Wednesday, May 13, 2009

  • Executive retreat will face UW's future
  • Results of board and senate elections
  • Physicist's work gives 'new perspective'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Executive retreat will face UW's future

Deans' offices across campus will be deanless for two and a half days, Wednesday afternoon through Friday, as the members of Executive Council go away on their planning retreat at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre near Barrie.

The gathering at "K-Bay" is a longstanding UW tradition: each May deans, vice-presidents, and associate provosts get away from campus — far enough away that nobody's tempted to dash back to the office for a few minutes — and immerse themselves in major issues and priorities for the year ahead.

Exec council includes the senior officers responsible for all UW's departments, both academic and non-academic, and is chaired by the president.

“Gradually, we’re turning EC into a forum,” provost Amit Chakma said at this time last year, observing that “sometimes it’s a decision-making body, sometimes it’s information-sharing,” but increasingly he, along with the president and other leaders, “are using it as a major discussion body” to develop ideas and consensus on major issues. The retreat amounts to an extension of EC’s monthly meetings, he said.

The Kempenfelt retreat traditionally provides an opportunity for the university’s executives to say hellos and goodbyes as positions change, and they’ll have an important chance to do that this year, as it’ll be the last trip to Kempenfelt for Chakma as a UW executive. He will give up the job of provost as of June 30 and leave Waterloo to become president of the University of Western Ontario.

A nominating committee is at work on finding the next provost, but its latest communiqué, inviting nominations and suggestions, didn’t suggest that anyone might be ready to take office by July 1. That would leave the possibility of somebody being named acting provost for a few months, perhaps one of the current deans or other top UW officials.

Several other Exec Council positions are also about to be in transition:

• Nominating committees are working on the deanships in the faculty of applied health sciences (where current dean Roger Mannell has said he’s not looking for reappointment) and the faculty of mathematics.

• Dean of engineering Adel Sedra is on sabbatical (though he’s expected to make it to the Kempenfelt event) and Leo Rothenburg is acting dean.

• Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), will retire later this year, and a search is under way for a successor in the human resources part of her portfolio.

• A nominating committee is looking for an associate provost (graduate studies) to take office “as soon as possible”. Alan George, who is also associate provost (information systems and technology), has been interim dean of graduate studies — a title that’s being phased out — since the fall of 2007.

• A search is also under way for an associate vice-president (international). Meanwhile, Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student affairs), is wearing that hat on an interim basis.

If things work this week the way they have in past years, the retreat will wind up with development of a list of “priorities” for 2009-10. A year ago (and well before the current economic crisis was on most people’s radar), Chakma reported after the Kempenfelt weekend that there were seven priorities for the year: Getting ready for raising $100 million/year by 2017; continued efforts on graduate expansion; recruitment of international undergraduate students; expansion of enrolment in professional programs; government funding initiatives; career focused graduate expansions; administrative processes.

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Results of board and senate elections

[Knight][McCutchan]Drew Knight (left) of the research office and Walter McCutchan (right) of information systems and technology are new members of UW's board of governors, representing the university's staff.

They are the winners of a double election just held to fill the two staff seats on the 36-member governing board. The university secretariat has issued the official election results:

"Term May 1, 2009, to April 30, 2012: Tobi Day-Hamilton 253 votes; Walter McCutchan 302 votes; Declined, 24.

"504 (28%) of the 1,790 eligible full-time regular staff voted electronically; 51 (17%) of the 303 ballots distributed to full-time union staff were returned

"Term May 1, 2009, to April 30, 2011: Drew Knight 281 votes; Joe Szalai 56 votes; Pat Mihm 203 votes; Declined, 24.

"479 (27%) of the 1,790 eligible full-time regular staff voted electronically; 61 (20%) of the 303 ballots distributed to full-time union staff were returned."

The secretariat has also announced results of three elections recently held for members of the university senate:

Arts faculty member to Senate (May 1, 2009, to April 30, 2012): Bruce Muirhead 19 votes; Fraser Easton 31 votes; Robert Park 14 votes. Fraser Easton declared the successful candidate.

Graduate students to Senate (May 1, 2009, to April 30, 2011):
Mike Makahnouk 103 votes; Mohamed Abdel-Razek 216 votes; Seanna Davidson 142 votes; Shannon Freeman 144 votes. Shannon Freeman and Mohamed Abdel-Razek declared the successful candidates.

Arts undergraduate student to Senate (May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010): Alicia Mah 43 votes; Nilani Logeswaran 52 votes; Raynold Wonder Alorse 123 votes; Reemah Khalid 600 votes. Reemah Khalid declared the successful candidate.

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Physicist's work gives 'new perspective'

a news release from the Canadian Association of Physicists

The 2009 CAP/DCMMP Brockhouse Medal is awarded to Michel Gingras, University of Waterloo, for his seminal contributions to the statistical mechanics description of random disordered systems and geometrically frustrated magnetic systems. His work has served (quoting Dr. Thomas Rosenbaum, J.T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago) “to point the community as a whole to a new perspective on how local disorder and frustration can be connected to a material’s macroscopic response”.

[Gingras]Says Gingras (left): "I am most honoured to have been awarded the 2009 Brockhouse Medal and to be included into this group of celebrated condensed matter physicists. I take this opportunity to thank my students, post-docs and experimental colleagues for their many key contributions to the research projects that led to this award."

Gingras is an internationally renowned expert in the field of magnetism, with a focus in highly frustrated magnetism. In frustrated magnets, interacting magnetic moments have no obvious way to find a ground state that uniquely minimizes the energy. This can give rise to new types of classical and quantum mechanical states of matter. One example is spin ice, a state of matter manifest in crystals such as the rare-earth based pyrochlores. In the frustrated magnetism community, Michel is clearly recognized as a kind of “father” of this now broadly-appreciated and beautiful set of physical phenomena.

The spin ice pyrochlores are broadly considered a triumph in the field of highly frustrated magnetism. The work of Michel Gingras and his colleagues on spin-ice is exemplary groundbreaking work, carried out from start to finish with elegance, physical insight and attention to detail that finally led to decisive scientific conclusions. While this aspect of the research has gained probably the greatest notoriety, it is by no means a singular example of his work. Instead, Gingras has established a consistent pattern of pursuing experimental materials phenomena from model-building to analysis to quantitative comparison with experiment, in a broad variety of magnetic materials.

In addition, he is one of the rare theorists who is willing to get into the trenches with experimentalists to work out a detailed understanding of experimental data, the true hallmark of an outstanding physicist.

His scientific accomplishments have been paralleled by his generous support of the community, notably through his leadership in the initiation of the international “Highly Frustrated Magnetism” conference series. Gingras is thus in many ways an international leader in the fundamental and very active field of frustrated magnetic systems.

The Brockhouse medal was introduced for the first time in 1999 and is sponsored jointly by the Division of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics and the Canadian Association of Physicists. It is named in honour of Bertram Brockhouse, whose outstanding contributions to research in condensed matter physics in Canada were recognized by the 1994 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Michel Gingras will receive the medal during the CAP's awards banquet to be held at the Université de Moncton on June 9.


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Link of the day

Welcome to Cannes

When and where

Campus recreation instructional program registration for the spring term continues through Thursday. Details.

Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing Gauss competition for grade 7 and 8 students, Wednesday. Details.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies for International Students” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Library workshop: “Primo: Find Books and More” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Hallman Lecture: Barbara Silverstein, state of Washington, “Research to Practice to Policy and Back Again”, 4:30 p.m., Hallman Institute room 1621.

General Services Complex fire alarm testing 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

[Spacecraft]Herschel Space Observa­tory launch event with live video and remarks about UW’s involvement, Thursday 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre.

Communitech Tech Leadership Conference Thursday, Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener. Details.

Chem 13 News exam for high school science students, sponsored by UW and University of Toronto chemistry departments, Thursday. Details.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” Thursday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Residences and off-campus housing open house at new office, Student Life Centre lower atrium, Thursday 12:00 to 2:30.

Microteaching session sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Mathematics alumni lunch at Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators annual meeting, Thursday 2:30, Baker’s Grille, Carleton University, Ottawa. Details.

Chemical engineering seminar: George Pharr, University of Tennessee, “Probing the Mechanical Properties of Materials at Small Scales”, Thursday 3:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 307.

Book launch: Where Am I? Why We Can Find our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard, UW department of psychology, Thursday 3:30, UW bookstore, South Campus Hall.

UW Alternative Fuels Team general recruitment session Thursday 5:00, Doug Wright Engineering room 2536. Details.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, Thursday-Saturday and May 20-23 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

Energy Futures one-day conference on residential energy systems, hosted by UW faculty of environment and other agencies, Tuesday. Details.

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

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, May 23, 10:00 to 2:00, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details.

Renison University College 50th anniversary alumni dinner, speaker Bob Rae, May 23, 6:30 p.m., tickets $100, information ext. 28657.

UW board of governors meets June 2, 2:30 p.m.

Keystone Karnival, annual outdoor event celebrating the Keystone Campaign for faculty, staff and retirees, June 3, 11:30 to 1:30, Matthews Hall green, with evening event 10 p.m., South Campus Hall. Invitations being sent across campus.

Sound in the Lands, conference exploring Mennonite music, June 4-8, Conrad Grebel University College. Details.

‘Canada 3.0: Defining Canada’s Digital Future’ conference for industry leaders, policy-makers and researchers, sponsored by UW Stratford Institute, Open Text, and Canadian Digital Media Network, June 8-9, Rotary Complex, Stratford. Details.

Ninety-Eighth Convocation: applied health sciences and environment, and installation of Chancellor, Wednesday, June 10, 10:00; science, Wednesday 2:30; arts, Thursday, June 11, 10:00 and 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 12, 10:00 and 2:30; engineering, Saturday, June 13, 10:00 and 2:30; all ceremonies in Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, June 15, 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Details.

25-Year Club annual reception June 18, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Positions available

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

• Manager, residence life, housing and residences, USG 10

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