Wednesday, January 13, 2010

  • City buys site for Stratford campus
  • Career advisor ready to help staff
  • Admissions deadline day; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

City buys site for Stratford campus

UW officials yesterday said they “welcome” the news that the City of Stratford has finalized acquisition of downtown property that will be turned into the home of the university's Stratford campus and the Stratford Institute for digital media.

The city is set to take possession of the "Cooper lands” on February 9, clearing the last hurdle for future construction of the long-anticipated campus, a half-hour drive west of Waterloo.

The university and the city signed an agreement in November that sets out construction plans for the Stratford campus, with two “phases” and the possibility of a residence building as well. The city is providing the land as well as $10 million towards construction, with another $10 million coming from the Ontario government.

The site is in central Stratford, a couple of blocks south of the Avon Theatre, with the initial building expected to face St. Patrick Street adjacent to the Stratford-Perth YMCA.

"Bravo to the the City of Stratford, Mayor Dan Mathieson, the council and staff," says a statement from UW president David Johnston. “This is great news, an outstanding step forward. If everything goes according to schedule we hope now to be able to break ground later in the spring. Our vision is that this Stratford campus, home to the Stratford Institute, will be a leading North American centre for the convergence of creativity and technology in the rapidly developing world of digital media."

The digital media campus is a founding hub of the new Canadian Digital Media Network. The University of Western Ontario also recently joined this pioneering digital media initiative by signing a memorandum of understanding with Waterloo and the city. The city is already a centre for many leading cultural and creative enterprises, including the Stratford Festival, and so fits well with the creative entrepreneurial theme of the new institute.

The Stratford Institute has been hiring staff to plan teaching and research programs. A class of students in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program will begin studies at the institute next fall in temporary accommodations.

Digital media is the area of electronic technology that is based on using digital code as a conduit for gathering and transferring information on the Internet, TV and so forth. Says Tobi Day-Hamilton, director of advancement for the UW Faculty of Arts: “Our definition is inclusive: any information that is recorded or transmitted electronically is digital media. The broader scope of digital media includes the Internet, email, social media, text messages, Twitter and any future ways of transferring information.”

She notes that the Stratford Institute hosted the "Canada 3.0" forum in June. "The forum drew 1,500 academic, business and government leaders to Stratford to discuss Canada’s digital future. The conclusion was clear: to succeed in the digital economy, Canada requires unprecedented collaboration within and across universities, with all levels of government and with the private sector. The Stratford Institute seeks to facilitate new attitudes and new approaches to that cross disciplinary and cross sector collaboration. Canada 3.0 sparked a national discussion on the future of our nation with the publication of the Stratford Declaration and the continuing discussion through various media reports. Canada 3.0 is a signature event for the Stratford Institute and will be held again in May 2010 with a focus on building Canada’s strength in digital media through unique partnerships, collaborations and research ventures.”

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Career advisor ready to help staff

UW’s new “staff career advisor” is on the job and ready to meet with staff members who want to develop their careers. She’s Liz Koblyk, formerly of McMaster University and now settled in UW’s Tatham Centre in a position created with money from the Staff Excellence Fund.

[Koblyk]“Before coming to UW,” says Koblyk (left), “I worked for McMaster's career services office as the Alumni Career Coach, providing one-on-one appointments to graduates who needed help with job search strategies, career exploration, or educational planning. Before that, I worked at a Hamilton non-profit, helping people with the job search process, and before that, I worked at a community college Disability Services office as a tutor and project manager. I completed a PhD at McMaster in English literature and, more relevant to this role, the Career Development Foundations certificate at Conestoga College.”

Kerry Mahoney, director of the UW Career Services unit, says services available to staff members aren’t limited to individual advising sessions: “Staff members can also access Career Services’ print resource library (after first activating their WatCard at the circulation desk of any on campus library) and the Career Development eManual.”

Individual advisement includes feedback on resumés and cover letters, coaching on interviews, and assistance identifying and working towards career goals. “Whether staff members have clear ideas about what they want in the future, or are just starting to think it through, career advising is valuable,” says Koblyk. Benefits range from more polished resumés, cover letters and interview skills during job competitions, to a greater awareness of effective job search strategies and next steps for professional advancement.

“Staff bring a wide range of career development interests to the table,” she points out, “so services range from the nitty-gritty, such as resume and cover letter critiques and mock interviews, to bigger-picture services, such as the exploration of career options and how those options match with personal values and interests.

“Staff can be at radically different places in their career: they may be very happy in their current role, but know it's wise to have an up-to-date resumé; they may be looking to advance their career and want to figure out how to go about it; they may be aiming to take on less responsibility at work for family or health reasons; they may be applying to a professional program and want feedback on their application; they may be preparing for a job search and want to learn more about how to expand their network or contact employers.

“In terms of meeting different staff needs, one-on-one appointments are very useful, because everything that happens during the appointment is driven by the staff member's individual concerns. If a staff member has not applied for jobs in a while and wants to practise interview skills before a job is on the line, we can conduct a mock interview. If someone feels that their job isn't as satisfying as it used to be, but can't figure out why, we can explore potential reasons and solutions. If someone is interested in career assessments, they might decide to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Strong Interest Inventory.

“Career Services will also soon make staff workshops available, such as using the MBTI for career development, expanding your network, and communicating your accomplishments (whether in job interviews or performance reviews). The common factor between these components of service is that all are designed to support UW staff members’ career resiliency and ability to pursue career goals.”

The new service complements what’s done by the Office of Organizational and Human Development, Koblyk says. “Both offices help staff develop their careers. Someone might come to a career advising appointment to identify barriers to career advancement and decide, based on that appointment, to take an OHD course in management or communication skills to advance their career. OHD provides training in both soft and technical skills, and delivers custom and team-building workshops to UW offices. Career Services helps staff identify and work towards career goals, whether during individual appointments or workshops in the Tatham Centre.

“Staff members could turn to OHD to develop skills, and to Career Services to plan and learn strategies for career development, as well as internal and external job searches. A final difference is that OHD works with groups of staff, while workshops are the icing on the cake at Career Services: most staff who use the services will access confidential, individual appointments.”

All regular staff members, part-time or full-time, are eligible. Services are confidential and free. Staff can schedule an appointment by following the “Appointments” link on the Career Services website. Meetings are held in the Tatham Centre and can be booked for regular office hours, lunch hours, evenings and weekends.

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Admissions deadline day; other notes

Today's the big day for nearly 100,000 high school students across Ontario, the deadline day for them to apply to universities for September 2010 admission. An oddity of the system operated by the Ontario Universities Application Centre is that the general deadline actually isn't until March 31, but Ontario students may find themselves shut out of high-demand programs if they don't get the online paperwork done by midnight tonight. (And even then there are exceptions; the details, so far as UW is concerned, are online.) It's a stressful time, in part because most of the applicants have never been 17 before and will never be 17 again, and they're making a life-changing decision. In addition, there are concerns about how stiff the competition will be as universities are expanding only modestly, while the number of young people seeking to go there, especially from the fast-growing Greater Toronto Area, is rocketing upwards. And there's concern about extra competition for those young people, with a growing number of adults leaving the job market, in hard economic times, to seek additional education. In a news report yesterday, John Milloy, the minister of training, colleges and universities, was quoted as saying that the government is confident there will be room: it has tried, he said, "to make sure that that growth is funded so that qualified students, no matter what their background," will find a place in university or college.

[Grant]The "outstanding male undergraduate researcher" for 2010, according to the Computing Research Association, is a fourth-year student in UW's school of computer science, Elyot Grant (right). "This is the top award for undergraduate research in CS," says faculty member Jeff Shallit, who has worked with Grant and who's featuring him on his blog site. Shallit describes some of the work Grant has done ("first, he found a quadratic lower bound corresponding to a famous 1977 theorem . . . third, Elyot found beautiful results on 'open' and 'closed' languages, which are analogous to open and closed sets in topological spaces." The CRA's citation calls some of Grant's work "clever and subtle" and adds that his ideas "have already been taken up by researchers in Europe, which shows that these ideas are important and in the mainstream of theoretical computer science".

A message went to more than 28,000 undergraduate students from the registrar's office this week, reminding them of a decision that was made early in the fall term as UW faced a possible epidemic of H1N1 flu. At that time, it noted, the provost announced that "verification of illness was not needed for student absences resulting from the flu and that absences resulting from other conditions continued to require verification by a doctor in the usual manner. This memo is to announce that online reporting for absences for influenza-like illness is now available to students through Quest. Such reporting is required if a student is seeking accommodation from any instructor for course requirements missed due to an influenza-like illness. Details from such reporting will be available to designated administrative staff and faculty, including instructors, advisors and associate deans. Within two calendar days of deciding not to attend class because of an influenza-like illness, the student must report the start date of the absence. Upon returning to class, the student must report the return to class. The online declaration can be used for influenza-like illnesses of up to 10 calendar days; longer absences will necessitate completion of the standard Verification of Illness form. . . . If a student becomes ill and does not have access to the internet, the student is to phone his/her graduate/undergraduate associate dean and provide his/her name, student number and the date of the start of the absence. The information should be left in a message if the student does not speak directly with the associate dean." This week's memo confirms what was said in the fall term, and presents no changes.

Following the events of the known world on Twitter is a bit like drinking from a tsunami, but it's possible to pick out at least some of the good bits — the things people are saying on any given day about the University of Waterloo, for instance. I grabbed these tweets (that's what they're called) in a few minutes earlier this week: "If any of my #uwaterloo followers need network cables, reply with the footage. If it's reasonable, it's free!" . . . "Attend a Housing Info Session at #uwaterloo for your chance to win a $100 grocery store gift card!" . . . "Good discussions about co-op, elections, budgets & more at #UWFedS Council today." . . . "Looking forward to use twitter as a realtime communication tool for #msci454 this term." . . . "With the parking shortage, (me not being a driver) I didn't realize student drivers would be affected." . . . "I will attempt to walk down those Needles Hall stairs as a disabled person and see how bad it is.” And I put out a few tweets myself in the @uwdailybulletin stream on Twitter.


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Link of the day


When and where

Change of coverage period for student health and dental plan continues through January 22. Details.

Housing information sessions about options for upper-year housing, through January 21 in the residences. Details.

Frost Week social events sponsored by Engineering Society, through Friday. Details.

Campus recreation registration for instructional programs through Thursday, athletics office, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Free noon concert: Cello-piano duo (Ben Bolt-Martin and Justyna Szajna), 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

[Bowman]Ken Bowman, department of civil and environmental engineering, retirement reception 3 to 5 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, information ext. 32535.

Flu vaccination clinic Thursday and Friday 10:00 to 4:30, Student Life Centre 2134-2135. Shots available for both H1N1 and seasonal flu. Vaccinations are also available 10:00 to 11:30 daily at Health Services. Details.

On-campus recruitment information session organized by career services, Thursday 12:30, AL room 116 (note time and room changes). Details.

Election nomination deadline (Federation of Students executive, students’ council, student positions on UW senate) Thursday 4:00 p.m. Details.

Department of English presents Daniel M. Gross, University of California at Irvine, “Defending the Humanities Through Charles Darwin’s The Expression of Emotion”, Thursday 4:00, Humanities room 373.

Water Environment Association student chapter presents Don Holland, CH2M Hill, “Water and Waste Water Treatment Planning” Thursday 6:00, Engineering II room 2348.

‘Global Warring’: Cleo Paskal speaks on “How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map”, sponsored by UW bookstore, Thursday 7:00, CIGI, 57 Erb Street West. Registration online.

Open class enrolment ends January 15; drop, no penalty period ends January 22 (last day to withdraw with 100 per cent fee refund). Last day to register and pay fees, January 29.

Science alumni ski day Friday, Osler Bluff Ski Club, Collingwood. Details.

EpCon, “a fun way for students with a passion for technology to interact with their peers, industry and academia” January Friday-Saturday, Waterloo Inn. Details.

Co-op job postings for spring term job begin January 16 on JobMine.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents Sam Trosow, “The Copyright Debate: Finding the Right Balance for Teaching, Research and Cultural Expression” Monday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

Banff Festival of Mountain Films Monday 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Teaching-Based Research Group drop-in session for faculty and staff interested in research about teaching and learning, Tuesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

‘Bridging the Gap to Retirement’ workshop presented by Employee Assistance Program, Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Grade 10 Family Night information session for parents and students about the university admission process, sponsored by Marketing and Undergraduate Recruitment office, Tuesday 6:30, Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Alumni in Toronto: Networking event at Banana Republic, January 21, 6 p.m. Details.

Fall term grades become official January 25.

Volunteer and Internship Fair January 26, 11:00 to 2:30, Student Life Centre. Details.

PhD oral defences

Chemistry. Ahmed Magdy Ali, “Synthesis of Sulfotyrosine Bearing Peptides and Analogues.” Supervisor, Scott D. Taylor. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, January 15, 9:00 a.m., Chemistry II room 361.

Civil and environmental engineering. Khaled Berbash, “A Risk-Based Optimization Framework for Airport Security Upgrades.” Supervisors, Tarek Hegazi and Carl Haas. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, January 18, 2:00 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Electrical and computer engineering. Mohammed Hamdan Hamed Albadi, “Facilitation of Wind-Based DG Integration.” Supervisor, Ehab F. El-Saadany. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, January 19, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

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