[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

  • Provost will serve to 2011
  • Three new 'University Professors'
  • Faculty discuss mandatory retirement
  • In the pause before exams
Chris Redmond

Tartan Day

Engineering drops plan for Kuwait branch

UW has dropped the idea of establishing a school of engineering in the Gulf nation of Kuwait, provost Amit Chakma told the board of governors yesterday.

"The numbers are just not there," Chakma said, reporting what UW experts and consultants found when they looked at how many students in Kuwait might be qualified for UW engineering studies and able to afford such a program.

"The results of the study were very clear," added Adel Sedra, dean of engineering. "The demand is not there. Forty to fifty students per year would not make an engineering program."

Chakma said UW will "remain interested at some future time" in academic partnerships in Kuwait or elsewhere.

Provost will serve to 2011

The provost who brought "strategic investment" to UW's budgeting process will serve a second five-year term, the university's board of governors decided last night, shortly after approving his $317 million budget for 2005-06. A memo this morning announces the reappointment of Amit Chakma (right), who became vice-president (academic) and provost in August 2001.

[Chakma] The memo, from president David Johnston, says Chakma "enjoys strong, wide-spread support throughout the University and I am extremely pleased that he is willing to continue." His second term begins July 1, 2006.

"The University of Waterloo has reappointed one of Canada's leading young scientists," says a news release being issued today. "He will also continue to be a professor in the Chemical Engineering department, with a cross-appointment to the Faculty of Environmental Studies."

The appointment by the board came on the recommendation of a nominating committee, set up under UW's policy about the key vice-presidential position, and approval by the university senate last week. The VP (academic) and provost is Waterloo's chief operating officer, reporting to the president, and is expected to provide academic leadership as well as developing the annual budget and managing most of the university enterprise.

In the news release Johnston, who chaired the nominating committee, praised Chakma's work as provost over the past four years. "The University of Waterloo is especially blessed to have the continued leadership of Amit Chakma," Johnston said. "Dr. Chakma understands the relevance and importance of all estates in the university, and brings remarkable energy, vitality and vision in his academic and provostial leadership."

Says a statement from the chair of the board of governors, Bob Harding: "Amit is a very capable administrator and key member of our senior team at Waterloo. He has been instrumental in advancing a number of important new initiatives, such as the School of Pharmacy project, and we look forward to more success working with him in his continuing leadership role."

Chakma came to UW from the University of Regina, where he had been vice-president (research). Previously he had been dean of engineering, and before that a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary.

The news release notes: "Over the years, he has served as a consultant to a number of universities and government agencies and has provided advice on university administration, academic planning and capacity building, curriculum development and research matters. Chakma has also advised government agencies and industrial companies on energy production and utilization, energy and environmental systems management.

"His research focus is on natural gas engineering and petroleum waste management and he is widely known for his work on gas treating solvents and membrane separation. He also has an interest in atmospheric pollution with a special focus on finding short-term solutions to CO2 induced global warming.

"Chakma has served on a wide range of boards and councils, and was a member of the Gas Processing Expert Group of the International Energy Agency's Greenhouse Gas R&D Program. He is a graduate of the Algerian Petroleum Institute (Dip. Ing., 1982) and the University of British Columbia (Master of Applied Science, 1984 and PhD, chemical engineering, 1987)."

Three new 'University Professors'

UW has appointed its fourth, fifth and sixth University Professors, the highest academic honour given at this university, the board of governors was told yesterday.

Provost Amit Chakma announced that Terry McMahon of chemistry, Cameron Stewart of pure mathematics and Robert Jan Van Pelt of architecture have been awarded the title by the University Promotion and Tenure Committee.

They join the 2004 recipients, the first since the University Professor title was created: Garry Rempel of chemical engineering, Mary Thompson of statistics and actuarial science, and Mark Zanna of psychology.

Said Chakma's report to the board yesterday: "Although the target was to confer two designations per year, there were many outstanding nominations." Hence three winners again this year. The intention is that "at steady state" there will be no more than 14 University Professors, apart from those who have retired.

Chakma gave some background about the honour: "The University of Waterloo owes much of its reputation and stature to the quality of its eminent professors. UW recognizes exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence through the designation University Professor. Once appointed, a faculty member retains the designation for life. . . . Such appointments are reported to Senate and to the Board of Governors for information, and are recognized at Convocation."

Here's how the individuals are chosen: "Annually, nominations will be sought from Deans, Directors and Chairs, as well as from the University community generally. A nominee shall have demonstrated exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence in a particular field or fields of knowledge. The individual who nominates a colleague is responsible for gathering the documentation and submitting it to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. The University Tenure & Promotion Committee will act as the selection committee; its decisions are final.

"A nomination must be supported by at least six signatures from at least two UW departments," and opinions are asked from "scholars of international standing in the nominee's field" before a decision is made.

Faculty discuss mandatory retirement

The UW faculty association will hold its annual meeting today -- starting at 3:00 in Arts Lecture Hall room 105 -- and is setting aside time on the agenda for general discussion of a couple of key issues, including mandatory retirement.

Statement on academic freedom

"In light of a number of situations which have arisen at Canadian universities in recent months," says the new issue of the faculty association's Forum newsletter, "the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the Faculty Association passed the following motion."

The Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the Faculty Association would like to remind members of the UW community that:

1. "Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression" is a core value of Canadian society, as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

2. The UW Memorandum of Agreement states that "Academic freedom provides the possibility of examining, questioning, teaching, and learning, and involves the right to investigate, speculate, and comment without deference to prescribed doctrine" and "Academic freedom also entails freedom from institutional censorship".

3. Political discussions necessarily involve controversial issues and robust, open debate on those issues.

4. Robust, open debate cannot take place if professors are afraid that expressing their political views will subject them to disciplinary action.

"The FAUW is in favour of the elimination of mandatory retirement," says the association's president, Roydon Fraser, writing in the latest issue of its Forum newsletter. He points to a recent decision at the University of Toronto to eliminate automatic retirement at 65 for professors, and the possibility of legislative change to ban mandatory retirement in Ontario altogether.

The association, says Fraser, "has been in discussions with the UW Administration about the elimination of mandatory retirement. With the expectation that mandatory retirement will be eliminated soon, perhaps this spring, FAUW would like to have your input."

Comments can be sent to members of the association board, he writes, and at today's meeting "a segment of the agenda has been set aside for mandatory retirement discussions".

There will also be general discussion, says Fraser, of possible changes to UW Policies 40 (about appointing department chairs) and 45 (faculty deans). "There is concern in certain departments and Faculties about undue secrecy," he writes, "and there are vast differences between departments and Faculties in how the appointment and re-appointment processes are implemented. The FAUW believes best practices can be identified for more consistency and less faculty alienation." Again, members' input is wanted.

Today's meeting will also hear reports from the association's committees, including the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, which often deals with sensitive issues of appointment, tenure and individual professors' relationship with their departments or deans. "After the intense activity of last summer and fall," writes the committee chair, Frank Reynolds of statistics and actuarial science, "the workload has returned to a more normal level of about 10 open cases."

The meeting will also hear the results of elections for the 2005-06 board of directors, and will be asked to approve the mil rate (membership fee) for the coming year at 3.50 (0.35 per cent of salaries). That would make it the second year in a row for reduced fees.

Graduate Student Research Conference continues today 8:20 to 5:20, Davis Centre. Tomorrow, presentations are from 9 to noon, followed by panel discussion on "Mentoring and Graduate Supervision" (1:00, DC 1302) and awards reception (4:00, South Campus Hall).

'Course Design' teaching workshop, 9:30 a.m. (repeated April 14), details from the teaching resource office.

Stress relaxation series: "Empowered Breathing", 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program.

Computational mathematics seminar: Greg Lewis, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, "Numerical Computation of Bifurcations in a Model of Differentially Heated Rotating Fluid System", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

US-bound co-op students sponsored by visa agencies, mandatory pre-departure session 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218 9or tomorrow 9:30 a.m.). Sessions scheduled tomorrow for other students going abroad in spring term.

Perimeter Institute lecture: Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study, "The Quest for Supersymmetry", 7 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Waiting list begins at 6 p.m.

'Backyard Bird and Butterfly Gardens' presentation by Larry Lamb, UW ecology lab, 7 p.m., Kitchener Public Library Stanley Park branch.

UW-ACE Instructors Group meets Thursday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, registration online.

English proficiency examination Thursday 7 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience presents theologian Marilyn Legge, "Diversity as Moral and Spiritual Resource", Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall.

On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Department resource manager, electrical and computer engineering, USG 9
  • Lab instructor, nanotechnology, electrical and computer engineering, USG 8
  • Information systems analyst/database specialist, arts computing, USG 9/10
  • Tutor, writing clinic, USG 7
  • Director, food services, USG 15
  • Director, UW Graphics, USG 13
  • Department secretary, classical studies and Spanish and Latin American studies, USG 5
  • Operations coordinator, bookstore, USG 7

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • In the pause before exams

    I wrote yesterday that fee payment deadlines for the spring term hadn't been announced yet. In fact they have, and I just didn't know where to look. The main payment date is Thursday, April 28, which applies to students who settle their fees by bank payment. Cheques, money orders and "fee arrangements" would be due three days earlier, on April 25. Meanwhile, the board of governors last night approved a number of fee changes, including a 5 per cent boost in the co-op fee, taking it to $441 for co-op operations plus the continuing $25 for construction of the Tatham Centre. I'll have a fuller report on the board's fee actions in this Daily Bulletin in a day or so.

    I also wrote yesterday that Pete Whittington, winner of the Hopkins-Kemp Award for long-time contributions to the campus recreation program, was finishing a graduate degree in environment and resource studies. In fact, his graduate work is in geography.

    The 29th ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, sponsored by IBM, are under way today at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. For the 13th consecutive time a Waterloo team will compete in the world finals. Waterloo has won twice, in 1994 and 1999. The current UW Black Team earned a berth in the world finals by placing first among 131 teams from 72 schools when the 2004 ACM East Central North America Regional Programming Contest was held in November. In the regional, the Waterloo Gold team placed second. One team per school can move on to the final competition but Waterloo Gold will be present in Shanghai to cheer on their Black fellow-students. Waterloo Black Team members are Ralph Furmaniak (2A pure math), Matei Zaharia (2A computer science) and David Narum (2nd year math exchange from Norway). Coach is Gordon Cormack of computer science.

    The UW library is extending "An Invitation to Campus Authors", as the annual UW Authors Event is scheduled for May 17, according to the online "News @ Your Library". It says: "An integral part of the event is the display of published works by UW authors, artists, and musicians. This year's display will feature work produced in 2004. If you have written a book, play, musical score, or had your work exhibited, the Library would like to hear from you. Please contact Cheryl Kieswetter in the Library Office (ext. 2282)."

    Hammarskjöld House on University Avenue, a landmark and the original headquarters of Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc., is being demolished as part of WCRI redevelopment. . . . "Unofficial" marks from winter term courses will be available on Quest starting April 22, the registrar's office says. . . . The plant operations department says renovations are under way to a "clean room" on the fifth floor of the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology. . . .


    Communications and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
    200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
    (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
    bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Yesterday's Daily Bulletin
    Copyright © 2005 University of Waterloo