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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

  • Conservatives will revive March budget
  • Interim VP named to follow Beckel
  • What more profs are doing with sabbaticals
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Conservatives will revive March budget

On the morning after election night, a lot has changed in the political landscape, but universities still have their eye on a key document that’s been on the table since before Parliament was dissolved, a six-week lifetime ago.

That document is the March 22 federal budget presented by finance minister Jim Flaherty on behalf of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. The House of Commons didn’t have a chance to vote on the budget before the government fell in a confidence vote three days later, but expectations are that it’ll reappear in pretty much the same form when Harper’s new majority government faces the Commons later this spring.

Following yesterday's voting, the Conservatives have moved from 143 seats at the end of the last Parliament to 167 in the new one (subject to recounts in one or two close ridings). In a stunning "orange wave", the New Democratic Party will become the official opposition with 102 seats, and it’ll be NDP leader Jack Layton facing the prime minister across the House of Commons aisle. Voters devastated the Liberal Party, headed by Michael Ignatieff, which is reduced to just 34 seats as of this morning’s count. The Bloc Québecois is expected to have four MPs, and the Green Party one.

[Braid with flag]All four Conservative MPs from Waterloo Region were re-elected last night: Peter Braid (right, at a research chair announcement last year) in Kitchener-Waterloo, Stephen Woodworth in Kitchener Centre, Harold Albrecht in Kitchener-Conestoga, and Gary Goodyear in Cambridge. Another Conservative, Gary Schellenberger, was re-elected in Perth-Wellington, the riding that includes Stratford.

Flaherty, the finance minister, said last night that he'll be reintroducing the March budget when Parliament meets: "Fundamentally, it will be the same document, updated if necessary." That verified a prediction that university president Feridun Hamdullahpur made at a meeting of the university senate at the end of March, saying that “this budget is going to come back in front of us in one form or another” following the election.

Features of the March budget included additional funding for the federal research councils, money for ten more Canada Excellence Research Chairs, and a new $50 million grant (over five years) for the Waterloo-based Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said in March that the budget represented “tremendous progress for the university sector”. Hamdullahpur told the Record newspaper: “I believe it’s an exciting budget. Our future prosperity is dependent on innovation and research, and our universities will be on the edge of that. I think the government heard that message very clearly.” He added that the university was especially pleased by a promise of funding for digital economy programs — good news for Waterloo’s Stratford campus.

The budget also said the government would be “enhancing and expanding eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants for part-time and full-time post-secondary students” and “providing $10 million over two years to develop and implement an international education strategy that will reinforce Canada as a country of choice to study and conduct world-class research”.

The NDP, which has promised a vigorous effort to hold Harper's government to account on every issue, didn’t say much about research in its election platform. The subject was raised mostly in the context of action on climate change, plus a note that one way of controlling drug costs would be “moving towards more publicly funded research and development, driven by public priorities, not commercial profits”.

But the NDP platform did have a section about higher education, pitched to students and parents, including a promise to "make post-secondary education more affordable by directly attacking skyrocketing tuition costs with a designated $800 million transfer to the provinces and territories".

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[Jackson]Interim VP named to follow Beckel

Tim Jackson (left), who heads the Accelerator Centre and ranks as an associate vice-president of the university, will become interim vice-president (external relations) when current VP Meg Beckel leaves Waterloo next month.

President Feridun Hamdullahpur made the announcement by memo yesterday: “It is my great pleasure to announce that Tim Jackson has agreed to serve as interim vice-president, external relations replacing Meg Beckel, who leaves uWaterloo for her new role as Director of the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“Tim will be seconded from his regular duties as CEO of the Accelerator Centre and Waterloo’s associate vice-president (commercialization) for about one year, for a term beginning in June and continuing until there is a permanent appointment to the position.

“Tim has enjoyed a long relationship with the university. He holds a BA in accounting from Waterloo, and the university named a school of accountancy fellowship after him in 2005. In 2007, he was honoured with the 50th Anniversary Alumni Award from Waterloo, and in 2009, he was awarded the inaugural Annual Barnraiser Award for ‘inspirational, collaborative achievement’ in Waterloo Region.

“Please join me in welcoming Tim to his new role.”

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What more profs are doing with sabbaticals

Here’s a further list of Waterloo faculty members who are currently on sabbatical leave. The plans quoted are taken from documents submitted to the university’s board of governors, which has to approve all sabbaticals. All these leaves are for six months that began January 1, 2011.

Linda Warley, English language and literature: “I will be Visiting Professor in the Department of English at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. I will teach an undergraduate course on Canadian Multicultural Literature; I will consult with colleagues — both faculty and graduate students — about their research projects. I will also continue my own research on digital life writing and finish an article on Canadian graphic memoir and social class.”

Karen Collins, drama and speech communication: “The primary purpose of this sabbatical is to complete my next book, Sound, Interaction and Design, which is currently half-completed in draft form and has developed out of my CRC research to date. The book will be the first in the field of sonic interaction design, and will draw on my research experiments along with practical experience and teaching. It expands on ideas and problems that I raised relating to interactive audio in my book Game Sound (MIT Press, 2008). I expect this to be an important book that will define this new area of inquiry. This book is broader than just games, bringing in ideas from film theory, product design, musicology, interface design and branding.”

Catherine Dubeau, French studies: “I intend to work full time on my research project, Édition critique des Mélanges et des Nouveaux mélanges de Madame Necker, for which I have been granted a SSHRC SRG in 2010. The tasks will consist of annotation of the vol. 1 & 2, transcribing of manuscripts, variants, scanning of manuscripts and research travel (Quebec, France, Switzerland).”

David Fuller, management sciences: “During the proposed sabbatical, I plan to concentrate on finishing my part of a graduate textbook (co-authored with four others), revising and writing research papers, and catching up on the reading of research papers.”

Peter Carrington, sociology: “I will visit the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, to obtain and analyze the data for my research on criminal networks in Canada. This research is an original contribution to knowledge in this area, and will contribute to more effective crime prevention and rehabilitation programs.”


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Link of the day

World Press Freedom Day

When and where

Canada 3.0, “Canada’s premier digital media forum” May 2-4, Stratford campus. Details.

Volleyball Canada media conference to announce international matches being held in Waterloo this summer, 11:30, Physical Activities Complex room 2021.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar: Cecile Fradin, McMaster University, “Punching Holes into Membranes” 3:30,  Chemistry 2 room 361.

WatRISQ presents Lung Kwan Tsui, statistics and actuarial science, “A Multi-Factor Bottom-Up Model for Pricing Credit Derivatives” 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Co-op students return-to-campus interviews May 4-6, Tatham Centre; architecture, May 10, Cambridge campus.

International student orientation (graduate, undergraduate, exchange; spouses welcome) Wednesday 12:00 to 4:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 105, lunch provided. Details.

International spouses tour of Gustav Bakos Observatory, Wednesday 8:45 p.m., Physics building, families welcome. Details.

Catalyst Conference for young women interested in math and science, hosted by Women in Engineering, May 6-8. Details.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel UC, “A World of Colour” Saturday 8:00, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener. Details.

Employee Assistance Program sponsors UW Campus Walk, May 9 to June 5, individuals and teams welcome. Details.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses posted in Quest, May 10; appointments for continuing students, June 6-11; for first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Student team recruitment fair seeking newcomers for 10 student teams, May 10, 3:00 to 6:00, Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

Open class enrolment for spring term courses ends, May 13.

Victoria Day Monday, May 23, university closed.

[Original page and onscreen image]

The 'book2net' machine in the Dana Porter Library's special collections reading room "is an open-face scanner created to digitize text, images, and other materials for research and private study," says a feature in the library's e-newsletter. "It is exceptionally easy to use and captures materials in high-resolution and full-colour within seconds, making images available to save in JPEG format to a USB flash drive.

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