Friday, October 22, 2010

  • Johnston makes encore appearance
  • Other honours at 101st Convocation
  • Medals for two 'outstanding' grads
  • Arts marks its 50th, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Johnston with Order of Canada regalia]Johnston makes encore appearance

The university will award two gold medals and 1,707 degrees at tomorrow’s 101st Convocation, and the day will have extra glitter with the presence of the first Governor General of Canada ever to attend a Waterloo ceremony.

He is, of course, David Johnston (right), who was this university’s president from 1999 until leaving three weeks ago to take the national viceregal post. Johnston will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, be installed as a President Emeritus, and address the graduates in arts, social work and applied health sciences at Saturday morning’s ceremony.

The morning ceremony starts at 10 a.m. A 2:30 p.m. ceremony follows, with graduates in engineering, environment, science and mathematics. Both convocation events will be held in the main gym of the Physical Activities Complex. A total of 908 undergraduates and 799 graduate students will receive their degrees and diplomas during the two ceremonies.

"Convocation is a very proud moment for both the graduates and their families because it marks the end of a long journey filled with hard work and accomplishments," says registrar Ken Lavigne. "The University of Waterloo is pleased to honour our graduating students' commitment and dedication to academic success."

There’s a special buzz around the return visit by Johnston, whose 11-year presidency at Waterloo saw dramatic growth in the university’s national and international reputation and its teaching and research activity. A news release this week credits him for “putting the university and the surrounding region on the national map as a centre for talent, ideas and innovation through his vision of a knowledge capital that raised the sights of Waterloo to aspire to world leadership. He also demonstrated the value of collaboration among academics, government, philanthropists and business to boost community building and economic development.”

Since taking office October 1 as Governor General — the formal head of the government of Canada — Johnston hasn’t ceased to talk about the issues that preoccupied him in his Waterloo years: education, innovation, the “intelligent” society. "I suppose the most important thing the governor-general can do, if he or she believes these are important national objectives, is to articulate them and encourage the various public and private partners and the citizens of the country to rally around them," he told the Vancouver Sun a few days ago. “I'm trying to assess what my wife and I can do in the five years we are here in this very privileged position to advance the smart and caring nation."

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Other honours at 101st Convocation

Several other people will be receiving special honours at Saturday’s two ceremonies. Among them:

• Heather Moyse, a Waterloo graduate who won a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and who will receive an alumni achievement award from the faculty of applied health sciences at the morning session. She is being recognized for inspiring her peers, other young alumni, recent graduates and current students through her significant contributions since graduating in 2000. Last February, Moyse and her teammate, Kaillie Humphries, won Canada’s first ever women’s bobsleigh gold medal. Moyse has also served in many volunteer and public service roles, including as a disability sports program officer with the Commonwealth Games Canada and as the founder of a camp for children who are deaf or hearing-impaired called Camp ABLE (Active Bodies, Leadership and Esteem).

[Scott]• Catharine Scott (left), former associate provost (human resources and student services), who will be made an honorary member of the university, also at the morning session. Scott is recognized for work in many fields over her 36-year Waterloo career, as a champion of the staff role in the university and a key figure in reshaping the student orientation program and creating Student Life 101 and other “transition” programs aimed at students and parents.

• Ronald Graham, who holds the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Endowed Chair in Computer and Information Science at the University of California at San Diego, will receive an honorary doctorate in mathematics at the afternoon event. Graham is cited as one of the world’s most eminent scholars in the field of discrete mathematics and his contributions have had a major impact on the development of computer science, combinatorics and optimization. In 1978, he was granted a Guinness World Record for the largest number ever used in a mathematical proof, known as “Graham's number.” He will give the convocation address.

• Pingkai Ouyang, president of the Nanjing University of Technology in China, will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, also in the afternoon ceremony. He is one of the most prominent researchers and educators in biochemical engineering in the world, as well as a pioneer and leader in Chinese biochemical engineering. Under his leadership, Nanjing University of Technology has formed a formal collaborative research and education relationship with the University of Waterloo.

Both convocation ceremonies are open to the public (though seating space is expected to be tight for the morning session in particular) and both will be webcast.

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Medals for two 'outstanding' grad students

A highlight of fall convocation is always the presentation of two Alumni Gold Medals for the year’s top graduates at the PhD and master’s degree levels. This year’s winner for “outstanding academic performance in a master’s program” is Jordache McLeod, of health studies and gerontology. At the PhD level the winner is Alexander Wong of systems design engineering.

McLeod’s thesis was supervised by HSG faculty member Paul Stolee. “For her thesis research,” says a citation, “Ms. McLeod was engaged in a challenging and important area of health services research: assessing care transitions for older patients with musculoskeletal disorders. As reported by her supervisor, Ms. McLeod has already been invited to share her thesis results with clinicians at local hospitals. She was also the first person to test the reliability of a popular measure of care transition being used in more than 15 countries around the world. As many of her supporting letters stated, her work will certainly change and improve existing practices. Ms. McLeod is an exceptional student. This is shown in her grades, research quality and impact she has made in the health field.

“Recently, Ms. McLeod was successful in the highly competitive application process for medical school and started her medical studies at the University of Ottawa in September 2010. She is committed to pursuing a career focused on care of the elderly — an area badly in need of increased numbers of medical specialists.”

Wong’s doctoral thesis was supervised by David Clausi of the systems design department. Says his citation: “During his time at the University of Waterloo, Mr. Wong has distinguished himself as an outstanding scholar. He has an exceptional publication record with research productivity for 5 years of graduate studies that would rival that of many full time faculty members applying for tenure.

“As stated by his supervisor, ‘Alex’s research work is broad since he applies himself in multiple fields within computer vision including image compression, image registration, super resolution, tracking, and denoising. His core research contribution champions the use of statistical sampling instead of local windows for enhanced approaches to computer vision. This approach and the success of Alex’s algorithms I expect will recognize him as a leading world-class researcher in the computer vision field early in his career.’

“Mr. Wong has excellent teaching and research abilities; he is very productive and takes initiative in a board range of interests, which leads to collaboration in a variety of fields.”

The medal winners were chosen by the Advisory Committee on Graduate Scholarships and Awards, which also named five students to be recognized for “outstanding achievement”: Faisal Al-Faisal of pure mathematics and David Norris of the global governance program, at the master’s level; Andrew Doxey of biology, Joanna Jacob of sociology, and Shuai Cheng Li of computer science, at the PhD level.

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Arts marks its 50th, and other notes

Today’s the big day for the faculty of arts, marking its 50th anniversary crowd in the arts quadrangle, [Arts wordmark]where the Arts Student Union will be distributing pizza provided by the faculty's dean. It's free to arts students; others pay $1 per slice, with proceeds going to the United Way campaign. From 2:30 to 3:30, staff members, faculty, retirees and alumni are invited to “a cupcake and refreshments reception” in the Festival Room of South Campus Hall, “to catch up with old friends and reminisce on 50 wonderful years.” There will also be a silent auction benefiting the United Way, involving some 20 orange scarves (orange is the official colour of arts) knitted by staff members and their families. In the course of the day a number of arts departments are holding open house or other special events, including lectures aimed at alumni and visitors. Finally comes a by-invitation dinner at Federation Hall, with proceedings starting at 4:30 p.m. This event replaces the originally announced evening program in the Humanities Theatre. Highlight of the evening will be presentation of this year's Arts in Academics Awards and Alumni Achievement Award. Details of the day's activities are online.

Gifts and pledges to the United Way campaign inched up a little this week and stand at $111,031 as of Wednesday — 55 per cent of the goal. "Last year at this time, we had reached 72% of the same goal," laments an update sent to campaign volunteers. "We are still only at a participation rate of 8.3%, and we need your help." Faculty, staff and retiree gifts to the campaign, which is part of the community-wide $6 million United Way, help support programs from the Child Witness Program to the Brain Injury Association, Planned Parenthood and the St. John Ambulance. Individual givings are supplemented by the proceeds from special events, including a kernel popcorn sale that's been under way in the registrar's office this week. Details, including word on how to donate, are online.

Here's an announcement that may affect you if you do some of your computing through the Nexus system, as thousands of people on campus do: “Effective Tuesday, October 26, the password change facility in WatIAM will change both your ADS password (also known as your ‘WatIAM password') and your Nexus account password, if you have one. This is being done as a first step in the project to consolidate the ADS and Nexus computing environments. Please also note that the minimum password length is now 8 characters. Password length requirements are enforced at password change so previously set passwords that are shorter than 8 characters will still work. All members of the university community are encouraged to change their passwords in WatIAM following the October 26 change to ensure ADS and Nexus passwords are the same when the environments are consolidated.”

[Lineup for the microphone]Monday brings municipal elections across Ontario, including Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge. Candidates for mayor of Waterloo came to Village I on Wednesday night (right) to air their platforms and answer questions. The event "was a huge success", says one enthusiastic participant, arts student senator Reemah Khalid. "The turnout and interest exceeded the candidates' expectations," she says, as students from across campus, alumni, community members, candidates, and a couple of senior university officials stopped by. "One lucky student walked away with an iPad from the Federation of Students. Discussion topics included public transit, bike paths, Northdale/ student housing, and community involvement. As well, to lighten the mood students asked the candidates about their favourite flavour of ice cream. As the debate drew to a close, many more students still had questions and were eager to hear from the candidates about issues facing our community." A recording of the debate is online.

Here's a note from the university's human resources department about employees needing time off to vote: "Voting hours will run from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, all employees who are eligible to vote in the election are entitled to three consecutive hours during voting hours on election day to cast their vote. To be eligible to vote, an employee must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years of age, and meet certain residency or property ownership or tenancy conditions. Where an employee’s hours of work prevent him or her from having the three consecutive voting hours required by the statute, the employee 'is entitled to be absent from work for as long as is necessary to allow that amount of time'. The time off is paid. Where an employee has three consecutive hours that fall within voting hours and fall outside of his or her work hours, there is no obligation to provide paid time off from work."


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Link of the day

Hunter's Moon

When and where

Doug Wright Engineering building elevator shut down for renovation, October 18 through December 10.

Quest student information system unavailable because of student upgrade until noon today.

OnBase document management system for graduate admissions will be down until 4:30 p.m.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” today 10:00, or November 11, 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

myCareer@UWaterloo recruitment and job search system, demonstration 10:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Farvolden Day events in department of earth and environmental sciences, including groundwater research symposium 10:30,  Davis Centre room 1302 (registration fee applies); lecture by Anthony Daus, AMEC Geomatrix, “Managing Groundwater Resources in the Wild, Wild West” 2:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Flu shot clinic at health services for “high risk” individuals, today and October 27 and 29, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “Summer Off, No, Summer On!” 2:30, Environment II room 2002.

Independent studies graduate Shirley Tillotson (1978) speaks on “How to Write a New Political History for Contemporary Democracy” 2:30, Hagey Hall room 280.

Philosophy colloquium: Bryon Williston, Wilfrid Laurier University, “The Importance of Self-Forgiveness” 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Warrior sports this weekend: Men’s hockey vs. York Friday 7:30, vs. Western Saturday 7:30, Icefield. • Field hockey vs. Western Saturday 10 a.m., vs. Toronto Saturday 4 p.m., vs. Carleton Sunday 10:45, as part of tournament, St. David’s field, Waterloo. • Women’s hockey vs. Brock Saturday 2:00, vs. Guelph Sunday 2:00, Icefield. • Soccer at Laurier, women Sunday 1:00,men Sunday 3:15. • Men’s volleyball at Ryerson Friday, at York Saturday. • Tennis (men and women) at OUA championships at Western, Friday-Sunday. • Men’s basketball at Bishop’s U tournament, Friday-Sunday. • Women’s basketball at Montréal tournament, Friday-Sunday. • Cross-country at Brock open, Saturday.

Tamil Cultural Night Saturday 5:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Pre-enrolment for spring 2011 undergraduate courses begins October 25. Details.

Ontario municipal elections polling day Monday. Details.

Career workshops Monday: “Academic Interview” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. “Teaching Philosophy Statement” 2:00, Tatham 2218. Details.

Library workshop: “Research Databases for Business” Monday 3:00,  Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Gairdner Foundation Lectures: Faculty of Science presents Peter Ratcliffe, Oxford University, Tuesday. Lecture primarily for high school students, “Why I Became a Scientist” 10:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre. Public lecture, “How  Cells Sense Oxygen” 1:00, Humanities.

Be Engaged roundtable discussion for staff Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1568. Details.

Federation of Students general meeting Tuesday 1:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

Public lecture sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy: Rajagopala Chidambaram, government of India, “Energy Technologies, Energy Security and Climate Change” Tuesday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30 p.m., Engineering 5 room 6004 (note new location).

Mental Health Wellness Day Wednesday: displays 10:00 to 3:00, speakers 12:00, Student Life Centre, and involvement across campus.

Blood donor clinic October 27 and 28 (10:00 to 4:00), October 29 (9:00 to 3:00), Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Brian Cameron, information systems and technology, retirement reception Wednesday 3:30 to 5:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP elmartin@

Astronaut Robert Thirsk gives the 2010 Hallman Lecture, faculty of applied health sciences, Thursday 4:30, Humanities Theatre.

Town Hall Meeting with president and provost for faculty and staff, November 2, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

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