Thursday, December 7, 2023

Leaders talk dollars and sense at operating budget town hall

Vivek Goel and Jim Rush at the town hall.

President Vivek Goel and Provost James Rush speak at the Operating Budget Town Hall.

The Operating Budget Town Hall meeting was held on Tuesday, November 29 in the Board and Senate room in Needles Hall, with more than 1,200 attendees tuning in via Microsoft Teams.

Delivering updates and sharing their thoughts were James Rush, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, and Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor. Nick Manning, Associate Vice-President, Communications, served as host and provided moderation for the Q&A session.

Provost Rush started things off with a presentation outlining the current operating budget and some of the financial pressures that have resulted in the projected $15M deficit for this year. Systemic factors including tuition fee caps, erosion of government funding, as well as inflation and market volatility, are a few ongoing challenges that the University has been navigating over the last five years.

Dr. Rush also highlighted the work of the Blue-Ribbon Panel on Financial Sustainability in the Post-Secondary Education Sector, including its recommendations of a multi-year tuition framework to replace the current freeze in tuition; a one-time 5 per cent tuition increase followed by subsequent year increases set to the maximum of 2 per cent or Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is greater; and a 10 per cent increase in per-student funding (WGU value), followed by subsequent increases set to the maximum of 2 per cent or CPI. Dr. Rush noted that the government’s initial response to the Blue-Ribbon panel stressed the need for institutions to find greater efficiencies in their operations as the government considers its next steps.

The provost also shared some scenarios to illustrate the potential financial outcomes for the University if Blue-Ribbon panel recommendations are implemented along with institutional budget reductions.

“The situation that’s projected is dire but we’re not falling off a cliff tomorrow,” president Goel said in follow-up comments after the provost’s presentation. “So, we want to get this information out there because this is something that we want to work on collectively,” he continued.

There was a robust Question & Answer period following the provost’s and president’s remarks, with questions selected from those provided at registration, questions from the floor in NH 3407, and questions asked in the livestream chat.

A question that was top of mind, both in the questions submitted in advance and those asked in the live chat, was about the prospect of layoffs given the financial picture presented by the president and provost. President Goel noted that the University would be considering efficiency measures, and other ways Waterloo can control costs and increase the revenue stream, but “things like program closures and layoffs would have to be a last resort, if we were to get two or three years out without government grant or tuition increases, or if we’ve exhausted efficiency efforts,” president Goel said.

Other questions asked during the Q&A included topics such as how budget cuts would be carried out equitably across campus, whether the employee pension plan was at risk (the short answer is no: pension funds are in separate trust accounts and have different governing regulations than the University’s budget), the continued impact on international students, finding efficiencies, new residence construction, and others that are posted on the Provost Office website.

Another question was asked about how the fiscal environment would impact the next round of salary negotiations, in light of the fact that the current salary agreements for faculty and staff are nearing their expiration dates. Provost Rush said that the salary negotiation process is well-defined and driven by many factors, some of which include competitor salaries, inflation, and affordability. He affirmed that the University would work with its partners at the negotiating table, as salary decisions are not independently decided by the University: “There will be nothing changed in the process and there will be a collegial exchange, based on what’s right for the organization at the time.”  

Watch the town hall video recording on Provost Office website.

Employees mark years of service at special event

Employees listen to a speaker at Fed Hall during the years of service event. Balloons indicate what anniversary year is being celebrated at what table.

The vibe was festive and reflective on Tuesday, November 28 as more than 231 people gathered at Federation Hall to celebrate employment milestones. Attendees were a mix of honourees and their managers who were there to celebrate and support their direct reports.

Chief Human Resources Officer Michelle Hollis spoke at the event, referencing bits of historical trivia and pop culture events for each milestone year being celebrated, from 1978 to 2018. Employees were recognized for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and even 45 years of service.

Special photo areas were set up for attendees to have their pictures taken, including a branded photobooth where people could get a hard copy printout of their photo to take home with them.

If you'd like to have your voice heard about what the University is doing, or should be doing, to make it the kind of place you'd want to work at for decades, you can fill out the Employee Engagement Survey, which began hitting staff and faculty inboxes in mid-November, sent from KF Surveys Canada. All individual responses will be strictly confidential and only aggregated results will be provided back to the University. If you would like to learn more, please visit the Employee Engagement Survey website and contact if you have questions about the survey.

The survey closes on Friday, December 8.

Celebrating 50 years of Kinesiology Lab Days

High school students engage with Kinesiology volunteers at the Lab Days event.

By Jenna Braun. This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in Waterloo News.

When the registration period opens for Kinesiology Lab Days, dates sell nearly as quickly as Taylor Swift concert tickets. 

Within just a couple of minutes this year, all the available spots were full for Ontario high schools to sign up students to attend the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences’ (KHS) live labs for an interactive experience in university-level education. 

Approximately 1,700 grade 11 and 12 students from 54 high schools with an interest in science, physical education and kinesiology, are taking part in Kin Lab Days this year. Participants travel from regions across the province to attend, including Windsor, Oshawa, Peterborough and the Greater Toronto Area, in addition to local schools. 

“This year is special because it will be more of a celebration with some extra swag and prizes, and we have a new lab we didn’t offer in previous years,” says Rob Hicks, operating manager and a Kin Lab Days organizer. “We want to show how multidisciplinary kinesiology is and to offer a hands-on learning experience where complex concepts are taught in a way that’s easy to understand.” 

From examining real human brain specimens to controlling a car with muscle activity, all labs are led by current KHS undergraduate and graduate students. 

“It’s a great opportunity both for the high school students and for our students who get to experience teaching and leadership,” said Hicks. “I’ve been participating since around 2013 and it’s a very fun environment.” 

Students explore human musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, neuroscience, injury prevention, biology, chemistry, sensory inputs and more. 

Read the rest of the article on Waterloo News.

Geography professor receives Massey Medal

 Chief Perry Bellegarde, S.O.M. Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ellsworth LeDrew, and the Hon. Lois Mitchell, C.M. A.O.E, President of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Left to right: Chief Perry Bellegarde, S.O.M., Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Ellsworth LeDrew, and the Hon. Lois Mitchell, C.M. A.O.E, President of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Dr. Ellsworth LeDrew, professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, has been awarded the Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Massey Medal.

"Geographer Dr. Ellsworth LeDrew has pioneered new uses for remote sensing data, allowing us to better understand how key climate processes work," the award citation reads. "Over four decades of research, Dr. LeDrew has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and more than 256 conference proceedings."

"Among many roles, he served with the Canadian Remote Sensing Society as both President and Vice-President, founded the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network and the Polar Data Catalogue, and is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo, where he taught and researched since 1977. The insights that Dr. LeDrew has brought to his field are matched by his qualities as a leader and a mentor to both his students and peers."

Dr. LeDrew received the award at a ceremony held on November 15 at the headquarters of the RCGS in Ottawa, which was followed by the annual Geographica Dinner at the Canadian War Museum.

Upcoming office closures

The Office of Indigenous Relations will be closed for the week of December 4 (December 4 to December 8) for construction being done in the office. All staff will be working remotely and are available by email.

The Arts Undergraduate Office will be closed for an event from 12 noon to 2:00 p.m. on Friday, December 8.

The Writing and Communication Centre offices and The Write Spot will be closed on Friday, December 8 due to office painting. Staff are working remotely and will be available by email. Additional in-person drop-ins will be available in Dana Porter Library from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. that day.

All Campus Wellness locations will be closed all day Monday, December 11, due to a Staff Education Day. Locations will reopen Tuesday, December 12.

Link of the day

Norman Lear, the King of Sitcoms, dead at 101

When and Where 

Warriors Game Day Tickets: Season Passes, Black and Gold Alumni Passes and Single Game Tickets now available for the 2023-24 varsity season. Purchase your tickets today!

Waterloo Warriors Youth Camps. Winter, March Break and PD Day camps available for boys and girls ages 5-18. Baseball, Basketball, Football and Multi-Sport and Games camps available. Register today!

The Student Health Pharmacy (located in the lower level of the Student Life Centre) is offering flu shots with no appointments needed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 519-746-4500 or extension 33784 for more info. COVID shots will be available beginning October 23. You can register online at

Pre-examination study days, Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7.

Live from COP28: Virtual check-ins with climate experts Angela Carter and Chuks Okereke, Wednesday December 6 and Thursday December 7, 9:30 a.m. Registration required to receive Zoom link.

Workshop: History and Culture Through Traditional Games, Thursday, December 7, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon.

WaterTalk: What’s public about public water? presented by Dr. David McDonald, Thursday, December 7, 11:00 a.m., DC 1302. Lunch reception to follow in DC 1301.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence SVPRO Booth, Thursday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Student Life Centre main atrium.

Engineering and SVPRO present Active Bystander Intervention Training | Engineering Wellness Program, Thursday, December 7, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Engineering 7 (exact location provided upon registration).

Gingerbread Decorating, Thursday, December 7, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Warriors Figure Skating End-of-Term Showcase, Thursday, December 7, 7:00 p.m., Columbia Icefield Rink.

Employee Engagement Survey deadline, Friday, December 8.

Final examination period, Friday, December 8 to Thursday, December 21.

Retirement Open House for Scott Nicoll, Friday, December 8, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., SLC Black & Gold room. RSVP by Friday, November 24 to Amy Bender,

UWAG closing reception: José Luis Torres | Sharl G. Smith, Saturday, December 9, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., University of Waterloo Art Gallery. Refreshments will be served and admission is free.

Staff Salary Discussions Town Hall Meeting, Monday, December 11, 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m., AL 116 and online.

What is GBA+ Anyways? (Virtual), Monday, December 11, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Zoom. Please register to receive the Zoom link to participate.

GRADnavigate Workshop Series, "Demystifying Comprehensive and Qualifying Exams," Tuesday, December 12, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., Zoom. Please register on Portal.

Chemistry Seminar: "Exploring new synthesis pathways to optical and magnetic lanthanide-based nanoparticles," presented by Dr. Eva Hemmer, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Ottawa, Tuesday, December 12, 2:30 p.m., C2-361 Reading Room.

 Retirement celebration for Laurie Hanley, Tuesday, December 12, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Grad House upstairs lounge.

TQT Quantum Opportunities and Showcase 2023, Thursday, December 14, 12 noon to 3:30 p.m., RAC 2.

Keeping Well at Work Lunchtime Jam: Bringing People Together Through Music, Thursday, December 14, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., United College UTD 118.

Upcoming Quest scheduled maintenance, Saturday, December 16, 4:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and Sunday, December 17 , 6:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Quest will be down and unavailable during this maintenance window.

Holiday lunch buffet, Monday, December 18, Tuesday, December 19, Thursday, December 21 and Friday, December 22, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Federation Hall. Book today by calling 519-888-4700 or emailing your request to

ICES Data Information Webinar, Tuesday, December 19, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., online via Microsoft Teams. Open to faculty members, postdocs, students and staff. Contact Grace Gomashie or register to receive the event link.

Fall co-operative work term ends, Friday, December 22.

University holiday closure, Saturday December 23 to Monday, January 1, 2024. Regular operations resume Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

When and Where to get support 

Check out the support listings for faculty, staff and students.