Thursday, April 16, 2009

  • Introducing the new Pharmacy building
  • Job description for the next provost
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Fisheye lens view of central area]

Lobby of the new Pharmacy building, with reception desk at centre. The windowed wall at left looks across what will one day be a garden courtyard toward the half-finished medical building.

Introducing the new Pharmacy building

From inside UW’s new Pharmacy building in downtown Kitchener, which will be officially opened with ceremonies tomorrow, you can get a broad bright view of mud and construction on one side, and some rooms have windows facing King Street on the other side, but there’s one thing you can’t see.

Occupants of the building have no view of what seems like its most prominent feature from outside, the huge drawings of medicinal plants — comfrey, periwinkle, clematis and the rest — that ornament its glass curtain wall.

“There are no windows behind them,” Scott Nicoll explained as he gave me a quick tour of the building last week. Nicoll, who’s based in the department of chemistry, is working for the dean of science these days, looking after a million technical details on two major construction projects, Pharmacy and the Quantum-Nano Centre.

In that role, he can talk knowledgeably about the construction of the 120,000-square-foot Pharmacy building, the audio-visual equipment, the design of labs and lecture halls, and the process of moving in, which began in early November and carried on into the Christmas holidays, just in time for winter term classes to begin.

And now comes the grand opening, with two Ontario cabinet ministers (David Caplan of health and long-term care, and John Milloy of training, colleges and universities) expected to be on hand tomorrow morning along with Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr and other dignitaries.

The Friday 10 a.m. ceremony is strictly by invitation only, because space is limited in the lobby of the new building, even with the space that’s set aside for a coffee shop still standing empty, pending a decision about exactly who’s going to operate what kind of facility there.

But on Saturday, the whole world is invited to “a family-friendly event” from 10:00 to 2:00, “featuring demonstrations, displays and a chance to see inside the building”, which is at the corner of King and Victoria Streets in the factory district of Kitchener.

Buses go right past the building, which is good for open house visitors (Pharmacy has a total of just 144 parking spaces at this point) and also for school of pharmacy students who have to shuttle up to the Waterloo campus for some of their classes, including ones in the Optometry building’s anatomy lab.

“The building is performing as it should,” Nicoll told me proudly, referring to things like the heating and cooling systems — though he’ll be more confident about that when it’s been open for a full year and occupants have experience of how it feels in every season.

Built of poured concrete, the building is also rich in walnut trim and sheets of glass, with huge windows facing southwest, towards the medical building that’s still under construction as the second half of UW’s downtown health sciences campus. A year from now it’ll be occupied by a branch of the McMaster University school of medicine, as well as other health facilities.

The Pharmacy building (official location: 10 Victoria Street South) consists of a seven-storey tower, mostly occupied by offices, and a four-storey wing for labs, classrooms and student space. As we walked through, Nicoll showed me the basement-level library, a student lounge and locker area, the single big lecture hall (room 1004, with 160 seats) and two smaller (80 seats) classrooms, and other features of the building, some of them still being completed by construction workers and furniture movers.

The gem of the whole place, I realized, is the pharmaceutical practice lab, a model drugstore where pharmacy students can get the feel of preparing and dispensing products to role-playing customers. (The packages and bottles are empty, Nicoll assured me: “There are no prescription drugs in this building!”)

Some 120 first-year students began their BScPhm program in January, while the school’s initial class of 90 students got back from a fall co-op term and are now in term 2A. The pharmacy school currently lists nine faculty members and is expected to grow to about 30.

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Job description for the next provost

The nominating committee that is finding UW’s next vice-president (academic) and provost has issued a list of “opportunities and challenges” for the new leader and “qualifications” for the job, and says it will start looking at possible appointees this month. A successor to provost Amit Chakma is to start “on July 1, 2009, or as soon as possible thereafter”.

“Since late February,” says a communique, “members of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost Nominating Committee have, in various ways, encouraged the campus community to put forward nominations and suggestions of potential candidates for the position. The Committee wishes to express its appreciation to members of the UW community for the suggestions they have made and heartily encourages the community to continue to do so. Names can be put forward, in confidence, to any member of the Nominating Committee.”

Consultations across campus, and “thoughtful written submissions from individual faculty and staff members”, helped to shape the position profile, the document says. “While the Committee recognizes that no single individual is likely to meet all the criteria in equal measure, the background, experience and qualifications as outlined are seen as desirable and will be sought in the candidates.”

Here’s how it describes the overall job: “Reporting directly to and working closely with the President, the Vice-President, Academic & Provost provides leadership in all matters academic, financial, and material, and has particular responsibility for setting and encouraging a high academic standard of scholarly activity within the University. The Vice-President, Academic & Provost is responsible for overseeing and upholding policies and for maintaining the intellectual quality of the University. In particular, the Vice-President, Academic & Provost should foster an environment which promotes excellence in teaching and research. . . .

“The Vice-President, Academic & Provost carries operational and budgetary authority and responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the University and works closely with a senior management team.” A number of specific expectations are listed, ranging from “work with the university community to develop all academic plans” to “ensure that the University provides students with the richest and most rewarding learning experience possible”.

Here’s the list of “opportunities and challenges”:

  • Establishing and fostering effective relationships and collaborations — internally at UW, and beyond;
  • Encouraging an interactive and consultative communication process within and between academic units and across the University as a whole;
  • Working closely with the President, ensuring that the efforts of all portfolios are directed toward implementing the University’s strategic plan, and achieving its goals;
  • Ensuring transparency and accountability, and strong communication around important issues in the University, promoting the engagement of the UW community in debate and discussion;
  • Reinforcing UW’s tradition and commitment to collegial governance, an enduring value that underscores all of the University’s aspirations for its future;
  • Continuing the University’s reputation for innovation and creativity, at the same time applying sound analysis, risk assessment, and discernment to initiatives and plans, respecting history, building on strength and defining an exciting future for the University of Waterloo.

And the “qualifications”:

  • Integrity and honesty that are self-evident in all that is said and done;
  • The proven ability and energy for translating the University’s vision into practical realities;
  • An outstanding track record as an academic and as a university administrative leader, with a strong commitment to teaching, research and service;
  • A record of fostering academic excellence and encouraging innovation;
  • A strong commitment to supporting UW in its efforts to achieve excellence in its teaching and learning goals;
  • An understanding and appreciation of the importance and demands of scholarship and research, and a sensitivity to the different natures of academic disciplines and units;
  • The commitment to supporting UW’s efforts to recruit and retain the best students and faculty from around the world;
  • The commitment to supporting UW’s efforts to recruit outstanding staff to UW and to continue UW’s focus on developing and enhancing its highly trained support staff complement;
  • An understanding of all the elements of internationalization in education;
  • The ability to work collaboratively with the President, Senate, Vice-Presidents, Associate Vice-Presidents, Associate Provosts, Deans, the faculty and staff associations and others in a decentralized culture;
  • The ability to foster communication and participation, including all members of the university community;
  • An understanding of, and appreciation for co-operative education;
  • Excellent communication, planning, and interpersonal skills;
  • The ability to delegate authority effectively and to build consensus and trust;
  • A record of successful development and implementation of long-term and strategic plans, and the ambition to set challenging goals coupled with the tenacity to pursue them;
  • A track record of strategically managing significant financial information, creativity in developing complex budgets, and cooperation in resource allocation decisions;
  • Sound analytic ability, the capacity to reason clearly and handle complexity, and to publicly articulate analytical results;
  • The knowledge, skills, and passion to advocate and communicate the roles and purposes of the University effectively with governments, communities, other institutions and external partners.


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Town hall video

A video version of last week's "town hall" meeting with UW's president and provost is now available online.

ACE user group meets

The UW-ACE instructor user group holds its end-of-term presentation session today, with three faculty members talking about how they use the course management software. The session starts at 1:30 in the Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Speakers today are Jason Thistlethwaite, environment, talking about the use of RSS feeds in an environmental economics course; Carrie Howells, mathematics, talking about use of the "live office hours" feature for two distance education courses in linear algebra; and Geoffrey Hayes, arts, talking about the use of various ACE features in teaching Canadian military history.

Link of the day

High five!

When and where

Winter term examinations and extended library hours continue through April 24. Unofficial winter term grades appear in Quest beginning April 27. Grades become official May 25.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Green Energy Forum sponsored by Alternatives Journal, 6:30 p.m., Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 a.m. cancelled.

Grant-writing workshop with Nicolas Germain, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Friday 9:00, Needles Hall room 1116; individual appointments available afterwards; RSVP uwsshrc@

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Mike Patterson, “Wireless Authentication Plans”, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Teaching-Based Research Group seminar: “Demystifying Library Databases, Conducting a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Literature Review” Friday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Dance Dance Canada performances Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Warrior rugby clinic for boys and girls grades 9 to 12, Saturday 10:00 to 3:00, Columbia fields, cost $45. Details.

Conrad Grebel University College Convocation Sunday 2:00, Theatre of the Arts.

QPR suicide prevention presentation Monday 11:30 to 1:00, cancelled, information ext. 33528.

Friends of the Library Lecture by Prem Watsa, chancellor-designate of the university, Monday 12:00 noon, Theatre of the Arts.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Alumni in London, Ontario: networking event Tuesday, April 21, 6:00, Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant. Details.

UW Retirees Association spring luncheon Wednesday 11:30 a.m., Luther Village, speaker Mike Sharratt (department of kinesiology) on “Optimal Aging for Older Adults”, tickets $25, information 519-885-4758.

Staff association pension, benefits and compensation subcommittee meets April 23, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1351, association members welcome.

Chinese competition: Ontario University Students Chinese Proficiency Competition, hosted by Renison University College, April 24, 1:30 p.m. Details.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual general meeting, April 24, 1:00 p.m., University of Guelph Thornborough building room 1200; seminar, Tong Leung of UW, “Surface Science of Some Nano Stuff”, 3:00; graduate student poster session and awards presentation follow, Peter Clark Hall, U of G.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 27-30, Davis Centre. Details. Keynote address: Howard Burton, former executive director of Perimeter Institute, “First Principles: The Crazy Business of Doing Serious Science”, April 28, 1:30 p.m., Davis room 1350, all welcome.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term: April 27 (cheque, money order or fee arrangements), April 30 (bank transfer). Details.

UW-ACE system will be down April 28, 6:30 a.m., to April 29, 12:00 noon.

K-W Symphony “Fearless Piano”, soloist Eve Egoyan, Thursday, April 30, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

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