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Wednesday, March 7, 2001

  • Board sets confidential session
  • Programmers leave for Vancouver
  • Magazine tells of vision research
  • Events today and tomorrow

National news

  • Extra federal funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • Negotiations resume in McMaster University staff strike
  • Students 'undaunted by enormous debts', Post says
  • Board sets confidential session

    The UW board of governors will hold a special meeting this afternoon at 2:30, with just two items on the agenda, both to be discussed in confidential session.

    One is the proposed move of the architecture school to a site beside the Grand River in the downtown Galt area of Cambridge. The board was briefed on the possibility of that move at its regular meeting a month ago. Late in February, the UW senate voted to recommend the move to the board, provided that conditions could be met about student services and ways to keep the architecture school in touch with the rest of the university academically. The item is listed on today's agenda as requiring a "decision" from the board.

    The other agenda item is an "appointment", which I hear unofficially involves the position of vice-president (university relations). Again, that item is listed as needing a "decision", which should mean that the board will appoint a vice-president to take over from acting VP James Downey. He was named almost a year ago to fill in for the former vice-president, Ian Lithgow, who went on sick leave last spring and died in October.

    The VP (university relations) is responsible for UW's development and alumni activities -- including the soon-to-be-launched Fiftieth Anniversary Fund campaign. He or she also is responsible for the office of information and public affairs, and is expected to play a major role in the university's government relations.

    Programmers leave for Vancouver

    A Waterloo team leaves today looking for glory at the 25th annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, to be held in Vancouver on Saturday.

    UW's team, made up of three mathematics students, secured its berth at the finals by finishing a close second at the East Central Regional Contest, held in November at Case Western Reserve University. A total of 64 world finalist teams will compete in the Association for Computing Machinery World Finals, sponsored by IBM.

    Team members are Donny Cheung, a recent graduate of combinatorics and optimization; Jeff Shute, a fourth-year student in computer science; and Graeme Kemkes, a third-year student in computer science. Reserve member Gordon Chiu, first-year computer engineering, and the team coach, CS professor Gordon Cormack, are also accompanying the team.

    Last year, Shute and Cheung were members of the UW team that won the regional contest and finished second in the World Finals.

    "This is the ninth consecutive year that Waterloo has been one of the teams to qualify for the finals from a field of more than one thousand," said Cormack. "In the previous eight years, Waterloo has finished no lower than 10th, has been twice World Champion (1994-95 and 1998-99), and four times North American Champion. Expectations and pressures run very high for our three standard bearers."

    On Saturday, the contest begins at 9 a.m. Vancouver time (noon EST). The finalists, teams of three students each, will rely on their programming skills and creativity during a five-hour battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance. Students solve complex problems using both traditional and new programming languages, including C, C++, Java and Pascal.

    More than 13,000 of the world's top computer science and engineering students and faculty from 70 countries around the world competed from last September through December in preliminary and regional contests to secure a spot at the finals.

    [Head-mounted video device]

    Magazine tells of vision research

    The winter issue of the UW Magazine ranges from athletics to history, not to mention the availability of UW licence plates, but the cover story has its eye on eyes, and what the school of optometry can do for them.

    Freelancer Jackie Johnson wrote the story:

    "About two years ago, Doris Gillespie began having trouble reading cards and letters from her friends and family. 'It was a gradual thing,' she says. But there was no doubt about it: her vision was deteriorating. When her doctor told her that she was suffering from macular degeneration, an incurable condition that can lead to blindness, she took the news quite calmly. 'I'm in my eighties,' she says. 'I figure I've been lucky.'

    "With the exception of people with congenital and/or genetic eye problems and those who contract childhood eye diseases or suffer trauma (all relatively rare), most of us enjoy excellent vision into our 20s. But age gradually erodes the acuity of all of our senses, including sight. By 40, most people find that they need prescription glasses to read. For many of us, glasses are all we'll ever need.

    "But as the baby boomers begin to reach their 60s, a growing number of Canadians are developing one of the 'big four' age-related eye diseases that attack sight and, if untreated, can lead to blindness. These are macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Risk of developing these sight-destroying conditions is relatively low before middle age, but after 60 the odds of developing one of these diseases is 1 in 4. Beyond age 74, that risk doubles.

    "With the exception of cataracts which, when caught early, can be repaired surgically, there are no cures for these diseases. Most treatments attempt to stop or delay their progression. But there are ways to make the most of the vision that remains.

    "Doris Gillespie's daughter was unwilling to sit and watch as her mother's world closed in on her. She began looking into devices available to help people with visual impairments, research that quickly led her to the University of Waterloo."

    And so on. The article describes the work of the Centre for Sight Enhancement and other clinics, and includes the inevitable comment from Graham Strong, director of the optometry school: "Funding is key. We already have the technology."

    Other major stories in the current issue of UW's magazine, mailed to some 85,000 alumni and friends of the university:

    Events today and tomorrow

    Fibre? Butter? Coffee? Carbs? "Is it good for me or not?" Health services -- with support from the Engineering Society, since we're in Engineering Week -- will offer a drop-in nutrition display in the lobby of Carl Pollock Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. "Drop by and talk to Linda Barton, RD, and a nutrition nurse," a flyer suggests, "to find out the bottom line on the food you're eating. Enter a draw to win the new Looneyspoons cookbook, Crazy Plates."

    And since it's also International Women's Week, a series of noontime lectures sponsored by the UW women's studies program continues. Today at 12:00, in Humanities room 373, Susan Shaw of the department of recreation and leisure studies speaks on "Is Leisure a Women's Issue? Leisure as Cultural Practice".

    [Weaver] At 12:30, Conrad Grebel College presents a free concert in the chapel, "Hearing Africa II". It consists of songs by Grebel music professor Carol Ann Weaver (right). She will play piano, accompanying a vocalist, a drummer and three saxophonists. All the songs to be played were performed in South Africa last year by Weaver and her local band, with which she recorded the recent CD "Dancing Rivers". Most were written during a year she spent in Durban, South Africa, in response to the life she observed and experienced there. Titles include "Back to the Light", "Follow the Cheetah", and "Calabash Woman".

    Central stores will hold a surplus sale today -- there could be anything from computer peripherals to furniture to lost jewellery -- from 11:30 to 1:30 at East Campus Hall, off Phillip Street.

    The Entrepreneurs' Association presents a talk tonight by Gregory Brill, president of Infusion Development Corporation. He'll speak at 5:30 in Davis Centre room 1302, on "Starting Up a Consulting Firm".

    Winnipeg-based teacher and writer Sarah Klassen, will read at Conrad Grebel College tonight, as its series of visits by Mennonite authors continues. Klassen's most recent book of poetry is Simone Weil: Songs of Hunger and Love. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the college chapel.

    The Graduate House will hold a "Superhero Grad Mixer" starting at 8:00 tonight, with "free munchies, games and prizes" and an award for whichever department is represented by the most grad students on hand.

    Coming on Thursday:


    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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