Monday, October 25, 2010

  • Johnston renews his Waterloo ties
  • Stratford announces digital 'incubator'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Johnston, in pink, shows off Waterloo tie]
Johnston renews his Waterloo ties

reported by Kelley Teahen, communications and public affairs

Waterloo opened its arms — literally — on Saturday to welcome back its past president, now His Excellency the Rt. Hon. David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. He made a return visit for the university’s 101st Convocation to be installed as president emeritus and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. During his time on campus, the Governor General’s ceremonial flag (below) flew on one of the University Avenue flagpoles.

[Police officer raising flag]Johnston, now Canada’s 28th governor general, traded the blue-and-white presidential robes he wore at 11 years’ worth of convocations for a brilliant magenta gown which, in due time, was completed with the ice-pink hood of the honorary LLD. And at every turn, Johnston embraced his former colleagues, as he threw his arms wide for hugs with everyone from Lois Claxton, secretary of the university, who read Johnston’s citation, to chancellor Prem Watsa, who officially conferred Johnston’s latest honours.

In his address to the graduands, their families, and friends, Johnston displayed three props: a watch in one hand, a compass in the other, and a University of Waterloo necktie, “which you can see is a bit raggedy because I’ve worn it so long.”

The watch? It not only marks time and progress, but “also signifies keeping a balance in your life.”

Johnston then told one of his favourite stories about a professor who puts a jar in front of his first-year class and asks: is it empty or full? Empty, say the students. Then he puts in some rocks. Now it’s full, the students say. But then the professor adds tiny pebbles, then sand, and finally pours Diet Coke into the putatively full jar.

Why does the professor do this, Johnston asked? It is an exercise in critical thinking: the jar initially was empty, in one sense, but was also filled with air. But there is a larger message, the professor tells his students. “Look upon the rocks as the really important things of life. Your own sense of self worth, friends, family.” The pebbles are our duties: to get to class on time; to do our work. And the sand? “That’s just stuff,” the professor says, in Johnston’s story. In your jar, make sure to put the rocks in first. Don’t fill it up with sand and then try to get pebbles and rocks in, after.

The professor’s students take this in, then one says: What about the Diet Coke? And in the humorous style for which Johnston is famous, he provided the punch line: “That’s a reminder there is always time to have a drink with a good friend.”

The compass represents “a set of values in your life,” said Johnston, who enjoined the graduands to “lead your life for someone beyond yourself.” Ideals are like stars, he said, alluding to a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “We can never reach them but, like the mariners of the sea, we can chart our course by them and safely find our way.”

And finally, the tie: “It reflects the loyalty beyond self.” He said it is a “great joy” to serve, whether a community or an institution, and he reminded the graduands that they have a loyalty to the University of Waterloo. Recalling the motto over one of the gates at Harvard, Johnston’s alma mater, he told them: “A part of you remains here, and a part of us remains with you. You are stewards of the institution: no one owns it.” He called on the gowned assembly to “make (Waterloo) better for the students who come after you.”

In her citation honouring Johnston, Claxton also referred to the Harvard motto, adding that Johnston “has touched the hearts – and pocketbooks – of most everyone he has met,” a comment that drew laughter and applause in recognition of Johnston’s masterful skills as a fundraiser — and, according to Claxton, the “doyen of university presidents, a visionary, a dreamer.”

It wouldn’t have been a Johnston speech without one more outing for his favourite George Bernard Shaw quote to wrap up. “Some people see things as they are and wonder why. We dream of things that ought to be and ask ‘why not?’"

At the two sessions of Convocation held Saturday in the Physical Activities Complex, the university awarded 1,707 degrees and diplomas, as well as a number of honorary distinctions including two Alumni Gold Medals for the top master's and doctoral graduates of the year.

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Football, soccer, field hockey and . . . cricket]

Athletes from multiple sports are all ready to use the new artificial turf at Warrior Field, and posed last week with director of athletics Bob Copeland (that's him in the middle). A bit later than expected, the durable green stuff is now being put in place at the facility just north of Columbia Street. The maker promises "a safe and durable multi-purpose field that will be suitable for a variety of uses including campus recreation programming, varsity soccer, football, rugby and field hockey" — and, apparently, cricket.

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Stratford announces digital 'incubator'

Digital media ideas “can now accelerate into businesses” through a partnership between the university’s Stratford Campus and the City of Stratford, a news release said last week.

“The Waterloo Stratford Campus, a new digital media campus in Stratford, is working with the Stratford-Perth Centre for Business, a division of the City of Stratford’s Economic Development Department, to create a digital media incubation centre in the campus’s downtown location,” it said, “This new centre will offer services, workshops, mentoring and support for digital media startups in Stratford.”

It quoted Ken Coates, dean of arts at the University of Waterloo and visionary behind the Stratford Campus: “We are excited about moving forward with our plans to build a digital media incubation centre here in Stratford. Our plans had always included an incubation centre within our new building. To facilitate a partnership with the Stratford-Perth Centre for Business and bring this vision to life at this early stage is wonderful.”

Through this partnership, says the release, the Waterloo Stratford Campus will offer services and support for digital media startups at its temporary 6 Wellington Street location. Additionally, the campus and the Stratford-Perth Centre will provide mentoring services, workshops, speaker series and networking opportunities for local digital media companies and those looking to create new companies.

“This partnership is a made-in-Stratford solution for anyone in our community looking to commercialize a digital media idea, start a new digital media company or grow an existing organization,” says Larry Appel, director of economic development with the City of Stratford. “We are excited by the opportunities that the Waterloo Stratford Campus brings to the city and now we can help grow those opportunities exponentially.”

The release adds: “This partnership will help entrepreneurs take their first step into business. As the City of Stratford holds Small Business Week, a week for businesspeople to come together and celebrate the contributions and achievements of entrepreneurs, this partnership excites many local entrepreneurs as we make this move to help them innovate and grow their new business.”

The Stratford-Perth Centre for Business is a division of the City of Stratford’s economic development department. Since its inception in 2007 the Centre has been the key point of contact for business development advice and investment assistance. Created as a joint partnership between the city of Stratford and the province of Ontario, with business consultants provided by the Perth County Community Futures, the Centre offers targeted business advisory services to the residents of Stratford, St. Marys and Perth County.


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Link of the day


When and where

Pre-enrolment for spring 2011 undergraduate courses begins today. Details.

Ontario municipal elections polling day Monday. Details.

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

Library workshop: “Research Databases for Business” 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.

Library workshop: “Citation Tracking” Tuesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

‘Just pie and juice’ fund-raiser for United Way, Tuesday 11:00 to 3:00: slice of pie $3, juice bottle $1, Hagey Hall room 133.

Employee Assistance Program presents “QPR for Suicide Prevention” Tuesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Career workshop: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” Tuesday 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Environment 3 landscape design competition results and reception, Tuesday 12:00, Environment I courtyard.

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.

‘How  Should Graduate Supervision Count?’ workshop on faculty evaluation, sponsored by Learning Community on Graduate Teaching and Learning, Tuesday 1:30, Hagey Hall room 336.

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).

WatRISQ seminar: Peter Miu, McMaster University, “Information Asymmetry and Bank Regulation” Tuesday 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Reading at St. Jerome’s: Christian Bök, author of “experimental literature”, Tuesday 4:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Industry panel discussion with representatives from insurance, mining and supply chain (“find out which industry is the right fit for you”), sponsored by co-op education and career services, Tuesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Donor reception (President’s Circle and other invited groups) Tuesday 5:30, Engineering 5 building.

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

Blood donor clinic Wednesday-Thursday (10:00 to 4:00) and Friday (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.

Co-op job ranking for winter term jobs opens on JobMine, Friday 1 p.m., closes Monday 2 p.m.

Application deadline for winter term admission to the university, November 1, 2010.

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

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Christina Anne Boucher, “Combinatorial and Probabilistic Approaches to Motif Recognition.” Supervisors, Ming Li and Prabhakar Ragde. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, October 29, 1:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Computer science. Tyrel C. Russell, “A Computational Study of Problems in Sports.” Supervisor, Peter Van Beek. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, November 1, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Panthea Sepehrband, “Experimental Analysis and Computational Modeling of Annealing in AA6xxx Alloys.” Supervisor, Shahrzad Esmaeili. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, November 11, 1:30 p.m., Engineering III room 4117.

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