Tuesday, March 3, 2009

  • Johnston: “Be creative and unconventional”
  • Inuit leader speaks at UW
  • Our students – present and to come – and other hopeful notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Johnston: “Be creative and unconventional”

David JohnstonYour email today brings a letter from President David Johnston (right). In line with the recommendations of last summer’s Task Force on Staff Engagement, which, among other things, emphasized the need for clear communication between the highest levels of the university and all staff, the President’s Quarterly Update on the Senate and Board of Governors is a summing-up of the “challenges and opportunities” that face everyone who works at Waterloo.

Johnston leads off by referring his readers to the updated master plan presented at the February 3 Board of Governors meeting and the environmental scan presented at the February 23 Senate meeting.

He mentions the coming move of Amit Chakma, vice-president, academic and provost, to the University of Western Ontario as president. He then outlines the successes and challenges the university is experiencing.

To begin with, “there was wonderful news for UW in the January 27 federal budget with the announcement of $50 million for our Institute for Quantum Computing,” Johnston says. With that funding added to the support of other governments and Chancellor Mike Lazaridis, IQC will be the leading institute of its kind in the world.

Johnston goes on to discuss the $2 billion in the federal budget earmarked for repair, maintenance, and construction of university infrastructure. Another vote of confidence, he says, comes from students, whose undergraduate applications to Waterloo rose about 60 per cent between 2001 and 2008.

“What are the keys to our success? We have had the courage to strike out in strategic and emerging areas,” he says, citing the schools of architecture and pharmacy as examples. Another bold move was to guarantee “that we would meet the unmet need of our qualified students,” increasing scholarships to 11.7 per cent of the operating budget, the highest rate in Canada. Another success factor is internationalization, with the influx of more students from abroad.

Next, Johnston explores the “tough decisions” facing us.

Top of the list is the pressure of the economic crisis on co-operative education. Although the current co-op employment rate is only 1.3 per cent below last year’s, the situation requires a close eye and hard work.

“The provincial funding picture is another concern. Roughly 50 per cent of our operating funding comes in the form of grants from the province, and during the last several months of dire economic news, there have been hints that these grants will level off.”

Johnston mentions the approved average five per cent increase in tuition fees for 2009-2010. Asking students to shoulder a heavier burden is by no means ideal, but “we remain steadfast in our commitment that no qualified student will be turned away from UW for financial reasons.”

He continues: “We must stay true to Waterloo’s roots and be creative and unconventional in the face of these financial pressures.” There is, he says, “an opportunity to be entrepreneurial on the capital side, balanced by our constraints on the operating side. We must strive to achieve and surpass our Sixth Decade goals of graduate student expansion and greater internationalization. We must capitalize on our continuing trend of rising enrolments and new capital monies available in current public stimulus packages.”

He concludes by reaffirming the university’s goal “to provide the best possible education to our undergraduate and graduate students,” and the need to work “both hard and wisely, together, if we are to achieve that goal.”

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Inuit leader speaks at UW

Mary SimonMary May Simon, president of Inuit Tapiritt Kanatami (ITK), will speak today at 7 p.m. in MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul's College. Her talk, “Inuit and the Canadian Arctic: Sovereignty Begins at Home,” is described as a "state of the union" address about the place Inuit hold in Canada.

"Mary Simon is one of the most influential Canadians of our generation,” says Ken Coates, dean of arts, himself an expert on Canada’s North. “She has brought Inuit issues to the attention of Canada and the world, offering a powerful vision of a new North based on Aboriginal autonomy and global engagement. She is a remarkable and inspiring leader, whose dreams of Inuit renaissance and recovery have inspired the citizens of Nunavut and have shown the world that some of the most creative community development and political ideas come from the North."

According to her online biography, Simon was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq (George River) in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). “Ms. Simon has devoted her life's work towards gaining further recognition of Aboriginal rights and to achieving social justice for Inuit and other Aboriginal peoples nationally and internationally. She began her career with the CBC Northern Service as a producer and announcer. ... Mary Simon was one of the senior Inuit negotiators during the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution as well as the First Minister Meetings (FMM) that took place in the 1980’s and the Charlottetown Accord. Ms. Simon also served as a member of the Nunavut Implementation Commission in 1993.”

Among other posts, she was the first Canadian ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (1994 to 2003), and took the lead in establishing an eight-country Arctic Council. She was also the Canadian ambassador to Denmark (1999 to 2001), a member of the Joint Public Advisory Committee of NAFTA's Commission on Environmental Cooperation (1997-2000), and chairperson 1997-98. She was the chancellor of Trent University (1995 to 1999) and was elected president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in 2006.

The UW talk is free, but please register.

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Our students – present and to come – and other hopeful notes

So UW can claim ties to not 19, but 20 of Waterloo Region’s Top 40 Under 40. The 20th is Megan Conway, a UW planning doctoral student who runs the Kitchener Pathways to Education program aimed at helping disadvantaged young people continue their education. More about her here.

Last fall, Waterloo students Noemi Chanda and Pavel Roshanov combined their knowledge bases (sociology and economics, and health sciences, respectively) and came up with an idea for software to help cardiovascular patients manage anticoagulation therapy from home. They took their idea to a competition for students at Conestoga College and the University of Waterloo, sponsored by Agfa HealthCare, an international firm that specializes in workflow information technology and diagnostic imaging. According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, “Thirty-three student teams from disciplines such as computer and software engineering, health informatics, mathematics and business accepted the challenge. Ten finalist teams were selected; each was mentored by medical practitioners and Agfa staff before presenting their ideas to a panel of experts.” Roshanov and Chanda won. Their prize was a trip “to Agfa's head office in Belgium to pitch their winning idea to the firm's global chief technology officer.” They say they got plenty of valuable feedback, and they are planning to work with Agfa to advance their concept.

A sure sign winter is on its way out is the March Break Open House which will be taking place on Tuesday, March 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Organizers expect more than 5,000 prospective students, parents, and school personnel to swarm across campus and gather for the Student Services Fair. The fair is usually held in the Student Life Centre, but March 17th is St. Patrick's Day, which means the Bombshelter will be hosting its annual St. Paddy's Day celebration. “Since long pub line-ups and green beer are not in line with what we want our visitors to experience at UW on event day,” says Kim McKee, manager of the Visitors Centre, “we have decided to host the Student Services Fair in the South Campus Hall concourse.... It’s our hope that visitors will leave UW at the end of the day with a positive impression of student life and academics at UW and be more committed to accepting an offer of admission.”

It may not feel like much like it today, but already signs of spring are showing up. Frank Seglenieks, co-ordinator of the University of Waterloo Weather Station on the north campus, reports that February was both warmer and wetter than usual. “For the first time since September we had a warmer than average month,” he says. “Although there were a couple of short cold spells, they were offset by longer warm periods, making the overall temperature a full degree higher than average. This made it the warmest February since 2002.” We also had 79.6 mm of precipitation, most of it coming in two rainstorms on the 11th and 12th. We had about 2.5 times the average amount of rain for a February, but less snow than average.

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When and where

Innovation and Sustainable Community Change workshop sponsored by Social Innovation Generation Waterloo, 8:30 to 5:30, book launch 4 p.m., St. George’s Hall, 655 King Street North. Details.

UW Directions, Aboriginal High School Enrichment Conference, March 3-7, St. Paul’s College. Details.

‘Interactive Teaching and Learning Strategies’ three-day workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, March 3, 5 and 10. Details.

International Celebrations Week. Country presentations. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Greening the ENV Coffee Shop: have lunch and brainstorm on what you want to see in the coffee shop. 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., ENV Coffee Shop, EV1 room 139. Information or to RSVP.

UW Recreation Committee: Mary Ann Vanden Elzen “Money or You: Who’s the Boss?” 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Berlin-Kreuzberg: 1982 and today: illustrated lecture by Martin Düspohl, director of the Berlin-Kreuzberg Museum, 4 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Free term abroad at Haifa information session (open to all undergraduates), 4:00, Math and Computer room 5158. Details.

The HAPN Great Race: teams of two compete to reach checkpoints across campus, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sponsored by Healthy Active Promotion Network; details.

Math alumni event: Robert L. Brown, statistics and actuarial science, special lecture on the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions; reception follows. Register by March 4. Event is Tuesday, March 10, 3 - 4:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Engineering Shadow Day for Grade 11 and 12 students, Wednesday. Details.

Free noon concert: Carol Ann Weaver, Rebecca Campbell and others, “Remembering Africa Again” Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Louise Liliefeldt, Toronto performance artist and painter: artist talk, Wednesday, 1 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1219.

AGFA site tour for UW students, Wednesday, 2 – 3:30 p.m. Meet group outside Davis Centre room 1330 at 1:40 p.m. or at the AGFA site, 455 Phillip Street, at 2 p.m. Numbers are limited: register at ssabarat@csg.uwaterloo.ca

‘Mourning the Unborn Dead’: Religious Studies Society presents Jeff Wilson, RS department, “A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America”, marking the release of his new book, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m., Renison UC great hall.

UW Biomedical Discussion Group, Wednesday, EIT 3142, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Speakers: Carolyn Ren (mechanical & mechatronics engineering), Guy Guillemette (chemistry). All welcome. Details.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Wednesday, 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Climate change lecture: Mark Serreze, University of Colorado at Boulder, “Cranking Up the Arctic Heat”, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Federation Hall. To register

International Celebrations Week. Movie, “The Italian.” Wednesday, 7 – 9 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065.

ICR Seminar: Nate Foster, University of Pennsylvania, “Bidirectional Programming Languages.” Thursday, 11 a.m. – noon, Davis Centre room 1304. Abstract.

Career workshops Thursday: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details. “Are You Thinking About Teaching?” 3:30, TC room 1208. Details.

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

International Women’s Day dinner with speaker Yan Li (Confucius Institute, Renison UC), Thursday, 5:00 for 6:00, University Club. Details.

German film series: “My Father Is Coming” (1991), Thursday, 6:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

International Celebrations Week. UW Aboriginal Services presents Darren Thomas, Comedic Hypnotist. Thursday, 6 p.m., St. Paul’s College, MacKirdy Hall.

International Celebrations Week. Cultural Caravan: cultural performances, displays and food. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to midnight, Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Craig Cardiff fund-raising concert in support of Engineers Without Borders and Mennonite Central Committee, Thursday, 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

Healthy Active Promotion Network yoga class Friday, 2:30 to 4:00, Physical Activities Complex studio 2. Details.


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