Thursday, April 30, 2009

  • Flu concern means no travel to Mexico
  • Housing office moves to SLC basement
  • Co-op student watches banking crisis
  • Notes on the last day of the fiscal year
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Flu concern means no travel to Mexico

Mexico, the apparent source of the worldwide swine flu epidemic, is off limits to UW travellers for the present, provost Amit Chakma says in a memo issued last night.

Says the provost: "Public Health Canada has issued a warning advising against non-essential travel to Mexico. Mexico has been identified as the epicentre of Swine Flu and its spread is a very real possibility.

"Following a recommendation from UW's Pandemic Steering Committee, I am directing that all university-related travel to Mexico be cancelled immediately and until further notice. As a result no travel claims to Mexico during this period will be processed. These directions will remain in place until there is further information and advice from Public Health.

"The risk of infection is very high and the possibility exists that someone returning from Mexico could spread the flu to our students and employees. We ask for your cooperation and understanding that this action is being taken in the best interests of our community."

Meanwhile, as concern mounts about the “swine flu” (H1N1 influenza), here’s the latest advice from UW’s health services, posted yesterday on its web site: “Staff, faculty or students who feel feverish and have a new or worse cough or shortness of breath should go home or stay at home for seven days from the time of onset of symptoms and 24 hours after symptoms have resolved.

"If you’ve recently travelled to Mexico in the last 2 weeks and start to feel ill, please call 519-888-4096 for instructions before coming to Health Services.”

The site offers links to several websites with more information, provided by the Region of Waterloo Public Health Department, the Canadian Public Health Agency and other offices, and adds: “For unanswered questions please call Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-883-2289. For general health advice contact Telehealth Ontario for free access to a Registered Nurse, 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-866-797-0000.”

Health services itself has brochures and flyers available with hygiene advice on handwashing and “Is it the cold or the flu?” — call ext. 36358 for copies.

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Housing office moves to SLC basement

Eight members of UW’s housing and residences staff will make the move today from Village I to new quarters on the lower level of the Student Life Centre, where they’ll be open for business starting tomorrow.

“We have a really funky new space,” says Jennifer Ferguson, manager of admissions and marketing for housing, whose unit will occupy the new home. She praised the plant operations department for its redesign of the area formerly occupied by the now defunct Campus Cove games room: “The Cove has transformed very nicely! It’s great space.”

Being in the SLC will put the admissions and marketing office at the centre of campus life, she said. In particular, she hopes it’ll make people more aware of the housing department’s off-campus housing service, which provides listings of rooms, apartments and houses available. “A lot of people are unaware that we offer services in that area,” Ferguson noted.

She said there would be an open house for the new office on May 14.

The office’s existing home in the Village central complex will provide additional space for other housing operations: the residence life office and co-op students working as ResNet consultants. The head of the whole department, university housing officer Chris Read, also has his office in the Village.

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Co-op student watches banking crisis

from an article by Adrienne Raw in the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students

Wall Street, the heart of American business: In a few momentous weeks during the fall 2008 work term, this financial centre was shaken by the collapse of several major banks. The impact reverberated not only throughout the U.S., but also in Canada, the U.K., Europe, and Japan. And UW co-op student John Kong, currently in his fifth year of the Math and Business double degree program with Wilfrid Laurier University, found himself right in the middle of it during a work term in downtown New York City.

[Kong]While working on Deutsche Bank’s trading floor on Wall Street, Kong (left) got a first hand look at the greatest market meltdown in recent years. “One colleague on my desk,” he says, “who was a trader of 20 years, told me that he has never been through something of this magnitude.”

Several major investment banks were forced into bankruptcy or had to be bailed out by tax payers. Even Deutsche Bank did not emerge unscathed, and though Kong says they weathered the storm relatively well, he also says that several of the people on his team, people that he worked closely with, left the firm during his time there.

He tells of “an invaluable opportunity to witness the financial turmoil first-hand. . . . I recall walking to work and passing by countless TV cameras, police officers, and protesters against the financial bail-out package. The level of stress, panic, and fear on Wall Street is beyond imaginable. To experience and live through these events is extremely rare for any student who has not graduated, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do so.”

But getting a front-row seat to a major market meltdown was not on Kong’s mind when he chose Deutsche Bank for his work term. After working at the National Bank Financial, a fairly small bank in Toronto, Kong’s manager suggested he work at a larger organization and see how other banks operated. “The financial industry is vast and complex,” Kong says. “I wanted to fully utilize my co-op opportunities and gain as much exposure to the industry as I can.”

His Deutsche Bank job involved primarily working with clients. “The main job of our team, Global Prime Finance Sales, is to start new relationships with various hedge funds across North America and try to bring in new business into the bank.”

The fast-paced environment was what Kong identified as the most challenging part of his work term. Normally, a new person would spend some time with an experienced trader or sales person going through the concepts needed for the job, but due to the financial crisis Kong was rapidly immersed in high priority tasks and was required to learn on the go. He took the chance to go from a supporting role to working on major projects where he reported directly to the senior management.

The economic downturn has many students worried about their future, but Kong, who weathered the storm at its centre, is positive about the impact his past term has had on his co-op experience and his future. “Normally my work term is a chance for me to apply what I learned from class, put the concepts into practice, and see the mathematical knowledge monetize,” he says. “I really furthered my qualitative skills, and most importantly, I made important contacts with many people in the industry.

“With the skills I gained and people I’m in contact with, come next year I will be graduating with confidence, even during one of the worst economic downturns in history.”

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Notes on the last day of the fiscal year

It's the 365th day of UW's 2008-09 fiscal year, and the university's finance office says preliminary statements after the cutoff of April's transactions will be produced for departments on May 6. A whole new year, with an operating budget of $435 million, starts tomorrow. Today, meanwhile, means year-end inventory has to be taken in many departments; that includes retail services, with the result that the bookstore, UW Shop and Campus TechShop are closed today.

[Vogt]A memorial service will be held tomorrow for Carol Vogt (left), who worked in UW's information systems and technology department and its predecessors from 1967 until her retirement four years ago. Vogt died Tuesday at Freeport Health Centre in Kitchener. In her last IST job she headed the Electronic Workplace group and the Web Operations Committee — a far cry from her work in the 1960s debugging Fortran programs. Visitation is scheduled for today, 2:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00, at the David MacLeod Funeral Home on King Street North, and the service will be held tomorrow at 11:00 with a reception to follow. Memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society are suggested by the family.

The annual conference sponsored by the Philosophy Graduate Student Association is being held today and tomorrow in the Humanities building. Writes the three-member organizing committee: "We received many submissions from graduate students at various universities in North America, Europe, and Asia and it was not easy to select our speakers from this group of excellent and exciting papers. After blind review by our graduate students, we have chosen twelve speakers to present papers on the history of philosophy, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and especially epistemology which is the guiding theme of this year’s conference." Among the scheduled speakers is UW's W. Jim Jordan, speaking today on whether corporations can really be, as the law calls them, "persons". He writes: "Taking a cue from Harry Frankfurt’s idea of second-order volitions as a criterion for full, responsible, personhood, I analyse a simple view of a corporation’s structure and its decision-making process. I conclude that, under Frankfurt’s criterion, such corporate entities do not meet the condition for responsible personhood." The full two-day schedule is online.

Several Warrior players will be on the field or the bench when Ontario University Athletics holds its third annual baseball all-star game on Sunday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The game will be played right after the scheduled American League contest, Blue Jays vs. Orioles, which has a first pitch time of 1:07. In the amateur game, the league champion McMaster Marauders will face a team of all-stars from other universities, including Waterloo's Jason Diniz-Wood (first base), Mike Glinka (shortstop), Travis Hendry (infield), Elliott Shrive (outfield), and Nick Licskai (left-hand pitcher). The Warriors' Brian Bishop will be one of three coaches with the all-star squad.


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After 43 years, Richie Wayne is retiring from the staff of UW's food services, where he was a cook for the first part of his career and has now been stores handler in Ron Eydt Village for almost three decades. Colleagues will fete him this afternoon, starting at 2:00, in the REVelation cafeteria.

Link of the day

Walpurgis Night

When and where

Graduate Student Research Conference last day, Davis Centre. Details. Keynote address today: Kathleen Bloom, department of psychology, 1:30, Davis room 1350

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is today. Details.

International spouses potluck lunch 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

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

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Roy Wagler and Jason Testart, “E-commerce at UW” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Rhythm Dance Festival Friday-Saturday, Humanities Theatre.

Convergences 2009: café-rencontre des étudiants de 2e et 3e cycles, département d’études françaises, vendredi 11h30 à 16h00, Humanities salle 334.

Penderecki String Quartet and Dancetheatre David Earle concert Friday 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, as part of the Open Ears Festival, tickets $28 (students $22).

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 4.

Presidents’ Colloquium on Teaching and Learning, speaker Gary Poole, University of British Columbia, “But Will That Be on the Test? Encouraging Deeper Learning” Monday 2:00, Humanities Theatre, reception follows.

Faculty workshops on teaching with Gary Poole, University of British Columbia, Tuesday: “Using Door-Opening Concepts in Our Teaching” 9:00, “We Can Promote Deeper Learning” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning, sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday, May 6. Details.

Library books due: books borrowed on term loan before the beginning of April are due May 6; renewals online.

‘Research tools and library services’ workshop for new graduate students, Thursday, May 7, 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

International student orientation for new students from outside Canada, organized by Waterloo International, Thursday, May 7, 12:30 to 4:00, Needles Hall room 1116. Details.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday, May 7, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

E-waste Green Day sponsored by UW central stores and Greentec Recycling Services: drop off electronic items (on approved list) for free recycling, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., East Campus Hall.

PhD oral defences

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Nezih Topaloglu, “Analysis and Modeling of Uncooled Microbolometers with Tunable Thermal Conductance.” Supervisors, Patricia M. Nieva, Mustafa Yavuz and Jan P. Huissoon. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, May 6, 10:00 a.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Orang Vahid Araghi, “Friction-Induced Vibration in Lead Screw Systems.” Supervisors, F. Golnaraghi and Fue-Sang Lien. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, May 6, 2:00 p.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Electrical and computer engineering. Akren El-Ghazai, “Multi-Technique Fusion for Shape-Based Image Retrieval.” Supervisor, Otman Basir. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, May 7, 1:00 p.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Chemical engineering. Tuan Amran Tuan Abdullah, “Hydrogen Production from Catalytic Ethanol Reforming in Supercritical Water.” Supervisor, Eric Croiset. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 8, 9:00 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

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