Monday, December 22, 2008

  • First offers made for September admission
  • Four professors who retired in 2008
  • A few more shovelfuls of news
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Scattering of maple leaves]First offers made for September admission

Hundreds of Ontario high school students have already been offered admission to UW for September 2009, while thousands more are anxiously studying websites and brochures this month as the main application deadline draws near.

In the end, UW can expect some 30,000 applications, the bulk of them from Ontario teens, on the way to filling a first-year class of a little more than 5,000 students next fall. But those numbers disguise a stunning variety in programs, student backgrounds, requirements, schedules and competitive advantages.

The whole process is managed by two units of the UW registrar’s office: the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, which provides information and enticements, and the admissions office, which cooperates with the faculties and academic departments to see that the right applicants are chosen for the right programs.

In between the two comes the Ontario Universities Application Centre, housed in Guelph, which processes applications electronically for all the province’s universities. It’s OUAC that defines January 14, 2009, as the main deadline date for current Ontario high school students to submit their university applications.

For students outside Ontario, the official deadline date is March 31, with earlier dates specified in certain programs — March 2 for engineering, for example. “If a program is not yet full, the application deadline may be extended,” the admissions web site notes. “Applications received after the deadline will be processed only if spaces are available.”

But there was nothing to stop students from applying well ahead of time, and that’s why Nancy Weiner, associate registrar (admissions), was able to report last week that 755 students have been sent offers of admission. “All 755 admits have been sent an offer email,” Weiner says in a memo. “There will be some students receiving their offer packages this week and next prior to the Christmas break.”

Most of the students admitted this early are high-flyers: “Out of the 755 offers for fall 2009, 351 have current grades that indicate 90% or higher and 286 have grades between 85 and 89.9%. Compared to last year at this time for fall 2008 entry, UW sent 671 offers. There were 187 with grades 90% or higher and 363 with grades between 85 and 89.9%.” Almost half the offers, 326, have gone from the faculty of arts, and most of the rest from science, with a scattering from math, environment and applied health sciences, but none from engineering.

She’s estimating that the offers sent so far to Ontario students amount to 4.1 per cent of the total that UW will eventually make. “UW will continue to make rolling offers of admission at the end of January and early February.”

Students who list UW as their first or second or third application choice — or even lower down, as there’s no longer a limit on how many universities and programs one student can choose — are mostly doing so in response to outreach activities by the marketing and recruitment office. UW’s presence at the Ontario Universities Fair in downtown Toronto on a September weekend is particularly important: a study found that 49 per cent of Waterloo’s first-choice applicants last year had been at the 2007 Fair.

Other students meet UW liaison staff as they visit high schools, consult the “findoutmore” web site, or get inspired and informed by print publications with detailed program information plus pictures of residences, classrooms and student life. There’s a main viewbook as well as separate booklets for each faculty, a thick book with information for international applicants, and (pictured) a “national admissions” booklet explaining how to match Manitoba or Prince Edward Island high school programs with UW entrance requirements.

An emphasis in the recruitment materials is potential student concern about how to afford university. “We’re committed,” bold type says, “to helping you make sure that lack of money doesn’t get in the way of your success.”

Many of the students who receive offers of application won’t make up their mind until they have an actual visit to the campus. Tours are offered by the visitor centre all through the winter and spring, but the big day for visiting students (and family members) will be the open house that’s traditionally held on the Tuesday of the schools’ March break. This year that’s March 17.

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Four professors who retired in 2008

Four UW faculty members officially retired as of September 1, the human resources department reports:

[Irvine]Jane Irvine (left) came to the department of geography (now geography and environmental management) in 1989 and has taught in such fields as geomorphology, air photo interpretation and physical geography. She was named a winner of UW’s Distinguished Teacher Award last spring: “She dedicates her time and energy to her students,” a citation said, “and is genuinely engaged in a way that brings out the best in them.”

Vinko Grubišic has been in the department of Germanic and Slavic studies since 1988. He is a noted scholar in the field of Croatian studies, and author of some 14 books, ranging from textbooks and a children’s dictionary of Croatian to literary studies. Members of the Croatian community in Ontario helped to establish a Chair for Croatian Language and Culture, of which he was the first holder. Grubišic’s first degree was from the University of Zagreb — then in the Republic of Yugoslavia, now in Croatia — and he did graduate work in Switzerland and France before coming to Canada. Among his writings is an article dissecting the complex relationships among the South Slavic languages, including Croatian, in the context of Yugoslavia’s disintegration.

[McLaughlin]Kenneth McLaughlin (right) retires after one of the longest UW careers on record. He grew up in Hespeler, now part of Cambridge, and first visited the UW campus in 1960 as a high school student. After earning a BA through what was then St. Jerome’s College, he did graduate study at Dalhousie and Toronto, then joined the UW department of history in 1970, returning to St. Jerome’s in 1975 as a professor of history and, for a time, academic dean. McLaughlin has specialized in local history, as author or co-author of general histories of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, as well as specialized books about such topics as St. Mary’s Hospital, Oktoberfest, and the Doon School of Fine Arts (which was for a time affiliated with UW). He played a key role in the restoration of what is now the Joseph Schneider Haus museum in Kitchener. McLaughlin was designated as UW’s university historian, and wrote Waterloo: The Unconventional Founding of an Unconventional University (1997) and Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: Waterloo@50 (2007), as well as a history of St. Jerome’s, Enthusiasm for the Truth (2002).

Gregory Michalenko is a long-time member of the department of environment and resource studies — or “man-environment studies” as it was when he arrived in 1975 after graduate study in biology at the University of Saskatchewan and in Switzerland. He is a specialist in environmental monitoring, aboriginal environmental issues, and applied ecology and is well known for his involvement in community issues on and off the campus; he was a pioneer in leading the ERS 285 “Greening of the Campus” course.

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A few more shovelfuls of news

See, amid the winter's snow, students plodding to and fro. See them this past Friday, in particular, making their way through blowing snow to write their last exams for the fall 2008 term. UW remained open despite Friday's wintry weather, following the usual rule: the university will close if (and only if) the Waterloo Region District School Board closes all its schools, which it didn't do. As things continued ugly outside, however, there was an announcement on the UW web site and by e-mail during the noon hour: "Although the university remains open, UW President David Johnston and Provost Amit Chakma are issuing a directive to managers across campus to allow anyone to leave early based on safety concerns. Exams scheduled for today will still be held as scheduled in order to allow students to finish on the last day of exams before the holiday break. Evening operations will continue, and those staff who work evening or night shifts will be allowed to exercise their own discretion regarding reporting for their shifts."

A brief statement issued Friday by UW's communications and public affairs office put an end to hopes that there would soon be a new swimming pool on campus: "University of Waterloo Director of Athletics Bob Copeland advised today, with great regret, that discussions with an anonymous donor which began mid-2007 on building an olympic-size pool on the UW campus have been discontinued. This is a great loss for the University, its students and the greater community. The university will continue to review and explore ways to improve facilities for serving the university community and enhancing the quality of student life." There's a brief follow-up story on the front page of today's Record newspaper.

The United Way campaign on campus officially took place in October, as usual, but — also as usual — money kept trickling in past the official deadline date. Joanna Niezen has been tallying things up in the campaign office in the Davis Centre, and reported late last week that a total of $212,910.59 had come in to support the United Way's four dozen agencies and charities. That means the target of $171,000 was exceeded by more than 21 per cent. Some of the money, more than $24,000, came from special events, but as always the bulk of it is from individual donors, this year 601 of them. That means the participation rate was up by a good percentage point from last year's figure, to 12.4 per cent (or one in eight faculty members, staff and retirees). Niezen says there were 60 "leaders", each donating $1,000 or more, and another 48 "friends", at $500 apiece.

Got your iPod ready? Tonight is Unsilent Night in Cambridge. Hmm, better let Jeff Lederer, of UW's school of architecture, explain. "I am teaching Arch 684 this term," he writes, "and the final project involves students designing and installing various lighting and window displays for an event put on in collaboration by the School of Architecture, City of Cambridge, and the Cambridge BIA. The students and I (along with staff Gemma Selvanera, Heinz Koller, Nadine Beaulieu, and Matt Oliver) are putting various installations in six vacant windows (part of a larger program that the Cambridge Core Areas Advisory Committee is working on) that celebrate downtowns as well as the holiday spirit." Yeah, but about the MP3 players? Well, a web page explains that Unsilent Night is "an outdoor ambient music piece for an infinite number of portable music players. Started in New York City, the Unsilent Night walk has become an avant-garde holiday tradition in over 35 cities around the world. The Cambridge event will be the first in Ontario. It's like a Christmas caroling party except that we don't sing, but rather carry the music, each of us playing a separate track that is a voice in the piece. We will walk from City Hall through historic downtown Cambridge and return to City Hall for the event's finale. While the ambient music delights your ears, your eyes will be treated to light installations along the route." The same web site has the music (there's a choice of four 43-minute tracks) to download.


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One more day

Fall term exams are over, the first marks are appearing on Quest today, and tomorrow will be the last working day of 2008 for the university. Watch for tomorrow's Daily Bulletin with full details on special arrangements for the holidays and the few things that are open for some or all of the 12-day hiatus, December 24 through January 4.

It's back to work for staff and faculty, and back to the classroom for students, as the winter term begins on Monday, January 5.

Hungry today? The only food services outlets open for business are Brubakers in the Student Life Centre (8 to 3), Pastry Plus in Needles Hall (7:30 to 3), Tim Hortons in the Davis Centre (7:30 to 2) and Tim's in South Campus Hall (8 to 2:30).

Link of the day


When and where

Dana Porter and Davis Centre Libraries open Monday and Tuesday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed December 24 through January 4.

Computer Help and Information Place (CHIP) open today 8:00 to 4:30, Tuesday 8:00 to 3:30.

Monthly payday for faculty and staff members is December 23.

Math and Computer building 5th floor, electrical power shut off Monday, December 29, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Engineering II and III buildings, electrical power shut off Monday, December 29, 10 a.m. to midnight.

Fee payment deadline for the winter term is December 30 (bank transfer).

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx, South Campus Hall, open for winter term rush Saturday, January 3, 12:00 to 4:00; Sunday, 10:30 to 4:30; Monday-Thursday, January 5-8, 9:00 to 7:00. Campus TechShop, Student Life Centre, open Sunday, January 4, 10:30 to 4:30.

Optometry continuing education “CE on the SEA” Caribbean cruise and professional upgrading, January 3-10. Details.

Feds used book store, Student Life Centre, open January 3-4, 9 to 5, and starting January 5, 8:30 to 5:30.

Campus tours for new students Monday, January 5, 10:30 and 1:30; one-hour tours begin at South Campus Hall. Details.

Senate executive committee Monday, January 5, 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Library books signed out on term loan before the beginning of December are due Wednesday, January 7; return or renew online.

Paul Snyder, information systems and technology, retirement party Wednesday, January 7, 3:30 to 5:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP

Services Fair aimed at new students Wednesday, January 7, 4:00 to 7:00, Student Life Centre lower atrium. Details.

‘Language as a Complex Dynamic System’ at Renison University College, Thursday, January 8, 7:00 p.m.; guest speaker Diane Larsen-Freeman, University of Michigan; details e-mail jpwillia@

White Coat Ceremony for new pharmacy students, Thursday, January 8, 5:00, Humanities Theatre.

Social Innovation Generation project presents “Studio Earth”, with remarks by environmentalist Severn Suzuki, sessions on social finance, social technology, political advocacy, Sunday, January 11, 12:30 to 5:00, Kitchener City Hall, registration $10, call ext. 38680.

Engineering alumni ski day at Osler Bluff Ski Club, Collingwood, January 16. Details.

Banff Mountain Film Festival January 18 and 19, 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $15.

United Arab Emirates campus information session with director Magdy Salama, announced forJanuary 19, has been postponed, new date to be announced.

Faculty of Science presents Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize winner 2002, “The Architecture of Biological Complexity,” Tuesday, January 20, details to be announced.

Electrical and computer engineering student design project symposium Wednesday, January 21, Davis Centre great hall. Details.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for spring 2009 courses, February 2 to 14; open enrolment begins February 16.

[Beck]Staff member retires

Margaret Beck (right) will have her last day at work tomorrow, winding up a 25-year career in retail services. She worked first in the Village I tuck shop, and more recently in the retail services accounting office.

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Friday's Daily Bulletin