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Monday, November 5, 2012



  • Pension changes approved by Board...
  • well as a change to employee benefits
  • Something wicked this way comes next week
  • Fall Town Hall and other notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Here be Dragons: The founders of MappedIn, along with the other entrepreneurs who were pitching on the Dragons’ Den student special, opened the TSX on October 31st along with dragons Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton.

MappedIn, located in the VeloCity Garage, developed an interactive indoor navigation system. All five dragons wanted to invest in the University of Waterloo students’ company. Founders Hongwei Liu and Desmond Choi, previous VeloCity Venture Fund winners, decided to make a deal with Kevin O’Leary, Bruce Croxon and Jim Treliving. After due diligence, Liu and Choi decided not to partner with the three dragons, however they have decided to partner with Esri Canada, an established leader in mapping software.


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Pension changes approved by Board...

The Board of Governors have approved a number of recommendations that affect the university’s pension plan and benefit offerings.

“There are few issues that are more difficult than pensions,” said board chair Kevin Lynch. “And few that are more important. Almost every single entity in this country is going to have this conversation.”

The university’s Pension & Benefits Committee made the recommendations to the board at its meeting on Tuesday, October 30, following a series of public information sessions in June and consultation with employee stakeholder groups.

Among the amendments to the pension plan:

  • Effective January 1, 2013, employee contribution rates increase to 6.25% on earnings up to the year’s maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE), 8.95% on earnings between the YMPE and 2X the YMPE, 9.95% on earnings in excess of 2X the YMPE up to the earnings at which the maximum contribution under the Income Tax Act is reached;
  • Guaranteed indexing for the pension benefit accrued as of December 31, 2013 will remain at 100% of the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) (to a maximum increase in CPI of 5%); for the balance of your pension benefit (that is your pension benefit earned for all your pensionable service less the pension benefit accrued as of December 31, 2013), the guaranteed indexing will be calculated as 75% of the increase in CPI (to a maximum increase in CPI of 5%); and
  • Effective January 1, 2014, the current averaging period of 36 consecutive months for determining final average earnings will increase by one month at the end of each calendar month until it reaches an averaging period of 60 consecutive months as of December 31, 2015. However, for any member who has entered into an arrangement for a 2% salary increase in lieu of vacation entitlement, along with an irrevocable retirement date, the final average earnings calculation at his/her declared retirement date will remain at 36 consecutive months even if retirement is after January 1, 2014, provided a fully approved application form is received by Human Resources prior to December 21, 2012, with an effective date no later than January 1, 2013 and a declared retirement date no later than January 1, 2016. (Note: due to holiday closures, the last business day of the year is December 21, 2012. Forms need to be submitted to Human Resources prior to that date in order to be processed by the end of year.)
  • The cap on pension payable per year of service will increase from $3,200 to $3,300 as of January 1, 2014 and from $3,300 to $3,400 as of January 1, 2015.

“We know the plan has sustainability issues,” said Vice President Administration and Finance Dennis Huber, who presented the committee’s recommendations to the governors.  Huber noted that as recently as 2007-2008, the plan was in surplus, but as a result of the events of 2008 and 2009, which he referred to as “capital markets imploding” and “interest rates shrinking,” the plan has gone into a deficit of $170 million with assets of $967 million.

The increase in contributions by employees, the change to the guarantee for indexation, the extension of the averaging period from 36 to 60 months, and the increase in the cap on pension payable, taken together, are expected to reduce the funding shortfall by $24 million and lower the estimated period required to pay off the deficit to 14 years, from 20 plus years currently.

University of Waterloo Staff Association director Carlos Mendes delivered a statement on behalf of the UWSA to the governors that requested a delay in approving the proposed changes, citing concerns over the equitability of the impact on plan members. He noted that the UWSA supported both the increase in employee contribution rates and the change to the final average of earnings, but could not support the reduction to indexation and increase to the pension cap without more information about how equally the pension changes would be felt among plan members and whether or not other options, such as a fully indexed base pension, had been considered.

Dennis Huber noted that the pension consultation sessions had been open and public, with several hundred attendees at the summer sessions.

“Clearly, there are benefit reductions here,” said governor Karen Wilkinson, who sits on the committee as a Board of Governors representative. “Nobody is hiding that.” Wilkinson went on to highlight how the committee, whose membership includes faculty, staff, and CUPE representatives, should be commended for looking out for the best interests of the entire campus community in their work. “We’ll never get to equality, but a lot of time is spent around fairness. These recommendations are a fair balance.”

The governors discussed the trade-offs inherent in relying on changes to indexation as a solution rather than greatly increasing employee contribution rates in the short term, and after the question was called, passed the motion.

There is a great deal of supplementary material available to help plan members sort through the issue. The slide deck and video used during the pension information sessions are available online. The committee has developed some additional materials, including illustrated examples of the impact of the proposed changes and a FAQ document that answers common questions the committee has heard in the course of its consultations. In addition, the committee has posted a summary of its recommendations and communications to pension plan members since 2007.

Mendes noted that the UWSA had asked the committee to put out a tool to allow members to generate a report that would indicate how the changes would affect each pension holder.

Huber said that the online pension estimator available through myPENSIONinfo will be updated to reflect the changes, if approved by the Board.


Back to top well as a change to employee benefits

Also at the meeting, the governors approved a change to university employee benefits.

“One of the features of the Benefit Plans that has long been an issue for the university community and the Committee is the lack of coordination of benefits for couples where both individuals are employees or retirees of the university,” read the committee’s statement to the governors in support of the proposed change. “Under existing arrangements, only one member of a University Couple is enrolled in the Benefit Plans and his/her spouse is named as a dependent. Because of this, University Couples are not able to coordinate claims under the Benefit Plans.”

For example, if the plan covered one member of a couple for 80 per cent of a health claim, that member would not be able to submit a claim under his or her spouse’s insurance plan for the remaining 20 per cent. “This is not the case for couples where one spouse works at the university and the other works at another employer which permits the coordination of benefits,” the note from the committee explained.

The Pension and Benefits committee, through its own research into the issue, has found that the lack of internal coordination of benefits is “anomalous” and that this feature of the university’s benefit plan is a concern for both recruitment and retention of employees.

“When the issue arose this spring, the provost expressed strong support for changing this feature of the Benefit Plans,” reports the committee, “and has confirmed financial support through the operating budget if the change is approved by the Board of Governors.”

Several governors whose spouses work at the university declared a conflict of interest and did not vote on the motion.

This change to coordination of benefits takes effect November 1, 2012 for expenses incurred on or after that date. Over the next few weeks, Human Resources will be contacting individuals impacted by this change and will be producing information materials on how to take advantage of this new feature of the benefit plans.


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Something wicked this way comes next week

with material from a Department of Drama press release.

The University of Waterloo's Drama Department's production of Macbeth, Shakespeare's most popular tragedy, runs from Wednesday, November 14 to Saturday, November 17 in the Theatre of the Arts at 8:00 p.m.

"The uWaterloo production of Macbeth explores our fascination with violent culture," writes Janelle Rainville, production manager and publicist for the drama department, who notes that the production is being influenced by recent conflicts around the globe.

Director Lee Wilson "will examine the Scottish ballads and their fascination with the supernatural world and its rituals, that through spells, prayer, dance, music, and sacrifice are constantly being evoked in Shakespeare's play."

Andreea Hluscu as Macbeth.The director, along with Bill Chesney (set/props), Gill Lesperance (sound), Nina Okens (costumes) and Arun Srinivasan (lighting) "will be using the popularity of such shows as Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy to give this production a 17th-century feel with a strong modern resonance."

The show's cast includes Patrick Pinnell as Duncan, Ryan Bassett as Macduff, and in a bit of gender-blind casting, Andreea Hluscu (right) as Macbeth (Macbeth the character remaining male).

So screw your courage to the sticking-place and buy a ticket. General admission is $17, with students and seniors paying $13. The box office can be reached at 519-888-4908.

An alumni night performance is scheduled for Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m.


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Fall Town Hall and other notes

The president and provost are today inviting students, faculty, and staff to the next town hall meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, November 20, from 3:00 to 4:30, in the Humanities Theatre. Invitations should be going out by email to the campus community today.

The president, together with the provost and vice-presidents, will be delivering a report on the university's strategic planning activities, its internationalization agenda, and key campus updates and taking questions from the floor. Questions can still be emailed in advance, as well as during the meeting, to, and the conversation can be followed on Twitter by using the #uwth hashtag, with updates coming live from the event from the @uWaterlooLIVE account.

The meeting will be webcast for those who can't make it in person.

Registration for the annual WatITis conference for campus information technology
professionals is now open. The university's new Chief Information Officer Dave Wallace will be delivering this year's conference keynote, and sessions topics include accessible web graphics, the campus firewall project, digital signage and the web, the university's IT strategic plan, mobile development and technology, and virtual desktop infrastructure. The conference is open to all faculty, staff and students involved in information technology on campus. Registration is free, and capacity is limited. This year's conference is scheduled for Tuesday, December 4.

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Link of the day

Remember, remember...

When and where

Senate Executive Committee meeting, Monday November 5, 3:30 p.m., NH 3004.

School of Public Health and Health Systems presentation by Dr. Joanne Ho, “Drug Safety and the Older Patient: Lessons from a Bowel Preparation," Tuesday, November 6, 9:30 a.m., Lyle Hallman North, room 2703.

United Way "We've Got You Covered" coat sale, Tuesday, November 6, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Multipurpose Room. Cash only.

Water Institute Seminar featuring John B. Czarnecki, "Assessing groundwater sustainable yield in Arkansas," Tuesday, November 6, 12:30 p.m., DC 1304. Details.

Shanghai Chapter launch and networking reception, Wednesday, November 7. Details.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series hosting Prof. Frank Bright, Department of Chemistry, University of Buffalo, "Xerogel-Nanocrystallite Hybrids for Optical Sensing," Wednesday, November 7, 2:30 p.m., C2-361.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Hector Levesque, University of Toronto, "Two Thoughts on the Turing Test," Wednesday, November 7, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Department of Classical Studies presents Dr. Mildred Budny, Princeton University, "In a Knotshell: An Advanced Beginner's Guide to Deciphering the Art of Interlace in Medieval Media (And Beyond)," Wednesday, November 7, 5:00 p.m., EV3-3412.

Department of Chemical Engineering seminar featuring Babatunde A. Ugunnaike, William L. Friend Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering, Interim Dean, College of Engineering, "Computational and Process Systems Approaches to Resolving the TGF-β Paradox in Cancer," Thursday, November 8, 3:30 p.m., E6-2024.

Google Map Maker Event, Wednesday, November 7, 10:00 a.m. to Thursday, November 8, 4:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall. Details.

Department of English Language and Literature lecture featuring Elizabeth Harvey, University of Toronto, “Shakespeare's Spirit World,” Thursday, November 8, 4:00 p.m., HH 373.

Knowledge Integration Seminar featuring Michael O'Rourke, Michigan State University, "One Reason Why Knowledge Integration Is So Hard," Friday, November 9, 2:30 p.m., EV3 1408. Details.

Department of Philosophy Colloquium (co-hosted with Women’s Studies) featuring Alice MacLachlan, York University, “ Gendering the Public Apology,” Friday, November 9, 3:30 p.m. in HH 373.

8th Annual UWSA Shopping Weekend to Erie Pennsylvania, Friday, November 9 to Sunday, November 11. Details.

Annual Hong Kong Alumni Networking Dinner, Saturday, November 10, 6:00 p.m. Details.

My World Abroad (Formerly The Big Guide to Working and Living Overseas), Monday, November 12, 11:00 a.m., LIB 329. Details.

International Education Week, November 12 to 16.

International Experience, Advising and Support Team of Student Success Office presents Guðmundur Kristján Jónsson, "Iceland: Alive and Addictive," Tuesday, November 13, 12:00 p.m., NH1116.

GIS Day 2012, Wednesday, November 14, 12:00 p.m., EV1 221. Details.

University flu clinics, November 14 to 16, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., SLC Multipurpose Room.

UW Retirees Association Fall Luncheon Thursday, November 15, 11:30 a.m. (cash bar), 12:00 (lunch), tickets $27; presentation by Chris Redmond on "Writing at Waterloo: Memorable Moments from my Career as a Communicator." Call 519-888-0334 for information.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Jennifer Chayes, Microsoft, "The Power of Locality for Network Algorithms," Thursday, November 15, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

2012 Stanley Knowles Lecture featuring The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, "Indigenous Peoples and the Search for Human Security," Thursday, November 15, 7:30 p.m., Hagey Hall of the Humanities. Details.

International Experience, Advising and Support Team of Student Success Office presents Shuningbo Ye, "A taste of China: an ancient civilization poised for the future," Friday, November 16, 12:00 p.m., NH1116.

Town Hall Meeting, Tuesday, November 20, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Retirement Celebration for Carol Smith after 33 years of service at the University of Waterloo and 32 of those years in the Management Sciences department, Wednesday, November 21, 3:30 p.m., University Club. Please RSVP to Bev Rodgers, ext. 38814 or

Department of English Language and Literature lecture featuring Jacob Zimmer, Small Wooden Shoe Theatre Company, "Locality, Laughter, Theatre," Thursday, November 22, 6:00 p.m. HH 180. Co-sponsored by the Department of Drama.

2012 Hagey Lecture featuring Dr. Paul Collier, University of Oxford, "Will Africa's resource scramble lead to development or disaster?" Thursday, November 22, 8:00 p.m. Humanities Theatre, Hagey Hall.

Student Colloquium: a discussion of governance and development, Friday, November 23, 10:00 a.m., HH 373.

PhD Oral Defences

Chemistry. Fatemeh Mirnaghi, "High-Throughput Analysis of Biological Fluids Using 96-Blade (Thin-Film) Solid Phase Microextraction System." Supervisor, Janusz Pawliszyn. On deposit in the Faculty of Science Graduate Office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Friday, November 16, 10:00 a.m., C2 361.

Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. Elmer Gavis, "Single-Phase and Boiling Flow in Microchannels with High Heat Flux." Supervisor, Rick Culham. On deposit in the Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, November 16, 1:30 p.m., E5 3052.

Electrical and Computer Engineering. Mohamed Amin, "Design of a Time Based Analog to Digital Converter." Supervisor, Bosco Leung. On deposit in the Faculty of Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, November 20, 9:00 a.m., MC 2009.

School of Public Health and Health Systems. Irene Lambraki, "Identity, Psychological Safety and Social Capital: A Mixed Methods Examination of Their Influence on Knowledge Use in the Context of LEARN Communities of Practice." Supervisor, Stephen Manske. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, November 20, 1:30 p.m., BMH 3119.


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