Monday, November 9, 2009

  • Western takes a role in Stratford campus
  • Gifts give environmental school a lift
  • The referendum, programmers, and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Five smiling faces in the SLC]

Saturday's weather was perfect for the fall open house, aimed at high schoolers who are considering applying to UW for next September. And no matter how much the 17-year-olds and their parents liked Waterloo in the 14-degree sunshine, they can't have been having a better time than the day's organizers and volunteers, including arts student senator Reemah Khalid, Valerie Herteis of the Student Ambassador group, residence don Stephanie Nicoll, Andrea Santi of the Ambassadors, and Jaana Mielonen, assistant manager of UW’s Visitor Centre.

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Western takes a role in Stratford campus

UW and the University of Western Ontario announced Friday that the two universities “will collaborate on teaching, research and professional efforts on Waterloo's soon-to-be-established Stratford campus”. Officials spoke at a news conference at Stratford’s city hall, which also celebrated an announcement of government funding for the digital media work that is to be the focus at the Stratford campus.

They said the two institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding: “They will look to collaborate on research and professional activities, particularly in the area of digital media, and jointly promote Canada's digital media sector. They will also explore opportunities to co-operate on the development of the Stratford Institute, with a view of having Western become an active participant.”

Said UW president David Johnston: "The University of Waterloo welcomes Western's enthusiasm for, and participation in, the development of a digital media campus and institute. Western has well-established strengths in media, both traditional and digital, as well as in information technologies, which can only contribute to the success of our efforts to establish Stratford and Canada as digital media leaders."

The arrangement reconnects him with Amit Chakma, who was UW’s provost until June 30 and is now president at Western — an institution that’s almost as close to Stratford, in the opposite direction, as Waterloo. "Western has considerable expertise in the areas of digital media, communications and information technologies," said Chakma. "We look forward to exploring opportunities to collaborate with the University of Waterloo and its Stratford Institute."

['Future site' sign]The Institute is to be a main feature of the campus that UW is creating in Stratford, focused on undergraduate and graduate education in digital media and the related areas of business, technology and creativity. The Institute itself is described as “a world-leading think tank and research institute in digital media, involving strong academic-business partnerships and significant commercialization activities”.

According to a news release, "Western's faculty of science has strengths in digital gaming and game programming, and its faculty of information and media studies is a national leader in undergraduate and graduate media studies, critical media studies, and the study of communication and information technologies. Western has helped spin off digital media companies, such as EK-3, and London is home to many leading digital companies, including Digital Extremes, named one of the Financial Post's Ten Best Companies to Work For.”

Earlier Friday, John Milloy, the Ontario minister of research and innovation and of training, colleges and universities, announced that the province will “invest more than $26 million in The Communitech Hub: Digital Media & Mobile Accelerator (‘The Hub’), a new centre that will help emerging digital media companies grow and succeed in the global market. In particular, The Hub will look beyond the entertainment sector to focus on companies creating hardware and software for industries, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and finance.” The Hub is to be located in a vintage factory in downtown Kitchener.

Said Milloy: “Ontario is providing 24 per cent of the funding for the $107-million project, with the rest coming from private sector partners and other levels of government. Several postsecondary institutions are also involved: the University of Waterloo and the Stratford Institute, Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Ontario College of Art and Design.” Later, he told the audience at the Stratford city hall event that the UW institute and its associates will grow to be the centre of digital media training and development for all of Canada.

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Gifts give environmental school a lift

As the new School of Environment, Enterprise and Development was launched Friday, UW officials announced that it has received “more than $23 million in donations” and acknowledged some of the donors.

SEED, an academic unit in the Faculty of Environment, is described as “North America's first school focusing on environmentally responsible business and development”. It promises to develop “sustainable solutions to key local and global environmental, social and developmental challenges through education, research and training. SEED's graduates will be equipped to create successful organizations in a world with increasing demands for energy and environmental sustainability.”

It will provide a home for the faculty’s biggest undergraduate program, environment and business, and a new but fast-growing program, international development. In addition, it will house new graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Environment and Business and Master of Development Practice. SEED could potentially also include the existing graduate program in local economic development, currently based in the geography department, the dean of environment said earlier this year.

The dean, Deep Saini, said that increasingly, companies are counting on professionals to help them meet their environmental sustainability goals while ensuring that their businesses continue to thrive. "We are grateful that five corporate and foundation leaders are generously investing in the faculty of environment with financial support and gifts-in-kind," Saini said as the university hosted a symposium on “Business Not as Usual” to get SEED launched.

"With their help, we will be able to ensure that our graduates have the skills to develop business sustainability plans within an environmentally attuned framework. We are entering a new phase of enterprise — a quantum leap from how traditional business practices have been viewing and managed."

The five corporate and foundation leaders that were acknowledged on Friday are GE Energy, with $6 million in software as a gift-in-kind; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with $200,000 in cash; Oracle Canada ULC; Safe Software Inc., with $1 million in software; and Zerofootprint, with more than $1 million to launch a new lab in the Faculty.

"GE Energy's Smallworld software is all about discovery," said Martin Ansell, general manager of the Smallworld software division of GE Energy's transmission and distribution business. "Companies use it every day to discover more productive, efficient ways to allocate resources and interact with customers. Our $6-million donation of GE Energy's Smallworld solution is given in the spirit of discovery. We're confident the students in SEED will leverage the power of GE Energy's Smallworld software to discover new ways to help business and industry maximize their service performance while minimizing their effects on the environment."

Such support, said a news release, “allows SEED's faculty, researchers and students to access advanced geospatial data infrastructure along with analytic and processing tools in. The tools will broaden their knowledge in the rapidly emerging field of environmental business, which includes green networking, carbon measurement, green supply chain management and sustainable business strategy.”

Zerofootprint's donation will put the company’s name on a novel ZEROlab in the faculty. The gift provides the software and hosting infrastructure needed by researchers to begin investigations into carbon footprint analysis. "The ZEROlab is a place where faculty and students can experiment and create tools and products that will have an impact on climate change," said Ron Dembo, founder and chief executive officer of Zerofootprint and a graduate of Waterloo.

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The referendum, programmers, and more

Voting opens later today on three referenda in which undergraduate students will decide on proposed fees: for financing a Student Services Complex, an extension to Health Services, and Sound FM, the campus radio station. Online voting runs from 4:00 today to the same hour on Wednesday, under the supervision of the Federation of Students. “The Student Services Complex and Health Services Extension referendum questions are student driven projects in partnership with the Graduate Students Association and the University of Waterloo,” says a Federation announcement. “The question to support 100.3 Sound FM is being posed only to the undergraduate students. The Graduate Student Association will be continuing consultations with their members for the new Student Services Complex into the fall term, while calling the referendum for the Health Services expansion. The Federation of Students is asking full-time undergraduates to decide both questions this fall.” The issues have been aired in student publications and such other venues as pair of noontime debates last week in the Student Life Centre, and there’s official information on the Federation web site.

Local representatives of four federal political parties will discuss their parties' policies on topics including global poverty, international trade, arctic sovereignty, and the war in Afghanistan at a forum today in the Student Life Centre. Under the title "Canada in the World: An All-Party Forum on International Development and Foreign Policy", the forum will bring together representatives of the Conservatives, Green, Liberal, and New Democratic parties: current K-W MP Peter Braid for the Tories, former MP Andrew Telegdi for the Liberals, Cathy MacLellan of the Green Party, and Peter Thurley of the NDP. Moderating the discussion will be Larry Swatuk, director of UW's International Development Program. The forum will run from 5:00 to 7:00 in the SLC great hall and is being organized by the UW chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the UW Foreign Affairs Society, the UW International Health Development Association, and the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. "More university students are becoming aware about the world around them, and the impact that federal government policy has on developing countries and other global issues," says Joshua Gorner of EWB. "With the possibility of a federal election in the coming months, this forum is an excellent chance for students to get informed on the issues, and on how each party will approach these ongoing challenges."

There will be a UW student team in the world finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest this year as there has been every year for more than a decade. The "Waterloo Black" team, made up of Peter Wen, Hanson Wang and Gelin Zhou, came first in the East Central North American Region of the ACMs, their coach, Gordon Cormack of the school of computer science, reports. "The competition was held last weekend," he said on Friday. "However, the final results were posted today, having been amended to correct a judging error." Waterloo entered three teams in the field of 140 at the regionals. Waterloo Gold (Abel Molina, Minghao Dai, Bo Hong Deng) came 5th and Waterloo Red (Jamie Wong, David Hu, Daniel Galperin) were 13th. the world finals will be held in Harbin, China, in February.

[Vogel-Sprott, 1973]A "memorial event" will be held Thursday to celebrate the life and work of Muriel Vogel-Sprott (right, in 1973), a pioneer of UW's department of psychology, who died on September 27. She was still Muriel Vogel when she came to UW as a lecturer in 1961, but was soon married to David Sprott, later to be the first dean of mathematics, and soon involved in administration herself as well as all the work of a psychology professor, specializing in alcohol and drug issues. She was named to the Science Council of Canada, was an associate dean of arts, and served for the latter half of 1978 as UW's acting dean of graduate studies. She retired in 1996 and was named a distinguished professor emerita. Friends and colleagues will gather at the University Club on Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30, with remarks beginning at 4:15. "This will be an informal event," says a note from the organizers, "where family and friends can share their best Muriel stories and our fondest memories."

The plant operations department sends word of two road and pathway changes, one temporary, the other long-term. Temporarily, from Wednesday through Friday this week, there will be track repairs on the CN railway line at the east side of campus, meaning the pedestrian access to the plaza opposite Carl Pollock Hall will be blocked. ("We cannot have any students attempting to find their way through the construction zone," says a memo from CN.) For a much longer time, the roadway on the south side of East Campus Hall will be closed as of tomorrow, as construction of Engineering 6 building is beginning. "A 10 to 12-foot walkway will be provided for pedestrian traffic," says Don Haffner of plant ops, but motor vehicles needing to get past ECH (from Phillip Street into what's left of parking lot B) can only go by the north side of the building.

Finally, a correction: I wrote on Friday that the "staff recognition reception" to be held this Thursday will honour "staff members reaching their anniversaries in UW’s employ: 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 30th, 35th, even 40th". People at the 35-year mark should have been left out of that description, just as 25-year veterans were; those two groups are honoured at the longstanding 25-Year Club reception and dinner held each spring. Meghan Dawe of HR is still standing ready to hear from anyone who perhaps should be on the list for this week's event but has been missed. She’s at ext. 38968, e-mail mdawe@


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Pension plan meetings Friday

The Pension and Benefits Committee will host three public information sessions for the UW pension plan this Friday. The sessions will include an overview of the pension plan, how the plan is performing in this current economic climate, and opportunity for plan members to ask questions and provide comment on areas the Committee is exploring to ensure the sustainability and affordability of the plan. The plan actuary, Allan Shapira from Hewitt Associates, will begin with a presentation followed by time for questions and comments.

Members of the P&B Committee will be present at each information session. Pension plan members are encouraged to attend. Managers are requested to allow staff time to attend these meetings during work hours.

The meetings will each be an hour in length. Meeting times and locations are: 11:30 a.m., Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 301; 3:30 p.m., RCH room 101; 6:00 p.m., RCH 101.

Link of the day

End of the Berlin Wall

When and where

Career workshop: “Academic Interview Skills” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Library information session about Scopus, the largest research and citation database and how to use it in research, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 428. Pizza event with information about Scopus, 5:30, Davis Centre library room 1568.

Engineering Shadow Days for grade 11 and 12 students to experience engineering first-hand, Tuesday-Wednesday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Details.

Engineering exchange programs information sessions Tuesday 11:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 3517. Details.

‘Revitalizing Central Place Theory: Cities as Experiments on a Dynamic Fitness Landscape”, Brad Bass, Tuesday 12:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research seminar: Daniela O’Neill, psychology, “The Language Use Inventory” Tuesday 12:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

‘Research in Germany’ information session for graduates and researchers, Tuesday 2:00, CEIT room 3142, followed by reception and networking at University Club 5:30. RSVP by Friday, e-mail daadca@

Career workshops Tuesday: “Career Exploration and Decision Making” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1113; “All About GMAT” 4:30, Tatham 2218; “Are You Thinking about an MBA?” 5:30, 2218. Details.

Arts faculty council Tuesday 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Information session for alumni with children approaching post-secondary education, guests and the younger generation also welcome, sponsored by UW alumni affairs and marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, Tuesday 4:30 to 8:00, Mississauga Living Arts Centre. Details.

Remembrance Day service, prayers for peace from a variety of faiths, Wednesday 10:45 a.m., two minutes’ silence at 11:00, Student Life Centre great hall, organized by Chaplains’ Association.

Senate finance committee Wednesday 1:30, Needles Hall room 3004. Agenda.

Faculty of Environment graduate studies open house Wednesday 3:00 to 4:30, Environment I courtyard. Details.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau biography launch: Just Watch Me, by John English, UW department of history, Wednesday 4:00, Federation Hall, by invitation, information ext. 32281.

Poetry and architecture: launch celebration for The Al Purdy A-Frame Anthology (Harbour Publishing) and exhibition “Room Enough Between the Trees”, Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Stantec gallery, UW Architecture building, Cambridge; exhibition runs through November 20.

Engineering Student Awards Dinner hosted by dean of engineering, by invitation, Thursday 5:00, St. George’s Hall, Waterloo. Details.

Department of drama presents “The Government Inspector” by Nikolai Gogol, November 12-14 and 19-21 at 8 p.m.; preview performance by invitation November 11, 7:00; school matinees November 13 and 20 at 12:30, Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Lecture and book signing: Dambisa Moyo, Zambian economist, “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working”, Friday 7:30, Humanities Theatre.

UW Retirees Association fall luncheon (speaker: Roger Watt, retired from IST, “The Future of the Internet”) November 19, 11:30 a.m., Luther Village, 139 Father David Bauer Drive. Details 519-888-0334.

‘Get Lost at Fed Hall’ fundraising dance for brain cancer research through RACH; music by The Lost Faculties, band made up of optometry faculty and staff, November 21, 7:00, tickets $10.

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