Wednesday, October 29, 2008

  • 'Lessons learned' from satellite campuses
  • The boom in PhD oral defences
  • Staff meet tomorrow; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Spectacular reds and yellows]

Before the snow: "Fall is a time when students start back at the university," writes Alan Morgan of UW's earth and environmental sciences department, "but it is also the time when field trips take place prior to the winter freeze-up. Several of these take place in various departments. The Earth 236 field trip went to the Ausable River valley near Arkona, Ontario, where the second-year paleontology class spent a day collecting fossils amidst some spectacular fall colours."

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'Lessons learned' from satellite campuses

The board of governors spent most of an hour yesterday talking about the “opportunities and challenges” of satellite campuses — UW’s present or planned outposts in Cambridge, Kitchener, Stratford, Dubai and Nanjing. It was an extension of a topic considered at the board’s previous meeting in June.

Much of the discussion focused on cultural differences between Canada and Dubai, where UW expects to launch two engineering programs next fall and a couple of mathematics programs in 2010. Several faculty and student members of the board asked questions and made comments about how the laws and sexual standards of the United Arab Emirates might affect professors and students at a Waterloo campus.

“I’m not here to say,” provost Amit Chakma told the board, “that the conditions on our campus [in Waterloo] can be duplicated exactly.” At the same time, he said, there are some non-negotiable expectations: for example, UW will choose its own students, set its own curriculum, and teach women and men in the same classrooms.

As for faculty and staff from Waterloo, who will go to the UAE for a term or a year, “we aren’t going to ask anybody to go unless they want to go,” he declared. He noted that when co-op students go to faraway lands, the university expects them to find out about the laws and culture they’ll encounter, and decide whether they can cope.

Board member Louise Fréchette, who knows a thing or two about international differences from her experience as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, commented that UW can be firm about its own human rights policies (under the Ethical Behaviour policy, for example) without having any control over whether the authorities in the Emirates follow the same standards.

President David Johnston told the board that he expects to visit the UAE on December 21 to sign a final agreement with Waterloo’s local partner, the private-sector Center of Excellence for Research and Training.

Briefing the board with the help of PowerPoint slides, Chakma observed that the creation of satellite campuses helps UW achieve five key goals from last year’s Sixth Decade plan: growing research, growing graduate studies, enhancing undergraduate studies, “going global” and diversifying income. Not every campus does every one of those things, but they all contribute, he said.

“Satellite campuses may allow UW to access markets and resources not available on our main campus,” said Chakma. For example, the move of the School of Architecture to Cambridge in 2004 brought $30 million in support from donors and municipal government that would never have been seen if the school had stayed on UW’s main campus in Waterloo. Similar construction funding has come for the health sciences campus in Kitchener and has been promised for Stratford. The UAE activity, meanwhile, is expected to generate as much as $22 million a year in revenue that can support work on UW’s home campus.

At the same time, the provost said, satellite campuses pose challenges: they “add to the complexity of the institution”, make it more difficult to maintain UW’s quality, and involve financial risks. He noted that the expectation for any satellite project is that it “must be compatible with UW’s academic plan, must enhance quality, must build on UW strengths, must have a solid business plan.”

Chakma also noted the “lessons learned” from a couple of the satellite campuses. From Cambridge: “Students and faculty are isolated from the main campus . . . operating costs have been much higher than what was anticipated.” From Kitchener: “Brownfield sites are very challenging . . . managing community expectation is a very complex process.”

He said UW is “just about ready to proceed” with the first programming for the Stratford campus, which is expected to concentrate on digital media studies. Rather than the proposed undergraduate program, he told the board, the current plan is to start with a professional master’s degree program.

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The boom in PhD oral defences

Every time a graduate student completes a PhD thesis and prepares to defend it — the last step in the process of becoming a Doctor of Philosophy — a listing appears in this Daily Bulletin, with the thesis title, the advisor's name ("it takes a doctor to make a doctor", as the old saying goes), and details of the oral defence, which is open to all members of the university.

The number of such PhD defences, and hence the number of listings in the Daily Bulletin, is at a record high this fall, and I wondered why. Lynn Judge, director of graduate studies academic services, provides some of the answer:

"Enrolment growth is the most significant factor — doctoral enrolment increased by 52.4% from Fall 2003 to Fall 2008. A large number of students admitted from 2003 to 2005 completed their degrees either by the Fall 2008 convocation deadline (August 31), or by the Fall enrolment refund dates (September 26 or October 24).

"So far this term, we have seen an increase of 20% in the number of doctoral students who have degree completed in Fall 2008 compared to Fall 2007, and a similar increase in the number of defence dates Fall 2008 over Fall 2007. The number of doctoral degrees conferred has increased from 136 in 2004 to 211 in 2008.

"It should be noted that doctoral students can complete on almost any day of the year, unlike undergraduate and master's coursework programs that would have a regular term, class and grading structure. Thesis defence dates are based on a number of requirements including the availability of committee members."

The growth in PhD enrolment isn't accidental, of course, but is partly driven by a conscious decision to shift UW's overall balance more towards graduate study. The Sixth Decade Plan, which went into effect last year, calls on UW to "grow aggressively" in the graduate area, with much of the emphasis being on "professional" master's degrees but some still involving research degrees, including the PhD. "To build our research intensity, to have an impact as a creator and disseminator of knowledge, we need the foot soldiers of that research enterprise — the graduate students," says Bill Power, associate dean of grad studies.

Here are four more listings of PhD oral defences scheduled in the days just ahead:

Optometry. Deborah Goren, “Understanding the Mechanisms of Flicker Defined Form Processing.” Supervisor, John G. Flanagan. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, November 7, 10:45 a.m., Optometry room 309.

Physics and astronomy. Vladimir Paserin, “High Rate, Large Area Laser-Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition of Nickel from Nickel Carbonyl.” Supervisor, Walter W. Duley. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, November 7, 12:30 p.m., Physics room 352.

Chemical engineering. Jie Joy Cheng, “Relating Micromolecular Property Indicators with Long-Term Performance Measures of High Density Polyethylene for Pipe/Structural Applications.” Supervisor, Alexander Penlidis. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, November 11, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Management sciences. Steven Formaneck, “Technology and Strategic Management Decision-Making as a Constrained Shortest Path Problem.” Supervisor, Brian Cozzarin. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, November 13, 9:00 a.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 4335.

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Staff meet tomorrow; other notes

A delegation from UW was well received at Queen's Park, seat of the Ontario government, during a day-long visit Monday, says president David Johnston. He told yesterday's board of governors meeting that the second annual Deans' Day visit was "a good day for us" and will be repeated in future years. Something like 17 deans and other officials made the visit, organized by Leeanna Pendergast, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga and herself a Waterloo graduate. Johnston, the deans and their colleagues sat in the gallery of the Legislature while Pendergast praised UW's relevance and its enthusiasm for helping to meet provincial needs. The visitors also met with MPPs and ministry staff — including universities minister John Milloy, innovation minister John Wilkinson, health minister George Smitherman and attorney-general Chris Bentley.

The UW staff association will hold its annual general meeting first thing tomorrow. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. (the doors of Davis Centre room 1302, that is) and, after "coffee and snacks", business starts at 8:45 with a "welcoming address" by Jesse Rodgers, who's finishing his term as the association's president. Before the meeting winds up at 10:00, he'll have introduced his successor, Doug Dye, and association secretary Trevor Grove will have announced the results of the recent election for three positions on the association executive. Agenda items also include a briefing on the recent Memorandum of Agreement between the staff and UW's management, and a discussion period under the label "What's next?"

Says a recent memo from Catherine Schryer, director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence: "The management and staff at CTE are delighted that Nicola Simmons has accepted a secondment to our Research and Evaluation Consultant position. In this role, Dr. Simmons will support the design and implementation of faculty member and staff research about teaching and learning, as well as conduct research on behalf of the CTE about its activities. In addition to co-ordinating the Teaching-based Research Group and Waterloo's in-house Scholarship of Teaching and Learning grants program, she will assist faculty members with research-related activities: grant proposals, ethics proposals, conference proposals, and publications. Nicola continues to pursue her own research on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, doctoral student and new faculty identity development, reflective practice, and qualitative research methods and ethics, and she holds a number of research grants related to program evaluation."

Conrad Grebel University College is starting to promote its biennial "Music and Culture in London" study trip, which will be led by music professor Ken Hull next May 6-20. • If the Humanities Theatre seems busy today but it's not a UW crowd, that would be because Research In Motion has rented the theatre all day for employee meetings. • The staff association is inviting applications for a position on the Staff Training and Development Committee and one on the Employee Assistance Program Committee.

"There is still time to register for the OHD programs this fall," writes Katrina Di Gravio, director of the office of Organizational and Human Development. "Highlights for the Fall programs include Email as a Second Language, Defining Your Financial Future, Effective Presentation, Leadership & Communication Styles and the Leadership for Results program. The course outlines and registration can be viewed online."


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United Way events

With Hallowe'en arriving just as the United Way campaign on campus winds up, a pair of offices — the PDEng and WatPD programs that operate professional skills courses for co-op students — have issued a costume challenge to other parts of the campus. Judging will happen at 1:00 on Friday. Details: e-mail vtharris@ engmail or amfannon@ admmail. Also on Friday, Sheila Hurley of the safety office and Pat Mihm of plant operations will be trick-or-treating across campus on behalf of the United Way. And Friday brings the draw in a fund-raising raffle for "a beautiful basket of wine", organized by civil and environmental engineering. And, of course, Friday is a "dress-down day" for the cause.

Link of the day

Turkey's national day

When and where

Pre-enrolment course selection for spring term 2009 courses, continuing through Sunday. Details.

Hurt Penguin book sale at UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, through Thursday.

Responsible Gambling Council “Know the Score” information booth today and Thursday 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre; today 5 to 7, Village I cafeteria; Thursday 5:00 to 7:00, SLC.

Heritage Resources Centre lunch-and-learn: Emily Robson, Municipal Cultural Planning Partnership, 12:00, ENV I room 221.

Career workshops: “Are You Thinking About an International Experience?” 12:00 noon; “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 2:30, both in Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

AIDS awareness walk, speeches 12:20 p.m. at Student Life Centre courtyard, race and walk following.

Free noon concert: Nicolae Raiciu (baritone) and Beth Ann de Sousa (piano), “Opera Highlights,” 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Smarter Health seminar: William W. Stead, Vanderbilt University, “System-Supported Clinical Practice” 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Columbia Lake Health Club Lifestyle Learning: “Nutrition 911”, 5:30, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Warrior women’s basketball vs. Laurier 6:00, Physical Activities Complex.

Ontario Innovation Gala and presentation of 2008 Excellence Awards, proceeds to support research at UW health sciences campus, 6:00, Bingemans Conference Centre. Details.

K-W Little Theatre auditions for January one-act play festival, auditions at UW (exact location to be announced) last day, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Details.

Pension and benefits committee Thursday 10:00 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

International spouses group Hallowe’en pumpkin carving Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, fee $2, children welcome, preregistration and information e-mail

Faculty of Science Arthur J. Carty Lecture: Nina Fedoroff, Pennsylvania State University, “Seeds of a Perfect Storm: The Global Food Security Crisis” scheduled for Thursday, postponed.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” Thursday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

St. Jerome’s University Art Gallery opening event for “Vanitas” by Karolina Varin-Jarkowski, Thursday 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.; exhibition continues until January 18.

Global Queer Cinema film series in conjunction with Fine Arts 290: “Fire”, 1996, Thursday 6:30 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1220.

Career Night for speech communication, leadership and social innovation, Thursday 7:00 to 9:30, South Campus Hall Festival Room.

Ghoulish Gift Card Giveaway: $10 retail services gift card for each $60 spent at UW Shop, South Campus Hall, Friday.

‘Drop, penalty 1 period’ ends, last day to receive a WD grade for dropped classes, October 31.

Hallowe’en luncheon buffet at University Club Friday 11:30 to 2:00, $18.50, reservations ext. 33801.

Hallowe’en Haunt trip to Canada’s Wonderland, Friday, bus leaves Davis Centre 5 p.m., tickets $40 from Federation of Students office.

Trick or Eat door-to-door food collection on Hallowe’en evening, register online.

Fall open house for future students Saturday, November 1. Information booths at Student Life Centre, 10:00 to 4:00; academic sessions from 10:30; residence tours; also includes School of Architecture in Cambridge. Details.

Business Valuation Workshop sponsored by Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Tuesday 9:00 to 5:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Public Service of Canada Career Expo Tuesday 1:30 to 6:30, Federation Hall, with representatives of 23 federal departments. Details.

New faculty lunch-and-learn session: “Fostering Academic Integrity”, Wednesday, November 5, 11:45 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Town Hall meeting with president David Johnston and provost Amit Chakma, November 5, 3:00, Humanities Theatre.

Perimeter Institute presents Frank Wilczek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Anticipating a New Golden Age”, November 5, 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information 519-883-4480.

Lessingfest organized by Waterloo Centre for German Studies: lunch, lecture, bus to Stratford, performance of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s “Emilia Galotti” in German at Avon Theatre, supper, discussion, November 7, 11:30 to 8:00, tickets $60, students $30, information est. 33684.

Flu shot clinic November 11, 12, 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Ralph Nader gives the keynote address for 35th anniversary of Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, November 13, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, admission free.

Positions available

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

• Data analyst, Population Health Research Group, USG 10
• Research technician, kinesiology, USG 6

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin