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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

  • Four profs honoured for grad supervision
  • University secretary leaving for Ottawa
  • Beginning to look a lot like a new year
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Eliasmith][Tupling][Ramahi][De Loe]
Four profs honoured for grad supervision

There they are, this year’s winners of the Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision: left to right are Chris Eliasmith, Russell Tupling, Omar Ramahi and Rob de Loë. Their names were announced by the graduate studies office just before the Christmas holiday, and their awards will be presented at spring convocation ceremonies in June.

The GSO, “in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association, established this Award to recognize exemplary faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision", Heidi Mussar of the grad studies office explains. Award winners are selected by a committee including the associate provost (graduate studies), the associate deans of the six faculties, and representatives of the GSA and the faculty association.

The grad office also released citations for the four award winners, based on the information provided by those who nominated them. Here’s an edited version:

• Omar Ramahi of electrical and computer engineering, who holds the NSERC/RIM Industrial Research Associate Chair, “is identified as an exceptional scholar who has co-authored more than 250 research publications and maintains a very active research program. The letters of support that came from past and present students were consistent in their praise of his mentorship, his sociable and personable nature and his ability to encourage the very best from his students not only by journeying with them but through example. His role as a mentor continues when the students have left his group, providing support, encouragement and even career counseling.”

• Chris Eliasmith of philosophy “epitomizes the qualities that every graduate student hopes their supervisor possesses. For one, he ‘struck the perfect balance between providing guidance and allowing me to strike out on my own.’ Another noted that Eliasmith ‘is an outstanding supervisor and mentor’. But he is more than that. He celebrates student accomplishments, does his best to bring their work to the attention of colleagues at other universities and in the private sector, and pushes them to realize their full potential, partly by filling their inboxes with academic papers that he thinks might help their research. The odd game of paintball for the lab also helps to sharpen their reflexes. Given the atmosphere in his lab, students want to be there — to talk, to socialize and to swap ideas.”

• Rob de Loë of environment and resource studies “is an outstanding mentor, champion and role model for graduate students. He holds a University Research Chair in Water Policy and Governance and attracts a strong cohort of graduate students. The students greatly appreciate his supportive advice and guidance throughout their graduate studies and the launching of their careers. He offers wise counsel on the development of research techniques and critical thinking. The students also appreciate the culture of friendly advice and support. He offers the perfect blend of support, encouragement and high expectations to ensure a positive graduate experience and the foundation for lifelong success.”

• Russell Tupling of kinesiology “has been generous in encouraging his students to present and to publish. Nine of his refereed publications are joint with one or more of his students, and 26 of his refereed conference proceedings. His students comment: ‘Dr. Tupling has been an inspiration to myself and every other student in his laboratory. His love and enthusiasm for research is infectious and causes students to work harder and perform to the best of their abilities.’ Students speak with admiration of how he manages to retain balance in his life, as a devoted supervisor, an active researcher, and at the same time managing or coaching his children’s competitive sports teams, and hosting his students and lab colleagues to an annual summer barbecue with his family. Students speak of him as a profound scientific mentor, a life mentor and a friend.”

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University secretary leaving for Ottawa

[Claxton]Lois Claxton (left), secretary of the university since 1991, revealed yesterday that she will leave Waterloo in a few weeks to take a job in the office of the Governor General of Canada — former university president David Johnston.

“In mid-December,” she said in a memo to colleagues, “David asked me to come to Ottawa to assist him in his three pillar initiatives. I have accepted: it’s an adventure I couldn’t decline. As you may imagine, David wants me there as soon as possible but also understands that I need to finish the work with the Presidential Nominating Committee and may need to be available to the new president during transition. To that end, I expect to leave Waterloo at the end of February, though continuing to see the foregoing commitments through to completion.

“This was at once a difficult and an easy decision. I’m leaving colleagues and an institution that I care deeply about.  However I’m going to work again with another colleague I admire and respect and on initiatives that should prove meaningful to our country.”

President Feridun Hamdullahpur issued a brief statement last night speaking of his "very mixed feelings" about Claxton’s departure: "We are very happy for Lois and we have no doubt that she will do wonderful work for His Excellency and for Canada. We will miss her considerable experience, wisdom and guidance.… We will all have time to celebrate Lois’ many contributions to this great university before she leaves at the end of February."

The president said Dennis Huber, vice-president (administration and finance), "will assume the duties of the university secretary on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made."

The secretary of the university is the senior executive responsible for the working of the university’s governing bodies, policies, committee proceedings and legal matters. In addition to the university secretariat, the portfolio includes police and parking services, conflict management and human rights, the safety office and university records management.

Before being appointed university secretary two decades ago, Claxton was a department head in the university library.

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Beginning to look a lot like a new year

The snow had pretty much melted across the Waterloo campus while things were closed for Christmas and New Year's, but the campus was a winter wonderland on Tuesday morning, just in time for the return to work and classes. Offices, athletic facilities and libraries all reopened yesterday, and food services outlets reopened after the break.

Residences welcomed students back on Monday, and I'm told that there were long lines at the bookstore, which opened to offer a head start on purchases of winter term texts. The bookstore, Waterloo Store, Write Stuff and E-Smart in South Campus Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow before setting into regular 9-to-5 hours.

New student orientation will be offered today, with campus tours starting from South Campus Hall at 10:30 and 1:30, followed by a reception and “services fair” from 4:30 to 7:00 on the lower level of the Student Life Centre. Earlier today, an international student orientation session is planned, from 12:30 to 4:00 in Physics room 150. For both new and returning students, Ontario Student Assistance Program funding will be released by the student awards and financial aid office at its temporary outpost in the Tatham Centre.

Unofficial marks for the fall term have mostly shown up on Quest by now; the "fully graded date" for fall term undergraduate courses — when official marks are available on Quest — will be January 24.

About the snow, by the way, the university's weather station reports that "It was the coldest December in 10 years and the driest one in over 15. Although we didn’t see any extremely cold temperatures in December, it was colder than average for 25 days of the month, including a 20 day streak, while the only significantly warmer than average days came right at the end. Overall it was 1.5 degrees lower than average, making it the only colder than average month the year and the coldest December since 2000. With only 36.4 mm of precipitation it was a very dry month with just over half the average of 71.1 mm. This ties 1993 when we also had 36.4 mm and you have to go back to 1969 to find a December with less. Most of the precipitation came on the 12th with 15.3 mm in the form of wet snow, and as far as total snowfall, we had 28 cm of the average 38.5 cm."


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Link of the day

'Russians have luck, we have birthright'

When and where

Return-to-campus interviews for co-op students (except architecture), Wednesday-Friday.

New engineering exchange students welcome and orientation Wednesday 11:00, Rod Coutts Hall room 208.

Warrior basketball vs. Brock: women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Weight Watchers at Work January 6, 13, 20 and 27, 12:15 p.m., PAS building room 2438 (note room change); information ext. 32218.

White Coat Ceremony welcoming new pharmacy students, Thursday 5 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

A Cappella Club information session (The AcaBellas, The Water Boys, The Unaccompanied Minors) Thursday 6:30, Math and Computer room 2065.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo open rehearsal Thursday 7 p.m., Ron Eydt Village great hall. Details.

School of pharmacy application deadline for January 2012 is January 9, 2011. Details.

Work reports due for most returning co-op students, Tuesday, January 11.

Frost Week next week, with welcome-back events sponsored by Federation of Students: breakfast treats at Student Life Centre and Grad House,  Tuesday 8 a.m.; comedy at Bombshelter pub, Tuesday 8:30 p.m.; “Sex with Sue Johanson” Wednesday 12:00, SLC; Frostfest at SLC and Grad House, Wednesday 8 p.m.; free concert Thursday at Federation Hall, details to be announced.

‘BlackBerry 101’ “trainer-to-go” program at Waterloo Stratford Campus, Tuesday 12:00 noon. Details.

Application deadline for Ontario secondary school students to apply for September admission, January 12 (other deadlines pertain to some programs). Details.

Science alumni and friends Ski Day at Osler Bluff near Collingwood, January 14. Details.

Co-op job postings for spring work term begin on JobMine January 15, 7:00 a.m.

Open class enrolment for winter term ends January 17.

Grade 10 family night for parents and university-bound students, information about application process, finances and choices, January 20, 6:30, Humanities Theatre.

Engineering alumni ski day at Osler Bluff near Collingwood, January 21. Details.

Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment, Huntsville, Ontario, grand opening January 21, 4:00, reception 6:00, panel discussion 7:00, by invitation.

Chinese Students and Scholars Association Spring Festival Gala, January 21, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Volunteer and Internship Fair organized by Centre for Career Action, January 25, 11:00 to 2:30,  Student Life Centre.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retirees Day at Warrior basketball games vs. Western, January 29, Physical Activities Complex: women’s game 1:00, men’s game 3:00, family activities including Monster Hoops Showdown and paper airplane toss. Details.

Distinguished Teacher Award nominations due February 4. Details.

Family Day holiday, university closed, Monday, February 21.

Reading week February 21-25, classes not held.

Positions available

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

• Building serviceperson I (carpenter), plant operations
• Electrician, plant operations
• Business analyst, co-operative education and career services, USG 9
• Financial aid systems analyst, registrar's office, USG 8
• Development officer (foundations), development and alumni affairs, USG 10-12, six-month secondment or contract

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