Tuesday, October 21, 2008

  • No hiring, spending before April 30
  • Cancer researcher fills in for speaker
  • China conference after China Week
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

No hiring, spending before April 30

UW’s president yesterday announced a six-month "postponement" of hiring and major spending that will provide “a chance to assess the impact” of the worldwide economic turmoil on the university’s financial position.

[Johnston]“UW is in excellent overall financial health,” president David Johnston (right) said in a letter distributed to faculty and staff members, but the outlook is “profoundly uncertain” as governments look to stabilize their markets and economies. Here's the text of his letter:

“The current global financial crisis has been at the forefront of the news and everyone's minds. While governments are attempting to attenuate the situation through massive intervention, the implications for UW’s near-term financial outlook are profoundly uncertain. Even if the financial system is stabilized, it appears that we face a significant period of economic weakness.

“It may take several months or even a year for the picture to become clear. However, the UW management team certainly believes that we have entered new territory. Experts are predicting that at the very least we could experience a 2–3 year global recession during which post-secondary institutions like UW will face a number of challenges.

“Through prudent management in the past, UW is in excellent overall financial health. Furthermore, while we believe that we are well-positioned to weather tough economic times, it is clear that maintaining the status quo is not an option.

“Accordingly, after discussion last week with members of Deans’ and Executive Councils, we agreed on the following: UW will postpone hiring into any new or vacant positions until April 30, 2009. Exceptions will be subject to approval by the Provost, in response to a recommendation by a Dean, Associate Provost or other member of Executive Council. As well, we are asking that discretionary spending, especially on large items, be delayed until April 30, 2009.

“The next six months will give us a chance to assess the impact of these new financial times. They will also give us opportunity to develop additional revenue sources through fundraising and, for example, new course-based master's programs. If the situation turns out to be better than our current cautious and prudent approach suggests, we can discontinue these two measures at any time.

“This university is fiscally well-run. It has an excellent track record of prudent investment and financial management. With your help we can weather this period of uncertainty.

“Meanwhile, the Provost and I will hold a ‘town hall’ meeting soon after the October 28 Board of Governors meeting. We invite written questions that we will answer at the meeting. Time permitting, we will answer oral questions as well. Details about the meeting and where to direct any advance questions will be carried in the Daily Bulletin this week.

“Thank you for your understanding.”

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Cancer researcher fills in for speaker

Hundreds of high school students, coming to UW tomorrow morning for a lecture about the wonders of science, will hear from a star of cancer research rather than the Nobel-winning biologist they were expecting.

Sydney Brenner, one of the world's pioneers in genetics and molecular biology and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for “Physiology or Medicine”, was scheduled to give two lectures tomorrow — a morning talk for local high schoolers and a more technical afternoon talk for a campus audience. Brenner is ill and can’t make the trip to Waterloo from his home in Cambridge, England, says Bonnie Fretz of the science faculty’s alumni office, who has been organizing the event.

Brenner’s afternoon lecture, "The Architecture of Biological Complexity", is cancelled. In the morning, when he was to speak on “Why I Became a Scientist”, the audience will instead hear from Tak Mak of the Ontario Cancer Institute and the University of Toronto, an expert in the genetics of immunology and winner of a long series of scientific awards. He’ll speak about education and science under the title “All the Flowers of All the Tomorrows Are in the Seeds of Today”.

About 700 students from 75 local high schools are expected, including a select group from UW's enrichment program, Waterloo Unlimited. The talk is sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation, the Government of Ontario and vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur. Admission is free.

Says Terry McMahon, dean of the faculty of science: “At UW, we are committed to imparting scientific knowledge in a manner that encourages academic excellence, creativity and the ability to address practical problems."

As a pioneer in genetics and molecular biology, Brenner established the existence of messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) and demonstrated how the order of amino acids in protein is determined. His research provides insights into aging, nerve cell function and controlled cell death which has implications for understanding a range of diseases including cancer, AIDS, strokes and neuro-degenerative diseases of the brain.

Mak, meanwhile, does research on the biology of cells in normal and disease settings. “We have chosen,” he writes, “to focus on the mechanisms underlying immune responses and tumorigenesis. With this broad agenda in mind, we have initiated several complementary programs. Many of these projects have evolved from the production and analysis of genetically engineered mouse strains. The various compartments of the immune system make up what is perhaps the most intriguing and intricate cellular network aside from the nervous system. Through the targeted mutation of individual genes, our laboratory has endeavoured to dissect the function of its various components, one molecule at a time.”

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China conference after China Week

UW's China Week, which is underway now, is timed to coincide with a major international conference about China to be held later this week at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, located in central Waterloo and closely linked with the university.

More than 200 experts from around the world will convene October 25-26 to discuss the political and economic impacts of China’s rise on the world stage. “CIGI ’08: China in the Shifting World Order” will explore the ramifications of China’s emergence as a world power and how international governance structures and different regions of the world are adjusting to this new force.

It will be CIGI’s fourth annual conference, described as "a landmark event that brings together accomplished researchers, policy makers, business leaders and journalists to define and debate issues of critical global importance and identify innovative practices that can assist in meeting global challenges". Co-sponsored by the International Development Research Centre, CIGI’08 is organized in partnership with UW.

Says Jim Balsillie, the chair of CIGI’s board: “In this year of extraordinary events, China has moved towards the centre of the stage. From the remarkable Beijing Olympics through the financial crises of the fall, an understanding of contemporary China has become essential for governments, businesses and informed citizens everywhere.”

Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the 9th and 10th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, will deliver the keynote address on Saturday. Cheng is currently chair of the China Democratic National Construction Association. Canada's Barbara McDougall, chair of the board of the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, will also give a keynote address.

Other announced participants include Lan Lijun, ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada; Harry Broadman, managing director, Albright Group and former Economic Adviser for the Africa Region at the World Bank; Joe Clark, former prime minister of Canada; Joseph Caron, Canadian High Commissioner in India and former Canadian ambassador to China; Su Changhe, dean of the School of International and Diplomatic Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University; Ma Zhengang, president of the China Institute of International Studies; and Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of the China Daily.

In conjunction with the conference, CIGI says it will issue several new publications illustrating its growing research related to China. "Topics include China’s new economic diplomacy, the political and economic impacts of China’s ascendancy in Africa, higher education transformation, China’s role as a bridge for expanding regional and world trade, and poverty studies by young Chinese scholars. Additionally, CIGI will launch a new book examining the position of China and other leading emerging powers in the potential transformation of the G8 and other aspects of global governance."

Parallel to CIGI ’08, CIGI is organizing a China Policy Forum in Beijing, with more than 50 participants from various Chinese research institutions and universities. The forum will focus on the sustainability of economic growth in China, issues of poverty and inequality, energy and environment and China’s role in the global financial systems. The program includes a live video link between Beijing and Waterloo providing direct interaction between participants in the two events.

China Week on campus continues with a movie night tonight: "Blind Shaft" will be shown at 7:00 in Engineering II room 1303. A display of photos taken by UW students in China opened yesterday at Renison University College and continues through November 20. Lijun Lan, the Chinese ambassador, will speak on "China After the Olympics" at 11:45 Friday in Renison room 2106. And a by-invitation symposium on literature ("The Nature of Fiction"), including several noted Chinese and Canadian writers, will take place Thursday afternoon. China Week is sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Renison.


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Link of the day

Trafalgar Day

When and where

Employer interviews for winter term co-op jobs continue; ranking (main group) opens Friday 1 p.m.

International Opportunities Fair with information on study, volunteer and work programs, 11:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

Food Security and Dance in Haiti seminar and performance, 12:15, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Joint Health and Safety Committee 1:00, Commissary room 112D.

Hot water and heat shut off in South Campus Hall, Tatham Centre and PAS building, 1:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Earth and environmental sciences seminar: John F. Gartner speaks on his book Confessions of a Consultant, 2:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, book signing follows.

Career workshop: “Applying to Teacher Education Programs” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence faculty workshop: “Show and Tell: Learning Technologies for Making and Sharing Presentations” 3:30 p.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Employer panel: “Hot Tips from the Pros” on resumés, interview techniques and job search tools, 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Faculty of Environment alumni reception featuring Stephen Lewis, former United Nations special envoy to Africa, and presentation of the faculty’s alumni achievement awards, 6:30 p.m., IBM Toronto Software Lab. Details.

Quest unavailable Wednesday 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. for software upgrade.

Optometry building hot water shut off Wednesday 8 a.m. to noon.

Bachelor of Social Work information session Wednesday 11:45, Renison University College chapel lounge.

Poet Nathaniel G. Moore reads from his work Wednesday 4:00, St. Jerome’s University room 3027.

Career workshop: “Professional School Interviews” Wednesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Columbia Lake Health Club Lifestyle Learning: “Tips to Burn Body Fat”, Wednesday 5:30, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Grand River Film Festival 2008 screenings of 15 films October 22-25, including some at UW Architecture building, Cambridge. Details.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Dave Howlett, “Knocking Down Silos”, Wednesday 6:00, Federation Hall. Details.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Thomas Homer-Dixon, UW faculty of arts and Balsillie School, “Homegrown or Flown-In: Is Local Food Always Best?” Wednesday 7:00, 57 Erb Street West.

Earth and environmental sciences seminar: Bill Martindale, Calgary, “Exploration and Development of Western Canadian Devonian Reservoirs”, Thursday 10:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Federation of Students annual general meeting Thursday 12:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

‘African Americans in American Presidential Politics’, lecture by history professor Andrew Hunt, Thursday 7:00, Humanities Theatre, free, reservations online.

Sawatsky Lectures at Conrad Grebel University College: Mary Oyer, Goshen College, “Hymns That Have Endured”, Thursday 7:30 p.m.; workshop, “Enlivening Congregational Song”, Friday 7:30 p.m., both in Grebel great hall.

Applied health sciences lecture: Ron Zernicke, University of Michigan, “Skeletal Adaptation to Diet, Exercise or Injury,” Friday 2:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621.

Fall Convocation Saturday, Physical Activities Complex: arts and applied health sciences, 10 a.m.; engineering, environment, math and science, 2:30 p.m. Details.

Annual Gem and Mineral Show (theme: International Year of Planet Earth), Saturday-Sunday, 10:00 to 5:00, earth sciences museum, CEIT building. Details.

World Religions Conference with remarks from representatives of nine faiths: “Founders of Religion, Model for Humanity” Sunday 10:00 to 6:00, Humanities Theatre, admission free. Details.

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