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Monday, November 8, 1999

  • A-number-1, top of the heap
  • Making the classrooms better
  • Environmental visitor is here
  • The day's bits and pieces

A-number-1, top of the heap

[Magazine cover] UW is ranked number one in reputation among Canada's "comprehensive universities" again this year. The rankings appear in the November 15 issue of Maclean's magazine, which goes on sale this morning.

The magazine puts Waterloo tops in four categories: Highest Quality, Most Innovative, Leaders of Tomorrow and Best Overall.

It's the 8th year in a row that Waterloo has captured first place in all four reputational categories in the "comprehensive universities" grouping. Still to come, likely today, is an announcement about the overall rankings, covering not just "comprehensive" universities but those in the "medical-doctoral" and "undergraduate" categories. (UW has come first year after year in those overall rankings too.)

UW president David Johnston said he was pleased and gratified by the results. "This kind of recognition really reflects on work, commitment and dedication that goes back over 40 years in this university," he said in a news release, "so we really are standing on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before. It's a wonderful tribute to the faculty and staff and students at this university."

To determine the reputational rankings, Maclean's editors each year collect opinions from more than 4,000 high-school guidance counsellors, academics and business executives across the country.

In addition to sweeping top spot in the reputational survey in its grouping, UW moved up to a tie for second place (with Simon Fraser) in the magazine's own rankings of university quality. Waterloo and SFU came in just behind #1 University of Guelph (up from second place last year) among "comprehensive" universities, defined as those with "a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of programs, including professional degrees, at the graduate and undergraduate levels."

Top of the medical-doctoral universities was Toronto, again; top of the undergraduate universities was Mount Allison, as usual.

The rankings are based on a number of criteria involving resources and student and faculty quality. Among them, Waterloo ranked #1 in "average entering grade", "student awards" and "alumni support", but as low as 11th in class size at the first and second year level, and 12th (out of 12) in the percentage of the budget spent on student services. (Maclean's doesn't count co-op as a student service.)

Renewing library books

Books from UW's library (and its partner libraries at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph) can be renewed online through the Trellis computer system, starting today.

Says Alex McCulloch of the user services department in the library: "Users who log in to their Patron Information area of the catalogue will see a new button called 'Renew' in the 'Charged Items' area. By checking the items they want to renew, and then clicking on the 'Renew' button, those items will be renewed. (In the Windows version of the catalogue items must be highlighted instead of checked. The Windows version is in the library only.)

"Some restrictions apply: for example, books that have been recalled by another user cannot be renewed. Users will need to check the renewal status of each book to be sure that the renewal took effect. Also, users that have their privileges blocked for some reason -- for example, if they have over $10 in outstanding fines -- will not see the 'Renew' button.

"For more information or assistance, please contact the Circulation desks of the libraries. On-line help is also available, and a handy bookmark with this information is available at the libraries."

Making the classrooms better

A plan to "upgrade and improve" UW's classrooms is being prepared, the provost says.

The comment is made as part of a long report, presented to UW's senate and board of governors last month, about what has been done in the two years since Building on Accomplishment: A Plan for the University of Waterloo's Fifth Decade was presented by the Commission on Institutional Planning two years ago.

The progress report is now available on-line.

One of the 1997 recommendations, numbered 7.3, calls on UW to "pay closer attention to the planning and maintenance of teaching facilities and equipment, such as classrooms, laboratories, computing infrastructure, and audiovisual equipment. Planning for maintenance and upgrading is a requirement when developing budgets."

Here's the 1999 response from provost Jim Kalbfleisch:

"TRACE recently surveyed faculty about UW teaching facilities; instructors' concerns and suggestions have been forwarded to the appropriate agencies. A plan for minor repairs is being developed and action taken on a systematic basis. TRACE, working with the Office of Space Utilization & Planning and others, conducted a walking tour and inspection of all rooms in the central teaching inventory [i.e. those rooms centrally assigned by the Scheduling Office in the Registrar's Office]. The next step is the development of a plan to upgrade and improve the facilities, taking into account the funds required. A small committee, chaired by the Associate Provost, Academic and Student Affairs, will be developing a multi-year plan. This initiative will take into account the growing need for new or replacement instructional equipment [e.g. VCR's, PA systems, data projectors]. As part of the exercise, for example, recommendations are being developed on priorities for installation of data projectors in central teaching rooms. Significant enhancement of classrooms will require significant investment of resources.

"UW utilization of classrooms continues to be excellent by provincial standards. Nevertheless, changes recently introduced, including a multi-Faculty timetabling committee, have resulted in even better use of existing classroom space.

"As a result of ATOP expansion and in anticipation of further expansion, several renovation projects are underway that will increase the inventory of central classroom space. The 'Red Room' will yield a new lecture hall and new teaching labs in the Mathematics & Computer building, and a new classroom will be constructed in Carl Pollock Hall. Several infrequently used small classrooms are being, or will be renovated to accommodate classes in the 50-75 student range. In 1999-2000, other existing locations that can be converted or redesigned for better use as classrooms will be sought."

Environmental visitor is here

A senior research scientist from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is this year's "Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment", based in the faculty of engineering.

The professorship "rotates through the faculties", says Roydon Fraser of the mechanical engineering department. This year it was engineering's turn, and the post was given to Jeff Luvall, a researcher in remote thermal imaging.

[Green and orange]
Infrared image of Sacramento, with the cool California River winding through it, collected as part of Luvall's UrbanHeat Island Pilot Project.
"His current research," says a memo from Fraser, "involves the modelling of forest canopy thermal response using airborne thermal scanners on a landscape scale. He is also investigating the relationships of forest canopy temperatures and the evapotranspiration process. He has used remotely sensed surface temperatures to develop envirotranspiration estimates for eastern deciduous and tropical rain forests. A logical outgrowth of characterizing surface energy budgets of forests is the application of thermal remote sensing to quantify the urban heat island effect."

Luvell's work has earned him attention on several network newscasts and in Newsweek magazine, Fraser added. "His work is recognized internationally and he is involved in several committees." Before joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Luvall was with the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.

Luvall was on campus briefly in September, and is back this week, preparing for a longer stay in the winter term, when he will be teaching a special course, Mechanical Engineering 772, "Designing with Nature".

This week he'll give three talks. Everyone is invited to a seminar on 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon in Environmental Studies I room 132. Then Thursday (11:30, Carl Pollock Hall room 3385) and Friday (12:00, Doug Wright Engineering Building room 2536) he'll give seminars at which priority in seating is offered to civil and mechanical engineering students.

The day's bits and pieces

Sharon Lamont of the library staff, who's co-chair of UW's United Way campaign, is still sending progress reports: as of noon on Friday, the campaign had brought in $130,191, or 90 per cent of its $140,000 goal. A number of prizes were awarded to donors in a draw last week:
$50 WatCard (1 donated by Food Services and 2 by WatCard office): Terry Weldon, Electrical & Comp Eng; Barb Cooke, Office of Research; Alexander Zweers (retiree).

$50 gift certificate to Bookstore (1 donated by the Bookstore): Barb Yeaman, Dean of Env Studies Office; Johnny Wong, Computer Science; Doug Wright (retiree).

$50 gift certificate to University Club (1 donated by Xerox in conjunction with UW Graphics): Helen Bensusan-Kilbride (retiree); Paul Socken, French Studies; Norman Zhou, Mech Eng.

Camera donated by OE London Inc in conjunction with UW Graphics: Niels Bols, Biology.

The campaign has officially ended, but money and pledges are still trickling in -- and are still much needed to support the 50 local agencies that get much of their funding through the United Way.

On other fronts . . . as winter job interviews for most co-op students come to an end (ranking forms will be available tomorrow) the process is just beginning for students in two specially-focused programs, architecture and the teaching option. Employers will be here until Thursday or Friday, and then those students too go through the ordeal of ranking and matches.

The physics department presents a seminar today by James Martin of the University of Virginia. He'll speak (1:30 p.m., Physics room 308) on "High Harmonic Generation Using Intense Mid-Infrared Radiation".

Daniel Livermore, "ambassador for mine action" in Canada's department of foreign affairs and international trade, will speak today on "Canada and the Landmine Treaty". A career civil servant who has served for Canada in the United States and Chile, at economic summit meetings and the United Nations, on international joint boards and in the human rights and social affairs division, Livermore is at UW by invitation of the history department and the Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism. His talk starts at 3:30 in Humanities room 117.

Also at 3:30, the tourism research series continues: Clare Mitchell of UW's own geography department will speak (Arts Lecture Hall room 113) on "Geography in Small Towns".

Tomorrow, training in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is available through a video and brief quiz offered by UW's safety office. The one-hour session starts in Davis Centre room 1304 at 10 a.m.

And here's advance warning, or promise: Homecoming weekend will bring parties, sports, continuing education, and family events to campus this weekend. Watch for publicity as the week goes on.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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