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Monday, September 29, 2003

  • Big boost to Canadian astronomers
  • Candidates talk about universities today
  • The presidential nominating committee
  • Points in the time-space continuum
Chris Redmond

Today is Michaelmas

CIBC gifts support scholarships

Waterloo students will benefit from new scholarships to help pay for their education, thanks to major donations from CIBC and a senior executive of CIBC, being announced today.

The CIBC corporate donation "will fund undergraduate scholarships in the Faculty of Mathematics, both at the entrance and upper-year levels", a UW news release says. It will also give a boost to research into finance and insurance as well as enhance study space for students at a UW-affiliated college.

"As well," the release says, "the generous individual donation by a CIBC executive and his wife will increase graduate student scholarships in the Faculty of Arts at Waterloo." Today's event starts at 12:30 in the Davis Centre lounge.

Big boost to Canadian astronomers -- from the UW media relations office

SCUBA-2, a multi-million-dollar astronomy initiative announced Friday and led by a Waterloo professor, is a major advancement for space exploration.

Michel (Mike) Fich of the UW physics department is the principal researcher for the project, which was announced in celebrations in the new CEIT building by David Strangway, president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and federal industry minister Allan Rock.

The $12.3-million CFI investment provides for the development of a next-generation, submillimetre-wavelength camera for astronomers. It will begin operating on May 1, 2006.

It replaces the original camera mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. This is the world's best telescope at submillimetre wavelengths, and the existing SCUBA (Submillimetre Common User Bolometer Array) is currently the most powerful camera at these wavelengths. Astronomers have used SCUBA to identify, for the first time, galaxies forming at the edge of the universe and to gain an increased understanding of the physical processes underlying the gravitational collapse of protostellar clouds to stars.

The new SCUBA-2 camera will be at least 1,000 times more powerful than the original, putting it far ahead of all of the similar instruments now under development elsewhere.

The camera is a significant advancement for space exploration research as it lets researchers to do in one night what now takes up to three years. It will have unprecedented imaging speed and access to a much wider field of view, enabling users to look at research issues such as the early history of star formation and the structure, formation and clustering of galaxies. Thus it will have a huge impact on "Origins of the Universe" research, which is the main thrust of current astronomical research worldwide and an area in which Canadian astronomers are extremely active.

"SCUBA-2 will be the best instrument anywhere for discovering the birthplaces of new stars, planets and solar systems," Fich said. "These regions are completely blocked by interstellar clouds at the shorter wavelengths used by most telescopes but become visible at the submillimetre wavelengths that SCUBA-2 is designed to see. SCUBA-2 will be the most powerful wide-field submillimetre camera in the world."

The funds were awarded to a consortium of eight Canadian universities, administratively led by Waterloo. The program involves direct collaboration with the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and the Universities of Edinburgh and Wales (Cardiff). In addition, superconducting detectors will be developed by the National Institute of Science and Technology, a leading U.S. research institution with expertise in that area. Operationally, the program will involve collaboration with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the University of Hawaii.

"This project represents priority areas of research in Canadian radio astronomy -- areas which are fast moving and internationally competitive," Rock said. "Funding from the CFI has enabled our Canadian researchers to gain access to unique research facilities and is placing Canada among the world's most innovative nations."

[Bare legs, sheepish smile]

Get the point? "I'm demonstrating the effects of pressure," explains physics professor Stefan Idzia, "by lying on a bed of nails." The demonstration was given Thursday night in Science 206, The Physics of How Things Work.

Candidates talk about universities today

Candidates in Kitchener-Waterloo riding in this week's Ontario election have been invited to campus today to answer questions about just one group of issues: those affecting universities.

Frank Reynolds, chair of the political relations committee of UW's faculty association, said the candidates will face a few "prepared questions" and then will take questions from the floor -- but only on topics to do with post-secondary education.

Local standard-bearers for the three main parties (Progressive Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic) have been invited. The all-candidates meeting starts at 4:30 in the Student Life Centre great hall, and is co-sponsored by the Federation of Students and other UW student and staff groups.

Across the province, university leaders have been doing their best to make post-secondary education an issue. At the provincial level, most of the campaign talk has been about health care, schools, and tax levels, and when higher education has been mentioned it's mostly been in terms of tuition fee rates.

Robert Birgeneau, president of the University of Toronto, raised the ante with an advertisement in the Globe and Mail last week. In his "Open Letter to All Ontarians", Birgeneau wrote that "the proper funding of our universities" is "fundamental to all Ontarians . . . the critical enabling factor for virtually all of the province's political agenda. We are asking for one single promise: An absolute commitment from each political leader that university funding in Ontario will be brought up to the national average within the next five years."

He urged voters to "make this one promise . . . a condition of your vote."

UW's president, David Johnston, endorsed Birgeneau's statement in a letter published in the Globe later in the week, and a longer version that appeared as an opinion article in Friday's Record. "It is an achievable objective," he declared.

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has been running a campaign for more funding as well, and says in a news release that "today's higher education system is plagued by high tuition, fewer professors, overcrowded classrooms, inadequate resources, and potentially, a lower quality of education."

  • Bus carrying UW students kills motorist near Elmira
  • Report on financial standing of Federation businesses ('uwstudent.org')
  • Webcam shows progress on Perimeter Institute building
  • Whose University Is It? Film review
  • WLU moves to deregulate fees in business school
  • 'Designing the space' -- classroom design for higher education
  • Ontario Universities and Public-Private Partnerships (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)
  • Research and development portal for Ireland
  • 'Mammoth' engineering renovation project at U of Saskatchewan
  • Academic integrity week at U of Saskatchewan
  • Mickey Mouse admitted to British universities
  • The presidential nominating committee

    Nominations are due Wednesday in the election of the first seven members to a presidential nominating committee that's being formed this fall.

    As announced last week, the first seats to be filled on the committee will be one representing staff members and six that are designated for faculty members on UW's senate. Details of the nominating procedure are available on the secretariat's web site.

    Later, the rest of the 19-member committee will be chosen -- representing students, more faculty, alumni, the church colleges, and the UW board of governors.

    UW Policy 50, which defines how the president of the university is chosen, has been pretty much unchanged since 1973, and has been used in the reappointment of president Burt Matthews, the selection and reappointment of Doug Wright and the selection of James Downey and David Johnston. A committee is being formed now because Johnston will be approaching the end of the six-year term to which he was appointed starting in 1999.

    Here's how Policy 50 describes the work of the committee: "The nominating committee shall be responsible for soliciting the views of those affected, including members of the Board of Governors, the Vice-Presidents, the Deans, regular and non-regular faculty members, the President of the Faculty Association, the Federated & Affiliated Colleges, staff members, students and alumni.

    "The first charge to the nominating committee will be to solicit, with the prior knowledge of the incumbent and by whatever means it may decide, the opinion of the University community as a whole with respect to the reappointment of the incumbent. If the incumbent is found to be generally acceptable, the committee shall then determine the incumbent's willingness to accept reappointment. If the incumbent indicates willingness to accept, the committee shall recommend reappointment to the Senate and the Board of Governors without considering other candidates.

    "If the incumbent is not to be recommended for reappointment at the end of a first term, or if the incumbent is nearing the end of a second term, or if the incumbent has died, resigned or been removed, then the following procedure shall be followed: the committee will invite or arrange for nominations, by whatever means it considers appropriate, from any person or group; it will arrange to advertise the position in Canada; and it will establish criteria against which nominations and applications may be measured."

    Points in the time-space continuum

    Electronic "appointments" for selection of winter term classes start today and run through October 25, says the registrar's office. The "appointments" are times when the Quest system will allow any particular student to make course choices. "If you miss your enrolment appointment," says the registrar's office, "you'll have to wait until Open Enrolment to select or make changes to your classes. Open Enrolment begins November 3."

    The career services seminar series offers a session today on "Interview Skills: Selling Your Skills". . . . Work reports from architecture students, about their spring term jobs, are due today at 4 p.m. . . . A seminar on "Using Merlot for Advancing Academic Technology Initiatives" is being held today by the LT3 technology centre. . . .

    In an event sponsored by Engineers Without Borders, Kevin Keane of the Canadian Landmine Foundation will speak at 5:30 today in Physics 150. He'll discuss the landmine issue in general, and give information about the Canadian Appropriate Technologies in Mine Action Competition.

    The UW history department and several other organizations are co-sponsoring a lecture tonight by Piotr Wrobel of the University of Toronto, who will speak on "Poland's Place in Europe: From Christianization to the European Union". His talk starts at 7:00 in Davis Centre room 1302, and admission is free.

    There's a briefing tonight for an "eco-village experience in Costa Rica" -- available around New Year's, during the spring reading week, or following April exams. Says a note from the organizers: "If you have an interest in Sustainable living, Eco-villages, Rainforest trekking, Volunteer work, Whale watching, Exotic wildlife, Adventure, you may want to check out the trips offered by JourneySouth in conjunction with non-profit organizations in Costa Rica. A representative from JourneySouth will be on campus to talk about this year's program for Ontario university students in Costa Rica." The meeting will start at 7:00 in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. "If you can't make the meeting, check out the JourneySouth website."

    To celebrate Architecture Week this week, the the Grand Valley Society of Architects is presenting a lecture tonight by UW planning professor Laura Johnston, author of The Co-Workplace: Teleworking in the Neighbourhood. The "co-workplace" is an alternative to both the traditional and the home-based office. It's a new type of neighbourhood-based facility: neither home nor office, but a workspace created by and for people in the neighbourhood, offering the benefits of telework, while maintaining the boundaries between workplace and home. Johnson will speak about her book, and the policy and planning issues surrounding the "co-workspace", at 7:00 tonight at the Waterloo Public Library.

    Tomorrow is the deadline for applications for this term's $1,000 staff association bursary for students who are the children of staff members. . . . The "Carbon Copy" graphics centre in the new CEIT building will be closed tomorrow morning so a service counter can be installed. . . . Sales and technical staff from Sun Microsystems are visiting the Math Faculty Computing Facility tomorrow and will give presentations morning and afternoon in Davis Centre room 1302. . . .

    Here's a reminder that staff from across campus are invited to lunch at the Student Life Centre tomorrow, from noon to 1:30. Most of the event will be outdoors, so there's a rain location, namely Federation Hall. "Lunch and soft drinks will be provided," says the flyer that invites all staff on behalf of the university's senior officials. "We want to stay thank you in person," it declares, "for all that you do for Waterloo!" The same event on a smaller scale is scheduled for 10 p.m., for staff on the night shift.

    Coming tomorrow night is a lecture at St. Jerome's University by Toronto rabbi Dow Marmur. He'll speak (7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall) on "Holiness and Spirituality: Are They Mutually Exclusive?"

    And let me repeat one of the PhD thesis notices that was badly garbled when it appeared in last week's Gazette:

    History. Tracy Penny Light, "Shifting Interests: The Professional Medical Discourse on Abortion in English Canada, 1850-1969." Supervisor, Wendy Mitchinson. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of arts graduate office, Humanities room 317. Oral examination, October 1, 9:30 a.m., Humanities room 373.


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