Campus Life – Highlights

New convocation table graces stage at fall convocation
Students who graduated in the fall of 2003 may have noticed that there was a new convocation table on stage. The table is the result of a generous donation made by Lt.-Gov. Edward Roberts, former chair of the university's Board of Regents, and now Visitor to the University. The table is designed to hold the university's mace and incorporates themes drawn from the marine environment. The inspiration for the table's design is the traditional fish splitting table. For this reason, it comes with crossed supporting legs and a stylized notch on one side. The name and motto of the university are carved into the table's edges and the inlaid blond wood suggests the notch of a splitting table. The table also features Memorial's coat of arms and a pair of cod heads, reflecting both the university and the province’s maritime heritage. Dr. Ian Stewart, an outstanding designer and carver, was commissioned to design the table. He and Michael Paterson of Paterson Woodworking in Upper Amherst Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, converted the design into the marvelous table that now graces the stage.

Volunteer incentive program
Memorial University launched a new program designed to encourage and recognize student volunteerism. The Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) offers three successive levels of achievement: bronze, silver and gold. In addition to volunteer work, program participants at each level partake in activities that will enhance their career development, self-awareness and leadership abilities. The program is designed to help students realize their leadership potential and aid them in personal and professional development.

Youth leadership developed through horizons
Horizons, a youth leadership development program, was expanded this past year to include 50 students representing high schools from across Newfoundland and Labrador. These students will join other award winners and participate in leadership development activities, such as Leader Forum, this upcoming year. The Horizon program is funded through a scholarship contribution from the Fry Family Foundation. Memorial University, through the division of Student Affairs and Services, invests in developing student leaders who are on the ‘horizon’ and provides career development programs and leadership opportunities during students' first two years on campus.

STEP program takes off
A partnership between a local high-school and the Department of Career Development and Experiential Learning led to the development of an on-campus experiential learning program for high achieving high-school students participating in the Student Transition to Educational Program (STEP). Twelve students got the chance to experience courses at Memorial first-hand and receive academic credit. The students were also able to avail of an experiential learning dimension by working in unpaid placements on campus. This initiative is part of a proactive approach to career development. Program partners included: the Centre for International Business Studies, Department of Chemistry, Discipline of Genetics, Medical School laboratories, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Academic Advising Centre and the Registrar’s Office.

Stimulating summer camp
For four weeks in July 2004, some of the country’s top high school students were at Memorial learning about the province and participating in the Shad Valley program. The internationally-acclaimed Shad Valley program incorporates entrepreneurship with engineering, information and communication technologies, mathematics, science and other disciplines that may be unique to a particular campus. Over the past 24 years, the program has proven to be a life-changing experience for senior high school students interested in pushing their intellectual and creative capacity to the limit. Shad Memorial is co-ordinated by the P.J. Gardiner Institute for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Business Administration.

Educational experience
Forty students pursuing their B.Ed. (secondary) this past year in the Faculty of Education were afforded a new and unique way to earn credits towards their degree. They participated in post-internship field placement courses which placed them in many communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, largely rural and remote, for a six-week educational experience that involved integrating educational theory with practice. A partnership with the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association’s (NLTA) Virtual Teachers Centre (VTC) enabled students and instructors to share their experiences in an online learning community.

Turning on to Japanese
Ted Bonnah, an instructor with Lifelong Learning, has been helping students in his introductory conversational Japanese course learn a new language and get a taste of Japan’s culture. Students share “honourable” rice cakes and tea during class time, have Japanese music playing in the background and share the odd weekend get-together cooking Japanese cuisine.

New services from the department of Human Resources:

Encouraging active living: preferred pate program at MURC

The Preferred Rate Program (PRP) was launched in early 2004. It is designed to encourage employees and retirees of Memorial University to make greater use of the university's recreational facilities. Under this program, the university will contribute 50 per cent of the cost of a program membership at the Memorial University Recreation Complex (MURC), up to a maximum of $10 per pay period. In Corner Brook, employees at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College do not have on-site access to comparable facilities. The university will, therefore, partner with two local facilities in close proximity to the Grenfell campus – the Forever Young Fitness Centre and the YMCA – to provide similar services on the same terms as in St. John's. The PRP is being implemented as a 12 month pilot program from March 2004 until February 2005. It will be evaluated near its conclusion to determine whether it will be continued into 2005-06.

Update on wellness and active living

In February of 2002, the Department of Human Resources at Memorial University began a review of the university's needs and priorities in the area of employee wellness and active living. The primary reason for this review was to explore how the university could play a role in encouraging healthier and more active lifestyles for employees and promote a stronger institutional culture around personal wellness. In June of 2002, a working group was established to examine these issues and develop a long-term approach to wellness and active living at Memorial. In the year that has past since the working group began, a pilot program of specific activities has been approved by the university's senior administration to promote employee wellness. These activities include: preferred rates for employees and retirees at MURC, university-wide flex time policy, contractual appointment of a work life programs nurse, annual health fair, Wellness and Active Living Advisory Committee, and personal health risk assessment tools including questionnaires and interactive tools.

Indexing introduced for pensioners

The Memorial University Pensions Act was amended on July 1, 2004, to provide for the annual indexation of pension benefits payable from the Memorial University Pension Plan. This change, first approved by the  Board of Regents in October 2002, arose from one of several recommendations relative to the pension plan that were brought forth in the July 2002 Report of the Board of Regents' Ad Hoc Pensions Committee.

The amount of the indexing benefit is calculated as 60 precent of the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), as measured by Statistics Canada, to a maximum pension increase of 1.2 percent annually. Indexing adjustments will occur in July of each year and will apply only to the benefits of retirees and survivor beneficiaries who have reached the age of 65, on or before July 1 of that year. If the cost of living, as reflected by the CPI, decreases in any particular year, pension amounts will remain the same – they will not decrease.

Revised work--flex program 

Implemented in June 2004, revisions to the Work-Flex Program involve incorporating different "flex-time" options, and formalizing informal practices that were already in place in many areas of the university. The revisions are mainly related to the goals of the Wellness and Active Living strategy of promoting, facilitating and supporting healthier and more active lifestyles. As such, the university has committed to implementing a University-wide flex-time policy to better accommodate personal scheduling requirements. More specifically, these changes are designed to facilitate easier use of the university's recreation facilities or participation in other wellness-related activities during the day, and to assist with the management of work-life balance needs generally.  Available flex-time options include: reduced hours of work, short-term lateral position exchange, revised daily work schedule, reduced lunch break and compressed work hours.

Employee orientation process

Implemented in 2003, the Employee Orientation Process is designed to make the transition to Memorial University as smooth and positive as possible, and to ensure new employees are fully informed about their new job and workplace. The program also serves as a means of ensuring as good a fit as possible in the longer term. The orientation process applies to new, non-academic employees with contracts of six months or more in duration. The Program requires a coordinated effort between the Department of Human Resources (to provide university-wide orientation) and the individual departments (to provide departmental and job-specific orientation). The job specific orientation is conducted at the departmental level at the time the new employee commences his/her employment with Memorial University, or at the time an employee is seconded or temporarily assigned to the department from elsewhere in the university. The overview orientation sessions are hosted by the Department of Human Resources three times per year in September, January and May.

Exit interview process

Implemented in 2003, the Exit Interview Process provides a means by which the university may identify workplace, organizational or human resources factors that may have contributed to an employee's decision to leave employment at Memorial or from a given department or faculty. Any trends requiring attention, or any opportunities for improving the university's ability to respond to employee issues and to retain key people, will be identified through the process. Employees of Memorial University, both academic and non-academic, who have been employed for at least 12 consecutive calendar months are requested to participate in an exit interview if their employment ends without right of recall or if they voluntarily resign or retire.

Highlights from the Registrar's Office

Implementation of new module of BANNER for scholarships processing

Bringing into BANNER the data and processes from the former stand-alone database of scholarship donors, funds and recipients maintained by the Scholarship Office of Student Affairs and Services has been a significant addition to the system. The benefits include more timely availability of funds to students, greater efficiency and campus-wide access to scholarships data, higher data accuracy and integrity and better reporting, both standard and ad hoc.

Implementation of full-suite of online services for MI students, faculty and staff through BANNER

While students at the main St. John's campus and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College have been enjoying a full suite of online services including access to academic records, registration, exam schedules, requests for transcripts, application for admission, access to final grades, etc. students at the Marine Institute were still using a manual system for these services. Integrating MI students into BANNER means that students now have access to state-of-the-art student systems. Banner integration also means that consolidated enrollment reporting can be done for the first time since the Marine Institute became part of the university.

Implementation of new standard for dean's/director's/principal's list criteria

Late in 1999 deans and directors tasked former Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Evan Simpson, with reviewing and analyzing the university's criteria for nomination to dean's/director's /principal's list. At the time, there was a huge variability in criteria from one unit to the next, no standards for nomination time frames and the criteria were not published in a form accessible to students. Dr. Simpson formed an ad hoc committee which developed a uniform set of criteria. After much deliberation, senate adopted a policy whereby units could name up to a maximum of 10 percent of their full-time student body to the dean's/director's/principal's list, all units would follow the same nomination period, and the new criteria would be published in the university calendar.

Enhancement of web-based application for admission

In the spirit of keeping our systems the best they can be for our students, Memorial implemented the first in a series of online faculty/school applications for admissions. The application for the School of Music was integrated into the university's web application for general admission. All application data were transferred to the school electronically, thereby improving turnaround with preparation of audition schedule, creation of student files in the school and easier manipulation of applicant data through the various stages of the application cycle.

Interdisciplinary group works on conversion of applicants to registrants

Former Vice-President (Academic), Dr. Evan Simpson formed a working group to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive effort was made in converting as many applicants to registrants as possible. This involved identifying and consolidating the current communication plans used by the Academic Advising Centre, Admissions office, Registration, Recruitment, Housing, Scholarships office, International Student Advisors office, and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, as well as developing and introducing new communication initiatives. One of the initiatives involved current students contacting applicants to talk about life at Memorial and encouraging applicants to enroll. Another initiative of the group was the creation of a data model to project enrollment on the basis of yield rates taken over a period of years for Newfoundland and Labrador new applicants, college university transfer year applicants, out of province applicants, international applicants and applicants for re-admission.