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Gauntlet News: summer 2005 ...stuff you missed the first time

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May 12, 2005

Faculty Flunks Weingarten

The University of Calgary Faculty Association slammed U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten's performance as part of a two-year review process in May. Weingarten earned a grade point average of 1.54, or C-, according to the survey results.

TUCFA criticized Weingarten on a number of issues including his effectiveness in responding to the concerns of academic staff and students, his relationship to the teaching environment, and his effectiveness regarding financial matters of the university. Of the 1,957 surveys distributed to faculty members, only 314 were returned.

"We have a lot of concerns regarding that survey and it's validity," said U of C Vice-President External Relations Roman Cooney. Weingarten refused to publicly respond to the survey results because that would falsely legitimize the survey, said Cooney.

Anton Colijn, TUCFA President, acknowledged the deficiencies in the survey's methodology, but defended the overall conclusions.

"We don't make a claim that it is a statistically valid sampling or scientifically administered," said Colijn. "What I have seen of the numeric results, these correspond pretty closely to feedback I've received from members. Morale is pretty low."

June 2, 2005

U of C goes greener

The U of C struck a $38 million deal with Direct Energy Business Services, hoping to make campus that much greener.

The evolve project, announced in April, is a joint venture between the university and Direct Energy, aiming to meet some of the U of C's sustainability goals through energy-saving techniques. Plans include the installation of screens monitoring the energy consumption of specific buildings and highlighting new efficiencies. A portion of the Direct Energy money will also go to student scholarships and energy education and research.

"We will be renovating many buildings to reduce consumption," said Peter Dixon, Vice-President of Direct Energy, noting plans include the installation of LED lighting, upgrades to present mechanical equipment and an analysis of the university's central heating plant.

Currently, the U of C's energy costs exceed $17 million annually. Dixon said the U of C could save $30 million in energy costs over the seven-year project.

June 9, 2005

No more Budget Cuts

U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten announced planned budget cuts for each of the next three years will not be necessary thanks to government increases to the university's base operating grant.

"When we were looking at our budgets two years ago and last year, our best sense was that unless something happened in terms of government funding, this university and, in fact, every other post-secondary in the province was looking at somewhere in the order of three to five per cent budget cuts each year simply to pay the bills," said Weingarten during his annual speech to faculty, staff and students, Thu., Jun. 12. "These anticipated cuts will simply not have to happen."

U of C administration faced opposition from across campus when it announced the cuts in October, 2004. The plan called on all departments to reallocate five per cent of their budgets into a reallocation pool. Of the five per cent, three was allotted to pay down the U of C's budget deficit, with the remainder slated to fund priority areas.

At the Jun. 12 announcement, Weingarten stressed his commitment to continue with the reallocation to certain areas.

"It is a cut for some and not a cut for others," said U of C Faculty Association President Anton Colijn.

June 16, 2005

Alberta to rewrite PSE

Against calls for an independent commis-sion to review Alberta post-secondary education, the provincial government launched a comprehensive review of the system.

The review, called A Learning Alberta: Framing the Challenge, will be conducted by three Conservative MLAs and 14 prominent Albertans, including U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten.

"If you look at the composition of the steering committee, these are all old-time friends and advisors of the Conservative government," said Calgary-Currie MLA and Liberal Advanced Education Critic Dave Taylor. "It looks like a lot of advanced work will be done behind closed doors. There needs to be involvement from students. There needs to be involvement from student leaders, from faculty, from parents."

Advanced Education Minister Dave Hancock refuted claims the review is being done at the expense of stakeholder input.

"It's hardly internal," said Hancock, noting student groups, faculty associations and parents will all be consulted during the project's discussion phases. "I promised we would involve the stakeholder community in a complete review of the system."

Results from the commission will be presented at a Minister's Forum Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 in Edmonton.

June 16, 2005

Weingarten speaks

The Gauntlet had a rare chance to sit down with U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten and ask him about the accusations of his critics and the future of the U of C.

Highlights of the conversation included a pledge from Weingarten to make himself more accessible to students on a regular basis.

"What I will do for organizing, starting in September, is be sure that on a regular basis, I reserve time for people simply to come," said Weingarten, noting in his previous experience student turn-out was low for brown-bag lunch discussions. "But I'm going to do this, I'm going to reserve it for students, and we'll see how it goes."

The full text of the Weingarten interview has been republished on page 20 of this section.

July 21, 2005

$50 million donated to Engineering

In the largest single donation in U of C history, Ontario philanthropist Seymore Schulich gave $25 million to the Faculty of Engineering. The donation was matched by the Alberta government's Access to the Future Fund.

"I hope we bring a lot of other guys into doing this," said Schulich. "In Canada, per capita giving is about half of what it is in the States."

Schulich said an engineering school was a natural choice for his third major donation and the U of C was chosen, in part, because of his company's work in Calgary and Alberta.

Besides funding three new research chairs in the renamed Schulich School of Engineering, the money will also fund 102 scholarships as well as field trips, job placements and course material improvements.

"I can't even imagine the changes that are going to come from this," said Engineering Students' Society President Mark Skovmose. "It's going to be amazing."

July 21, 2005

Solar Challenge wraps up at U of C

Thousands turned up to cheer the U of C's Soleon team as the North American Solar Challenge wrapped up in front of the Olympic Oval Wed., Jul. 28.

The U of C team finished 13 out of 18 teams, and received a thunderous reception as team members accompanied the car across the finish line at a fast run.

"It's unbelievable, the crowd coming in," said Rashaad Sader, U of C Solar Team manager. "I'm still a little bit shaky actually, it's just really cool to have the support of the university and the city, so we're pretty excited."

The U of C team spent nine months and used a quarter of the budget of the leading teams. Other teams had up to two years to plan, construct, test and prepare their vehicles for the 4,000 km trek from Austin, Texas.

"To be given the honour to bring the car in for everybody at home here is just spectacular," said driver Kyle Rebryna, who was given the traditional Gatorade shower by his teammates as he leapt from Soleon.

The Gauntlet sent writer/photographer Chris Tait along with the Soleon team. Check out his coverage on pages 10-11 of Section A.

August 4, 2005

AUPE to push Chartwells boycott

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is pushing ahead with a boycott of Chartwells food outlets on the U of C campus. AUPE Local 52 represents U of C support staff, including nearly 300 Food Services workers who lost their positions when Chartwells took over the operation of Food Services in May.

"We're still boycotting," said AUPE Local 52 Chair Shirley Maki. "A lot of staff and certainly the Faculty Association have been supporting us in this boycott."

Chartwells operates food outlets in a number of Canadian community colleges and universities, including Concordia University and Olds College, however the boycott is a first for the company.

A spokesperson for Chartwells wouldn't comment on how many Food Services workers had been rehired by the company.

"We hired many staff on May 1," she said. "When they applied we didn't ask where they worked before because we wanted to hire the best people for the job."

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