Volume 93, Issue 12

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


USC predicts financial upswing

Student elections could be online in future

New phones to have all the fixings

Senate to decide on disaster studies

Steel tree of knowledge to aid engineers

A college by any other name

News Briefs

Caught on Campus

Senate to decide on disaster studies

By Paul-Mark Rendon and Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

A new institute to aid research and development which would lessen the damage caused by natural disasters could find a home at Western if a recommendation is passed by Senate today.

Greg Weiler, project officer for research infrastructure programs, said the new institute, to be called the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, would gain the financial support and interest of Western, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, as well as the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.

"The insurance bureau of Canada and UWO formed a partnership to do research in natural disaster," he said.

Weiler said $2.5 million contributed from the university is what he explained to be "in-kind" funds, money which is already going towards the cause.

"The insurance industry is very interested in looking in disaster mitigation instead of disaster response," he said.

Weiler added such up-front thinking and research would help limit the amount of damage, instead of having to find ways to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters.

Weiler also commended the five year project because of the way it could possibly open up for students in the future.

"The potential exists to add courses," he said. Weiler said undergraduate students could have the opportunity to study natural disaster mitigation as well as other options for graduate students.

Bill Bridger, Western's VP-research, said he was confident Senate would endorse the recommendation to establish the institute.

"In the wake of things like the Red River flood and the Quebec ice storm, they're trying to find ways to ameliorate losses," he said.

Bridger added the new institute would deal with a variety of problems including engineering and structural projects and government preparedness plans to make sure municipalities are ready for catastrophes. As well, the institute would focus on financial and economic catastrophes.

"It runs from physical planning to government and economic planning," he said.

"It's not intended to be an identifiable building, but rather people working in various offices," he added. "I think this is going to be one of the things that will set Western apart. It's actually an off-shoot of our long-standing excellence."

Kevin McQuillan, chair of the Senate Committee on University Planning, said he believed the recommendation would face no opposition when it is presented to Senate for approval today.

Fred Keenan, Western's director of international research, said creating an institute to study pro-active methods of dealing with natural catastrophes could not come at a better time.

"It's been noticed that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events has been increasing in the last few years. Hurricane Floyd beating the East Coast is a prime example," he said.

Keenan also said the Western community has many professionals from different fields to lend their expertise towards lessening human suffering. "As far as I can tell, this is one of the world's most unique partnerships," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999