Thursday, June 5, 2008

  • Engineering V: the digging begins
  • 'Thank you' from UW's president
  • Provost's plan for ending budget cuts
  • Other notes from across campus
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Engineering V: the digging begins

from the UW media relations office

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new $55-million Engineering V building and launch of the faculty of engineering's $120 million fundraising campaign will be held today at 10 a.m. in parking lot B, off Phillip Street.

The six-storey building will feature glass walls, a designated green roof area and native landscaping. An enclosed pedestrian bridge will connect the building to the existing engineering complex.

Engineering V, the first of a two-phase building, will house a student design centre on its first two levels. The centre will showcase award-winning student engineering projects, such as the solar and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

"The heart of this building, one of the largest on campus, will be the new design centre for our outstanding student projects," says Adel Sedra, dean of the faculty of engineering. "We intend to make this the best undergraduate design facility in the world."

The upper four floors of the 176,000-square-foot building will provide much-needed office and teaching space in the faculty. The department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering will be located on the third floor; the fourth and fifth floors will accommodate the department of electrical and computer engineering. The department of systems design engineering will take up the sixth floor.

At its north end, the building will also contain an electromagnetic radiation laboratory, featuring an anechoic chamber. The chamber, a shielded room designed to attenuate radio frequency and microwaves, will be used for research in wireless communications.

The Engineering V building is part of a major $120 million expansion fundraising initiative for the faculty, called Vision 2010 Campaign.

"Waterloo engineering has an ambitious goal and a solid plan to get there," says campaign chair Fred Grigsby, senior vice-president and chief information officer, CN Rail. "I am pleased to lead the fundraising campaign to help Waterloo engineering earn a place among the top engineering schools in North America."

The fundraising goal for new construction, alone, will total $61.5 million. These funds will support plans for the largest expansion in the faculty of engineering's 50-year history — adding more than 400,000 square feet to existing space. Enhanced graduate scholarships and new research chairs account for the remainder of the $120 million goal.

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'Thank you' from UW's president

a memo issued yesterday by UW president David Johnston

Senate and the Board of Governors have appointed me to a further two years as President ending in June 2011. I write this personal note to thank you and all the members of our UW community for giving me this opportunity to serve for the next three years. I take great joy in this job and the opportunity to work each day with each of you to continue to build an outstanding University.

I am especially grateful that I can work with all of you to realize our ambitious 6th Decade Plan, Pursuing Global Excellence: Seizing Opportunities for Canada. The title itself is important. Most universities seek excellence. Ours does so on a global basis and seeks comparative Canadian advantage.

We prepared the plan through a three-year exercise led by Amit Chakma, our Provost, who chairs the Senate Long Range Planning Committee. Faculty Councils, Senate and the Board of Governors reviewed various iterations, and Senate and the Board unanimously approved the final version. Each Faculty has or is preparing its more detailed version.

Our 6th Decade Plan has four principal themes: Growing research; Growing graduate studies; Enhancing the undergraduate experience; Going international.

Let me give you examples of several of the goals the Provost and I will focus on over the next 3 years:

Improve quality of undergraduate admissions: The 2010 target is for 85% of the first-year class to be Ontario scholars (80%+ average). We are well on our way. For the September 2008 class we have again raised minimum entering averages. Nevertheless, we are today at 112% of confirmed admissions against our target and last year were 114% against target.
Increase international graduate students: The 2010 target is 20% (2001 was 4%). Admissions for September 2008 are closing in on 10%.
Increase graduate students: The 2010 target is 4,000 (2017 target is 8,000; 2001 was 1,877). We are doing well with over 3,000 in 2007. We are the only one of the middle and larger sized Ontario universities to achieve our target thus attracting the full Ontario operating and capital grants.
Internal scholarships for students: The 2011 target is $25m (2001 was $11m and 2007 was $21m).
Full-time faculty: The 2010 target is 950 faculty members (2017 target is 1,000; 2001 was 766 and 2006 was 921).
Research revenue: The 2010 target is $185m (2017 is $355m; 2001 was $81m and 2007 was $132m).
Annual fund raising: The 2010 target is $75m (2017 is $100m; 1998 was $8m and 2007 was $111m).
Endowment: The 2010 target is $250m (2017 is $400m; 2001 was $68m and 2007 was $171m).

In summary, we are making good progress and with continued efforts by us all we will surpass these ambitious goals. We are now equipped to do so. Our faculty and staff are the envy of our peers and our senior management team of Deans, Directors, Vice-Presidents and their Associates, in my (not entirely objective) judgement, is without peer.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to do a job I love. The cause and the company are very good.

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Provost's plan for ending budget cuts

“The old budget model no longer works!” provost Amit Chakma told UW’s board of governors on Tuesday, the words outlined in bright red in his PowerPoint presentation.

He also described the university’s escape route to financial safety: fund-raising, international expansion, and dramatic growth in “career-focused” master’s, diploma and certificate programs.

Chakma reminded the board of UW’s financial trends over the past decade, with annual cuts of around 2 per cent to operating budgets even as some money has been found for new programs. General operating grants, which provided 70 per cent of the total budget fifteen years ago, are now down to 47 per cent, and calculations suggest a drop to 37 per cent within a decade. The result: budget reductions will be getting bigger, not smaller, and “our ability to make strategic investments has become very constrained.”

The provost displayed a graph showing one thing he hopes to see: annual growth of around 15 per cent in UW’s endowment, so that the nest egg would rise from less than $200 million now to $700 million by the end of the “sixth decade”. That would mean close to $30 million a year coming into the operating budget from the earnings of the endowment fund. Later in the meeting, vice-president (external affairs) Meg Beckel also mentioned the endowment funds as she reported that total givings to UW were an impressive $110 million in the year just ended.

Another graph showed a steady upward rise in the number of international students, currently at about 1,700. Chakma is calling for a 10 per cent annual increase, to 4,500 students by 2017-18. (Registrar Ken Lavigne told the board that confirmations for first-year entrance to UW this September include 509 visa students, one-third more than the target of 373 that officials had set.)

And then there are “career-focused” programs, which, the provost said, not only hold financial promise for the university but will help to meet the Sixth Decade commitment of “seizing opportunities for Canada”. The country consistently lags behind the United States in the percentage of the population who have university-level training, especially at the master’s degree level, which experts are now seeing as the key qualification for professional jobs. UW has professional graduate programs in areas ranging from public health and taxation to power engineering, he reminded the board, and more programs are under consideration.

In addition, there are non-degree programs, he noted, and he showed a startling graph indicating that a majority of the people who study at Harvard University in a typical year are not in full-time traditional programs but in summer school and on other non-degree tracks. Similar activity at UW will not only pay for itself but bring in funds to support quality all across the university, he predicted.

Chakma gave a quick update on the budget for 2008-09, the fiscal year that has just started. There’s a deficit of just under $3 million, he said, though “we have money to pay for it” as long as it doesn’t recur. One issue that’s still up in the air is a possibility of additional graduate expansion: UW has “requested”, he said, an allocation of 700 additional student places out of 2,000 that the provincial government is willing to fund. “If we get all of them, it will be a challenge to meet those targets.”

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Other notes from across campus

The engineering faculty’s e-newsletter reports that the UW Formula SAE Race Car Team placed fifth out of 21 Canadian teams and 39th overall in the May 14 to 18 Formula SAE competition at the Michigan International Speedway. “The University of Waterloo is planning to host a SAE Central Ontario event on June 23,” it adds. “Team advisor Ken Yuen says the event is intended to draw neighbouring universities’ SAE affiliated student teams to participate in a casual greet-and-meet. Up for grabs will be cash awards for teams with best presentations.”

A note in the Teaching Matters newsletter announces creation of “a working group to explore and share a definition of ‘experiential learning’ that distinguishes UW. . . . Currently we define experiential learning as ‘intentional and reflective learning from experience with different degrees of integration into courses or programs’. We are also seeking examples of what you consider to be small or larger scale experiential learning from your own courses or program-related activities.” Some examples are cited: “exercises that use students' prior experiences as a starting point for theoretical discussion; hands-on labs and demonstrations that use real material that promote deeper understanding than readings; field trips or fieldwork as the basis for other course work or that permit testing of theories in real settings; involvement in University clubs or external volunteer involvement; community service learning as part of a course or program; studies in other countries and the preparation for or follow up from such studies; co-op experiences that find their way back into classrooms; exhibiting or performing in the fine arts or presenting posters of scientific findings at conference; conducting research individually or as part of a team.”

Without making any commitment about whether that pub in the lower level of the Student Life Centre is really the Bombshelter or the Bomber, Melissa Onn, director of marketing for the Federation of Students, lets this offer be known: “For the month of June, the Bombshelter Pub would like to extend a 25% discount on its full menu to all Staff Association Members at the University of Waterloo! As the nice weather approaches, The Bomber would like to invite on-campus staff to experience the changes we've made to our menu and facilities over the past year and to thank you for your continued patronage. This 25% discount is applicable on your individual bill from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday, on full menu items and does not apply to regular weekly specials. To receive this discount, please present your server with your 2008 Staff Association Membership Card. Thank you for your valuable business and we look forward to seeing you this month!”

The Women’s Centre, a Federation of Students service, has invited submissions for the second issue of its publication, More Than a Vessel, with an August 1 deadline. • Applications for rooms in UW’s residences (traditional Villages, townhouses and UW Place) for the winter 2009 term are now being received. • And here’s a reminder that nominations for the 2008 Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision are due by June 13 (typically three faculty members are honoured each year).

Friday morning's professional development seminar in the Information Systems and Technology department will deal with the long-awaited new information system in UW's development and alumni affairs office. How long-awaited? "The old one has been there for twenty years," vice-president (external relations) Meg Beckel told UW's board of governors this week. "You can just imagine the screens!" The new system, says an announcement of Friday's event, "will help the campus meet its objectives for donation levels, new services for alumni and requirements of development officers. The new suite of applications will handle much of the core business of the department, including gift and pledge processing, events and volunteer management, campaigns, prospect management, planned giving and biographical information." The session, 9 a.m. tomorrow in the IST seminar room, "will review the history of the project, the applications involved, current status, some future plans, and possibly a brief demo".

Finally, I have a couple of corrections to note. First, Tuesday's Daily Bulletin gave two different dates for the death of Ken Woolner, late of UW's department of physics. It was April 8 when Woolner died, aged 74. He'll be especially remembered tomorrow when friends gather at the University Club, starting at 4 p.m., to talk about the man and his contributions. Second, in yesterday's Daily Bulletin I referred to Leo Rothenburg as chair of the department of "civil engineering", which should actually have been "civil and environmental engineering". A reader reminds me that he ended his term as chair on April 30 "and is being given a brief respite from administration before his term as acting dean of engineering starts in July".


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[Las Vegas logo]

Keystone event moves into SLC

Keystone is the name and Las Vegas is the game. And the Student Life Centre is the venue, as today's Keystone Campaign event has been moved indoors on account of iffy weather. Organizers made the decision early this morning.

Activities, music, food, and a chance to celebrate Keystone are all expected to go ahead from 11:30 to 1:30 just as if it were an outdoors kind of day. The two-hour period "has been designated as paid time off for all faculty and staff". For night shift staff, a similar event will run from 10 to 11 p.m. in South Campus Hall.

Link of the day

Robert F. Kennedy

When and where

Procurement and contract services trade show of UW suppliers, last day: Corporate Express (office supplies) 11:00 to 2:00, Davis Centre lounge.

Wilfrid Laurier University convocation ceremonies June 4-6 in Waterloo, June 11 in Brantford, details online.

UW Retirees Association tour of “stately homes and gardens” in the Hamilton area, today, $67 for members and guests, information 519-744-3246.

‘Peer-to-Peer Roundtable’ on Ontario research investment, featuring UW dean of arts Ken Coates and research and innovation minister John Milloy, 11:30 (live webcast 12:30), Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, Toronto.

Alumni tour of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, 2:15 p.m., reception follows, details online.

Bill Futher, information systems and technology, retirement party marking 38 years at UW, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., South Campus Hall, Laurel Room.

Cambridge City Hall official opening of new green building, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., 50 Dickson Street, by invitation. Public events include Mayor's Celebration of the Arts, Friday evening, and Family Day, Saturday 11:00 to 3:00.

Let’s Dance rehearsals June 5-6 and performances June 7-8, Humanities Theatre.

‘Late Night Picture Show’ of “films with a social conscience” sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group: “Dr. Strangelove” 9:00 p.m., Matthews Hall green behind Student Life Centre (rain location CEIT room 1015).

Canada’s Wonderland bus trip organized by Federation of Students, Friday, tickets $40 (non-students $48) at Fed office, Student Life Centre.

Annual Child Care Festival linking four child care centres on campus, guest performer Erick Traplin, Friday 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., Village green.

School of Optometry announcement by John Milloy, Ontario minister of training, colleges and universities, regarding funding for clinical education, Friday 4:45 p.m., Optometry room 347.

Google Games for teams of five students, Saturday 9:30 to 4:00, South Campus Hall, registration closed .

5-km run and 1-km walk in support of Hildegard Marsden Nursery, Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., details and registration online.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: continuing students, June 9-14; new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Groundbreaking ceremony for the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, Monday 2:30 p.m., site north of Biology buildings.

Lectures in quantum information: Anthony Leggett, Institute for Quantum Computing, “Prospects for Topological Quantum Computing” June 10, 17, 19, 24, 26, July 3, 8, 10, all at 2:00 p.m., Research Advancement Centre, 475 Wes Graham Way, room 2009.

Alumni in Kelowna networking reception Tuesday, June 10, 5:30 to 8:30, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, information online.

Spring Convocation: applied health sciences and environmental studies, Wednesday, June 11, 10:00; science, June 11, 2:30; arts (some programs), Thursday, June 12, 10:00; arts (some programs), June 12, 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 13, 10:00; computer science, June 13, 2:30; engineering (some programs), Saturday, June 14, 10:00; engineering (some programs), June 14, 2:30, details online.

School of Planning graduation reception and Ring Ceremony Wednesday, June 11, lunch 12:00, ceremony 1:00 p.m., South Campus Hall, information

J. W. Graham Medal Seminar by this year’s winner: Eric Veach, Google Inc., “Searching the World with Google Maps”, Thursday, June 12, 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302, reception follows, details online.

Canadian Mathematical Society awards banquet, honours to high school students placing highest in the 40th Canadian Mathematical Olympiad, Thursday, June 12, 5:30, South Campus Hall.

25-Year Club annual reception Tuesday, June 17, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Zonta Club June dinner meeting, guest speaker Louise Fréchette, former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, now at Centre for International Governance Innovation, Wednesday, June 18, 6:00, South Campus Hall, tickets $20, e-mail diane@

Canada Day celebrations Tuesday, July 1, on the north campus: children’s fun-fest, arts and crafts fair, food, stage performances and other activities, 2 p.m. until evening; fireworks 10 p.m.; details and volunteer information online.

Student Life 101 open house for September’s new students, Saturday, July 19, information online.

Homecoming 2008 Saturday, September 27, details on alumni web site.

Positions available

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

• Administrative/ communications coordinator, faculty association, USG 5
• Faculty financial officer, office of the dean of arts, USG 10
• Database administrator, information systems and technology, USG 9-12
• Undergraduate services coordinator, dean of science office, USG 7
• Graduate admissions coordinator, civil and environmental engineering, USG 4
• Department secretary/ receptionist, Waterloo International, USG 5

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin