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Friday, September 30, 2011

  • Where Waterloo ranks among the top 3%
  • United Way campaign and other news
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Where Waterloo ranks among the top 3%

Waterloo is still among the world's top universities, but its position has slipped a little from last year, according to the QS World University Ranking, produced by a consulting firm that parted ways with Britain’s Times Higher Education rankings last year to compile its own figures.

The company, Quacquarelli Symonds, produces an annual ranking of the top 300 universities in the world (among an estimated 10,000 institutions worldwide). It also lists its top 300 universities in five faculty groupings and, new in 2011, its top 200 universities in several specific subject areas.

Jennifer Kieffer of the university’s institutional analysis and planning office has provided a report on the QS listings, published earlier this month. “Waterloo’s overall performance declined from 145th in 2010 to 160th in this year’s QS World University Ranking,” she says. “Waterloo placed 9th among Canadian schools included in the top-300 ranking overall, down from 7th in 2010.”

The Canadian institutions ranked ahead of Waterloo this year were McGill, Toronto, UBC, Alberta, Montréal, Western and  McMaster.

Waterloo’s strongest showing was in the “engineering and technology” listings, where it appeared in 56th place worldwide (a drop from last year’s 39th). Other discipline showings: 116th in natural sciences, 236th in life sciences and biomedicine, 308th in social sciences, 391st in arts and humanities.

Kieffer reports that Waterloo placed among the world’s top 200 universities in 18 of the 26 subject-specific rankings, some of which were published earlier this year. The subject-specific rankings consist of three indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, and citations score.

Waterloo is shown as 36th in the world in computer science, 41st in civil and structural engineering, and 46th in electrical engineering. The university is somewhere in the 50-to-100 grouping in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, statistics and operational research, mathematics, environmental sciences, and earth sciences.

It’s in the 101-to-150 grouping in chemistry, physics, metallurgy, English, philosophy, accounting and finance, and politics and international studies. And it’s in the 151-to-200 grouping in psychology and “geography and area studies”. Waterloo didn’t make the top 200 in medicine, biological sciences, modern languages, history, linguistics, sociology, law, or economics.

Kieffer notes that the QS ranking is based on six criteria – academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty member, faculty-student ratio, percentage of international students and percentage of international faculty. Much of the information about Waterloo was provided to QS by Kieffer and her colleagues in IAP, using data from the 2010-11 academic year.

“Waterloo improved in three of the six criteria,” she reports, listing employer reputation, international faculty, and international students, but declined in the other three. A table shows that Waterloo does best in “employer reputation”, ranking 100th in the world.

She also reports: “QS has also added a new dimension to their rankings this year: QS Stars rates universities with between one and five stars using different criteria than those used in the main ranking exercise. The new criteria are research quality, teaching quality, graduate employability, infrastructure, internationalisation, innovation & knowledge transfer, third mission, and specialist subject criteria. It appears that only institutions from certain countries were included in this new ranking exercise as no Canadian institutions appear to be assessed in this way.”

There’s concern about some of the data that QS apparently used, Kieffer adds. “Several of our peers in the U15 have noted that the tuition reported on the QS website is inconsistent with the tuition they provided to QS. In Waterloo’s case the tuition reported on the QS website appears to be significantly lower than we would have expected. IAP will be working with our peers in the U15 to follow-up with QS on this issue.”

She’s expecting to go through a similar analysis process again in the next few days, as the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings (with data collected by Thomson Reuters) are scheduled to be released this week.

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[Audience seated at round tables]
United Way campaign and other news

The United Way campaign continues to gear up on campus, as Wednesday, more than 75 staff and faculty members gathered Wednesday for a volunteer lunch (above). Co-chair Richard Wells, of the kinesiology department, noted that the United Way campaign continuously attracts talent from across the university and touches many staff and faculty personally.

Matt Park, resource development officer for K-W United Way, spoke to the volunteers and reminded them of the importance of the United Way’s work in the area. “We hear about conflict and need across the world in many countries,” he said. “These issues are incredibly important, but we also need to remember that they exist today in our own back yard too.” Park explained that people in need in this community require an array of services, not just one. The United Way helps to create a support network, whether it be with a food basket, counselling services, or a literacy program.

“The United Way is working to make a positive impact on the community, and uWaterloo volunteers are hoping to play a part in that,” says Kirsty Budd, one of the campaign organizers for this year. “Starting October 1, please consider participating in one of the many United Way events across campus or donating to the United Way via payroll deduction.”

Donation forms should be reaching staff and faculty members across the university by the beginning of the week. Retirees are also included in the campaign, and student contributions are accepted.

Budd said the campaign will hold a prize draw every week during October, starting with next Friday’s Early Bird Incentive prize: “Get your donation in by the 7th, because five lucky winners will get lunch with President Feridun Hamdullahpur!”

As October begins, here are a few other highlights of the cool weekend that lies ahead:

"Key collaborators" in the Hylozoic Ground artistic collaboration — a project that's perhaps easier to name than it is to describe — will take part in a public forum starting at 6:30 tonight at the Architecture building in Cambridge. They include Philip Beesley, artist and architect who's a member of the architecture school's faculty; engineer Robert Gorbet of Waterloo's knowledge integration program; and British chemist Rachel Armstrong. All three will talk about "the process and implications of mixing design and research from different fields to achieve breakthrough new work". Artifacts from the project are on display in the Architecture building's Design at Riverside gallery until mid-October.

Go Eng Girl, an open house tomorrow for more than 100 young women interested in what a future in engineering could hold for them. Twelve other universities across Ontario will also be alive with Go Eng Girl activities. "This event is meant to expose these talented and smart girls and their parents to the range of careers that an education in engineering can provide for them," says Mary Wells, associate dean (outreach) in the faculty of engineering. The girls and the parents will hear from Wells and from dean of engineering Adel Sedra, and will listen to an inspirational talk by Amanda LeDuc, a current management sciences engineering student. Then they divide into separate programming, with the girls taking part in group activities where they’ll solve enjoyable — but complex — engineering tasks, while the parents hear from a recent alumnus, and a panel featuring parents of current students. Participants must have registered in advance; the event is already full.

This year's "World Religions Conference", a one-day event held in the Humanities Theatre, is scheduled for Saturday starting at 10:00. Representatives of eight faiths (from Kitchener-Waterloo and nearby communities, Hamilton and Toronto) will speak, first to introduce their tradition, then to address the 2011 theme: "Who Is God? Nature and Characteristics". The moderator will be local radio host Jeff Allan. The conference is sponsored each year by the Ahmadiyya Movement, a branch of Islam, and has been hosted by the university's Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association since 2001. Admission is free.

Organizers have ordered pizza for 1,200 for tomorrow's lunch, and are hoping at least that many people come out for the day to take part in the "lipdub" that will be taped at half a dozen campus locations. Registration starts at 9 a.m. in the Davis Centre lounge (or can be done in advance online). Music for the planned video includes, and forgive me if I stumble over any of these names, "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera; "Yeah" by Chris Brown; "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World; and "Twist and Shout" by some prehistoric group called the Beatles.

And it's a very busy weekend for Warrior sports: Tennis vs. McGill today 4:00, Waterloo Tennis Club; at Toronto, Sunday. • Baseball vs. Laurier today 6:00 and 8:30, Jack Couch Park, Kitchener; at Guelph, Sunday, 2 games. • Men’s golf, UW-WLU invitational, Whistle Bear on Saturday, Rebel Creek on Sunday. • Women’s golf, Waterloo invitational, Saturday-Sunday, Cambridge Golf Club. • Women’s rugby vs. Toronto Saturday 1:00, Columbia fields. • Men’s basketball vs. Guelph (exhibition), Saturday 4 p.m., PAC. • Swimming, dual meet Sunday 1 a.m., PAC pool. • Women’s hockey vs. Brampton Thunder, Sunday 2 p.m., Icefield. •  Men’s rugby at Guelph tonight. • Women’s volleyball at Ottawa tournament, Friday-Sunday. • Men’s volleyball at Brandon tournament, Friday-Sunday. • Field hockey at Queen’s Saturday, vs. York at Kingston Sunday. • Football at McMaster, Saturday. • Soccer (men’s and women’s games) at York Saturday. • Cross-country, Don Mills Open, Saturday.


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St. Jerome (as portrayed by 17th century artist El Greco) has his feast day on September 30 each year. St. Jerome's University, federated with Waterloo, will mark the occasion with an elegant Feast tonight, a fund-raiser for scholarships and an opportunity to present awards, including the Chancellor John Sweeney Award to Ottawa-area educator Sister Joan Cronin.

Briefly noted

Four installations by Waterloo architecture students will be part of Toronto's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche overnight festival starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Great Canadian Appathon is under way this weekend, with more than 30 teams from Waterloo registered through the Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology and hoping for the $25,000 top prize.

The university's stage band, which rehearses on Monday evenings and is preparing for a December 4 concert, is looking for alto saxophone players (e-mail percwood@ for information).

Link of the day


When and where

Drop, no penalty period for fall term courses ends today.

Challenging Digital Media: Performing Arts Conference, final day, Waterloo Stratford campus. “Out My Window”, web documentary on urban issues, 2 p.m., Stratford city hall auditorium. Details.

Wilfrid Laurier University Homecoming celebrations at Waterloo campus, Friday-Sunday. Details.

Blood donor clinic, Student Life Centre third floor, today 9:30 to 3:00, information from Canadian Blood Services .

‘Better searching, better marks’ library workshop, 10 a.m., Flex Lab,  Dana Porter Library. Details.

Imaginus poster sale 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Engineering scavenger hunt, “The Battle of Mount Olympus”, Friday noon to Saturday noon, home base Poets Pub in Carl Pollock Hall.

International spouses walk in downtown Waterloo, meet 1 p.m. at the bell sculpture in the public square. Details.

Tri-University Digital Humanities Workshop: Friday from 1 p.m., Communitech Hub, Kitchener; Saturday, U of Guelph library. Details.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: slides from second-year KI trip to museums in Berlin, 2:30, St. Paul’s U College room 105.

Heritage Resources Centre workshop: “Telling Stories about Heritage” Saturday-Sunday, Paris, Ontario. Details.

ACM-style programming contest Sunday 1:00 to 4:00, Math and Computer room 3004. Results will be used to select Waterloo teams for international ACM competition. Details.

‘The Balance of Marriage’ Sunday 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $15 (students $10).

‘Lives in Limbo: Lessons from Kashmir’s Half Widows’ presentation Monday 12:30, Hagey Hall room 341.

Library workshop: “Introduction to SciFinder” Monday 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Senate executive committee Monday 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Bachelor of Social Work information session Monday 4:30, Dunker Lounge, Renison University College.

Hagey Lecture: Ian Hacking, University of Toronto, “How Did Mathematics Become Possible?” Monday 8 p.m., Humanities  Theatre.

Student colloquia by Hagey Lecturer Ian Hacking, Tuesday: “Numbers and Race” 1 p.m., Hagey Hall room 334; “The 20th Century Pythagoras” 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

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