Your Official University of Regina blog (YOURblog)

How should we face funding challenges?

4:08 pm - April 17, 2014

Joe Piwowar
Chair, Strategic Planning Facilitation Team

You have told us that graduate programs and research are important. Funding them is a challenge. Let’s assume that there is no more room for cuts in the university budget and there is no additional government funding.  What do we do?

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Research project focuses on rural agricultural vulnerability

10:23 am - April 17, 2014

Dr. David Sauchyn, Geography

Dr. David Sauchyn, Department of Geography, University of Regina. Photo credit:
U of R Photography Department

Submitted by: Natalie Tomczak
Communications Strategist
External Relations

Dr. David Sauchyn, a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Regina, and a larger international team, are working to help rural communities sustain their livelihood by being less vulnerable to damage caused by extreme weather events.

This work is part of a project called VACEA – Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Extremes in the Americas. Sauchyn, who has been a faculty member at the University since 1983 and is a senior research scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC), is a co-director of the VACEA project.

VACEA is a five-year multi-disciplinary comparative study of adaptation to climate change in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia and the Canadian plains, explains Sauchyn. The study aims to advance scientific understanding of extreme weather events and help to determine the impacts of these events on agricultural productivity and indigenous populations.

“We are working with rural communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and South America to help them deal with flooding, drought and storms as these events seem to be happening more often and with greater intensity,” says Sauchyn.

The project focuses on the vulnerability of rural agricultural and indigenous communities to shifts in climate variability and to the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events.
The $2.5 million research project also includes engaging governance institutions in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia in enhancing their adaptive capacity to reduce rural community vulnerability.

The project is shared among its many partners and is funded by the International Development Research Centre, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

For more information about VACEA, visit


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Should the U of R become a primarily undergraduate institution?

1:09 pm - April 14, 2014

Joe Piwowar
Chair, Strategic Planning Facilitation Team

The Facilitation Team has heard that the U of R should focus its academic efforts on undergraduate teaching and become a primarily undergraduate institution. What would this mean for your Faculty?

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Strategic planning: Join the debate

1:04 pm - April 14, 2014

Submitted by: Joe Piwowar
Chair, Strategic Planning Facilitation Team

The University of Regina has embarked on the planning and consultation process for its next five-year strategic plan, to be released in fall 2014. Plan development is being guided by a 14 member Facilitation Team that has dedicated itself to pursuing an open consultation process in order to listen to as many perspectives about the future of this institution as possible. More details on the planning process are available at

The Facilitation Team will be using YOURblog to engage the university community in an online discussion about key issues that have been suggested to us. Your comments and thoughts about these issues will play an important role in the formation of the new strategic plan.

Thank you, in advance, for your participation.

Joe Piwowar
Chair, Strategic Planning Facilitation Team

You can view the first discussion question here:

To read all of the strategic planning process posts on this website visit:

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Pink Brain, Blue Brain

10:40 am - April 11, 2014

Dena - April 11
Submitted by: Dena McMartin
Associate Vice-President (Academic and Research)
Professor, Environmental Systems Engineering

Lise Eliot, a neuroscientist, literally wrote the book which highlights the fact that the science surrounding differences between hard wiring in girls’ brains and boys’ brains is seriously lacking. In fact, she notes that there is “…surprisingly little solid evidence of sex differences in children’s brains”.

Dr. Eliot’s research goes on to provide insight to the two key differences that are often observed between “pink brain” and “blue brain”. One – boys’ brains are 8-11% bigger than girls’. Yes, she says, that’s true. Boys tend to be physically larger than girls, too – by about 8-11%. Thus, the size of the brain mimics the size of the person. Two – girls’ brains stop growing sooner than boys’ brains. Yes, she says again, that’s also true. Girls enter puberty earlier than boys and thus finish growing earlier. The growth and maturity of the brain mimics the growth and maturity of the person.

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Saskatchewan budget forum question follow-up

4:32 pm - March 24, 2014

Submitted by: Dave Button
Vice-President (Administration)

The following is a question that was posted in the comments section of  VIDEO: Open Forum on the 2014-15 Saskatchewan Budget.  In order to provide a detailed response I have chosen to address the question in a separate post.

March 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm
Carol Reyda asks:

With salaries and benefits accounting for 75% of the University’s expenditures, and assuming that 2014-2015 salary increases for all bargaining units are similar to the APT increase of 1%, please explain how the university was expecting needing a 3.8 % operating budget increase and comment on how or if the 2.07 % increase will or will not cover existing salaries.

Response 24 March 2014

Carol, thank you for your question.  Like you, a number of people have wondered why — with a negotiated economic adjustment of 1% to 2 % and the great majority of our operating expenses (75%) going to the salaries and benefits of faculty and staff — we would need more than 2% to balance the budget.

The simple answer is that the costs of annual salary and benefit increases are far more than just the negotiated economic adjustment.  On top of the economic adjustment, the costs also include the yearly increment each employee group receives, plus merit for some academic positions, plus other negotiated benefit increases.

Using the most current year, the chart below summarizes the types of additional expenses that must be considered in calculating how much salary and benefits (typically an additional 17% of salary costs) need to be budgeted in a particular year.  You will see that the costs per employee can vary to as high as 9.5% for a single year.


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VIDEO: Open Forum on the 2014-15 Saskatchewan Budget

8:40 am - March 21, 2014

Below you will find both a video and slides from a presentation to campus about the 2014-15 Saskatchewan budget and its implications for the University of Regina.

Please share your input in the comments section of this post.

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Is it time to ban “bossy”?

9:59 am - March 14, 2014

Submitted by: Dena McMartin
Associate Vice-President (Academic and Research)
Professor, Environmental Systems Engineering

The Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), in partnership with Engineers Canada, launched the Canadian Women of Innovation virtual exhibition as part of the Museum’s International Women’s Day Celebrations.  The online exhibit honours women’s invaluable contribution to Canadian science and technology:

In the same vein of celebrating amazing and inspiring women, the University of Regina hosted its annual Inspiring Leadership Forum on March 12. From the many inspirational and influential presentations focused on the Forum’s theme of “Facing Adversity”, the 500+ attendees gleaned uplifting and truly powerful stories of survival, gratitude, forgiveness, and support.

Surprise guest speaker, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, provided a candid call to arms for women to consider how we deal with conflict and confrontation. She referenced the “ban bossy” campaign and added her own interpretation of the campaign intended to empower girls and encourage them to lead. Minister Raitt paraphrased the campaign into, “bossy is just another word for smart”. Her call to arms, then, is for women – and particularly those working in traditionally male-dominated fields like politics or engineering – to redefine “bossy” to have a positive and empowering meaning.

As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day, think about how you define bossy. Is it different for men than women? Can bossy be good? What do you think?

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Student explores viability of North Central ecomuseum

11:26 am - March 3, 2014

Eric Armit 1-crop

Submitted by: Eric Armit
Undergraduate student,  Biology and Geography

With encouragement from my geography professor I joined the Arts CARES program to be involved in what is called an ecomuseum. My placement was with the North Central Community Association (NCCA) to work on the viability of an ecomuseum in North Central. My first day was spent meeting my supervisor Jan Morier who is an active employee of NCCA. After getting an introduction about the North Central community and ecomuseums I was sent to work on my own doing research about the North Central community and ecomuseums in different parts of the world. I learned that an ecomuseum is a community-driven, placed-based organization that acknowledges and preserves the past while working to improve the lives of present and future residents. They do not just collect artifacts to preserve the past but are active in the community to conserve what is still there and help build a sustainable future. Examples were an ecomuseum in Portugal helping to solve current day pollution while preserving its nautical and industrial heritage and in Sahel helping to ensure the basic survival of the population. After I had done some preliminary research I made phone calls to local organizations in North Central to see if there would be any interest in supporting an ecomuseum in the community. I knew about some of the issues facing the community such as poverty, addictions, and gangs but I didn’t know about the many different organizations working in the community to help improve people’s lives. The response I received was encouraging but it was clear to me a lot of planning would need to be done to get this project going.

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Arts CARES offers student volunteer opportunities

11:11 am - March 3, 2014

SOEEA photo 1-crop
Submitted by: Nicole Denbow
Undergraduate student, Environmental Studies and Geology

During my week at Arts CARES I had many opportunities to expand my skills as well as develop new ones! Having a science background, socially involved volunteer work is a rare opportunity and I was excited to join! My placement was with the Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association commonly known as SOEEA. This amazing association gives opportunities to those involved in Education to spread awareness of environmental and outdoor skills to students. Another part of their organization hosts training in outdoor survival and skills such as canoeing. Karen McIver is the president of SOEEA and we met at the Queen City Hub every day to start our tasks. I really enjoyed being downtown as I have not had many chances to see it!

For the most part the volunteering was independent research where I and another volunteer, Hanifa Adams, decided to take on a journal launch event. “Of Land & Living Skies” is a journal SOEEA started to send to members and allies in order to inform people of educational and environmental news. After many calls and emails, we had booked a room at the University of Regina and started the invitations. Responsibility of the program/poster fell onto me as I had a bit of editing background from photography. One of the challenging aspects of the program building was ensuring I appealed to everyone’s requests but eventually the masterpiece was complete! Hanifa had the task of calling and emailing for booking which was perfect because she has amazing communication skills. Also, Hanifa made calls to arrange for donations to the annual Wings Over Wascana also hosted by SOEEA. By the end of the four day week, we had completed the program and invited everyone to the launch event; collected donations for Wings over Wascana; and delved into the task of starting an allies list for SOEEA.

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