Monday, May 3, 2010

  • Stratford campus greets Zambian partners
  • Term begins: talking loans and the G20
  • Most benefit premiums unchanged this year
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Geese standing on bus roof]

So that's how they get here: Geese apparently commute to campus by GO bus from Mississauga's Square One. Driver Nigel Hay took the photo during a layover last week outside the Student Life Centre.

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Stratford campus greets Zambian partners

Officials of the southern African country of Zambia visited UW’s Stratford campus last week and announced an agreement that one of them called “the cornerstone of a new partnership between North America and Africa”.

A formal Memorandum of Agreement will come soon, said Nevers Mumba, Zambian high commissioner (ambassador) to Canada, calling the arrangement “an exciting commitment to international collaboration based on mutual respect and understanding”.

A news release said the university “will facilitate the construction of the first auto-disable safety syringe factory in Zambia”, a project that’s expected to help stop the spread of AIDS, a major public health problem in the region. The project, with a budget of $12 million over three years, is being paid for by the Canadian International Development Agency and corporate partners.

“The research connected to the factory will be done at the Stratford campus,” officials told the Stratford Beacon-Herald, “and any other partnerships that develop will go through the Stratford campus as well.”

Said the high commission news release: “The initiative is the result of negotiations spanning several months. . . . In public sessions held at the University of Waterloo main campus and in the City Hall in nearby Stratford, site of the University’s new global business campus, Dr. Mumba addressed gatherings of university faculty and staff, local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Stratford and the Mayor of Waterloo, and area business leaders.”

The high commissioner, it says, “outlined a series of initiatives currently under development, all of which fit into a larger strategy of collaboration, problem-solving, cultural and intellectual exchange, and shared commitment to economic and social development.”

The eventual memorandum of agreement, Mumba said, will “facilitate student and faculty exchanges, collaborative research projects and shared development and delivery of educational material.  Discussions included expanding the collaboration with the University of Waterloo and Zambia to encourage partnership activities in such diverse areas as technological innovation, digital media, public health, economic development, Canada-Zambia trade relations, and the training of public servants.”

The dean of arts, Ken Coates, said of these initiatives: “The willingness of the Government of Zambia to seek partnerships with the University of Waterloo and with Canada is welcomed most strongly.  We have so much to learn about Zambia and Africa; we have so much to learn from Zambians.”

Zambia, the news release says, “has been a leading African nation in responding to the scourge of HIV/AIDS.  Efforts to improve conditions further have been hampered by the absence of basic supplies, including disposable safety syringes.  This factory will produce more than 70 million safety syringes per year, enough to meet all of Zambia’s needs and those of several neighbouring countries.  This initiative represents a commitment to job creation, capacity building and provides the Zambian people with an affordable, self-sustaining, government owned manufacturing facility.”

Mumba declared “with evident emotion” that the project “will save tens of thousands of Zambian and African lives.  There is no better outcome imaginable.”

He ended his public meetings by announcing the first Zambia-Canada Trade Mission, scheduled for August. To be held “in collaboration with the University of Waterloo”, it will bring “Canadian industry leaders in strategic sectors and key Canadian decision makers — including academic and political leaders, entrepreneurs and potential investors — to explore mutually beneficial opportunities” in Zambia. 

Coates described the meetings as representing a “remarkable beginning to a friendship, partnership and collaboration that will reach across oceans, bridge cultural differences, and create remarkable opportunities for Canadians and Zambians alike.” He told the Beacon-Herald that “the university will bring the world to Stratford, with “Zambian students, educators and business professionals on the streets of Stratford in the future, and vice versa”.

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Term begins: talking loans and the G20

Parking lots, classrooms and hallways are busy today after a quiet few days — the spring term is under way as people renew friendships, buy textbooks, learn routines and make the network usage statistics jump.

For many students, an important beginning-of-term ritual has to do with Ontario Student Assistance Program money. The Student Awards and Financial Aid office says it will be releasing OSAP funding for the spring term starting today, and students can make appointments for that purpose: “Appointments are available between 8:40 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day from May 3-14. Representatives from the National Student Loan Service Centre are also on site at Tatham Centre from May 3-14. SAFA has increased the number of appointments available to see as many students as possible during the first two weeks of the term. To pick up OSAP funding, students should review the Important OSAP Pick-up Information on the SAFA website and book an appointment for a date and time convenient for them. Again this spring, SAFA is also serving students who receive funding from other provinces. Beginning May 3, these students should report to the lower level of Tatham Centre between 8:40 and 4:00 Monday to Friday — no appointment required. All students are reminded that their fees must be arranged and they must present their SIN card and government-issued photo ID at the time of funding pick up. OSAP students also need to provide confirmation/proof of their gross earnings for 2009.”

The bookstore and other retail services outlets will be open the usual weekday hours of 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, but will also open this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. (in general, the stores aren't open Saturdays). The used book store in the Student Life Centre will be open 8:30 to 5 Monday to Friday this week, 9 to 5 Saturday. For information about some other services and operating hours, see the top of the right-hand column in this Daily Bulletin.

An announcement from the library: "Library books that were signed out by faculty, graduate students, and staff before the beginning of April are due on May 5, 2010. These groups can return or renew their books if they haven’t already done so. If they are renewing on-line, they can link directly to “your account”. On-line help for renewing is available."

“In the run-up to this year’s G8 and G20 Summits,” says a news release from the Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, “CIGI is hosting a conference on May 3-5, 2010 for the purpose of evaluating options for the G20 on fundamental financial, economic and governance issues. International Governance Innovation: Issues for 2010 Summits will bring together more than 60 leading international academics, think tank experts, government officials, former policy makers, and career diplomats. The conference focuses on four broad themes: Role of the new Financial Stability Board in reducing risk and fostering stability in the international financial system; Future working of the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth which was launched at the September 2009 Pittsburgh summit; Future G20 agenda and, by extension the role of G8, plus questions of process, outreach and legitimacy; How a network of think-tanks could support the G20 and the best approach to achieve this.” The conference starts tonight with a dinner at Cambridge’s swanky Langdon Hall and a keynote address by federal finance minister Jim Flaherty. Tuesday and Wednesday bring panel discussions, not open to the public; former prime minister Paul Martin will speak at tomorrow night’s dinner. CIGI credits “discussions by CIGI and several of its partners” for “the concept of a leaders-level meeting” bigger than the traditional G7 or G8 economic groups — the gathering now known as G20.

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Most benefit premiums unchanged this year

The costs to UW and its employees for health, dental, and life insurance will not be going up this year, while the rate for disability insurance will rise slightly, the human resources department announced last week. Here’s the text of a memo sent to staff and faculty members:

[Quotation marks]UW’s Health, Dental, Life Insurance and Long Term Disability (LTD) contracts are renewed May 1 of each year. Our claim experience over the past year has resulted in unchanged rates for our health, dental and life insurance plans.  Our LTD claim experience has resulted in a 7% increase in the contract rate with employee premiums moved closer to the required LTD contract rate.

Health premiums remain unchanged, resulting in monthly single/family rates of $57.28/$182.80. These premiums are paid entirely by the University for full-time employees, with part-time employees paying a pro-rated amount. The Health plan is a non-taxable benefit.

Dental premiums remain unchanged, resulting in monthly single/family rates of $30.76/$92.56. These premiums are paid entirely by the University for full time employees with part-time employees paying a pro-rated amount. The Dental plan is also a non-taxable benefit.

The group life premiums remain unchanged, resulting in monthly basic group life premiums of $0.32 per month per thousand dollars of group insurance held. The University pays 100% of the group premium on 1X salary in life insurance. If an employee has 2X or 3X salary in group life insurance, UW pays two-thirds of the amount with the employee paying the balance. Any premium paid by UW is a taxable benefit to the employee. Premiums for optional employee insurance held beyond 3X salary and spousal life insurance are based on gender, age and smoking rates paid entirely by the employee. 

Long-term disability: The contract rate increases by 7% to 1.14% of base pay effective May 1, 2010. However, the actual employee paid rate will increase by 10.7% effective May 1, 2010 resulting in a new paid rate of 1.06% of base salary. Maximum insured salary increases to $153,940. The difference between the paid and contract rate is paid to the carrier from a surplus reserve in the plan. As this surplus is used up in the next few years, the paid rate will gradually be moved toward the contract rate. [Quotation marks]Employees pay the entire premium for the LTD benefit in order to provide a tax free LTD benefit.

Should you have questions about our premium rates, please contact your Payroll Benefits Assistant in Human Resources.

Footnote: A memo issued in 2004 explains the surplus that provides the difference between the "paid rate" that's actually coming from employees for LTD insurance and the "contract rate" that the insurance company receives: "In 2003, the pension and benefits committee decided to deplete the surplus over a 10-year period by using it to reduce the premiums paid by employees but to gradually bring the paid rate equal to the contract rate over a period of ten years."


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As the spring term begins

It's back to the office and back to the classroom today . . .

Link of the day

World Press Freedom Day

When and where

Senate finance committee 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Music Is for Life symposium, Wilfrid Laurier University, Tuesday-Saturday. Details.

Perimeter Institute lecture: Renate Loll, Utrecht University, “Searching for the Quantum Origins of Space and Time” Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Observatory night with brief talk on astronomy, tour of UW observatory and chance to look through telescope, Wednesday 9:00, Physics room 308.

Weight Watchers at Work spring series begins Thursday 12:00, Humanities room 373; call ext. 32218 to register.

Science Rendezvous outreach event at locations across Ontario, Saturday. Details.

Mothers’ Day brunch at University Club, Sunday 11:00 to 1:30, $24.95 plus tax and gratuity, reservations ext. 33801.

Canada 3.0 digital media conference sponsored by Stratford Institute and Canadian Digital Media Network, May 10-11, Stratford. Details.

UW Blooms May 10, 10:00 to 4:00, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre: donate, pick up or exchange plants, seeds, pots, gardening material.

Alumni reception in Calgary during Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists conference, May 11, 6:00, BMO Centre. Details.

Book launch: Richard Payette, The Amulet of Apollo, print-on-demand novel, May 11, 7:00 p.m., bookstore, South Campus Hall.

Retirees Association bus tour, “Wineries of the Beamsville Bench” May 12, details 519-885-6719.

Book launch: Polish Orphans of Tengeru by Lynne Taylor, department of history, May 12, 5:00 to 7:00, University Club, RSVP k4king@

Alumni event in New York: Math alumni reception at Louis Vuitton Maison Fifth Avenue, May 13, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Details.

Open class enrolment for spring term courses ends May 14 (online courses, May 7).

President David Johnston Run for Mental Health May 18. Details.

You @ Waterloo Day for applicants considering offers of admission, May 20, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., headquarters at Student Life Centre. Details.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 24, UW offices and most services closed, classes not held.

Winter term grades become official May 25.

Retirees Association spring luncheon May 27, 11:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village, tickets $25, information 519-888-0334.

UW board of governors June 1, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Friday's Daily Bulletin