While you were camping: summer news review

200 jobs cut on campus

A loss of endowments combined with the province’s decision not to add any additional funds to the university’s operating budget led the University of Calgary’s president Dr. Harvey Weingarten to announce that up to 200 jobs would be cut in the fall.

Along with the job losses ­– which will mostly be to support staff positions ­– all faculties will be reducing their budgets by three per cent for the coming year.

Students’ Union president Charlotte Kingston expressed concern that the effects of the cost cutting will be dramatic. She noted the staff cuts, combined with the university’s strategy to increase enrollment to offset costs, would surely be detrimental to students and faculty alike.

The memo released by Weingarten suggested that more job losses may be necessary to reduce the $14.3 million deficit the university ran in 2008/09. Because of provincial legislation, universities are prohibited from running a deficit in their operating budget.

The zero per cent increase in this year’s provincial funding, combined with a $78 million loss in endowments and investments last year, led the university to cut wage costs, which make up 60 per cent of its operating budget.

Digital Library aims for fall 2010 completion

The most obvious construction work on campus has been the Campus Calgary Digital Library. With hopes of being open by fall 2010, the CCDL will offer workspaces for students, including an expanded learning commons to replace the Information Commons in the McKimmie Library, advanced audio/visual resources and both digital and printed resources for research material.

A joint federal-provincial funding announcement of $113 million made the CCDL possible. Additionally, the money will go towards a co-generation plant that will provide more efficient power to the campus, set to open in 2011.

Students rush to harness the sun’s power in house form

In a quest to win the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, four Calgary post-secondary schools teamed up to build an energy-efficient solar powered house that also has aesthetic appeal.

Students and faculty from the U of C, ACAD, SAIT, and Mount Royal College are working on the house. It must be completed by the end of September, so it can be disassembled and shipped to Washington, D.C., for the competition, which begins Oct. 8.

The SolAbode, as the house is called, is sponsored by ENMAX, which will get the house once the competition is over.

Hard rock goes to the country

More than 1,000 pieces were recovered of the meteorite that landed southeast of Lloydminster, Sask., in November, 2008. Dr. Alan Hildebrand, U of C associate professor and Canada Research Chair holder in Planetary Science, was the first to locate pieces, eventually collecting over 400 specimens.

The record-setting find has been an important tool in determining the size of the meteorite, as well as many of the characteristics of its origin.

Three alumni involved in space mission

Canadian astronaut and U of C alumnus Robert Thirsk is more than halfway through his Canadian record-setting 181 days in space. Playing the double role of medical officer and robotics specialist, Thirsk is researching the long-term effects of low gravity on himself and the other crew members.

Two other U of C alumni will also be playing important roles in the mission. Laura Lucier, a BSc grad from 1999, is the flight-controller and Dr. Doug Hamilton, who finished his PhD and MD in 1991, will act as the deputy flight surgeon.

Technology boosts safety on campus

An attempt to increase security on campus without a major rise in cost led the U of C to implement the Working Alone system.

The software, which all students can access through their myUofC main page, alerts Campus Security if the student or staff member does not logout by the time originally identified. Because the location one is working is required during the login, security can go to that area and check up on the person.

No Greens in next provincial election

After a shift of power in the leadership of the Green Party of Alberta last year, the new leadership failed to provide financial statements for 2008 to Elections Alberta.

Significant finger pointing took place by the new leadership, who alleged the outgoing members didn’t pass on the required information. The old leadership stated that they did, but that the information was mishandled by the new leadership.

Currently, the Alberta Greens’ website states that “de-registration of the party is an administrative opportunity to re-organize and rebuild the party into a viable political organization.”

Student cash buys library books

The Students’ Union donated nearly $85,000 to the university library this year on behalf of students. Full time students pay $5 a semester, while part time students contribute $3, which goes to buying books and software, and pays for staff during the exam time 24 hour operation. Over the 10 years the SU has levied the fee the library has received over $1.1 million.

Registration fee comes from nowhere, goes to tuition

An announcement that all students would have to pay a $200 registration fee by July 3 caught many students off guard this summer. To make up for the lack of communication provided, the university extended the deadline to July 17.

According to Enrollment and Registrar associate vice-provost David Johnston, the fee is a way to more accurately assess how many students will be attending in the fall, which will allow the university to plan for class sizes.

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