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Monday, May 8, 2006

  • Rule change threatens work terms in US
  • Staff polled about 'recognition'
  • PhD theses ready for defence
  • Now, the rest of the story
Chris Redmond

World Red Cross Red Crescent Day

[15 people against the wall]

Par excellence: "Focused time" and discussion made up the second annual Teaching Excellence Academy during the week between terms. The teaching resource office says eleven "outstanding faculty members from across campus" worked on re-designing their courses and discussed teaching and learning issues. "Numerous ideas were exchanged over the four days as the faculty members worked in small groups facilitated by TRACE consultants and two faculty members who completed the Academy last year. Each participant left with a revised course outline that included course concept maps, learning outcomes, and assessment and teaching methods that would help their students meet those learning outcomes. A syllabus showcase at the University Club wrapped up the event, with opening comments coming from President David Johnston."

Rule change threatens work terms in US

Waterloo students would be largely blocked from taking co-op jobs in the United States under a proposed change to American visa regulations that hit the headlines late last week.

"This is bad," said an e-mail statement from the Federation of Students. The Feds are urging students to do what they can to help in lobbying against the change, during the 60-day period -- now about half over -- that's provided before a final decision is made. "They can contact their previous supervisors at their US employers," Feds vice-president Jeff Henry suggested, "to make sure the issue is known and being confronted by their company."

There are 193 co-op students with jobs in the US this term, says Tony Munro of the co-op education and career services department. Apart from the highly-publicized presence of Waterloo students at Microsoft headquarters near Seattle, most of the jobs are in New York and California, and involve engineering and math students as well as some from architecture.

The US state department published the proposal in the Federal Register on April 7. It has to do with the "training" category of the J-1 visa that allows admission to the US as an "exchange visitor". As proposed, that category would be altered to apply only to those with three years of experience, and a new category of "intern" would be introduced that would apply only to those with a degree and in their first year post-graduation. Without these categories, the only remaining J-1 visa categories under which co-op students could work in the US would be the "Summer Work-Travel" category (valid for the spring term only) and the "Research Scholar" category (valid for research jobs in post-secondary institutions or research facilities).

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  • UW will try to have the US government reconsider the changes, says the university's director of government relations, Avvey Peters. Efforts will be made through the Canadian government and its representatives in Washington and New York, and through industry associations; other Canadian universities with co-op programs will also be enlisted.

    Mostly, however, any meaningful pressure against the change is expected to come from American employers of UW students. They'll be urged "to connect with their Congressmen and the State Department" to describe "the negative impact the changes will have on their ability to do business: they cannot get enough qualified US co-op students, therefore they look north, to UW and others."

    Staff polled about 'recognition'

    Staff members have three weeks, starting today, to say yes or no to a question that's being posed by the Staff Compensation Committee.

    They're being asked: "Do you believe that there should be a recognition program for staff that includes a monetary component?" Online balloting opened at 8:30 this morning and will close at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 26.

    A message is going to non-union staff this morning (by e-mail in most cases, but on paper to those in the housekeeper and janitor category) explaining the background of the question: "The Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation is conducting a review of the Special Recognition Award Program established in 2004 as part of the USG staff salary program. The Committee made a commitment to review the program in 2006. This review will not affect the 2006 award program currently being run and for which nominations close on June 30, 2006.

    "The first step in the review is to gauge staff interest in continuing, in some manner, with the Special Recognition Award Program. If there is interest in continuing, the Committee will conduct a full review over the summer soliciting further comments at that time."

    The existing program provides about 250 awards a year, each involving a $1,000 one-time bonus payment. Awards are intended for "staff who make UW a great place to work every day by consistently demonstrating the use of the Basic Principles for the UW Workplace".

    Nominations are welcomed from the individual's manager, but also from other staff as well as students, faculty and even people outside the university. Details -- and this year's nomination form -- are available on a special web site.

    PhD theses ready for defence

    Here's the latest list of graduate students who are about to defend their PhD theses -- the last step before that red-and-green gown that symbolizes a Waterloo doctoral degree.

    Chemistry. Jaclyn Leigh Brusso, "The Bandwidth Challenge in Thiazyl and Selenazyl Radical Conductors." Supervisor, R. T. Oakley. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Tuesday, May 9, 2 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

    Chemistry. Jessica A. O. Rumfeldt, "Thermodynamics, Kinetics and Structural Dynamics of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Associated Mutant Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dismutases." Supervisor, E. M. Meiering. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, May 15, 2 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

    Recreation and leisure studies. Elizabeth Halpenny, "Pro-environmental Behaviour, Place Attachment and Park Visitation." Supervisor, Paul Eagles. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, May 16, 11 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

    Mechanical engineering. Michael L. Kuntz, "Quantifying Isothermal Solidification Kinetics During Transient Liquid Phase Bonding Using Differential Scaling Calorimetry." Supervisors, S. Corbin and N. Zhou. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, May 23, 1:30 p.m., location to be announced.

    Kinesiology. Carley Benton, "The roles of PPARα, PPARγ and PGC-1α on the Regulation of the Fatty Acid Transport Proteins FAT/CD36 and FABPpm and Effects on Skeletal Muscle Fatty Acid Transport Rate and Oxidation." Supervisors, Arend Bonen and John Heikkila. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Friday, June 9, 9:30 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

    Planning. Heidi Jennifer Hoernig, "Planning for Religious Diversity: The Case of Planning for Places of Worship." Supervisor, Trudi Bunting. On display in the faculty of environmental studies, ES1-335. Oral defence Tuesday, June 27, 9:30 a.m., Environmental Studies I room 221.

    Computational mathematics colloquium: Daniel B. Carr, George Mason University, "Maps, Hypothesis Generation, Sliders, Visual Analytics, and Shareware called CCmaps", 2:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

    UW Stage Band rehearsals Mondays 7 to 10 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College room 1111; more players needed immediately in all sections.

    Buteyko breathing therapy seminars at Conrad Grebel University College, May 8-12 and 15-19, 4:30 and 7 p.m., information 519-375-6069.

    Career interest assessment Tuesday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112, preregistration at Career Services office, $10 fee.

    Winter term work reports due Tuesday 4 p.m. (co-op students in most faculties).

    Waterloo Public Interest Research Group volunteer meeting Tuesday 5 p.m., multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

    WHMIS training for employees available Wednesday 10 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302 (repeated May 18, 2 p.m., Davis 1304); general safety orientation Thursday 2 p.m., Davis 1302, repeated May 18, 10 a.m., Davis 1304.

    'Tales of an Urban Indian' one-man touring performance by Brandon Oakes, presented by Aboriginal Student Centre, Wednesday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $11 (students $6) 888-4908.

    UW Blooms annual exchange of perennials and other garden items, organized by UW Recreation Committee, Thursday 12 to 5, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

    'Catholic Voices in the Media and Public Square' panel discussion Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University -- open to all, but also serves as introduction to two-day conference on 'Catholics in Public Life'.

    Non-Violence Fair and Concert in Waterloo Park, Saturday 12 noon to 11 p.m., details online.

    Now, the rest of the story

    The "Open Classroom" program is running again this term, says Verna Keller of the teaching resource office. That's the arrangement by which a few faculty members invite other teachers to sit in on a class. Two such openings are next week. "Both," says a memo, "are introductory lectures and will be useful to those interested in ideas for setting up context for students." Roydon Fraser of mechanical engineering is opening a session of Mech Eng 459 ("Energy Conversion"), and Gordon Stubley of the same department is opening a session of Mech Eng 566 ("Computational Fluid Dynamics for Engineering Design"). Instructors need to sign up in advance, of course, and details are online.

    Ian Rowlands of the department of environment and resource studies is expecting some visitors this week. He writes: "From 8-10 May, the Department of Environment and Resource Studies and the Faculty of Environmental Studies will be hosting Dr. Sarah Darby from the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute. An international expert on the social, behavioural and educational aspects of energy demand, Dr. Darby will be meeting faculty members and students while at UW. She will also be presenting a paper entitled 'Building a Knowledge Base for Energy Demand Reduction' as part of a half-day workshop in FES entitled 'Advancing Energy Sustainability in Ontario and Beyond'. Registration for the workshop was oversubscribed, and participants are expected from UW (both faculty and students), local nongovernmental organisations, local municipal governments, local and regional utilities (electricity and gas) and provincial-level energy organisations. Dr. Darby's visit is supported by the British Council."

    Another exhibition by graduating Master of Fine Arts students has opened in the UW gallery in East Campus Hall. The latest show, which had its opening reception Saturday afternoon, involves work by Rick Nixon and François Saint-Pierre, and will be on view through Friday. Nixon's work is titled "Life Through Aliens", and Saint-Pierre's is titled "All Experience Is an Arch"; he describes it as "a series of new oil paintings and drawings reflecting an ongoing interest in the relationship between historical tropes, both textual and image-based, and the possibility of their translation into contemporary forms".

    And speaking of art galleries, "The Notebook Project" opened last week at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery in downtown Kitchener. The "project", the gallery explains, "began in Isabella Stefanescu's studio during a discussion with curator Allan MacKay regarding the content and significance of notebooks to the artist's practice. From these initial musings, a collaborative project was born under the artistic direction of Stefanescu. An image-sound-viewer interface was developed around pages of Stefanescu's notebook to allow viewers to influence the narrative sequence and sound for the exhibition. Within the Gallery, pages of Stefanescu's notebook will be projected as large wall-size images with the viewer controlling the sequence of the content. The sense of touch of handling the notebook will be replaced by the viewer's experience of being in an architectural space. The format of the project provides a window into the artistic process by revealing the often private mark making and notations by an artist." Engineer and artist Rob Gorbet, of UW's electrical and computer engineering department, created the viewer interface, there's photography by Robert McNair of the school of architecture, and other UW connections are likely in the fine print as well.

    Registration for instructional programs in campus recreation is under way today in the Physical Activities Complex. . . . Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses start June 12, and details of the appointments will be listed on Quest as of this Thursday. . . . With Ron Eydt Village not in regular use this term, steam will be shut down for boiler maintenance for the next three weeks. . . .

    Finally, there's a big event on the horizon: one month from today -- June 8 -- brings "Camp Keystone", this year's version of the annual Keystone Campaign picnic and celebration for staff, faculty and retirees. The noontime event (11:30 to 1:30) will be held on the Graduate House green this year, according to the It's Our Waterloo newsletter that's just been distributed across campus. "Come celebrate and enjoy free food and drink, a live band, arts and crafts, games, music, entertainment, a chance to win prizes, and more!"


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