, tickets $10, e-mail slknisch@

Classical Dance Conservatory recital 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Innovators in Action speaker series sponsored by Social Innovation Generation: Ilse Treurnicht, MaRS Discovery District, 7:00, The Museum, 10 King Street West, Kitchener. Details.

Magnetic North theatre festival continues. Events on campus: “Elephant Wake” through Friday 7:00, Saturday 2:00; directing class Saturday 2:00. Details.

Farm market Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Student Life Centre lower atrium (also June 24, July 8, 15, 22).

100th Convocation, Physical Activities Complex: arts Thursday 10:00 and 2:30; mathematics Friday 2:30; engineering Saturday 10:00 and 2:30. Details. Special session Sunday 9:45 a.m., Perimeter Institute, for MSc (physics) graduates.

J. W. Graham Medal Seminar: Steven G. Woods, Google Inc., “Reinventing the Way the World Works” Thursday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302, reception follows.

Career workshop: “Successfully Negotiating Job Offers” Thursday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Stuart Feldman, Google Inc., “Computing at the Extremes” Thursday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Last day for 50 per cent tuition refund for spring term courses, June 18; “drop, penalty 1” period ends June 25.

Canada’s Wonderland bus trip organized by Federation of Students, Friday, bus leaves Davis Centre 8:30 a.m., tickets $54 at Federation office, Student Life Centre.

Co-op job rankings for “main group” students open Friday 1 p.m., close June 21 at 2 p.m., results 4 p.m.

Guelph Arboretum visit sponsored by Natural Landscaping Team, Saturday, bus leaves Davis Centre 11 a.m., tickets $7 from Federation of Students.

Mahler Conference 2010: “A Symphony Must Be Like the World” Saturday 2:00 to 7:00, Conrad Grebel UC. Details.

Perimeter Institute formal greetings event for Stephen Hawking, Sunday 4:00, by invitation.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2011 undergraduate courses, June 21-27 on Quest.

Positions available

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

• Records assistant, office of the registrar, USG 5
• Supervisor, Tim Hortons, SLC, food services, USG 7
• Manager, cleaning services, housing and residences, USG 10

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