Why the Drop?

Graham Stonebridge - WEEF Director
Posted on: June 23, 2010

As you may have noticed, the $60,000 allocated for spending this term by WEEF is less than the $85,000 you may have remembered from the last several terms.  Why the drop? And what impact will this have on the WEEF Funding Council’s decisions?

First, let me remind you that WEEF stands for the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Fund.  Each term WEEF takes a portion of the yearly interest from its principal account, and applies this money to projects that benefit undergraduate engineering at Waterloo. Every time a donation is made to WEEF, the endowment principal grows and the potential interest accrued each year increases. Thus the amount WEEF can allocate each term depends on both the principal – which has been steadily increasing thanks to your generous contributions – and the yearly interest rate.

Typically we have seen interest rates of at least 4%, which has been phenomenal for everyone in Engineering. Unfortunately someone thought it would be a great idea to screw up the economy and consequently the projected interest rate for this fiscal year is only 2%.  Applying your math skills, the amount we can allocate for each of the next three terms is approximately $9,000,000*0.02/3 = $60,000.

This fluctuation in interest rates has been fairly typical over the last twenty years.  In 2003 the term allocations dropped to around $40,000, and two years later it was back up to $75,000.

What effect does this have on the decisions made by WEEF’s funding council (composed of one or two representatives from each on-stream class)? With respect to the process by which we make decisions, there will be no significant change. WEEF will continue to consider proposals under the usual criteria: number of students affected, product life, educational benefit, total cost, and any number of other factors that the engineering population might deem important.

This term, Engineers Without Borders (who have not submitted a proposal) will give a short presentation to the funding council about sustainability and the global impact of WEEF’s decisions. With any luck, the funding council will arrive at a wise and rational funding decision in a reasonable amount of time at our meeting on July 5th.

In the next couple terms, look out for invitations to an Annual General Meeting where WEEF will discuss these topics in greater detail. If you have any immediate questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at weef@engmail.uwaterloo.ca.