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Wednesday, December 19, 2001

  • Feds join in funding research park
  • Group will report on hiring of women
  • Film will in the darkness bind them
  • Positions available this week
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

Grad student's collection of ASCII art for Christmas

Feds join in funding research park

The planned research and technology park, on the eastern section of the north campus behind the existing Optometry building and Columbia Icefield
Federal government funding for the north campus "research and technology park", announced yesterday, means work should be starting next month.

Politicians posed for pictures as they promised $13.4 million for the project from the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program. That's the same amount already announced for the park by the Ontario government, and municipal governments are also providing a total of $13.4 million.

"This investment will make an important contribution to a dynamic and innovative economy in the Waterloo Region," a UW news release said yesterday as Andy Mitchell -- a junior minister in Agriculture Canada who's responsible for the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program -- shared the stage with local MP Andrew Telegdi, Ken Seiling (chair of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo), Waterloo mayor Lynne Woolstencroft, Greg Barratt (president of Communitech, representing local high-tech industry), and UW president David Johnston.

Construction should be completed by April 2006, the release said.

It went on: "This investment will help ensure that the University of Waterloo Research and Technology Park has the infrastructure it will need to be a centre of innovation and to attract new research investment to Canada."

The "infrastructure" funds will help pay for improvements to Columbia Street, Westmount Road, Northfield Drive and Parkside Drive, which connect the park; roads, curbs, sewers, watermains, storm water management and streetlights in the boundary of the park; construction of a public facility to assist new companies in the commercialization of technology; the upgrade of the infrastructure for the regional transportation system that links Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Elmira and St. Jacobs; improvements to flood control in Laurel Creek and Columbia Lake; and a fibre-optic telecommunications network to provide high-speed Internet access for the park.

"Infrastructure is essential to the success of innovative projects like the University of Waterloo Research and Technology Park," said Mitchell. "By investing in 21st century infrastructure, the Government of Canada is supporting the continued growth of a knowledge-based economy driven by innovation, ideas and talent."

Altogether, the park is a $214 million project, according to the "business case" put forward by UW earlier this year and endorsed by the city and Region. It will occupy the eastern part of UW's square mile of north campus, which was on the fringes of Waterloo when the university acquired it 35 years ago, but is now surrounded by the city.

The business case calls for the creation of 1.2 million square feet of total space in three phases. The first phase of the development is to involve 400,000 square feet, and a number of companies are said to have expressed interest in establishing facilities in this phase.

Yesterday Gerry Thompson of the Waterloo Region staff said "four well-known high-tech companies" are on the edge of moving into buildings in the new park in the coming year. He didn't identify them.

Said Seiling, the Region chair: "This Region has a long tradition of business, education and government sectors working together to build our community and enhance our quality of life. The Research and Technology Park not only provides for the future expansion needs of our existing high-tech companies, it also positions the Region to attract the next wave of economic activity in the high-tech sector."

And Woolstencroft said the city is "thrilled" that the park is going ahead. She said, "It is about vision and determination and teamwork. The park will create sustainable economic growth through knowledge-based business."

Johnston paid tribute to "the courageous vision" of public leaders in making this investment in research and innovation. "When there is so much urgency for expenditure on immediate short-term needs, we are especially blessed to have champions in public office who sow the seeds today to create a more civic and prosperous community over the middle and longer term," he said.

Group will report on hiring of women

UW's provost says he has set up a task force to study "the hiring and nurturing of female faculty members" and review how much UW has done to make the campus "hospitable" to women faculty.

[Chakma] In a memo, provost Amit Chakma (right -- photo by Paul Schreiber) says the group is "an advisory task force which will report to me", and was set up "in response to recent concerns about the relatively low percentage of women being hired to fill open faculty positions".

It will be chaired by Gail Cuthbert Brandt, principal of Renison College. Other members will be Lois Claxton, secretary of the university; Alan George, dean of mathematics; Beth Jewkes, professor of management sciences; Wendy Mitchinson, professor of history; and Mary Thompson, professor of statistics and actuarial science and former acting dean of math.

Chakma lists these terms of reference for the task force:

Film will in the darkness bind them

Tolkien devotees will head for the movie theatres today, by force of hobbit, as the long-awaited "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" opens to worldwide fanfare. And there are more than a few such devotees at UW.

English professor Neil Randall is "the lord of Tolkien's words", according to a feature interview in the Record last week, followed a day later by Randall's own analysis of why J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy has become a classic. (A clue to the answer: it provides "a mythology of ourselves".)

[The Lord of the Rings] Another Record feature matter-of-factly identifies the Computer Science Club office as "the unlikely epicentre of all things hobbit-related", and quotes some of the CSC inhabitants who can't get enough of Middle Earth. "Everyone likes to see a regular guy save the world," says one of them, Gavin Duggan.

Finally, there's the longstanding Tolkien web site created by Eric Lippert when he was a math student, and still residing on the CSC's web server seven years after he left Waterloo to work for Microsoft in Seattle (on the "Visual Studio NET" project). He too was featured in the Record last week, and he told me by e-mail that he's had other interviews with the CBC and media as far away as Florida.

Lippert says his page, created in 1993, is "still a very popular page even though almost all the links are broken", as it hasn't been updated since 1997. "Being so old it is very heavily indexed, which drives a lot of traffic. I get a lot of random mail from fans." Lippert says he's looking forward to the new movie, although he realizes it won't follow the Tolkien book precisely. "Movies and books are very different media," he observes. "I am quite confident that it will be a fabulous movie."

Positions available this week

It's Wednesday, and there's no Gazette issue today, so let me draw attention to the weekly list of Positions Available from the human resources department. It's also available on the HR web site, and being distributed on paper to departments across campus.

The official preamble notes that "University Policy 18 provides maximum opportunity for promotion of regular, internal staff members. Those interested in applying for an available position are invited to call Human Resources at extension 2524 for more information or are welcome to visit during regular working hours to view a detailed job description. Human Resources is located in the General Services Complex, Room 130."

Today's list stays in effect until Wednesday, January 9. Here are the jobs that are included:

Final, official note: "The university welcomes and encourages applications from the designated employment equity groups: visible minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people."

The talk of the campus

As fall term exams draw to a close, today will be the last day, or rather the last night, of extended library hours. The Dana Porter Library will be open until 2 a.m. tonight, the Davis Centre until 3 a.m. Thursday, the libraries will be open to 11 p.m.; Friday, they'll close at 6 p.m., not to reopen until Wednesday, January 2.

The flags at UW's main entrance are at half-staff today, like flags across the province, in memory of Pauline McGibbon, former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, who died December 14.

It's less than a week until Christmas, and most people must have finished their shopping, judging from a note from the UW Shop in South Campus Hall: "all Christmas items" are on sale today through Friday at 40 per cent off.

The athletics department says its mascot, King Warrior, will be making a visit this afternoon to the children's ward at the Grand River Hospital (K-W Hospital), "presenting all the children with Waterloo pride towels, megaphones and McDonald's toys".

Today's an important day for a lot of 18-year-olds in Waterloo Region. It's the deadline for them to apply to university using an experimental on-line system. Students in most parts of Ontario filed paper applications again this year and had a December 1 "soft" deadline, but at the 15 public high schools in the Region, students have passwords to use a web site operated by the Ontario Universities Application Centre, through which they can make their post-secondary choices. If the project is a success, on-line applications will be used province-wide next year.

The Christmas lunch buffet continues daily in the University Club, and tonight (5 to 8 p.m.) there's also Christmas dinner. Information: ext. 3801.

[RCH in copper] Construction continues at the Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall (left), and the plant operations department warns that electrical power will be shut off in the building from 3 to 6 a.m. tomorrow. You weren't planning to be in RCH in the small hours of the morning using a computer, were you?

Here's a reminder that payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff will come tomorrow, advanced from the last Friday of the month because of the Christmas holidays. (January's monthly payroll will come on the usual day, the last Friday, January 25.)

And here's an invitation from the local Volunteer Action Centre: "Do you enjoy meeting interesting people? Volunteers are needed by Youth for Understanding International Exchange. They operate the information booth in St. Jacobs Outlet Mall where volunteers provide customer service. They supply information to tourists, answer phones, open or close booth and are involved with lottery/nevada sales. Excellent training is provided and volunteers have the opportunity to interact with the public and learn about global education. Shifts are usually four to five hours; volunteers may help once a week or twice a month." For more information, the VAC can be reached at 742-8610.

Jude Doble in the alumni affairs office sends a reminder that UW gold diploma frames are on sale at 25 per cent off, a special offer that ends this week. "It would make a great gift idea," she notes. The discount price: $38.99. "Other diploma and portrait frames are available at regular price," she adds. For more information she can be reached at ext. 6173.

And finally, I should note that Friday's Daily Bulletin will include a detailed list of working hours, special arrangements and information about UW services over the holiday period. Departments that have anything of that sort they'd like included should send me the details in a brief, clear e-mail today, please.


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