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Friday, February 7, 2003

  • How to make UW better
  • Agency helps with peace studies
  • To do, to hear and to see
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

Ottawa enjoys 25 years of Winterlude

How to make UW better

Looking closely at the Maclean's magazine rankings of Canadian universities can lead to some ideas about how to strengthen Waterloo in particular, president David Johnston and provost Amit Chakma said at Tuesday's meeting of the board of governors.

[Maclean's cover] They listed three general "action items" in particular, all of them connected with areas in which UW didn't score high this year in the rankings of 47 universities across Canada, and 11 "comprehensive" universities in particular:

To help spread the word about UW's "best overall" accolade from Maclean's, Communications and Public Affairs has produced a full-colour, four-page brochure, available from Linda Howe, ext. 3580, ljhowe@uwaterloo.ca.
None are exactly new ideas -- they're consistent with the "priorities" that Chakma has mentioned in connection, for example, with the most recent annual update on the Fifth Decade Report.

The magazine's rankings, issued each November, aren't the final word on the quality of universities, the president and provost said, but many of the "indicators" the magazine collects are useful tools. In some of them Waterloo ranks high (sixth in Canada, and top of the "comprehensive" universities, in students' average entering grades). In others, such as upper-year class size, UW is near the bottom of the pack.

Even in some areas where Waterloo's scores were high, there is room for improvement, the two speakers said. On average grades of entering students -- which tend to be stratospheric in parts of engineering and mathematics, but less spectacular elsewhere -- "we should do a little better," Johnston said. And while alumni support is high (20 per cent of Waterloo alumni send money, top of the "comprehensives" and tenth nationally) that figure could certainly go higher.

Budget is one area of weakness, Johnston and Chakma told the board of governors -- a weakness shared by most of the universities in Ontario, where government funding is lower than it was seven years ago. Another weakness, surprising for Waterloo, is research grants: UW is distinctly in the middle of the pack in grants per faculty member in the social sciences and humanities, and only a little better in the medical and science areas.

Waterloo also ranks low in the number of out-of-province and out-of-country students, which is seen as an indicator of campus diversity. On the other hand, just considering students from the Toronto area, "we may be the most multicultural of the universities in Ontario," Johnston observed.

Agency helps with peace studies -- a release from UW media relations

Ontario Grade 12 students will soon benefit from a unique collaboration between Project Ploughshares, a peace centre affiliated with Conrad Grebel University College, and Cameron Heights Collegiate in Kitchener.

Project Ploughshares is no longer at Conrad Grebel University College: the agency is now based in the old Seagram Museum building at 57 Erb Street West. "Our move from the College was due to an expansion in their residence program," Ploughshares explains. "We are grateful to them for providing office space for the past 26 years and look forward to continued association with the College through the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies."
Project Ploughshares' research and resource materials will converge with Cameron Heights' international studies experience to produce new web-based study materials that will help to enhance a Grade 12 university preparation course called Canadian and World Politics.

"We have been researching and documenting the world's armed conflicts for more than 15 years. While our primary audience has been policy-makers and international agencies, we're delighted that the collaboration with Cameron Heights will bring these materials more prominently into the classroom and engage young people studying global affairs," said Ernie Regehr, executive director of Project Ploughshares.

Thomas Birss, principal of Cameron Heights Collegiate, remarked, "Through the International Studies Program for Grades 9 and 10 and the International Baccalaureate Program for Grades 11 and 12, we have attempted to ensure that our students think globally and are 'culture smart' when they graduate." Birss adds: "Drawing upon the talents within our community not only increases the value of existing courses, but enhances our mandate too."

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is funding this endeavour through its Global Classroom Initiative, which encourages young Canadians to become informed and involved global citizens.

Arnie Covey, a retired teacher, will develop most of the materials using Project Ploughshares' resources. Julie Neeb, who teaches history at Cameron Heights, will review and test the materials. To promote the use of these resources in other provinces and internationally, the teacher-tested materials will be available on Cameron Heights' Web site.

Additionally, students will be major participants in the creation and delivery of materials. For example, Jordon Fox, a Grade 9 student at Cameron Heights, wanted to do something to help create peace in the world. Inspired by Covey, his Grade 8 teacher at Centennial Public School in Waterloo, and with the assistance of Project Ploughshares and War Child Canada, Jordan created an interactive CD which covers the key topics of peace in a captivating manner.

Suddenly Single

A noon-hour event next Wednesday is aimed at staff and faculty members who are single, and also those who aren't. "Even partnered people have friends or family who are single," points out Linda Brogden, a member of the Employee Assistance Program, which is presenting "Suddenly Single".

"Several wannabe actors were quickly recruited," says Brogden, promising that Mark Murdoch of food services, Katrina Di Gravio of human resources, Matt Erickson of ethical behaviour, and other known extroverts will be part of a "Waterloo Squares" game that's both amusing and informative. ("Have the rules for dating changed?")

I'll say more about this event next week -- meanwhile, anybody who wants to attend the Wednesday 12:00 show should be preregistering, either with the green form that was recently distributed, or by phoning ext. 6264.

To do, to hear and to see

Starting at 9:00 this morning, polls are open around the clock in the election of new leaders for the Federation of Students. Most voting will happen online, through the Feds' web site, although there will also be hard-copy ballots at voting stations in several campus buildings Monday through Wednesday. The election ends at 4:30 p.m. on February 12. At stake is the position of Fed president for the coming year (four candidates are seeking that one) and three vice-presidencies (two candidates for one of them, three for one and four for the other one), as well as seats on the UW senate and students' council.

A note from the engineering graduate studies office says "an informal get-together" will be held tonight, from 3:00 to 6:00, that will be of interest to upper-year students: "Each department in Engineering will briefly present an overview of its program, followed by informal discussions on graduate studies in Engineering (over food and refreshments). If you are interested in graduate studies in Engineering, come and find out! All students are welcome, but especially those in Engineering, Science and Mathematics, who are thinking of pursuing graduate studies in Engineering." Location: the University Club.

Accepting people's differences has become more difficult since September 11, 2001, says Rev. Robert Schreiter, who will talk tonight about how society and the church can preserve a sense of social cohesion while still respecting each other's uniqueness. His lecture, "Plurality and Difference in an Unstable World", starts at 7:30 at Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. It's part of the 2002-2003 season of the St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience. "People find it's fairly easy to relate to people different from themselves when they feel secure," Schreiter says. "But how do they do it in an unstable situation? At times like these, the resources of the Church for reconciliation and peacebuilding come into play." Schreiter is a professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. He is also a consultant to Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican agency for 154 relief and development agencies worldwide, and has helped to develop reconciliation and peace-building programs around the world.

"The New FASS Show", this year's production by the FASS Theatre Company, continues in the Humanities Theatre -- tonight at 7 and 10, Saturday night at 8. Tickets (general admission) are $8 at the Humanities box office. I understand that Mike Kerrigan, vice-president (internal) of the Federation of Students, made a cameo appearance last night; future performances will include brief appearances by Nancy Heide (associate director here in communications and public affairs), Heather Fitzgerald (UW's student life coordinator), and computer science professor Ian VanderBurg.

The "Iced in Black" festival of black film continues, with showings at 7:00 tonight, 2:30 tomorrow (and on into the evening), and 1:00 Sunday, all in Davis Centre room 1304. Details are on the festival's web site.

There's music in the Student Life Centre today, as International Celebration Week winds down: "Luke Andrews sings lyrical tales" during the noon hour. . . . Graduate student Michael McNulty is the speaker (about "self-consciousness") in today's philosophy colloquium, 2:30 in Humanities room 334. . . . The drama department's production of two plays by Daniel MacIvor continues at 8:00 tonight and tomorrow night in Studio 180 in the Humanities building. . . . The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group hosts an annual "skills training and networking conference" this weekend. . . .

Movies, Spanish dancing lessons, a "Weakest Link" game show, "international pizzas" and other snacks, and crazy carpets for those who want to try out the snow -- they're all features of another Warrior Weekend, happening tonight in the Student Life Centre (7 p.m. to 1 a.m.). The event also includes a bargain at the Cove game room: unlimited gaming for $5 for the six-hour period.

A lecture on "Teaching Diversity" by Marilyn Jacobs, of the harassment and discrimination office at Wilfrid Laurier University, is scheduled for 12 noon today in room P207 of the Peters Building at WLU. . . . Architecture students should hand in one copy of their resumé package to the co-op dropoff bin in the CEC building today. . . . Heat will be turned off in the environmental studies buildings from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow for maintenance work. . . . "I Love Art" is the theme for this year's fund-raising event at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery downtown, to be held Saturday night with the involvement of many UW people. . . .

A workshop on grant proposal writing will be held Monday afternoon at Wilfrid Laurier University, jointly sponsored by WLU and UW's research office (details, ext. 6005). . . . The teaching resource office presents a workshop for teachers on "Receiving and giving Feedback", Monday at 12 noon. . . .

Sports this weekend: The hockey Warriors will host Laurier tonight at 7:30 and Guelph on Sunday at 2 p.m. (both games at the Columbia Icefield). The basketball teams host Guelph Saturday night in the PAC (women's teams at 6 p.m., men's teams at 8). Out of town, the women's hockey team is at Brock on Saturday night, the Nordic skiers are in North Bay for the Ontario championships, and the squash team is playing in a weekend tournament, location not announced at last report. The Saturday night basketball action will e "Fantastic Alumni and Staff Day", with free tickets (request them online) and promotions during the game for both kids and adults.

Some corrections and follow-ups

I may have worried some people the other day when I referred to a January 31 deadline for optometry applications. That deadline, I've learned, only affects students who are applying to the school of optometry from outside UW. Inside students have a little more time. And an "admission information night" for optometry will be held Monday, starting at 7 p.m., in Optometry room 347: "Admission policies and private practice will be discussed."

In Wednesday's Daily Bulletin I misspelled the name of children's author Welwyn Wilton Katz, who was giving a reading that day, and also referred to Katz as "he". She's a she. I apologize.

And I referred to Andrew Milne as president of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. He's the vice-president (communications). The president is Melissa Battler, who was featured in the Record on Wednesday (an article that I can't link to because Record news items are no longer routinely available on the web).

The talk of the campus

How is Campaign Waterloo coming along? "Terrific," said campaign chair Bob Harding -- who's also chair of the UW board of governors -- at Tuesday's meeting of the board. And campaign director Linda Kieswetter said yesterday that as of February 1, gifts and pledges have reached $124.6 million, or 48 per cent of the $260 million goal. "We need another 45 or 50 million dollars before November," she said, in order to reach the level of about $170 million at which the final "public" phase can safely be launched.

There's pride in UW's athletics department, as Warrior swimmer Matt Mains was named OUA Male Athlete of the Week last week by Ontario Universities Athletics. Mains, a third-year math student, won four gold medals at last weekend's OUA Championships held at Brock University. He won the 100 and 200 metre breast stroke and the 200 and 400 Individual Medley events. In the 200 breast stroke he established a new OUA record with a time of 215.89. He also led fellow Warriors Richard Hui, Dominic Chow and Grahame Jastrebski to a bronze medal in the 4x50 medley relay. This group of four Warriors will be joined by Carlo Distefano as they go on to the national championships in Victoria February 21-23.

Tobacco control researchers at UW "are challenging the student newspaper to stop running tobacco advertisements promoting sports and the arts", the Record reported on Wednesday. "The full-page ads -- including Players' sponsorship of a racing team and du Maurier sponsorship of grants to arts students -- market cigarettes to students who are part of a vulnerable crowd, they say. The ads in the Imprint newspaper are an embarrassment," according to psychology graduate student David Hammond. He met with Imprint staff recently, "along with assistant professor Geoffrey Fong, who studies the impact of graphic warning labels on cigarette packs."

With the Graduate Student Research Conference seven weeks away, 142 students have submitted abstracts, and had them accepted, says Penny Pudifin in the graduate studies office. "The organizing committee would like to encourage more poster participants and have agreed to extend the poster abstract submission deadline to February 12 to allow for late submissions. Students who missed the abstract submission deadline and would like to participate in the conference with a poster submission are encouraged to submit their abstracts through the Conference web site by February 12." The conference is set for April 2-4.

The UW staff association will hold a "town hall meeting" at noontime on Thursday, February 20. Says association president Steve Breen: "The Executive will be doing a presentation on 'Get to know your staff association' so that all non-members can find out what the staff association does for university staff. Current members are also welcome. Bring your lunch, and the staff association will provide refreshments and dessert."

And . . . one of my colleagues says robins in unusual numbers have been flocking around the north end of the campus over the past few days. I'm wondering whether the bird world has been affected by the double cohort.


Communications and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
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(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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