[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Friday, December 16, 2005

  • Half a century ago, UW began
  • Let's talk a little about snow
  • In exam season, watch your hardware
Chris Redmond

O little university of Bethlehem

[Bow tie, four-in-hand, clerical collar]

UW's three principal founders reunited in 1982 to mark the university's 25th anniversary: J. Gerald Hagey, president of Waterloo College 1953-59 and of UW 1957-69; Ira G. Needles, executive of B. F. Goodrich and first chairman of the UW board of governors; Rev. Cornelius "Corky" Siegfried, president of St. Jerome's College 1948-51, 1955-65 and 1972-79.

Half a century ago, UW began

UW had its official beginnings 50 years ago today, at a meeting of 17 local business leaders and professional men, called by the president of a small-town college to talk about doing big things.

It began at 4:00 on December 16, 1955 -- a Friday, like today -- in the boardroom of Waterloo College, near the corner of Dearborn Street (not yet called University Avenue) and Albert Street. The participants had been invited by Gerry Hagey, a former business executive and president of the college for the past two years, who had already persuaded a few of his friends that it was time to expand the college's scope and size.

Other beginning dates

1865 -- St. Jerome's College founded (joined UW 1960)
1911 -- Evangelical Lutheran Seminary founded (became Waterloo College 1925)
1925 -- College of Optometry of Ontario founded (joined UW 1967)
1957 -- Waterloo College Associate Faculties admits students; official founding date of UW
There were "numerous questions", according to the three-page typewritten minutes of that afternoon's meeting. (Hagey's own copy is now in the UW Archives.) Then it was moved by Carl A. Pollock (president of Dominion Electrohome Industries), seconded by A. M. Snider (president of Sunshine Waterloo Co. Ltd., a furniture manufacturer), and carried, that "Those present agree that they will serve as charter members of a Board of Governors for a Faculty of Science to be affiliated with Waterloo College and that they will record their agreement by affixing their signature to this motion. Also, that those invited to this meeting, but unable to attend, be given an opportunity to serve and to indicate their agreement by affixing their signatures to the motion."

The meeting was chaired by Ira G. Needles -- president of B. F. Goodrich Co. of Canada -- with Carl Dare, president of Dare Biscuit Company, as secretary. Among the others on hand were A. R. Kaufman of Kaufman Rubber, John E. Motz of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, physician Harry Lackner, and lawyer J. Kenneth Sims. Five men -- including J. W. Scott, general manager of Waterloo Trust and Savings, eventually to be a part of TD Canada Trust -- were listed as invited but unable to attend.

Before they adjourned, the participants appointed a committee to set the legal paperwork in motion and work with the existing Waterloo College board. And they were reminded that cooperation would be needed from the Canada Synod of the United Lutheran Church, which operated Waterloo College.

More meetings would follow. By the time the first students registered, in July 1957, the new entity included engineering as well as science, and was called Waterloo College Associate Faculties. In 1959 it separated from the parent college, becoming the University of Waterloo, and federating with the other college that already existed in town, St. Jerome's. Meanwhile, the original Waterloo College began its evolution into today's Wilfrid Laurier University. And there was much more history to come.

UW will mark its official 50th anniversary in 2007, with extensive celebrations already being planned. But you might say things really started on that December afternoon 50 years ago today.

Green Party leader visits

[Harris] Jim Harris, leader of the Green Party of Canada, wasn't seen on last night's national leaders' debate, but he'll be on campus in the flesh today as part of a southern Ontario tour. Harris will speak in the Student Life Centre at 3:30 today.

"He will likely be speaking on issues regarding environmental sustainability and education," says Darcy Higgins on behalf of the UW Campus Greens -- who notes that Tony Maas, a graduate student in UW's school of planning, is the Green Party candidate in Kitchener Centre riding in the January 23 federal election.

Let's talk a little about snow

Just in time for the snow to start falling yesterday, the university secretariat issued a new paragraph of advice to add to the guideline on storm closings at UW.

Here's what the new passage says: "Winter weather conditions can create transportation and pedestrian challenges when the University remains open. Faculty, staff and students are reminded that they have primary responsibility for their own decisions, including determining when weather conditions make their travel unsafe. Further, they should consider that public transportation may be the wise choice both for safety reasons and because availability of cleared parking spaces may be limited."

Yesterday everybody was talking about the likelihood of a storm closing today, but it didn't happen. Snow certainly fell, from 11:00 yesterday morning to sometime in the evening, but the storm was less than "massive", the word CBC News is using for it. The UW weather station reports that just 6.8 millimetres of snow fell on the north campus over a 24-hour period (although I think their device can't distinguish rain from snow, so that number could be questionable). And this morning driving conditions are not that bad. One co-worker described Fischer-Hallman Road as "greasy", but in general traffic is moving smoothly.

Certainly today's conditions weren't ugly enough to lead the local public school board to shut its schools -- the decision that would trigger a closing of UW as well. Under the established procedure, UW follows the lead of the school board, which has contacts across Waterloo Region to judge weather and roads, and can get the word out quickly through radio stations. Thus on stormy days, university people are urged to listen to the radio in the early morning for the official word. (A storm closing is also posted on UW's web site as early as possible.)

Karen Jack of the university secretariat said the storm closing document is also getting a new title: "Weather/Emergency Closing Guidelines". Its text explains that the same principles -- classes and exams cancelled, staff paid for the day, and so on -- would also apply if UW had to close for some reason unrelated to snow, such as a hydro failure like the one that happened in August 2003. For a winter storm, the procedure was last used January 27, 2004.

Carousel Dance Centre Christmas show "The Polar Express" 10:00, 1:00 and 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Service of Lessons and Carols at St. Bede's Chapel (Anglican), Renison College, Sunday 10:30 a.m.

Advent Reconciliation Service, University Catholic Community, Sunday 2 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

Winter term fees due Monday if paid by cheque, December 28 by bank transfer. Details online.

Football Warriors news conference to announce 14 high school recruits for the 2005 team, Monday 12 noon, Columbia Icefield.

In exam season, watch your hardware

We move ever closer to the end of the fall term, although another week of exams are still on the schedule. Accordingly, the UW libraries continue their extended hours, with the Dana Porter Library open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, and the Davis Centre library open 24 hours a day -- except for a closing Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m. to allow computer system maintenance.

In those libraries, apparently, some bad things have been happening. Sergeant Al Binns of the UW police reports that "a significant number of laptops, I-Pods and other personal belongings" have been stolen lately from both libraries. "Please," he wrote to me, "advise users to ensure that if they are leaving their study area, even if only for a few minutes (washroom break etc) they either take their property with them or have a friend watch over it for them. Please remind them that in the event that they "you see any suspicious behaviour, do not hesitate to contact UW Police." The number: 888-4911.

Today's the last day for special "exam fitness" classes offered by the campus recreation program, although rec facilities such as the pool, the ice surface and the Columbia Icefield gym will be open daily until the end of next week. For refuelling after the workout, most food services outlets are still in operation, although a few -- Festival Fare in South Campus Hall, Tim Horton's in Optometry, the PAS snack bar, Pastry Plus in Matthews Hall -- have closed for the season. Today's the last day of 2005 service for the CEIT Café and the Modern Languages coffee shop (but Tim's in ML will be open most of next week). And today is the last day of 24-hour operation in Mudie's in Village I and late evening hours in REVelation in Ron Eydt Village; those two cafeterias will have more restrained hours for the next few days.

Another key end-of-term service, the Federation of Students used book store in the Student Life Centre, will be open tomorrow from 10 to 5 (it's generally closed Saturdays). The store's last day before Christmas will be next Friday, December 23. It'll reopen the day before the winter term -- Monday, January 2 -- from 9 to 5.

Meanwhile, the academic enterprise goes on. Conrad Grebel University College sends word that the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre has named Jonathan Seiling as the first recipient of the A. James Reimer Award. This annual award was established in recognition of Reimer, founding director of TMTC, and "his longstanding commitment to theological education" at Grebel and the Toronto School of Theology. TMTC is a branch of Grebel, located on the University of Toronto campus as part of TST, offering graduate degrees and doing theological research. The Reimer award supports "TST doctoral students of Mennonite identity who associate with TMTC". Seiling, the first award winner, is pursuing a doctorate in theology (ThD), specializing in modern church history. He is analyzing the influence of German idealist philosophy on Russian Orthodoxy in the 20th century, with a particular focus on the work of theologian Sergei Bulgakov. Earlier, Seiling earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from Grebel and a BA in religious studies from UW. Reimer himself says he's delighted that Seiling has won the award: "I've had him as a student for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Jonathan has a sharp intellect, is full of imaginative curiosity, has traveled widely, especially in Russia, and has a deep commitment to the Mennonite Church along with his ecumenical interests." The award was established by a gift from Alan Armstrong and Marlys Neufeldt, both alumni of Conrad Grebel, currently living in California. Alan, who was Reimer's student, noted "Jim helped me re-understand biblical texts and church dogma in ways that continue to inspire and strengthen me and my faith."


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