Monday, September 22, 2008

  • Financial CEO named UW chancellor
  • Homecoming, and the days around it
  • Notes that dance in the sunshine
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Watsa]Financial CEO named UW chancellor

a release from the UW media relations office

One of Canada's foremost business leaders, Prem Watsa (left), will be the next chancellor of the University of Waterloo.

India-born Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., will serve as UW's next chancellor. He will assist UW in its mission to become one of North America's premier universities, with international academic programs and exchanges that reach around the world.

Watsa's appointment was approved by the UW senate earlier this week and he will begin his term as chancellor, succeeding RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, on May 1, 2009. The chancellor presides over all convocation ceremonies, conferring degrees, diplomas and certificates on graduating students. The chancellor also serves as a leading ambassador for the university.

"Since its founding just over 50 years ago, the University of Waterloo has distinguished itself as a learning institution that is quite unique among its peers in Canada and abroad," says Watsa. "I look forward to working with students, faculty and staff in whatever small ways I can to help the university achieve its ambitious plans for the coming decade."

Watsa brings to the position considerable international experience as well as a strong belief in the value of supporting students and community. The university's sixth decade plan, which took effect last year, calls for a focus on the undergraduate student experience, a growing of grad studies and an expansion of UW's international reach that will include the opening of two campuses abroad.

"Prem Watsa is a remarkable human being, a family man and a strong believer in Canada with an international outlook," says UW president David Johnston. "This outstanding and self-made leader demonstrates integrity and, as such, reflects the qualities the university embraces and tries to encourage amongst our students."

Watsa was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1950. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1971. He moved to Ontario the following year and later earned an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.

His professional career began at Confederation Life Insurance Co. in Toronto and he served as vice-president of Confederation Life Investment Counsel from 1974 to 1983. He then served a year as vice-president of start-up firm GW Asset Management.

Watsa co-founded Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel Ltd. (now fully owned by Fairfax) in 1984. The next year he took control of Markel Financial Holdings Ltd. In 1987, he re-organized Markel and renamed it Fairfax, which is short for fair and friendly acquisitions. The name reflects the company's guiding principles, which maintain that honesty and integrity are essential in all relationships and will never be compromised.

Watsa's ties to UW go back more than a decade. His nephew Mano was a two-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport all-Canadian and a four-time Ontario University Athletics all-star while playing basketball for Waterloo from 1994 to 1999. He was a two-time academic all-Canadian and team captain from 1996 to 1999, and won the Ken Shields TSN Award for community involvement. He later served in coaching positions on UW's men's and women's basketball teams.

Fairfax is currently working with UW to create a one-year professional master's program in actuarial science for launch in fall 2009. Still subject to approval, the program will provide actuarial training to 30 students, one-third of them from India, who have strong quantitative undergraduate degrees. UW will also seek to partner with Indian universities to increase local teaching and research capacity in actuarial science.

Prem Watsa will serve as the ninth chancellor. He succeeds Lazaridis, a UW alum who developed the technology that led to the creation of the BlackBerry and Research In Motion.

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Homecoming, and the days around it

Homecoming 2008 is scheduled for this Saturday, as the red-shoes posters remind us, but a number of events are scheduled in the days leading up to Saturday as well. A couple of high-profile lectures by public figures are planned, as is a faculty-and-alumni art auction.

The East Asian Festival also coincides with Homecoming again this year, as Renison University College presents the sights, sounds and flavours of Korea, China and Japan during a family and culture day that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. That's followed by a gala evening event in the Theatre of the Arts (tickets $25). However, the Powwow organized by Aboriginal Student Services, which was part of Homecoming in 2007, was held a week earlier this year.

There’s also the “Arts in Academics” speaker event, organized by the arts faculty, which brings home UW graduates who have now made their mark as professors at other institutions. This year they’re: Trudy Govier (PhD 1971, now at Lethbridge), Peter McLaren (BA 1972, now at UCLA), and Dennis Willms (BA 1973, now at McMaster). They’ll appear Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Tatham Centre room 22128.

The art event starts Thursday in the gallery of the Modern Languages building. Visitors are invited to view the exhibition and make bids in a silent auction. Bidding closes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, when a reception will begin. Proceeds from the auction benefit the fine arts department.

The two public lectures:

  • Serge LeClerc, UW graduate and member of the Saskatchewan legislature, speaks on "An Extraordinary Journey of Overcoming and Redemption," Thursday at 7 p.m., St. Paul's College.
  • Noel Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, speaks on “Serving the Common Good: Ethics-Based Civics Education and Public Service,” Friday at 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

And there will be a 20th anniversary performance of the orientation play “Single and Sexy” Friday night at 8:00 in the Humanities Theatre. Students are admitted free; tickets for others are $10 at the door.

As for Homecoming itself, "We have events for people of all ages and interests, making this a true fun-filled day for the whole family," says coordinator Chantel Franklin of the alumni affairs office. "We're celebrating UW and we hope the community will join the party."

Saturday’s festivities begin at Columbia Lake playing fields at 9 a.m. with a family carnival. A mad science show will ‘mix up a formula for fun’, allowing kids to explore physics, chemistry and more through hands-on activities — and get a slimy souvenir from the lab. Kids can also enjoy rides, bouncy castles and face painting. At 9:30 a.m., Dora the Explorer and sidekick Diego will be on hand to have photos taken with young visitors.

The traditional Fun Run around the ring road, sponsored by the faculty of applied health sciences, starts at 10:15 a.m. at Matthews Hall. Signup for participants is online.

At nearby Minota Hagey Residence, VeloCity is holding an open house from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The 'dorm-cubator' allows student entrepreneurs interested in mobile communications to live, learn and create together.

At noon, visitors are invited to join UW president David Johnston for a brief ceremony to dedicate a 1957 Society garden. The garden, located on the green space adjacent to Matthews Hall, was created to honour the generosity of high-level lifetime donors to the university.

Football fans can catch history in the making as UW hosts the Laurier Golden Hawks on Warrior Field at 1:00. It's the first 'Battle of Waterloo' to be held at the new field on the north campus. Free hillside seating is available, along with paid bleacher seating.

Following the game, The Trews, whose hit single “Hold Me in Your Arms” was recently nominated for MuchMusic's Best Rock Video award, will take the stage. The outdoor concert, located on the north campus grounds behind the football field, will run approximately 90 minutes.

Homecoming is, of course, partly a day for alumni reunions. Gatherings are on the schedule for science graduates of 1983 (it’s their 25th anniversary) and 2003, and engineering grads of all the years that end in ‘3’ and ‘8’, dating back to 1963.

Finally, it’ll be a Warrior Weekend with alcohol-free events for students, held mostly in the Student Life Centre, both Friday and Saturday evenings. The announced menu includes an “inflatable pillow bash”, movies, pizza, bingo, and crafts.

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Notes that dance in the sunshine

UW president David Johnston is host this afternoon as a reception honours 157 student-athletes who are being named to UW's Academic Honour Roll (also known as "Academic All-Canadians"). This distinction goes to Warrior athletes who have maintained an average of at least 80% in their academic work while competing in an interuniversity sport. "Each of these individuals will be invited to celebrate their accomplishments, along with their fellow student-athletes, influential professors, coaches, and distinguished guests," says an announcement from the athletics department. "The University of Waterloo ranks among the top universities in Canada in the number of students-athletes achieving Academic Honour Roll status." Today's event starts at 4:30 in the Laurel Room, South Campus Hall.

With an American presidential election in progress, the UW Jewish Studies program will look back tonight at the election sixty years ago. "The 1948 presidential election marked the greatest upset in American political history," says Stephen Berk of Union College, who has given a number of visiting lectures at UW and returns to speak on "Truman, Israel and the 1948 Election". He explains: "Civil rights, fear of Communism, and Truman's support of the State of Israel all played a role in this decisive election which shaped the course of American history for decades to come." Berk will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University; admission is free and a reception follows.

The annual United Way campaign is about to begin on campus, and that means not just individual pledges but a series of special events aimed at raising money and publicity. Right on cue comes a memo from Trenny (Cook, Canning) McGinnis of the university secretariat, and I quote: “Some of you will remember with affectionate nostalgia past opportunities the President’s Office and the Secretariat have provided for you to participate in fundraisers for the United Way: Wacky Hair Day, the Executive Car Wash, Creative Calories and the big Non Event (pay; no play). This year, we’ve come up with another: a campus-wide silent and live auction. And we’re making it easy for you: all we need is your donations for the auction, your skill at publicizing and promoting the fundraiser to your department/ school colleagues, and your scintillating fund-raising presence at auction to wrest maximum bids out of the audience. Use your imagination and feel at liberty to donate lots of items: memorabilia; tickets to events; gifts you’re dying to regift; items you’ve purchased but never used/worn; comestibles you’ve made; hobby handiworks (four wood carvings have already been donated); really big stuff that could go for a lot; let your imagination go wild.” Donations are needed by this Friday (reach McGinnis at ext. 35924) and the event will be held at noon-hour on October 15, with “The Prez” acting as auctioneer.

The vice-president (external relations), Meg Beckel, and her assistant, Jeannie Watt, have moved their office from Needles Hall room 3021 down the hall and around the corner to NH 3005. • An ad in Friday’s Imprint indicates that this will be “Love Your Body Week”, with events sponsored by the Federation of Students women’s centre. • The Teaching Matters newsletter reports that Jane Holbrook of the Centre for Teaching Excellence and Christine Dupont of the biology department are working on a “podcast survey, collecting students’ self-reports on how they are using podcasts”.


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Link of the day


When and where

Warrior golf at Queen’s Invitational, Kingston, Monday.

Classical Studies lecture: Miljenko Jurkovic, Zagreb University, Croatia, "The Medieval Architect and Sculptor: New Approaches to the early Medieval 'Chantier de Construction'," 1:30 p.m., Humanities room 150. Details.

Renewable energy lecture: Judith Lipp, Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative, 2:00 p.m., Environment I room 221.

‘Networking 101’ workshop sponsored by career services, 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, register online.

Women in Mathematics and Capital One present “The Mathematics of Success”, panel of graduates speaking about their career paths, 5:30, Davis Centre lounge.

‘Solar Collector’ art installation featured tonight 7:00 and 11:00 on Discovery Channel's “Daily Planet”.

K-W Little Theatre auditions for “Captain Hook’s Revenge”, to be staged December 5-13: auditions Monday-Wednesday 7 to 10 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 105, information e-mail joshhoey@

Chinese Drama Club presents “Behind the Truth”, 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

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

Columbia Lake Health Club “Exercise and Accessorize Night” Tuesday 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Iftar dinner (“get a firsthand account of Ramadan”) Tuesday 6:00, Federation Hall, free, preregistration online.

Senator Michael Kirby, “Social Innovation and the Mental Health Commission of Canada”, Tuesday 7:30 p.m., Kitchener Public Library, sponsored by UW Social Innovation Generation.

Career Fair, Wednesday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Cognos Cubes training (beginner) Wednesday 11:00, Math and Computer room 1050, information ext. 35042.

Prosperity Council of Waterloo Region meets Wednesday at Whistle Bear Golf Club, by invitation. Keynote speakers: William Thorsell, Royal Ontario Museum, 12:30; UW president David Johnston, 2:00. Details.

Career workshop: “Career Exploration and Decision-Making” Wednesday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1113. Details.

Canadian-Australian Technology Network research forum in health and engineering/sustainability, Thursday 8:30 to 4:30, Needles Hall room 1101. Details.

UW Retirees Association annual wine and cheese party Thursday 3:00 to 5:00, University Club.

K-W Symphony concert, “Intersections I”, Humanities Theatre, 8:00. Details.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with full tuition refund; drop (no penalty) period ends, September 26.

Ontario Universities Fair for future students, September 26 (9 to 6), 27 (10 to 5) and 28 (10 to 5), Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

ACM-style programming contest Saturday 1:00 to 4:00, Math and Computer room 2037 (rescheduled from Sunday to Saturday). Details.

Last day to pay tuition fees for fall term, September 30.

Impact Expo(se) “student entrepreneurship event” Saturday, October 4, 12:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre.

Keystone Run/Walk for Excellence, one lap around the ring road starting from Davis Centre, Wednesday, October 8, 12:00 noon.

Annual Gem and Mineral Show (theme: International Year of Planet Earth), October 25 and 26, 10:00 to 5:00, earth sciences museum, CEIT building, with dealers, demonstrations, children’s activities, feature lecture by earth sciences professor Alan Morgan. Details.

PhD oral defences

Civil and environmental engineering. Han Tae Choi, “Flexural Behavior of Partially Bonded CFRP Strengthened Concrete T-Beams.” Supervisors, Jeffrey West and Khaled Soudki. Oral defence was held Friday, September 19, by faculty of engineering.

Actuarial science. Douglas Andrews, “A Review and Analysis of the Sustainability and Equity of Social Security Adjustment Mechanisms.” Supervisor, Robert Brown. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. oral defence Friday, September 26, 1:00 p.m., Math and Computer room 6027.

Kinesiology. Sakineh Akram, "Coordination of Turning When Standing and Walking in Healthy Older Adults and Persons with Parkinson’s Disease." Supervisors, James Fink and Eric Roy. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Monday, September 29, 10:30 a.m., BMH room 3119.

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